DS

All posts tagged DS

Being under assault by a month-long cold, working extra late to scale that Mt. Doom that is alpha, "enjoying" the three hours of commute book-ending days of overtime, and then spending the last addicted breaths of my R&R time late at nite huffing the Puzzle Quest demo, I can safely say that it hasn't been healthy nor synergistic.

We're currently working on versions of the next Tony Hawk game, and we've got just the summer left. And there is so much work left to do, it's scary. I seriously think, however, that this next Tony Hawk game will be one of the best in years. Anyways, I've decided to make my addiction more portable by switching to Planet Puzzle League, which is fantastic btw. I haven't had such intense games in years, and it was a pleasure to demolish daring players from Japan. I've only met my equal once, and we ended a 4-4 tie. My neck is killing me. Shall I compromise the productivity of my co-workers by introducing them to this wonderous game?

Evil cackle and fear of karma are battling it out in my mind's Octagon.

This weekend, I finally got a chance to get our Washington D.C. photo album up. Visiting our nation's capital on Memorial Day really helped rejuvenate my patriotism, and the trip was just the greatest vacation I've ever taken. I'll let the pictures do the talking, but one thing sums it all up: fresh Maine lobster roll.

Leaving for DC for our very first excursion to the fabled East Coast, our firm intention is to capitalize on a precious long weekend. For the flight, I am bringing along my Nintendo DS and Hotel Dusk, but the recent announcements from Nintendo have me slightly riled up, if there can be such a state.

Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Geometry Wars DS, Mario Strikers Charged, they all make me happy. But Planet Puzzle League, a revival of the puzzle perfection that was Tetris Attack, has me in throes of ecstasy. Do nerds lose their virginities to the nigh-sexual stimulation delivered upon slabs of unassailable gameplay? If so, then Tetris Attack was my first, and I remember her way too well.

A puzzle game is a funny thing. Its purpose is to stroke you until you are frustrated with mounds of unfulfilled resolutions that dance tantalizingly within reach. Yet pleasure in them is in the play, not the completion. Each time you do it, you learn to can go longer, and in time it's second nature. You gain mastery of a new, simple universe with simple rules, until you meet another player. Pitted against each other, you become addicted to unending contests of attrition.

The perfect puzzle game, which Tetris Attack is, never lets up. The split second of breath it gives you to either save yourself, or let a fuckton of bricks crush the life out of you is like trying to pants Death and escape alive. A perfect puzzle game, like Tetris Attack, doesn't give you or your opponent any cheap saves though. Each near-death experience is earned, and each earned is in turn a riposte, and each riposte can add up to a counterattack upon your nemesis' unpreparéd ego. I would say this game is the purest distillation of human power struggle and its wanton equilibrium ever made.

You know when a game is perfect when in the end a match between equally skilled players is decided not on luck, but on preserverance. This isn't the imbalanced Puzzle Fighters, the analog Wetrix, the stoic Tetris, the feminist Zuma, the arbitrary Lumines, or the shallow Bust-a-Move. This is Planet Puzzle League. Be afraid.

E3 pics are up!

Most of the big news probably slaps you in the face at each and every game site, so I'm going to stick with impressions and hands-ons, and leave headlines out of this. Overall, this E3 was probably the best one I've been to, with less focus on graphics and more focus on gameplay overall, with the exceptions of the two you-know-whos. Booth babe quality wasn't bad even with clothing restrictions, and watching Fatal1ty bring some wannabe to the brink of tears on the The Longest Yard conversion to Quake4 had me and Xstine laughing our asses off.

So without further ado…

Microsoft Impressions:
Xbox 360 games continue to look better, and I continue to think about getting one. Games look as a they should on a $400 system. Gears of War looked phenomenal of course, but Huxley was surprisingly fun too considering the amount of lag this FPS MMO had, and I was dukin' it with a roundtable of over 30 people. And its framerate was still a SIGHT better than the Crysis engine game, which when not in that Siberia known as the 10-minute loading screen, was trying to impress us with spring-collision driven foliage bending nonsense at a blistering 4 fps. 3D benchmarks are a FAR CRY from being games, please.
Still, Lumines on XBox Live and the announcement of Windows Vista allowing PC and console gamers to meet in sweet swiss bliss gave the system the edge. In Peter Moore's own words, why buy a PS3 when yyou can get both a Wii and a 360 for the same money? As much as I hate the guy, he's right as rain.
Oh yes, Viva Piñata looks rad (see pic), and besides some framerate problems, has got real style. Good job Rare… finally…
7/10

