Catching the Move

I have not written much about the PlayStation Move. Mostly because I have been somewhat indifferent, and I am not really sure that I want to invest a sizable chunk of coin into a new system (really accessory) ad-on that may or may not be well supported over the next 18-24 months.

As we move closer to September 17 I am becoming anxious.  Am I going to miss out on something?  Do I need to get my Day 1 Jones going?  Should I Move?

Do I really want to spend $100 for the Move/Eye/Sports Champion bundle, another $50 for a second Move controller (for those games that require two moves and to allow for multi-player games with my kids), and another $30 for the Move Navigation accessory? $180 is a serious investment when gaming dollars are at an all time premium. Not sure about you, but unless I am getting a great bargain, I have become fairly selective in my gaming purchases.  The economy and three growing boys sometimes put a check on my past carefree spending ways.

It will be interesting to see how well the Move is supported in upcoming games. Hopefully we will see a lot of meaningful patches that will allow for somewhat unique experiences over typical PS3 games. The real question for me – does the Move provide for a better experience over the Wii? All signs point to HD gaming with more precision than the Wii. Is the Move worth $100-180 to see if gaming progresses past the typical casual Wii experience? Will the Move be more than a HD Wii?

Lots of questions and hardly any answers for this jaded gamer. If I decide to go with a Move, in addition to Sports Champion, I should have a couple of Move compatible games: Heavy Rain and High Velocity Bowling (HVB).

I haven’t touched Heavy Rain since I switched to my PS3 Slim in June. The Heavy Rain save file was not transferable; and to be perfectly honest I haven’t been in the mood to start over. Every time I think of picking it back up, I think that I should probably hold out until I make a decision on the Move because I could see Heavy Rain’s controls really benefiting from the Move.

HVB should get a nice boost of new reply value with Move support. In my opinion HVB is really an underrated game, but even with the addition of Move support, it would be difficult to call a Move compatible HVB a reason to invest in the Move.

Two supported games for $180 is a little steep for my tastes. Of course getting Sports Champions in the Move bundle would bring my supported library to a grand total of three games. That helps a little on the value front, but very little in the way of ammunition towards convincing my wife that this is money well spent.

So all I am doing is writing about reasons why I should not get a Move, but we all know that I will probably say “f-it” and do it anyway, right? That’s just how I roll.


Realism, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, and the Wii

I never thought I would tag “realism” and the Wii in the same heading, but here we go. This brief review from joystiq caught my attention.

For veteran golfers, MotionPlus provides an expert level of precision that not only calls for practiced, realistic swinging, but it also makes the experience feel less like a game and more like a sport. You don’t control ball spin in the air — everything boils down to your swing and knowledge of how real-world golf is played. It’s a leap forward for me, who’s used to dealing with analog stick putting and driving.

Of course everyone has a different opinion on what equates to fun and a realistic gaming experience. If EA has somehow managed to make a semi-realistic experience on the Wii, moving beyond the gimmick phase of all things Wii, then I am impressed. Not that I am a golfer, but my kids would love to tear into something like this!


PS3 Catching Up? Next Gen Months Or Years Away?

I was catching up on some videogame related reading over the weekend and found brief mention of this article at Industry Gamers via the Official PlayStation Blog.

Overall, the global games market is facing “major uncertainties” for the rest of 2010, Strategy Analytics said, including the “extent and pace of the Wii’s decline,” and the impact of the upcoming motion devices for PS3 and 360. The research firm believes that total global home games console sales will fall by 9% in 2010.

Of course Sony referenced this one to show that the PS3 was in front of the 360 this year, and was closing the global gap of 4.4 million or so quickly. Kittens and roses for Sony until you compare numbers to the Wii.

You will notice the part of the article I quoted is a digression from who is in front. This has me thinking about the next hardware generation, which will not come in the immediate future due to the overall economic climate.

Nintendo may be in position to be first out of the gate, however I would be shocked if even a minor Nintendo Wii HD upgrade was available in time Christmas 2010.  I think 2011 is the earliest we will see any new hardware.

Sony’s introduction of the Slim has slowly helped turn around their fortunes, and while Sony loves to say they built their console for the future, did they? In the hands of committed developers, and strong middleware and various toolkits, the PS3 probably does have plenty of life left. How much is plenty?

