Thursday, May 28, 2009

E3 2009 is almost here

Next week marks the start of E3 2009, also known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, held annually to showcase upcoming console and computer video games that we gamers can look forward to over the next year. Whether you want the scoop on Nintendo's big plans for the Wii, Sony's exclusive game titles or you just can't wait for all the awesome game trailer action that will ensue, E3 gives us all hope that even in these troubled economic times, great new games are just around the corner. Check out this article for a good breakdown on what to expect from the giants of the game industry at this year's E3, and this one for a photo list of some of the game titles that have people everywhere most excited.

just finished theresia

I finished playing through the 'Dear Emile' campaign of Theresia on the DS last night and man, what a great game! All I can say is I wish there were more M-for-mature DS games out there like this one. Theresia has a hauntingly beautiful ambience to it with appropriately creepy yet pretty music, beautiful animation, logical gameplay mechanics and a seriously dark and engaging plot. Beating 'Dear Emile' unlocks another campaign, 'Dear Martel', as well as a viewable diary that provides more information about the game's story. This game can get kind of slow-going and is definitely a challenge when it comes to puzzles and traps but it really is worth it for the beautifully told story of the tragic heroine and her life. Two thumbs up for sure!

infamous getting rave reviews

There are so many highly anticipated games being released in 2009 and more than a few of them are Playstation 3 exclusives. Of these, Infamous has been one of the most talked-about, and now it's getting great reviews after its launch this week. The 'shocking'/'electrifying'/'sizzling' puns are running rampant! IGN gave it a 9.2 and Gamespot a 9.0 while the AP calls the game "an electrifying experience", of course. Kotaku goes more in-depth (and calls it "electric") with some excellent discussion points on the game's physics, open-worldness, morality scale and more. Looking forward to checking this one out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ea active is kicking my butt

I’ve been crazy busy with work lately but luckily I’ve had a chance to play EA Sports Active a few times and I am already feeling it for sure. EA Active uses the Wii’s motion controllers to map out a series of intense and effective exercises. You use the Wii remote and nunchuk as well as an included resistance band to perform strength exercises like squats, lunges and other extensions along with cardio activities like running, baseball, and in-line skating. So far I’m having a lot of fun and the easily customizable workouts make it no problem to pick up anytime and use your free time to the fullest extent. The graphics are a nice realistic step up from Wii Fit and the flow of the workout definitely gets my heart rate up. If you like Wii Fit but have always wanted something a little more geared towards real exercise, EA Active is a good bet.

rhythm heaven is awesome

It’s been a long month and a half since Rhythm Heaven was released for the Nintendo DS but I finally got my hands on a copy and let me tell you, the wait was worth it! Rhythm Heaven is so much fun. Comprised of simple yet deceptively challenging little music and rhythm games, Rhythm Heaven demands some serious concentration and pinpoint accuracy at times so start working on your stylus flicks. The animation style is adorable and “wiggly” with simple stick-figure graphics that leave room for the gameplay mechanics to really shine. Prepare to be challenged and frustrated but also motivated as the game will occasionally entice you with unlockable prizes for achieving perfect scores. All in all, Rhythm Heaven is an extremely fun game title for guy and girl gamers of all ages who like to jam out to cute little songs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

personal trainer: walking

It's not often that a game has a title as seemingly obvious, dim-witted and heavy-handed as Personal Trainer: Walking and can still make me excited for its upcoming release. Yes, we all know how to walk and the jokes are endless - what's next, Personal Trainer: Breathing? etc. Still, I had a chance to scope this one out recently and at least according to the box art it looks super awesome. The latest in the Personal Trainer series of DS games comes bundled with two small personal pedometers which can be kept in a pocket or purse to record your daily walking habits and keep track of your pace, distance covered and other metrics. The latest entry in the growing genre of fitness/self-improvement games, Personal Trainer: Walking will launch this Tuesday. I maintain my opinion that gamers as a demographic are an excellent target for these fitness-oriented titles and should embrace them!

