Afternoon Retail: A Modern Gamer's Epic

Afternoon Retail: A Modern Gamer’s Epic
By Karl Castaneda

This past Friday, I headed down to The Falls, a mall in my hometown of Miami, Florida. I was there to meet up with some friends to see X3, but I got there pretty early, so I decided to walk over to the Electronics Boutique. Now, I usually avoid the store, due to a hairy situation that I was involved in a while back, but I was pretty bored, and there wasn’t much of an alternative. With a good hour to kill, I walked in.

Touching is Believing

Not soon after I’d entered the store, I heard a mother talking to the clerk about purchasing a PSP for her son. Since the demo kiosks were all being used, I decided to eavesdrop. Apparently the son wanted a DS, but the clerk was making the point that a PSP would be a better decision as, “it can play different media formats and has a bigger library of games.” I’m not usually one to point out inaccuracy, but the fact that this woman was going to be suckered into paying extra when she wanted a product of higher quality made me shed my obscurity, and I entered the conversation.


Standing on a Soap Box

Standing on a Soap Box
By Karl Castaneda

Often, in times of social unrest, variations of media are used to siphon opinions on particular issues to the masses. Parodies, often cynical in nature, have been around for ages, poking fun at what's usually a very serious issue in the hopes of rattling a few feathers; getting a few things done. In the modern age, we've seen it travel from the silver screen and radio to television and the internet; novels, newspaper, and even comics have been known to snub the sword for the pen. The question is, are games the next step?

First we must ask ourselves if gaming is really meant for such a thing. It's a storytelling medium yes, but the principles it was founded on meant it to be an entertainment medium. If there's time for catharsis, it's always welcome, but can social and moral commentary be used as a focal point in video games? Well, I could tell you now, but what's the fun in that? Let's explore first.


Untapped: Nintendo, Non-Games, and Next-Gen

Untapped: Nintendo, Non-Games, and Next-Gen
By Karl Castaneda

After the video game crash of the mid 1980s, Nintendo arrived to pick up the pieces and revive the industry with the Famicom (NES in the States) and Super Mario Bros., instantly pulling in former gamers and new customers alike with its fun and easy-to-manage gameplay. The premise was simple: press one button to go forward and another jump. It took only a minute to explain and even less to master, and because of this, everyone from your best friend to your grandmother could play without too much trouble. Heralded as a classic to this day, when people look back at old-school gaming, there’s no bigger icon than Mario.

Over the years Mario’s gotten more complex as the industry’s become bigger and (supposedly) better. The drawback to this is that, while thousands upon thousands of polygons might be devoted, try giving your mom your GameCube controller and Super Mario Sunshine. The end result isn’t pretty. “But so what,” the hardcore say, “It’s my experience that matters.” This is true, but when you’ve got enough cash to sustain an entire company, look me up. I’m sure Infinium Labs would like to meet you. In business, you expand your wealth by expanding your market, and that’s just what Nintendo’s been trying to do with its Blue Ocean strategy where, instead of catering specifically to the hardcore, they’re dividing their efforts into the classic face that we’re used to and a new outreach to people who’ve never picked up a controller before. Yes, we’re talking about non-gamers.

Problems in Paradise



Ok lets be realistic here. Lately it seems that I have been dissing Sony and kissing Nintendo's ass. Praising Nintendo for everything they have been doing the past couple of years. Well why not? To me they are finally doing onto something that is not only getting people excited but getting the sales figures to back them up that they are doing the right thing. The DS at one point I thought was extremely risky, now I can't put the bloody thing down. Right now I am hooked on the "NEW" Super Mario Brothers game.

But you see, to some people that means I am a Nintendo fanboy. However this is not the case. Let me tell you something, I used to be a SEGA fanboy for the longest time. I have the master system, Genesis with Sega CD, Saturn, a Dreamcast, and last year I bought Sega CDX. However I realized that being a fanboy wasn't really rewarding besides the games you play. And it is also pretty childish. If you start out as a fanboy as young as I did, you can get pretty extreme dissing and insulting other systems and never even trying one. However, I luckily never became one of those "extreme" fanboys and eventually I grew out of it after the fall of the Dreamcast. And to this day I am not a fanboy to any one company or console.

