Vita Sunday Brunch

Lots of random stuff, most centered around Gamescom 2012 news and announcements, so let’s get started straight away …

PSOne Compatibility in Sight
Finally! The long awaited feature to play PSOne games on our Vita is almost launched. No idea what took so long, but hopefully Sony pulls this off without a hitch.

Why play 15+ year old games on the Vita? Why not – there are a ton of classics just waiting to be found and enjoyed. As part of the launch, it would be nice if Sony features some sort of PSN PSOne sale to coincide with the firmware update, and certainly throwing in a couple of classics as part of the PS+ update would be appreciated.

Vita Gets PS+
Speaking of PS+, the Vita finally gets some love.

We will also deliver PlayStation Plus, which is currently available for PS3 users, to PS Vita users this year. By purchasing a membership to PlayStation Plus, PS Vita users will be able to enjoy various services which will become available exclusively for members.

I really expected Sony to push PS+ as part of E3, but they waited until Gamescon to final admit they have a wonderful system that needs some TLC. Depending on how they position PS+ for the Vita (hopefully not just the “services” part), Sony should have a compelling offering on their hands. Even if Sony only provides occasional PSOne, PSP, and minis (OK, I don’t really care about the Minis), PS+ on the Vita should be well received.

If nothing else, precious memory card space could be freed up by transferring occasionally played game saves to the Cloud Game Save service.

I love the stylistic look of Tearaway; fantastic looking game.

Hopefully this one progresses nicely, and the Vita’s features do not get in the way of the fun or come across as mere gimmicks.

Gravity Rush DLC Articles
I’m not very far into Gravity Rush, but at some point I intend to pick up the Maid Pack and Special Forces Pack DLC. One of these days. At any rate, I thought the reviewer did a good job of providing some decent commentary on the merits of the DLC.

COD: Black Ops Declassified
I’m not a fan of military shooters so I don’t intend to pick up COD: Black Ops Declassified. According to EDGE, it looks to be a train-wreck, while the official’ish Sony Blog makes it sound spectacular. Unless the release is delayed, I see this one falling flat and living COD fans disappointed; not the system seller Sony needs to push the Vita.

Ragnarok Odyssey Gets Delayed
Technically it’s not a delay if a release date was never set for August 21, which was the case at the time of my original pre-order. Amazon now estimated an October 19 arrival date, which may or may not be “official” but certainly this could be too close to the November 20 P4G release.

Ragnarok Odyssey has been on my radar for a while; starved JRPG fans get sort of desperate that way.

Speaking Of JRPGs
Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees [There is no way that title doesn’t get changed in the localization process; assuming the game makes it to NA.] continues to look impressive, but P4G is the real prize and now you can get a preorder bonus. I don’t really care for the skin, but I’m sure some Persona nuts will get all teary eyed over for this one.

Vita Should Go Digital Only?
I don’t think so, but this article from Game Insider makes a case for revamping the Vita to include physical memory, digital only gaming (even though the PSP Go was a miserable failure), and removing 3G support. I disagree with these points, but physical memory is an issue. The article is well written and worth a read.

Cross Buy
Sony looks to be pushing Cross Buy with games like Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault.

Not only will the game feature cross-play and cross-save, but it’s also part of a super-cool promotional offer where anyone who purchases Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault for PS3 via PlayStation Network will be able to download the PS Vita version of the game from PSN at no additional cost and vice versa.

No complaints from this gamer. This approach can only help the Vita. It should be interesting to see if any Third Party partners offer something similar; doubtful, but worth watching.

Happy Sunday!


WipEout 2048 – Vita DLC Packs

A couple of weeks ago I picked up WipEout 2048 (Vita) after passing on the latest iteration of WipEout during the February Vita launch. It’s not as if I don’t like WipEout – the series has an awesome pedigree which originated on the PSOne (I still own the first two releases).