dj hero controller revealed

One of the more highly anticipated music game titles due out this year (there are quite a few) is DJ Hero, which takes gamers off the fake guitar and instead puts a fake turntable in front of them. New photos show the accessory that will let you tap into your inner emcee - a turntable controller with color buttons similar to those on Guitar Hero's guitar controllers. According to a new feature in Game Informer the gameplay of DJ Hero is supposedly a bit like that of GH with falling notes to match, but will also deal with new screen cues to let loose all sorts of funky mixing techniques. Considering that its competition this year within the music genre comes from titles like Lego Rock Band, DJ Hero is shaping up to be a big hit when it comes out.

DJ Hero Controller Revealed

punchout's stereotype showcase

As you may have heard if you don't live under a rock, the newly released Punch-out!! on the Wii is getting rave reviews and has nostalgic fans everywhere recalling their roughest fights in the original NES game. GamesRadar, always good for satire, has a funny feature up detailing the ridiculous national stereotypes found in everyone's favorite boxing game. Check it out!

GamesRadar - Fun with stereotypes: starring Punch-Out!!

gamestop posts record sales

Despite the economy's many twists and turns in the last year, game retailer GameStop is reporting record sales numbers for the first quarter of 2009. New game sales were down but sales of used copies of games were way up, accounting for the positive report. While some criticize the company for what many see as undercutting the major game companies selling their new products, others see it as a matter of supply and demand in today's rough economic times. Personally I blame game companies making crappy games that drive people to want the safety net that buying used games with an open-game return policy provides. $59.99 is more than a drop in the bucket for a lot of people, especially these days...

GameStop Reports Record Quarter As Used Game Sales Flourish

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

gaming news from all over

Interested in the hot topics going on in the video gaming industry right now? Check out these news stories:

GameStop faces competition from Wal-Mart in used game trade. Apparently there are vending machines you can stick your used games into and get compensated in credit ranging from 50 cents to up to $25 for more in-demand games.

Video game sales dropped 17% over April 2008
. I have a feeling numbers are going to spike over the next few months due to the many hot titles being released this year. April was kind of slow for new releases.

The sad story of Ottumwa, Iowa, once declared 'the video game capital of the world'. I would totally visit a video game themed amusement park.

too busy for gaming?? :(

I've been working like a dog lately and as such I have not had the time or inclination to fire up very many video games lately :*( There are so many good new ones out or coming out, not to mention my backlog of wonderful older games that still need some attention. I managed to fit a few online matches of Guitar Hero: World Tour into my schedule recently and was glad to find I haven't lost my madd skillz. I also decided to take the plunge and start working on moving up to Expert. So far I can handle Livin' On A Prayer just fine but Misery Business is threatening to ruin my confidence. Someday my fingers will be that coordinated... someday!

Monday, May 18, 2009

ea active tomorrow!

I'm so excited... And I just can't hide it.... I'm about to lose control, and I think I like it! Actually, I am really excited because tomorrow marks the release of EA Sports Active, the latest Wii fitness game by Electronic Arts. While EA Active is independent of Wii Fit, it has features that can use the Fit balance board if you've already got one, which I do of course. I've seen a few TV spots for Active so far and it looks awesome - it seems to take the cardio and higher-intensity activities from Wii Fit and step them up in a big way. I'm looking forward to the kickboxing exercise as well as trying out the pretty nifty resistence bands that come with the game, allowing you to anchor the Wii controllers to your arm and leg to measure your activity during exercise. With summer coming up even gamer girls want to wear cute bikinis so EA Active is arriving right on time. To get you as psyched as I am, check out this in-depth Q&A about Active from GameSpot.

