Thursday, June 4, 2009


Yes, my four readers, I am still alive, but only just barely. Having a boring, tiring, trying, and soul-crushing job tends to take the wind out of one's sails, but I've been exercising a bit more lately and have been feeling better. Since I've neglected this so long, I have some catching up to do:

Duke Nukem Forever: Hooray! Let's all break into a chorus of "Ding-dong, the Witch is Dead!" I know that one should not take solace in the passing of an industry giant, but with this train wreck finally buried maybe the public can focus on more original, better games.

Project Natal: Microsoft's attempt to wrest market share away from Nintendo's iron grip on housewives, senior citizens, and other culturally challenged individuals looks amazing... for a mock-up. If this thing works even half - even half - as good as they say it will, I will finally be freed from that nasty, putrid, stinking game controller I've spent half of my life mastering! Aside from making impressions that the project will never be able to live up to, Microsoft will presumably sell a living room add-on kit to cover the extra twenty square feet of floor space one will need to use it. Even if it does what they say it will without slowing your Xbox 360 to a snail's crawl, using Steven "I've-never-read-a-book-in-my-life" Spielberg to pitch for it just seems like an act of sad desperation.

Sony: Pffft. It seems that the general public is becoming acutely aware of what I have maintained since 1998: Sony doesn't know what the hell it is doing. Aside from their gay magic wand, they have also announced what is basically a pre-broken PSP for $100 more than a regular one!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Considering how little I've come to expect from Nintendo, New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS wasn't all that bad (if you ignore Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World). While I'm curious to see how it turns out on the Wii, my expectations that Nintendo will be able to craft even a halfway decent big screen Mario platforming game post Mario 64 are almost nil.

Shigeru Miyamoto: Oh snap! Miyamoto didn't attend the press conference? The man single-handedly responsible for Nintendo's brand recognition to the point where he has been elevated to the status of a pagan god wasn't carted out to shill the Big-N's crap at the p.c.? Could it be that the one-trick pony is finally too old to pull the cart?

Seriously, I used to admire Miyamoto - his games (in the beginning) weren't like anything else out there, head and shoulders above the rest in terms of quality and playability. When the technology evolved so too did the graphics, but the gameplay seemed left behind. Now when he talks smack about other companies (see above) creating game ideas before the technology is ready, I just have to look back on my pile of broken N64 "Mario Party" controllers, the huge scratches the stylus leaves on my DS, and the repetitive stress injuries and property damage caused by haphazardly waggling the Wii-mote around to see that Nintendo doesn't consider whether a technology works when they build a game around it. In my opinion, Miyamoto, it's far better to build technology around a game concept than to build a game around a somewhat-working gimmick.

Oooh, the next Zelda game will have four players? BIG STINKING DEAL! Four Swords was okay, and only okay, because it lacked an inventory and the co-op elements were overshadowed by constantly fighting over gems, bringing the gameplay to a halt. WARNING: RACIST COMMENT COMING UP IN 3... 2... 1... RACIST COMMENT GO!: Besides, the Japanese are about as good at four-player co-op as the Chinese are at mine safety (read: not so much). Four Swords aside, licensed Nintendo games that could have been excellent multiplayer games are always brought down by some mind-boggling technical or design decisions - Crystal Chronicles, Children of Mana, etc. (okay those are all square games but they are usually my basis for comparison).

To sum up:

Microsoft: Put up or shut up.
Sony: Price down or stay down (in third).
Nintendo: Shut up.