Of course, I have a right of preference. I seem to enjoy my Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS quite a bit. I once in a while buy a PS2 game and play them on my girlfriend's PS2. But if there is one thing I shall never be its a fanboy. I equally look at all system's and handhelds and decide which I like better. Right now I am loving the DS, the Xbox 360, the concept of the Wii, and few PC games. I've got a lot on my plate right now.

But still, some people seem to think that my negativity towards Sony is still fanboy-ish behavior. Well, actually its not. I am a very harsh person and very critical. However I don't think Sony is all bad. I mean I enjoyed the PSone and the PS2, even though I don't either. I can't deny the fact either. Over 100 million consoles for both systems sold worldwide. However, as time goes on Company exec tend to get cocky and start to belittle the competition.

Oh sure belittling someone is just part of the game. But when you bash someone for releasing two sku's and then announced that you will be doing the same thing almost 9 months later then thats just being a jerk. I don't have a problem with Sony taking their motion sensors idea from Nintendo because everyone has been taking cues from the Big N. The digital pad, analog control, rumble features, etc. So of course I am not suprised to see Sony trying to capitalize on the idea of motion sensor technology.

Anyway as I have demostrated I definitely don't have the mind frame of a fanboy. Seriously you can hold an intelligent conversation with me without me de-evolving myself to a petty name calling little snot chanting, "j00r such a n00b! joo sys3m teh sux0rz! However if that is what you want you can definitely find that kind of attitude over at Gamefaqs' messageboards. There are some people over there that that bad but their numbers are small. Well thats enough rambling from me. You will hear from me again really soon when I post Lost Gems 5: Star Wars Dark Forces.


And thats a wrap! E3 2006 is over.

Wow! This was probably the best E3 that I have ever witnessed from afar. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony throw down the gauntlets and were focused on stealing the attention away from each other. However in the end it appears our buddies at Nintendo came away vitorious. Nintendo's press confeernce was probably one of the best I have seen in years. They did nothing but center on what the Wii can do and highlighted the Wii edition od Zelda: Twilight Princess and Red Steel.

Nintendo showed off 27 Wii titles on the floor and had tons of future DS games including a Yoshi's Island 2, Star Fox DS and Final Fantasy 3. Nintendo definitely came away the winner of this year's E3. However Nitendo did have a couple of issues that I seem should be handled soon. For one, Nintendo has again skipped out on annoucning the Price and release date of the Wii. Two, Nintendo showed of the classic controller for the Wii. The Classic controller was going to be the "shell" but it appears Nintendo has opted not to do that. The classic controller design is something I'm not the keen on actually. It's shaped like a dual analog Super NES controllerhowever I would've opted that the Z button was behind the controller and there were extra face buttons for the N64 games but I guess I'll still end up buying it.

Microsoft's E3 press conference had to be big in order to compete with Sony and Nintendo this year. However it was to say the least an average press conference. Microsoft did announced Halo 3 and showed off a 2 minute trailer, which developer Bungie says is using real time graphic rendering. Take that Killzone. Microsoft also announced Fable 2 from recently aqcuired Lionhead Studios. There was also a list of new Live! Aracade titles as well as tons of new next gen titles for the 360.

Sony came away with not only the least impressive conference but it was their worst ever since coming the first E3 back in 95. To start off Sony finally unveiled the new controller design which is, behold, a shiny silver Playstation 2 contoller. The controller did have a couple of twists to it however. First the controller is completely wireless and has a usb connection used to recharge the controller. Second the PS3 controller motion sensor detectors which was taken from the idea of the Wii's remote. The "limited" motion detectors allow for limited game play and all you can really do is play racing sims and flight games that are more keen to using this kind of technology. The controller takes its final addition directly from the 360's controller. In the center there is a button that acts the same at the 360 symbol on the controller.

Oh and did I mention the price? Sony announced that they will release the PS3 in two sku's. A low budget sku will go for $499 and will come with a 20 gig hard drive but minus some usb ports and wifi access. The premium package will come at a hefty $599 and have a 60 gig hard drive instead and include all the bells and whistles not available for the low budget pack. I actually expected the PS3 to be announced that around those prices, so no big deal there. However what actually urks me is how Sony ripped Microsoft for releasing two sku package plans for the Xbox 360 and then later decides to do it themselves. Have you guys over at Sony have no humility?