More recently, I played WipEout Pure extensively on my PSP; after trying several different flavors of portable racing, Pure ended up being my racing game in my PSP library and remains in my collection today.

With all that said, I had no intentions of picking up WipEout 2048. I figured that I already had too many games in my Vita library, albeit none of which were racing games. Then something crazy and unexpected happened. Sony provided some Cross Play action that pushed me over the edge.

Almost two years ago (June 28, 2010), initial PS+ subscribers were treated with WipEout HD (PS3) as part of their day one PS+ subscription. A year or so later, I picked up full digital ownership of the game as part of Sony’s “Welcome Back” package. WipEout HD + Fury DLC to be more precise.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes with the WipEout HD. I just have too many other gaming distractions. So what happened?

As I said, Cross Play arrived.

To make this deal even sweeter, we’ve got a special promotion that will let you experience WipEout’s exhilarating crossplay action on both PS3 and PS Vita. For those of you who already own WipEout HD or WipEout HD Fury on your PS3, you can automatically download the PS Vita versions for free! And the same works vice-versa as well: Anyone who purchases these new WipEout HD expansion packs from PlayStation Store on their PS Vita can download the packs for free on their PS3.

I decided to pick up WipEout 2048 because it was discounted, and because of the added value of getting WipEout HD + Fury DLCs for “free” – Sony really needs to push this sort of Cross Play connectivity across more titles.

WipEout 2048 is great on the Vita; I’ve played a couple of rounds of online multiplayer, which was OK – no lag or the like. I have also finished up the 2048 single player campaign mode, although I haven’t earned Elite passes in everything. WipEout 2048 has a ton of replay value, and when you add in the bonus HD + Fury DLC, I can see 2048 carrying my Vita racing needs forward for a long time to come.


Vita – PSOne Classics Incoming?

Could it be true? Soon after launch the Vita will receive PSOne compatibility?

I wonder if this will be a free patch or if Sony will try to earn a few duckets with some sort of DLC add-on via the PSN store? There will be mass rioting across the internet if Sony charges …

I have 25+ digital PSOne Classics, that I would love to port to my Vita. While many of the games are dated, the RPGs are fantastic, and some of the other gems (i.e. Twisted Metal 2, Crash Bandicoot, Destruction Derby) are fun pick up and play games. With my PS+ subscription, I continue to rack up access to PSOne Classics on a monthly basis, so in theory, the fun never stops.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the ability to play PSOne Classics, upscalled to take advantage of the Vita’s raw processing power, comes in the very near future, and of course for free.


Sony Says No To Vita PSOne Support

To me it is a major bummer that the Vita, at least upon its initial release, will not support PSOne titles. Having 25+ digital PSOne classics, many of which were obtained via PS+, available gives me more options for my PSP and Vita.

Sure these games are old, but some of the RPGs are pure gold, and the catalog is too amazing to ignore, perfect for gaming on the go.

Hopefully Sony addresses in the very immediate future.


PlayStation NGP – First Comments

Now that Sony has unveiled the first info on the successor to the PSP, the various mega sites have beaten the NGP to death with their coverage, predictions, options, etc.

To keep things short and simple, I will offer up a few comments of some items that caught my attention.

The NGP will contain 3 motion sensors, including six-axis motion support. It will be interesting to see how well this capability is implemented in games; hopefully it will not just be a cheap gimmick.

The NGP is set to have front and rear cameras, which should be perfect for practical applications such as video conferencing. Gaming should also benefit – basically a built in PlayStation Eye Camera (or two).

The NGP will have touch screen technology. This one is pretty obvious, but when there was a lot of speculation around the PSP Go, a touch screen was in demand.

GPS will be built into every NGP. There should be plenty of apps in the work for instructions to the nearest bar or cheapest place to buy some new NGP game.

The NGP will support Wi-Fi. Let’s just hope this works if you are off the 3G network, either by physical location or lack of funds to support your mobile phone needs.