survival horror heaven

Since we added the PS3 to our household I have yet to actually play a PS3 game - there just aren't that many PS3 titles that intrigue me past the major cross-console titles out there. Still, a huge part of the reason we sought out the backwards-compatible PS3 was to get access to the incredible library of PS2 games out there. I have been crazy busy lately, but I can't wait to have some free time to try out my newest acquisitions: Fatal Frame and its sequel, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. The Fatal Frame games are supposed to be deep, plot-driven, original and extremely scary. A fourth one has been made for the Wii but will never make it to America, sadly.
An isolated imposing manor lurking silently at the edge of a forest and near the outskirts of a small nameless village? Such is the starting point for this game which reinvents the survival horror genre.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

xbox 360 achievements

It's funny how an otherwise totally crappy game will still make you go "uh.... sweet!" when you randomly unlock some totally weird achievement and get 15 gamer points added to your Xbox Live gamertag for bragging rights. I feel more motivated to try weird, out-there games on the 360 than on any other console because of it. Anyway, Game Informer Online has a funny article detailing the best, worst and craziest Xbox 360 achievements out there. Enjoy!
Fantasy Football: Live Score Tracker
Press START (5 Points)
EA, as you can see, sometimes lacks a creative vibe when it comes to their achievements. You are also awarded 35 points for changing a setting, and 10 points for logging in on a Thursday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

electronic arts plans merchandise blast

Do you love being able to buy non-gaming products featuring the characters, franchises and stories of your favorite video game titles? No? Well, too bad, because Electronic Arts is in the process of teaming up with Creative Minx Marketing to release several new lines of videogame-inspired shirts, toys and other merchandise. The games that will be getting the merchandising treatment include the Sims franchise, MySims, Dead Space, Dragon Age, Dante's Inferno, Army of Two and Mass Effect 2.
"Creative Minx is proud to be working with EA, and to be able to represent such a strong portfolio of highly-recognizable gaming titles," Andi Riordan-Scott, President of Creative Minx Marketing. "We look forward to building successful merchandising franchises across multiple categories and distribution channels for EA's top brands and leveraging the awareness of its strong consumer base."
EA Plans MERCH Attack

the importance of first-party game exclusivity

With Microsoft's announcement last week that it plans to purchase game developer BigPark and add its resources to Microsoft Game Studios, the Xbox360 manufacturer may have new opportunities to score big with Microsoft-exclusive titles. Most gamers these days can recognize the difference between a quality game title with care and effort put into its development and a crappy piece of third-party shovelware that won't sell a single copy. For this reason, there is a tough conflict between making financial ends meet (movie-licensed games released on cross-platform, for example) and publishing good games designed for specific platforms that will really make an impact on the gaming industry. Hopefully with this new acquisition we'll see some interesting new 360 exclusives coming out in the future.

Why first-party video games matter

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

mlb 09: the show is solid

I readily admit to neither knowing anything about nor having any interest in sports simulation games (other than horse games of course, like Equestriad 2001 or Gallop Racer). The boyfriend however, despite his recent total obsession with Japanese RPGs, used to be a Madden NFL fan but quit the series after realizing that he couldn't use his trusty control scheme in Madden 09. Anyway, baseball is really his sport of choice so it was an easy decision to pick up MLB 09: The Show as our very first PS3 game, since The Show is a Sony exclusive and generally thought to be the superior baseball game franchise out there. From what I've seen this game appears to be a pretty darn close real-life simulator - listening to the game at the same time as an actual baseball game on TV is rather confusing, not to mention the amazing graphics (it's definitely time for an HD TV upgrade at the house of emdroid). Plus it features my fave Dustin Pedroia all over it! One of its best features though is real-time updating of statistics and team rosters, all the way down to the Minor Leagues and farm teams. Unfortunately I don't think it has banned Manny Ramirez for the next 50 games...

wii sports the highest selling video game ever

Nintendo recently announced that Wii Sports has taken over the coveted spot of best-selling video game of all time, having sold over 45 million copies worldwide. The previous record holder was of course another Nintendo title, the classic Super Mario Bros. on the NES, which sold 40.2 million copies during its run. Both game titles have been sold in a bundle with Nintendo hardware which makes a lot of sense considering the vast sales numbers. Still, it proves my previous point that Nintendo knows what's up with bundling games to consoles in a way that Sony and Microsoft just haven't succeeded at yet. I'm sure Wii Sports Resort will be nearly as big a hit as its predecessor, especially since it will most likely come with a Wii MotionPlus accessory bundle.