Remember the PSX and PS2 had a good five years in them before the next console came along. PS2 started slowly and helped mass adoption of DVD. PS3 started even slower and helped Blu-ray win the HD format war. Something tells me that 2011 may be too early for Sony launch a new system.

I am not sure about Microsoft; they are the wild card. If Microsoft wants to keep an advantage over Sony they have to release early, which means 2011, however they have to bring something to the table that is a significant upgrade over the 360 and more exciting than anything PS3 has in the works.

The motion control stuff just does not interest me. I could change my mind once these new devices are out along with some killer games. Same for 3D. Something has to be damn impressive if I am going to commit to a new 3D HDTV. Right now these ideas seem like little more than gimmicks to bridge the gap between today and the launch of the next generation systems.

We need next generation hardware to reinvigorate console gaming, but in the current economic climate I just do not see it happening before spring 2011. And I think it will take a minor miracle for Nintendo to do anything more that a HD Wii.

I hope I am wrong on all accounts.


Wii HD

I have not been paying too much attention to videogame related news lately; however this story from CVG (via N4G) caught my attention. At some point the Wii will go HD …

“In terms of what the future holds, we’ve gone on record to say that the next step for Nintendo in home console will not be to simply make it HD, but to add more and more capability,” he added.

“We’ll do that when we totally tapped out all of the experiences for the existing Wii and we are nowhere near doing that yet, so lots of ongoing opportunity for the consumer in the current generation.”

It will be interesting to watch what Nintendo does next. As far as I can tell the Wii is still selling like hotcakes. Obviously Nintendo is carefully planning their next move, system upgrades, etc, and I could not see Nintendo following the GameBoy, GameBoy Light, GameBoy Advance, GameBoy Advance SP, DS, DS Lite, DSi cash cow. Maybe. The handheld gaming demographics and what will fly in terms of system “upgrades” has to be completely different. I doubt that most moms are going to run out to “upgrade” their Wii to a better looking Wii.

This is not to say that graphics do not matter. I am not a complete dumbass; after all I spent my review writing days lamenting gameplay over eye-candy. Now I am a graphics whore! Not really, but I actually get the mass market a lot better than I did when I was an arrogant, elitist, anti-establishment reviewer.

What will Nintendo’s next system offer? First, the Wii name and Nintendo brand recognition. Second, better graphics. What else? Continue to work on motion control improvements? Continue with GameCube and Wii backwards compatibility, and maybe offer some sort of upscaling similar to what the PS2 did for PSX games? I am not sure if the Wii audience really cares about an online gaming experience, but there is room for improvement in this area.

I am not sure what the Wii 2 could do to improve the gaming experience.  Nintendo has a massive gold mine in the Wii installed base waiting to be tapped by Nintendo, but that is about the bottom line, not gaming.  I love Nintendo’s games, but as a system, other than going the GameBoy Light path mentioned above, the Wii is a dead-end gaming platform.


In search of disc scratch repair magic

I wrote about this problem a couple of days ago; my kids’ Wii games seem to be scratching left and right. That is probably an exaggeration, but I do have four games sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for dad to work some magic. On a whim, or sort of a careless “why not try this” moment, I purchased some Audiovox Surface SURF404 DVD/CD/Game Disc Scratch Repair Kit from This junk turned out to be complete waste of money.

Just for shits and giggles I decided to post a “user” review of this product:

I purchased this product to help fix several of my kids’ Wii games – four different games had various degree of scratches. One of the games had very “heavy” scratches; obviously deep scratches that ran across the game disc as well as several that ran with the disc tracks. The product did not help this game at all. One of the games had very light scratches; what I call “feather” scratches. Multiple applications of the product did not remove the scratch from the surface, which is what I expected, but I was keeping my fingers crossed that the product would somehow bond and fill-in the surface of the scratch. No such luck.

This product may work fin [sic – SOB – I hate a type-o in a review!] on other media, but it did not help with Wii games. [I gave this stuff 1 star.]