Nintendo Impressions:
As fanatical as the gaming media has been so far about the Wii, I have a huge complaint. I never got to play the damn thing since the line of lines, the sweat-infused meta-line that wrapped itself around the vortex of Nintendo's creative navel, was so entangled that I had not the ken to locate its extradimensional entry point. Dammit Nintendo, you spoke of playing is believing, but put your new console in the furthest reaches of E3's 9th circle of hell. My heart wept for a chance to play Super Smash Bros Brawl, but my melatonin begged for just one more day of sunlight.
Still, just watching the announcers playing Wii Sonic on the big screen by just tilting the controller left and right filled me with an instinctual, pheromonal kind of parasymptomatic gravitation back to West Hall over and over. Instead, I settled for some DS games, like Magnetica (aka Zuma) and Brain Training. Why is Sudoku so damn addicting.
8/10

Sony Impressions:
Let's forget about the price for a second, and the feature trickery. Do the games look good? Well, as you can see in the photos, their setup at E3 was still running on a bunch of dev kits, but at the moment it looks good. Not $200 good, mind you, but good. Warhawk wasn't very fun, but had that impressive kind of fluidity and SFX density that reminded me of great Dreamcast rail shooters. Madden looked godawful, honestly, with horribly overdone fur/grass. Heavenly Sword looked pretty good, like a PC version of Devil May Cry, although pixilated self-shadowing and jerky animation need work.
The booth area was pretty packed, and people were cheering like mad at the Final Fantasy trailers, but the actual wait time to get into the private showings was about 5 minutes. There will definitely be a market for PS3, evidenced my the throngs of people in the Singstar booth and the Country Karaoke Revolution game. The PSP, btw, went the way of the N-Gage.

4/10

PC Impressions:
I was pleasantly surprised. Hellgate: London continues to look great, and although the avatars are ugly, the gameplay is smooth and addicting just to even watch. The Conan MMORPG was graphically beautiful, especially the horse animations, but it seems like there was stuff being killed only when I looked away. Boring.
Xstine and I are both excited about Neverwinter Nights 2, and eye-rolly about World of Warcraft's expansion and its new Dranei Alliance race. NCSoft held a pretty exciting Guild Wars: Factions tournament with Koreans slaughtering Koreans, but nothing was nearly as exciting as THIS…..


8/10

Finally, some of the coolest things we saw there were these two toys:

So we're taking off tonite to hit up E3 and check out a few churches for wedding arrangements. We're eager to see for ourselves why people are going NUTS for the Wii. I hear there's a two hour around the block wait just to try it. I also plan to rock out to you know what:headbang: , and hopefully get a chance to see Gears of War in action… it looks frickkin' Contra-ed delish at the moment. Seriously, check out the direct feeds at IGN.

But before I go, I want to just say show one thing to all of you who haven't bought a DS yet, and you might want to put on a diaper first:

On the GBA. I ruined my Depends.

As I write this, it is 5 am and Xstine is furiously trying to master Cowboys From Hell. I feel zombified.

We had a dinner party with some of her company folks, where her inebriated boss drew upon his fifteen extra years on her as a long-haired metal hippie to whup her thoroughly on CFH expert in a duel, even though his strategy was mostly pressing random buttons but to a fairly accurate beat. Xstine, raised on a simpleton's diet of J-pop, is now on a warpath to defend her gamer's honor. I think she has hope. The blood of true dirtcore still flows within this young padawan.

For myself, I think I've plateaued at still being unable to conquer expert Bark At The Moon. Her CEO gleefully tried to take me down on the fastest songs, and my lack of stamina almost didn't meet the challenge. But I wasn't about to let his $20k speakers smackdown this whippersnapper. Still, no game has so thoroughly balanced players of skill and players of life experience as well as this. I'm dying for a sequel.

We also happened to run into a fellow who was one of the main guys responsible for the awesome Unreal Tournament 2k7 tech demo for the PS3. I should have known a guy who looks likes Jesus 'cept with UNREAL across his T-shirt would pick up Guitar Hero faster than any of us had. UT2k7 is the only thing I could possibly consider a PS3 for… but ah, no. Mouse will always be superior. And how the hell will Xstine cover me from massive turrets all on one screen? That's ok, I prefer we work on teamwork with me as lead guitarist and her as bass.