I'll be honest with you. I do not plan to get a Playstation 3. Period. I don't care if SquareEnix is releasing 3 versions of Final Fantasy XIII or if Virtua Fighter 5 will be exclusive. By the way the multi-game apporach to FFXIII that SquareEnix is taking urks me as well. More on that another time. What really matters is at the end of the day I plan on getting my Wii and buying a couple more games for my 360. Sony has really lost me this time with the way they are carrying themselves. Maybe if they drop the price in a couple of years then maybe I'll consider getting one.


Anyway its late, I'll talk some more about the games of E3 for the Wii, Xbox 360 and the PS3. Pace.


One moment please.... Information overload.

Hubbs is going to make a post about the E3 press conferences right after he recovers from his nerd-gasms. Stay tuned.


And it shall be called Wii.

I will be straight and to the point. I like the name Wii. I think it's refreshing, weird, and somehow fits in the universe that Nintendo has created for themselves. Wii, which is pronounced "we", is the new name for the new Nintendo console, once dubbed by the codename Revolution. The codename definitley explains what the system was all about with its new angle on gameplay. With the unveiling of the remote/controller hybrid, Nintendo is showing the world how to play games again.

But then came a rather shocking announcement from the big N. It has become custom for Nintendo to reveal some of their projects before E3( Nintendo DS, GBA SP), and so this year Nintendo dropped the bomb by announcing that their new console will henceforth be called Wii. This has got the whole gaming world off gaurd and has garnered mixed reactions. Most of which has been in the negeative. Here are some examples of what a couple of editors over at 1up.com said.

"What the holy hell are they smoking over there in Nintendoland? This is a classic cross-culture blunder; it may not be "bite the wax tadpole" but lord, it ain't good. Although, I do appreciate that it opens the door to some awesomely bad urine jokes."
- Joe Rybicki

"Actually, it's probably smart. It will never be a good name for a videogame console, but it's so unbelievably weird that it's bound to have people talking."
- Shane

Despite the reactions however, the vast majority seem to either dislike the name or abuse it for toilet jokes. I have been guilty of the later, but I seriously like Wii. Wii just seems to have enough weirdness to it that it just seems to fit. Anyway, the choice of the name Wii was rahter intersting. Game Informer held an interview with a NOA rep who said that the name "Wii" symbolized playing together and allowing people to interact with their games in a new way.

However, with a name like Wii for Ninendo's next big console, one must take a look back at the other consoles with usual names that didn't sit well with the public. For instance our good buddy the Dreamcast is a prime example. A console that had a good and unfortunately short run. Dreamcast seemed like a name that might be associated with those deamcatcher rings. While it is still an odd name for a console the Dreamcast has managed to not only become a staple in gaming history but years after its life, to be known as one of the best console names ever.

Of course this might also go to show that a console's name when first announced can in fact hurt sales of a console. Why buy a system as weird as a Dreamcast when you can buy the cool sounding system like a playstation 2. A poll over at Gamefaqs has shown that over 37,000 people won't buy the system or say that sales will hurt Nintendo because the name is just weird. That 37,000 that aren't getting a sysem because of a silly name. Its probably really silly of them to do that, but its their choice and in the end it's Nintendo who get's hurt.

Nintendo lately seems to be taking huge risks with what they have been doing. The DS was a big risk and in the end has become profitable. The name DS has also become a staple in the view of the public. Weither it meant Dual Screen or Developer System, it didn't matter since the name was well recieved by the public. Nintendo wanted to change the way people played games and the DS is proof that people will want new experiences when playing games. Eventually this might be the case with Wii once everyone is able to fully realize what the system is capable of. And for that we must wait until E3.

E3 is the ultimate test for Nintendo. Once they win people over with their games and virtual System service I gaurentee that you'll still hear the toilet jokes but the name will have a more positive impact on gaming. Revolution by description, Wii by name, a gaming expereince Wii will soon enjoy.