Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2 Birds With 1 Blog Post

There's a whole lot of things I want to blog about right now - a whole lot, but in order to shorten stuff down I'm only going to combine what would be 2 blog posts into one, instead of about 5 lol.  I'll stick with a general update and the recent news in the handheld world.

What's NEW in gaming progress?

Not much to report here, unfortunately.  This passed week I haven't been able to get much gaming in however I did briefly get to touch 2 games - Metroid Prime 3 and Lost Planet 2.

Metroid Prime 3

Did the beginning sequence/area to this game.  I'm really liking it so far unfortunately do to crammed schedule I didn't get much time to really sit down and play it.  I can say I'm really liking the added Wii controller functions and the graphics on this are very nice.  The game is easily the easiest of the 3 and it seems to be a bit more story driven but I don't mind at all.  I'll definitely be playing a lot more of this one.

Lost Planet 2

I got the Lost Planet games about a month or so ago and haven't really touched them much mostly because I'm busy playing so many other games.  A friend of mine has been pressuring me to play LP2 a lot though, even though I told him I want to play LP1 first however I gave in and played for a bit.  I have to say, it's really good, it's like Scifi Monster Hunter.  Can't say I'll be playing this one a lot (I got a ton of games I need to go through) but I'll definitely be jumping on and off occasionally (a lot more once I beat the first one)!

What I've been watching

Because Netflix pulled a fast one on us with the increase in price and making us choose in between DVD's and Streaming rental services, I've taken a good look at other options and have chosen to keep Netflix for movie streaming and get rid of dvd rentals for a few reasons.

- I watch maybe 1 dvd a week do to maybe forgetting to put stuff in the mail, not watching the movies immediately because I know I can have them indefinitely, and the time it takes for netflix to receive the item then ship it back.
- I can get movies from the library for free, many of which are on my dvd queue.
- There are redbox vendors all over around here so I can get the stuff I want to watch very quickly and easily.

So basically now that I'm getting rid of the Netflix DVD rental services the large majority of the dvd's that were in my queue (over 100) I can get between Redbox and the library.  There are however a couple that I can't get from either of those sources and Netflix has, though the list of those movies is less then 15.

Stargate The Original Movie

Stargate is one of those movies (and it's Atlantis pilot episode) which while other movies in that list matter, I would like to be able to see the movies to the series I'm watching (the other SG1 movies are available for streaming).  The original Stargate movie was the first dvd I saw since they decided this.  I'll be getting the Pilot episode for Atlantis next.

Anyways I liked the movie but while I liked the actors I missed the show actors lol.  Then again it's probably just because I'm familiar with them and seen the movie after I saw the series.  It was good none the less.

The King's Speech

My fam has been trying to get me to check this movie out and I finally sat down and did just that.  Wow, this movie was really good, much better then what I thought it would be.  Great acting, great story, great cinematography.  I highly recommend this one.

Cirque Du Soleil

I went with my family recently to go see Cirque Du Soleil which was freakin amazing!  I'm not a fan of circus acts and stuff along those lines normally but wow, these people can put on a show!  The amazing acrobatics, high flying arial stunts, and fast pace kept the show feeling original and was very entertaining.  If any of you get the chance to go see them, I recommend it.

Vita news

Recently there's been some new info released revolving some of the new features with the PSVita that they intend to implement.

The first feature is called Near that basically works like streetpass/spotpass where you exchange information with other Vita owners.  However it goes a step further.  Apparently you can drop off items for games and other players can pick up those items and use them in there own.  Not that this can't be implemented into the 3DS (as it seems to be a more game specific feature) but it does sound pretty interesting.  The way they're making it sound for the 3G version is it will use GPS, not just hotspots, for finding these items.  We'll see how it all plays out.

The second feature is party which as you have of guessed works like party chat on PSN and XBL.  It lets you and 3 friends talk via voice or text and lets you invite those friends in your party to a game.  Nothings been stated or talked about if it will cost anything but either way it sounds useful.

The final feature is they activity feed which seems to work like a facebook/twitter wall allowing news from companies, trophy indications, and friend messages to all be allowed on it.  Sounds like they're really trying to make the Vita a lot more of a social experience, which imo is a really good thing.

All 3 of these seem like good editions though only time will tell how they play out.

3DS Price Drop and Ambassador Program

The Scenario

Most of us here have heard about the news but I'll type it in anyways.  The 3DS is going to be dropping price from $250 to $170 and will offer the Ambassador Program for early adopters which is 20 games (10 NES titles and 10 GBA titles).  This has caused a lot of controversy of course but lets look at some of the reasons why they're doing this.

The Reasoning

First reason, the 3DS's sales as of late haven't been great.  You have the Nintendo loyalists that picked the system up immediately and the hardcore gamers that were anxious to try out the new device however the ones that don't fit into those roles haven't picked up this system yet.  This can be due to a number of things:

- Pricing - a lot of people won't buy handhelds for more then 200 bucks, parents for instance only pick up the cheaper thing for their kids.

- Lack of games - while there are some good titles on the system, a lot of stuff was shown initially to be at the launch of the system.  Not much made it there.  While there's some really strong titles on the way, they're coming out way too far away from the launch.

- Poor online - while the Online is much better then the Wii and DS, you still can't communicate with friends much less people you meet.  Also only a handful of games actually go online, including some that could greatly benefit from online play (Madden, Ridge Racer, Asphalt 3D, BlazBlue, etc.)  This of course drives people in waiting away.

- General early hardware problems - most systems experience this, the 3DS is no exception though it has some pretty substantial ones like the top screen getting scratched by the bottom half, low battery life, dead pixels, loose henge's, etc.  This of course gets taken care of over time but some people just wait till after the launch to hear problems.