Wii Sports: The Best Selling Video Game of All Time

now we've gone and done it

We rounded up some less-played games ($42 trade-in for Resident Evil 5, woohoo!) and traded them in towards our newest addition: a backwards-compatible 80GB Playstation 3! I'm pretty psyched to have rounded out the consoles in our house and opened up infinite new possibilities for gaming around our place. While the benefit of the Blu-Ray player is awesome and there are some PS3 games out there I've been wanting to try, I am mostly excited to have access once again to the wonderful game libraries of the PSX and the Playstation 2, two of the best consoles to ever have games developed for them. I have a long list of games I'm looking forward to trying and I also really want to check out the Shin Megami Tensai Persona series.

the music genre is getting crowded

It's a fine line that game developers walk when they saturate the market with a certain genre. Lately, it seems like you can't blink without seeing mention of another new music game celebrating some nostalgic band. With Rock Band: Beatles on its way, Rock Band: Unplugged announced for PSP plus Metallica and rumored Van Halen and Pearl Jam editions of Guitar Hero, the music game genre is taking over the shelf space. It remains to be seen whether this flooding of music titles will help boost video game sales or cause consumers to wander off, eyes glazed over, in search of the next big thing. At left - Guitar Hero Pocket.

Will an Overflow of Sequels Dilute the Music Video Game Genre?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

monopoly on the 360 is fun

It's easy to assume that board-games-turned-video-games might have some catching up to do when it comes to competing with popular game titles for our attention. Luckily most of them are priced right and on some platforms it's a genre that really works. Sadly, a board game working doesn't necessarily mean it will still be a good video game. Monopoly on the Xbox 360 is in fact a pretty fun game with all your favorite Parker Bros. game features plus a nice variety of boards to play in a tight and fast-paced virtual setting. Unfortunately it's freakin' hard, too! Monopoly suffers a bit from the same problem of Mario Party games and other video-board games which is that the realistic randomness is gone and you can't help but wonder why you never land on the Community Chest while everyone else has passed Go four times since the last time you did. Sour grapes, I know, which is why I'm admitting that this game is a lot of fun while also fairly frustrating and, as of yet, unwinnable even on Easy!

check this site out

The blog IMBACORE is a pretty cool site and is definitely worth checking out. Topics include freeware gaming, game development and some very useful and helpful how-to technology articles. Check it out!

megan's law for gamer tags?

A new bill under consideration in Texas could require convicted sex offenders to register online usernames on gaming communities such as Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. The idea is that these are channels often abused for unsavory reasons and gamertags certainly do provide the user with a level of privacy online. Considering the one time I thought I was being mildly harrassed on Xbox Live it turned out to be a close friend of mine (I'm a little slow sometimes) I don't have much experience with this issue. However, I have no problem with it whatsoever. People get a little ridiculous in online communities and it seems like just like a chat room it has the potential for leading to bad situations. It's not like they should be banned from using the services but Microsoft should have a list of gamertags related to persons with convicted sex offenses in my opinion for sure. Anyone feel passionately about this one way or the other?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

cellphones, videogames not that horrible for kids

Yet another study has concluded that, while it's easy to find coincidence between kids who play video games and those with poorer grades, in general using cellphones and videogames didn't really take away from the important skills like math and visual/spatial learning that kids are developing in school. The study also indicated that while girls use cellphones way more than boys they are nowhere near the level of videogame consumption of their male counterparts, and this could present a problem in learning development:
Jackson said it’s unrealistic to think kids will stop playing video games, so video game developers should focus more on the elements that develop visual-spatial skills and less on themes such as violence. Also, more games should be developed that appeal to girls to better develop their visual-spatial skills, which are essential in professions such as surgery, she said.