And oh by the way, the NGP is obviously a phone. I thought I would save that one for last and make a clever joke, but in retrospect, the implementation and execution were poor.

All of this is great stuff, but what about the price? Predictions range from $249-349 according to analysts quoted on PlayStation LifeStyle. The PSP has notoriously poor battery life, so Sony better be able to muster 15+ hrs for a full charge.

Of course for a portable gaming device, games matter. Sony is starting off with a solid library of PSOne Classics to play on the go, Minis, and whatever else is in their current PSP PSN stable of games. Will that be enough? I still hate the fact that not all UMD based games are available in digital format on the PSN. At this point in the PSP lifecycle, I believe that is unlikely to change, and I think there is almost zero chance that Sony will offer some sort of conversion utility.


Gaming News and Notes

Over the last three weeks, starting right before the Thanksgiving break, I have been on a torrid (for me) gaming rampage. I think I have logged more hours on my PS3 (and even a few on the oft forgotten PSP – Ghost of Sparta) than I did in total January through October.

I have to say it has been fun. Almost like a kid in a candy store. Gaming nirvana if you please. I have found this latest zone has helped me decompress and even get in some quality time with the kids. These days I don’t question how long this ride will last; I just keep on plugging, enjoying it until I put down the controllers.

Crazy Taxi
After pickup up my PS3 Slim for Father’s Day, I flipped Crazy Taxi on eBay. Not because I no longer enjoyed the game; I consider it one of the ultimate pick and play titles. It is just a damn good arcade gaming experience, which blends the perfect elements of short bursts of gaming excitement and the pursuit of high scores.

Besides, the PS3 Slim more or less forced my hand, since it is not PS2 backwards compatible. Of course in my back pocket I knew Crazy Taxi would be headed towards the PSN.

The PSN edition seems to be the same game, minus the licenses (Levi’s, KFC, music, etc), with slightly harder controls compared to the PS2 and Dreamcast versions. Crazy Taxi is still a fun arcade experience; one that the boys enjoy playing with dad. As an added bonus, the PSN version also provides the pleasure (or frustration – take your pick) of pursuing Trophies.

Shame on me for not playing this one more over the past year. FIFA 10 is a fantastic sports game, and the virtual pro feature being balls out fun. In my dotage, I have a hard time pulling off decent skill moves, so my pro still seems a little stiff and rough around the edges. As a striker, I am all offense, with almost no defensive skills. I think my rating is currently 72 and climbing.

Rumor has it Santa is bringing me FIFA 11 ($29.99 during one of the Thanksgiving deals), so I figured I better maximize my FIFA 10 experience before Christmas so I will not feel so guilty when I trade in or eBay FIFA 10. And maximize I have; in fact I have probably spent more time with FIFA 10 than any other game in this article. Fun and highly addicting!

Gran Turismo 5
After waiting an eternity (at least it seemed that way), we finally have a proper Gran Turismo on the PS3. I picked up the Gran Turismo 5 Collector’s Edition – I love the series, even if it is not the best pure “racing” experience around.

After starting off with one of the 25+ versions (or whatever) of a Toyota Corolla, I have been slowly making my way through the game. Due to so many other games in my rotation (or call it my gaming backlog) I have not started the long slow GT grind. I have picked up my B and A licenses, and while I could keep on trying to progress, I have been working on locking up all B and A license Gold trophies, which seems damn near impossible for some.  I actually find this pursuit more relaxing than frustrating; I get in a zone and keep plugging away, slowly decreasing my times until I strike Gold.

The only GT game that I managed to “complete” at 100% was the first release – Gran Turismo for the PSOne.  It has been a long time since those days!  I doubt I have that much spare time to really go after that mark with GT5; however I am sure I will maximize my value (gaming dollar).

I think the game has already been patched 3 times, so the developers did end up rushing the game, which is a bit of a surprise considering the long delay. Over ambitious? Probably.  At least the developers are supporting the game and trying to make things right by the fans.