Second reason, yes the 3DS didn't have all those titles at launch but they will by year end.  In order to get those titles sold they have to get the system in peoples hands.  Some people are very iffy on the 3D and need to experience it for themselves, lowering the price gives them incentive to.  By dropping the price this much, not only does it put it at the same area of the DS, it also gives a strong argument for purchase when compared to other handheld devices on the way.

The third point and onto the Ambassador program, the reason here is pretty clear.  They're making compensation for the early adopters who were loyal to Nintendo.  20 free games is a hard argument no matter how you look at it, especially when you're talking GBA games.  This is to take sting away from the price drop and to show fans they're not trying to forget about them.

My Opinion

The Price drop is drastically needed PERIOD.  Sure the hardcore gamers and Nintendo fans will buy the system at the $250 price point (I jumped on it the moment I heard VC for handheld games) however not everybody will.  The fact of the matter is the bulk of the Nintendo's handheld consumers buy their handhelds because they're cheaper, mostly because parents need something to get they're children.  This is also the reason why Pokemon pushes the numbers it does.  With all the games coming and the holidays being a make it or break it period for Nintendo, they need to get as many of these consoles in peoples hands to sell those games.  Also on this note, there's been many publishers and developers pulling out due to poor sales, if this up sales, it'll up support.

The Ambassador program has been the really controversial topic.  There's quite a few upset people, which I figured there would be.  So I'll try to put this into perspective.

When the Xbox 360 came out, it had a horrible failure rate (in the range of 50%).  In the early days, there wasn't a free repair plan set up by Microsoft and when they finally did set one up they're only repairing it in the same model type which means it would just burn out again.  It wasn't until the 4th or 5th model that people stopped having the problem anywhere near as frequently.  While Microsoft did give out free repairs after a month or 2 they didn't compensate by giving away free stuff.

This year, with all the PSN network outages due to hacker attacks, Sony was slow to respond and inform.  They also brushed off security issues for the first 2 weeks not addressing the concerns of users.  Of course we eventually got the Welcome Back package which included 4 games (2 for PS3 and 2 for PSP) and Sony's guaranteed up to $1,000,000 dollars in identity theft protection per user (which most won't be using).  They didn't do anything for those who could be affected on the SOE front (which also could be me).  Of course people also complained about the game choices but 4 free games is 4 free games and this is how most saw the issue.

When it comes to hardware price drops, there's been no other time when a company compensated its users with free games.  We're not talking about hardware failure or personal identity security, we're talking about a price drop.  Because of this price drop Nintendo is giving away 20 free games.  Sure they're older games and those ultra hardcore Nintendo fans will have most if not all of those games but for most people, myself included many of those games I haven't experienced.

If you do the math on it, lets say GBA games will go for 7 bucks (based on looking at the current E-Shop prices of games) and NES games for 5 bucks (looking at Wii prices) that's a $120 deal for FREE.  Considering we as in early adopters would of bought this console at the current price point, I find it as a steal.  No complaints coming from me.

Handheld Whoas and Concerns

A bit of a change of pace but I have some major concerns about the hand held gaming market right now, stuff that could carry over to the consoles in due time but concerns none the less about the future of this new generation of handhelds we're going into.  You see while you have fanboys fighting over what's going to "win" the handheld wars and sit there and troll and talk about the apposing system, it's like they're completely overlooking that both Sony and Nintendo are going to be fighting for survival this gen in the handheld market.  Here's a post that I made at gamefaqs on a topic talking about this.

It really irks my nerves seeing so much of this stupid fanboyism over the 2 systems when the real problem isn't the gaming consoles, it's the phones, pads, and apple. Here's 2 examples of this.

The other day me and a friend were talking about the 3DS as we're both 3DS owners expressing concerns over the system and he was saying how it's so hard for him to play Super Street Fighter IV on the 3DS but followed that up how Nintendo will never be hurt (he's a big Nintendo fan). He then right after this went on to talk about how he loved Street Fighter IV on his Iphone and how it's much easier to play. I stopped him right there and explained this is exactly my point. The Iwhatever products are moving on gaming territory.

Another thing also on this line, the other day I was at the movies with my 3DS and my friend had his PSP. We're playing some games getting ready for the movie to start and I took a look around and most of the people in the audience were playing games... on their droids and iphones. Literally, we were the only 2 people in there with gaming handhelds.

These are just 2 examples but at this point, neither Sony nor Nintendo can afford to overlook this market as its growing rapidly and only getting bigger. With Iphone 5 dropping this holidays, both companies can't afford to just look at each other and ignore the competition. As gamers, we also need to stop with this petty Nintendo vs Sony stuff and start just playing and supporting the games and consoles if we want this industry to continue bringing us what we like.

Nintendo has already stated themselves that Apple is the real threat in the immediate future, Sony also knows this too.  I wish people that came to gaming forums would stop with the constant biased hate and just support the gaming consoles and the games.

Of course in order for the systems to be better competition and more of an enticing buy, there's some changes that will be needed with both the Vita and the 3DS.  3DS needs better online, it's a system seller.  If more of the launch titles went online the system probably wouldn't be in the situation it's in now and if Nintendo built strong in system online features (message friends, voice chat, inviting friends to games) it would greatly help current online experiences like Street Fighter and Dead or Alive.  As for Vita, the fact the system can't run UMD's is a bad BAD decision.  There needs to be compensation for PSP owners, a revamp in the model to add UMD's or a way to register you're previous games online and redownload them onto the PS Vita.  These are both major problems that need to be addressed, doing so would greatly improve the value of both systems.

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