Now that I'm digging beat games, maybe I should get Ouendan for the DS? I think my masculinity is safely ensconced in riffing to Ozzy, let's give it a try.

So the shitstorm struck, and in the aftermath, new lines of loyalty were drawn, and an illusively stable Nintendo fan-base fractured under duress to assess what type of "hard-core" it was. The naming of the new console was a beacon of meaning for the darkest corners of the internet as factions rose and fell. Perhaps after this post, you'll join my militia of moderates.

I held off making any real comment about the Wii because I already knew I didn't like the name. But I wanted to see what it was doing to what has become an exceedingly machismonized industry. I can't help but chuckle to myself when I see PS3 and see "Pee Niss Three" and see XBox as "EXTREEEEEEEMEEEEE BOX! I'M EXTREEEEEME!!!" There has been unmitigated penis envy twixt consoles, you must admit. From the Harley-Dellvidson to the fixation of the gaming crowd on every last megahertz of graphical power, the Booth Babe Bonanza to the rippling breasteses that don no less than 40% of game covers, there is a culture where we look for the most swollen member of Best Buy unzipped.

And then comes Nintendo. Thrusting its Wii into the wet, yearning generation gap between the casual gamers leg and savage circumcised pro-gamers leg, Nintendo is going to do something none of its teen-primed competition could do- hold its load in there without busting a nut under five. Yes it's called Wii, but this wee Wii isn't trying to overcompensate. It's got big balls and it ain't afraid to swing'em.

Remember when video games were in their innocent adolescence? When Final Fantasy was a fantasy ensemble, not the roman-numeralized coming-of-age story it later became, focused on one young misunderstood guy with a huge phallic weapon? Remember when Final Fantasy 9 came out with its intelligent cast and no gun/sword/phallus combo weapons? Remember how it failed miserably and the schlongsword came back? That is the world game characters have to survive in today. They have to be angrier, bigger, and more silentlypowerful than ever. I blame the chauvinist undercurrent of modern Japan. But we all knew Americans were like that already.

If those days had not lovingly masturbated terms like "Emotion Engine" and "real-time" to this very moment, I think the Wii would be flaccidly normal. But instead, there is an elementally uneducated crowd of potential gamers out there who don't know what Playcubes and XStations are, and can't move two analog sticks at the same time. They just know that fiddling with your "controller" is what kids do when their parents aren't home. They know Guitar Hero makes sense, does what you expect, doesn't want you to hold R1 to aim then L1 to lock then A to shoot.

These folks are going to stupidly pour money into something that they can understand, as I did with my DS. They aren't going to feel retarded asking for something called the Hyper Game Machine VIII. They are going to wonder why people over 25 years old still snicker about the word "wee" as if it were the forbidden tee-hee at the playground. They are smart enough to realize this Freudian pratfall of a name serves as a miraculously efficient mechanism to point out the silliness of console hard-ons.

Here are people who will pick up a Wii, and across all ages and experience levels will feel empowered, not engorged. In their hands, this erect controller will offer the maturest control. Wii will offer accessibility. Wii will offer understanding. Wii will offer some fuckin' balls. What it lacks in length, it makes up with a girth encompassing a universe of folks who have yet to be addicted to Zelda. It's going to be the Kama Sutra of Consoles, giving you a mindfuck from forty creative positions. Those still worrying about hairy palms can have their recess in Halo voice chat, I'm past that point in life.

Wii? Yeah's it's a stupidest name of any console yet. But only because the collective boner has learnt us to expect something… well… more… EXTREEEEEEME!!!

Well, this is my last nite in the safe clutches in white america. Tomorrow we fly to Taiwan laden with expensive gifts to court Xstine's parents and talk about the scary M-word. I haven't been back to Taiwan in a long time, and it has always been my impression about Taiwan and Mainland that in some ways I loved it more than the people there did, and that lessened my love for them. I guess that only makes sense in my mind. Truthfully, I've slowly lost much of the infatuation I had with the history, land, language, culture, and traditions there, finding such irrational appreciation unreciprocated by the "real" Chinese. Instead, they love fast food and pop stars today. I hate both.

For the long plane trip there, however, the M-word will be Metroid Prime Hunters, which I picked up yesterday and had a blast with. Until my hand cramped from using the stylus to aim. And until some guy online owned me 7-0. Otherwise, the combat is intense, fast, and the characters are very interesting to use. Best of all, wi-fi runs like a greased pig. The only hiccups are the short solo missions, and the annoying friend-code player matching if you want to play anything besides vanilla deathmatch.