Sports Champions
My family has discovered the joy of playing Bocce. At least we are enjoying Sports Champions version of Bocce, and we are having a blast learning the rules and associated skills.  My mother is giving my oldest son a Bocce set for the backyard. I love it when videogames cross pollinate real life!

I think my kids’ favorite is volley ball, closely followed by disc golf. My favorites are archery and disc golf, and I also find gladiator duel an interesting diversion. Ping pong is the favorite of my 3.11 year old, but I find it damn near impossible.

On a side note, I need to get two more Move controllers for some serious volley ball and archery dual Move head-to-head action. What would that investment be? Almost $325? I have already “invested” $100 camera + Move controller, $50 second move controller, $35 Navigation controller, $30 Move charge station. Ouch. Archery is a blast with two controllers, so I can only imagine how much fun it would be to have a two-player archery duel with 4 Move controllers!

On more side note. The Navigation controller seems poorly supported. I think the only Move game I have that takes advantage of it is Heavy Rain. Need to come back to Heavy Rain in a future article.

My Aquarium
Did I really buy this one? Just for the hell of it I downloaded My Aquarium. It is a great concept, with extremely poor execution. The graphics are not acceptable; in fact I was not even sure this was an HD title, but from what I have read, My Aquarium is in fact presented in HD … just without the normal eye popping graphical glory. It really is a damn shame that this virtual screensaver does not look nicer, and to make matters worse, the interface is unbelievable clunky, complete with unresponsive controls.

If a “game” begged for updated graphics with Move support, this is the one. To the good, Trophy whores will find a few almost freebies on offer; apparently you can cheat to get them quickly, however I am earning my Trophies the old fashion way. It will probably be a year before all the fish unlock, giving me a cheap Gold Trophy.

I dismissed this one out of hand when it was previously released, however I did pick it up on sale for $0.99. It is OK at best … I mean it is Uno. I have played a few games online, but I disappointed that a couple of disconnects in the “lobby” counted as game discounts. That or someone figured out a way to hack a couple of wins against me; I am not enough of a junkie at this game to try to follow my statistics to see why the game thinks I have abandon a couple of gaming sessions.

I think you have to really love Uno in order to pick this one up. Not bad for $0.99, but not worth a whole lot more than a single ducket. Then again, this could be a nice diversion if someone wants to get their wife into videogames.

Hustle Kings!
Plus continues to deliver interesting content and discounts. I picked up Hustle Kings! a couple of weeks ago when it was discounted to just under $6. I have only played a few times, but the game seems to offer a really nice pool experience. The bar locations have great aesthetics – music, presentation, and graphics.

I’ll comment more on this one in the future. I picked it up mainly because I suck at pool in real life, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that playing a virtual game will actually help me in real life. To a certain degree it already has, at least when it comes to adding some backspin on pocket shots. In real life I would scratch, following the ball into the pocket, but I am getting the hang of how to avoid this mistake. Hope it carries over!

Hustle Kings! also supports the Move. I am not sure how it compares to playing with a DS controller because I have only used the Move. The game appears to do a good job of supporting the Move, however I have to admit that my poor old fingers and hand gets a little cramped trying to line up fine precession shots. As I said, more on this one later.

Did I just do that? Good grief; that is a lot of gaming playing!

Happy Sunday!


Plus Update – Free Games, Odds and Nuts

As we enter the second month of the Plus service I thought now would be a good time to provide a quick update. Am I sold on the service? Is it worth the $50 (annual subscription) price tag? Is there value to be found in a Plus subscription?

Today I am only going to tackle the free games. So from that perspective, as far as the price goes, as an initial subscriber, thanks to the additional three “free” bonus months, Plus only set me back $3.33. For a rental service that is not too much of a concern, which is of course one way to look at things. Another point of view is that I spent $50 straight up on a rental service that offers some free odds and ends and random discounts to go with the free games.