Yesterday my wife called some of the local movie rental stores to ask about disc scratch removal services. We figured we would pay $5/disc, which while expensive, would be a much better alternative, not to mention cheaper, than replacing all the scratched games. No such luck. The stores either pretended to be ignorant, or they said they do not offer any sort of service. I guess they just throw out movies that are scratch. One of the stores did mention Scratch Out, but the reviews are so mixed on this one that I am not sure if I will waste my money.


Wii games scratch easily.

I was going to make a go of finding something really interesting video gaming related to comment on this morning, but I could not really find a damn that that was at least interesting enough to warrant a small comment, rant, gushing titillation, or downright disgust. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

As I sit here and write this, I have a stack of Wii games next to me that my kids say are scratched – they will not load, or they skip and crash at certain points in the game. The stack continues to grow. Wii Sports Resort, Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Madden 08. The Madden game is of small consequence – the boys already have Madden 10. The rest are somewhat concerning.

I order some Audiovox Surface SURF404 DVD/CD/Game Disc Scratch Repair Kit from Amazon to attempt to fix some of the discs, but no such luck. I am not sure if Wii games are just really easy to scratch or if my boys are really hard on their games. Maybe a combination of both.

If anyone has any suggestions on a really good scratch removal product or service, I am certainly open to ideas. I have asked my wife to call some of the local video stores to see if they offer any type of service. I would expect some of the larger stores to have some type of in-store service, at least for their own movies and games, to restore a scratched disk.


Console wars are interesting in Europe.

Not says me, but according to Good Gear Guide (Australian based something or another site found via N4G).

This places the Sony PS3 in a commanding position to usurp the Xbox 360 and Wii as Europe’s best-selling console. (Prior to the launch of the Slim, the original PlayStation 3 was only a million units behind its competitors in this territory.) The success of the PS3 Slim has been echoed around the globe, with total worldwide sales estimated at 500,000 — and that’s in its first week alone. With its inbuilt Blu-ray player, integrated Wi-Fi and free online gaming, it’s hard to argue that the PS3 doesn’t offer better value for money than its competitors (provided you actually want all of these things, of course).

Whichever way you look at it, it would seem that the price is finally right for hesitant PS3 buyers. One thing’s for sure, the console wars are about to get a lot more interesting…

Sustainability. That is where it is at. Ask again after Christmas.


Wii Fit Price Breakdown

The September 2009 issue of Money has an interesting page that gives a breakdown of the cost of Wii Fit, which retails for $90.

  • $45 Profit – Half of the cost of Wii Fit is pure profit for Nintendo.
  • $20 Manufacturing – Balance board is ~$19 while the software (and I assume case, manual, inserts) is ~$1.
  • $18 Retailers – The article states retailers usually get 20% while larger big box stores may get a little more.
  • $5 Marketing – print, TV, etc.
  • $2 R&D – It takes a lot of duckets to come up with this stuff!

The article states that 20 million copies of Wii Fit have been sold worldwide. Do the math. Nintendo is rich thanks to the popularity of the Wii Fit.


Mario goes multiplayer.

IGN has posted a nice GamesCon 2009 New Super Mario Bros. hands-on impression article. Of particular interest is the multiplayer aspect of the game.

Which leads me to the single biggest improvement made to New Super Mario Bros. for Wii (over its DS predecessor, since let’s face it — these games are otherwise very similar): the four-player-compatible cooperative and competitive multiplayer mode. The title is frankly doubly engrossing when you play with a friend or two because you will find yourselves working against each other just as often as you team up to take on enemies and challenges from the Mushroom Kingdom. I played in Germany against Peer Schneider, former IGN Nintendo editor turned traitorous VP of content at our little network, and we were laughing and groaning as we both made like we were going to help each other out and then instead tried to sabotage one another’s characters. You can, of course, blast through levels as a comprehensive team, disposing of goombas simultaneously, planning jumps on the tops of each other’s heads to gain height, and so on. But if you play like Peer and I did, you will do just the opposite, picking each other up and trying to hurl one another off ledges, stealing away power-ups before the other can get at them, and even throwing koopa shells at each other on occasion.

Day one purchase for the kids, and of course dad needs to play with the kids. Nothing says fun like a new Mario game for the Wii.


Consoles break; often.