“Girls are at a disadvantage by not having that three-dimensional experience,” Jackson said. “So when they get to medical school and they’re doing surgery in the virtual world, they’re not used to it.”
Video Games, Cell Phones and Academic Performance: Some Good News

amazing - human tetris

I have gotten pretty addicted to Tetris DS and as a tribute, I'd like to share an awesome video I just came across. Presenting, human beings playing Tetris... as tetriminos!

unsolved crimes is okay

I am always mentioning my love of point-and-click mystery and adventure games and the fact that the Nintendo DS with its touch-screen controls and portability makes a great platform for such games that often require detailed exploration and investigation. I am usually on the lookout for any point-and-click game on the DS that might be worth trying. When it comes to Unsolved Crimes, I have to say it is probably worth trying but honestly it hasn't really gripped me yet. The gameplay is interesting and I can't think of many other games with a similar crime scene setup so if CSI-style games are your thing, Unsolved Crimes may be a good choice. I am willing to at least ride it out for the 7-day used game guarantee from GameStop (a beautiful thing). The most criticism I've read of this game prior to trying it is that it really lacks in graphics and is also a fairly short plot lasting less than 6 or 7 hours on average. Hey, even more reason to buy used games that you can return within a week...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

new fallout 3 dlc a bit broken

The latest and last installment of downloadable content for Fallout 3 on the PC apparently is riddled with issues upon its release this week. Fallout 3: Broken Steel, which among other additions ups the level cap from 20 to 30, has fatal errors that are evident upon installation. Developer Bethesda is aware of the problem and looking for a solution, and this isn't the first time Fallout DLC has had issues. I know this is the DLC that the boyfriend was waiting for for Fallout so it's a shame that it can't be played as of yet.

New Fallout 3 DLC Broken, Again

anti-war-video-game protesters arrested

Apparently the military is really hard-up for volunteers/recruits these days (big surprise) and (another big surprise) people don't really find it very savory when they lure young people into considering enlistment by haivng them try out war simulators and military video games on the 360 and PC. Personally I think simulators offer a huge advantage in training but should definitely not be used as enticement in recruiting. Very shady!

Seven Arrested After Protesting Army Video Game Recruiting Center

Monday, May 4, 2009

more handheld gaming in our household

blue madden sony pspThe boyfriend made the plunge over the weekend and bought a used Madden blue PSP Slim and a bunch of games. He is thoroughly obsessed with Japanese RPGs and thus was thrilled to find good copies of Star Ocean: First Departure, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness and Tales of the World, plus a new copy of Star Ocean: Second Evolution. The graphics on the PSP really are pretty awesome and I'm excited to try out some games like Parappa the Rapper (LOVE on the PSX), Patapon and ultimately LittleBigPlanet! We now have five gaming platforms in our house. Rock on.

sims 3 trailer yaaaaay

We're getting closer and closer to the Sims 3 being released on its delayed date in June and I'm just as excited as I was in February when I thought it was coming out then. This is a really cool video trailer with a lot of gameplay previews plus a look at the character customization scales and design. The personality creation looks like it will really be revolutionary. I'm also very excited by the ease at which you can recolor pretty much everything and make more detailed and varied character types. This game is going to rock!

tetris ds is pretty great

I picked up Tetris for my DS this weekend and have been enjoying it quite a lot. In addition to your classic line-busting Tetris, the game has many other modes including a vs. battle and a touch controls mode as well. The controls are tight and really work with the DS, of course - but I have to say it's the first game that I've really prefered the D-pad and button controls for over the stylus although the touch mode is pretty neat as well. Also sometimes there are Super Mario levels playing on the top screen which is good for some LOLs due to Mario's diminutive stature. Check out what IGN has to say in their review, in which they gave Tetris DS a 9.0 Outstanding!