But the real reason I'm looking forward to this trip will be being able to travel around Taiwan with Xstine's expertise. I never got the feeling I saw much of the real Taiwan outside the tourist traps. We even got a new Cybershot T7 to document the trip, so pictures to follow!

P.S.
Name: 1+1>2
FCode: 4080-8945-5244

Picked up Advance Wars DS from Fry's, got re-ddicted enough to this sterling series to let Xstine order a navy DS Lite from LikSang. The compromise involved letting her get a bunch of retarded toys like a pixelated Mario mouse and Naruto keychains. At least now we won't have to fight over the DS when she wants to train her Nintendog. I'm going to buy a chihuahua when we get the money, call it Walker, give him a ten-gallon hat, and instead of "sit" and "liedown" his tricks will be "roundhouse" and "give me AIDS." He'll be able to kick so hard his foot will break the speed of light to travel back in time to kill Toto in the make-up trailer.

We also have been watching Bleach, in an attempt to fill the vacancy Naruto fillers have literally bored into our ghostless shells. One thing that stands out in every anime series we watch, Naruto, Bleach, Berzerk, DBZ, etc. and Japanese video game we play is the omnipresent brainwashing that goes on. There is always a reluctant hero character who world-saving ability is almost exclusively defined as the ability to preservere. In every one of these, the hero merely needs to reach down deeper and harder and things will be ok. His teammates are usually skilled combatants that are surprised by his ability to persist, and are willing to sacrifice their lives for him.

What a contrast to American comics, where teamwork is a rare and precious thing, where individuals struggle to find their roles and the values they are willing to sacrifice. Or in solo comic characters we find that they don't have a supporting cast, and often have to hide or justify their powers.

The more I watch, the more shocking it is to see how much conformity and brute force willpower are stressed as values to uphold. Perhaps U.S. sailors on aircraft carriers felt the same, seeing kamikaze pilots plow into our daunting seaborne fortresses with the Emperor's name on their lips. I guess the opposite of that is the American myth of the lone hero, ever present in our comics, movies, novels. Our caped crusaders and soldiers sacrifice themselves for each other, not for the Cause. Is that a weakness? Time will tell, as we fight more and more wars we know nothing care nothing about.

What's that? Wait… is it true… yes! OPERA! On the DS! The gateway drug now has a pusher, and what a fine wifi pusher it is!

To commemorate this wonderful day, I've got two great clips for DS fans as well as DS newbies:

Football meets Japanese self-throttling insanity

Phoenix Wright Spoof (this is actually very close to what this game plays like, fyi)

This week Christine got me re-addicted to Tower Defense, which surprisingly exists almost exclusively as mods for Blizzard games. If only the terribly addicting genre was transcribed to my favorite portable, then the world would be complete. Heck, they should pack the game with an IV drip of your favorite anti-depressants, into which I would mainline the tasty new Mountain Dew MDX energy drink, thereby offering my serotonin levels permanent residency in Valhalla.

The joke keeps getting told, but despite all predictions, it has not gotten funnier. The hype-factory that keeps dry-humping what it perceives to be hip young media coverage hasn't stopped touting the holy hyphenation of "Next-Gen" long enough to tell us what has taken that mantle that is actually, pardon my Korean, fucking fun for godsakes. I can't pretend that the dive down the Uncanny Valley is a rollercoaster of hardyparty.

I had my doubts, as probably most people did, but the Nintendo DS still managed to sell out in Japan, and now the redundant Gameboy Micro is picking up too. This ugly, gaudy, gimmicky device really hauled a tactile ass. Phoenix Wright is out-of-stock says Capcom. Any objections? HD-DVD add-on for the XBox 360? Are you fuckin' smokin'? How about a penis attachment for the sleek pimp that drew too quick? The sex they're selling sure feels granny.

What is it that separates Nintendo rehashed games from the rehashed games of every other system? I can't quite place my finger on it, other than the fact that a 5-yr old could tell ya Mario World to Mario Sunshine is a bigger koopa hop than Splinter Cell A, B, and C. What should worry the other big boys is that the Big N has started to work on its greatest flaw… stubbornness. I don't get it, but I keep underestimating them along with everyone else. Given the popularity of Geometry Wars and Hexic, I predict Revolution to be a shameless smash. Brothers. Online. Please. For. The. Love. Of. Gawd.

And with that, my quota for taking deities in vain has been filled for the day.