First thing this morning I checked N4G to see what sort of PS3 price drop announcement was afoot, but right now we are getting silence. I am not sure why I care; it is not as if I am going to buy another PS3 just because they are cheaper. Maybe because mine dies again, which brings me to the point of this post from The Consumerist.

The poorly manufactured, red ring of death-prone console has a 54.2 percent failure rate, compared to 10.6 percent for the PS3 and the Wii’s 6.8 percent.

The magazine surveyed nearly 5,000 readers to get the data. And while the 360’s rate is alarmingly higher than the others, it’s still bafflingly low because it blows the mind to imagine that 45.8 percent of the consoles have not broken. Also, Microsoft’s numbers are inflated because 360s are used the most of the three consoles. Results said 40.3 percent of 360 owners use the console three to five hours a day, compared to 37 percent of PS3 owners. Meanwhile, the plurality of Wii owners (41.4 percent) play their consoles less than an hour a day.

Console failure rates in general are abysmal. I am not sure how they compare to computers, iPods, or other consumer electronics, but the numbers from this article are baffling.


Slow news Monday returns.

Except for a glut (and I mean a serious run) of PS3 price cut and PS3 slim rumors, there is just not all that much going on today.

So far I have enjoyed my brief time with Madden 10. Two important points. First, the game is improved over last year. Second, the sliders do appear to work and provide noticeable differences when tweaked. At least when I upped the penalty sliders, I started getting more penalties called. This is still a work in progress, and it is much too soon to call a final review score (as if I did those any more).

I have stayed away from Madden message boards, sites, and searches. If there is something glaring that has been found, for now I want to be clueless. I think it is better that way.

I ordered Madden 10 for the Wii for my son’s b-day. I am not expecting any major enhancements, but the kids like Madden, so they should be happy.


Wii will dominate Christmas. Does New Super Mario Bros Wii stand a chance?

I did not realize a battle for the ages was looming this holiday season. Australian based site Gameplayer posted a highly entertaining read: Fat Bastards versus Game Nerds

You can bet your left nut/ovary that the Wii will be laying claim to most of the top 10 in the best selling games chart when the curtains draw to a close on 2009 and we all get shit-faced on New Year’s Eve.

Perhaps more intriguing are the two games that are set to vie for the top spot. In the red corner you have Wii Fit Plus, and in the blue you have New Super Mario Bros Wii. Between them they offer a vastly contrasting audience. The former is selling primarily to weight conscious adults, and selling its pants off we might add. At around 22 million global sales, Wii Fit is the third best selling (non-bundled) console game of all time. How’d you like them apples?

My money is on New Super Mario Bros Wii. I think all the cool kids will ask for it for Christmas, while Wii Fit has already been on the market too long to capture the top spot at Christmas.


Strange Wii-ness: Sexy Poker

I started to save this for T&A Thursday, but why not tackle this one now? Sexy Poker has to be one of the strangest games on the Wii. Everything about this one does not fit with Nintendo wholesomeness. GamePro Arcade has a brief write-up of the game.

It’s strip poker with a bunch of still pictures of cartoon girls who strip down (they don’t actually strip, the clothing just vanishes) to their underwear. That’s right, no nudity here. This is PG-13 porn, in an M-rated game.

Hmmmmm. Apparently you play some poker, and if you win you get to see some hentai style rewards. Go figure.


Spinning the numbers. EA revenue by gaming platform.

Another day, another game of spin the numbers. This time MCV (via N4G) shows us that the PS3 outperforms Xbox 360 for EA.

Wii revenues lead the charge at $161m, up from $109m in the same quarter last year. Next up was PC, which courtesy of The Sims 3, bought in a considerable $124m.

Next in line was PS3 with total revenues of $121m, markedly higher than Xbox 360, which generated $73m for EA. The PSP was also a surprise victor over DS with revenues of $38m compared to DS’ $28m.

I guess you could say that is interesting, but it is funny that the lead was not Wii outshines other consoles, or maybe the PC kicks Sony and MS in the nuts.

Like a lot of articles I reference, be sure to check out the comments.  Sometimes (and this is the case with this article) the comments are better than the article.  Well … maybe more entertaining.