The first two months offered two “free” games: WipEout HD (87 – 52 critic reviews; 8.1 based on 71 votes) and Critter Crunch (87; 22 critic reviews; earning a spectacular 9.7 based on 11 dedicated, caring gamers).

Lucky for me that I did not own either game. If I did, I would probably not be very happy right now. This has to be a significant concern for heavy PSN spenders. Heck, even casual PSN spenders run the risk of having the monthly free game end up being something they have previously purchased. This is really the price you pay for having no idea what free games are going to be on offer; you are taking a gamble that more often than not, you will not own the monthly free download. This is where Sony could change things up a bit by offering an alternative free month of any PSN game you damn well please, but the alternative “rental” only lasts a month. I am not sure what sort of reaction this type of switch up would invoke, but I would be happy to have an option if I already owned the monthly free game.

I have always been a casual fan of the WipEout series, so while it is nice to get a quality game for free, I doubt it will be huge entertainment sink for me. Critter Crunch has been a welcome surprise; this is one of the better puzzle games I have played in a while!

While Magic Orbz (66 – 13 critic reviews, although the masses rate the game a solid 8.4 based on 11 votes) was not offered as a free download, I took a flyer on this one because Plus subscribers were offered two of the expansion packs for free, and the base game was offered at a discounted price. While Magic Orbz is far from a classic, it is an interesting diversion and a nice take on breakout.

I have not bothered with the free minis; I did download them to my PSP to give them a go on my next road trip. Same for the two free PSOne Classics. Rally Cross was OK back in the day, but I seriously doubt that it can hold up. The controls were always a little bit f’up on the PlayStation, so I cannot imagine that they work worth a darn on the PSP. If I remember correctly, Syphon Filter had a cult following, so maybe this one will be decent once I can be bothered to give it a few minutes.

If I take the $3.33 per month view, I am satisfied with the initial Plus offerings, although I am still reluctant to recommend the service.  Plus I like getting a variety of games each month; sort of fulfills my gaming ADD.  Certainly the $50 I applied to my Plus subscription could have been spent on a new PS3 game, which at some point could be traded in for another game or parlayed into cash to be used towards another purchase. This of course is the advantage of physical ownership of a game.


PlayStation Plus Me Please – Initial Review and Comments

I decided to subscribe to the new PlayStation Plus service last Tuesday. I opted for a year subscription ($49.99) which includes three “free” bonus months, bringing the final price from $4.17 (12 months) to $3.33 (15 months) per month. One of the very first things I noticed was that the T&Cs committed me to an automatic renewal once my subscription expires – I did not see or notice an easy way to cancel the service.

This PCWorld article describes the new PlayStation Plus service as not worth the cost of entry. At least not yet.

What do you get for $50 a year? At this point, not much. I counted nine total PP options, including a trial version of inFAMOUS, free full versions of Rally Cross ($5.99), Age of Zombies ($4.99), a Warhawk Fallen Star content pack ($1.99), a Fat Princess: Fat Roles expansion pack ($4.99), and Wipeout HD (19.99), a lone sci-fi theme, and–wait for it–two Fat Princess avatars.

Additionally, Midway and TikGames-Creat Studios were offering a handful of specially priced items, including stuff like Midway’s Mortal Kombat II (regularly $4.99, discounted to $2.50) and TiKGames-Create Studios’ Wakeboarding HD (regularly $14.99, discounted to $11.99).

But that’s it. All told, it’s more like a sampler platter of what to expect–trial versions, freebies, and discounts–when the service finally ramps up. I though that’d be now, but alas, we’re left to hypotheticals and unofficial conjecture about a holiday content fulfillment period.

The writer also limited the fact that the PlayStation Store has some stupid, undefined, non intuitive errors. In one case, not being able to directly publish PSN purchases directly to his Facebook page. I do not do the Facebook thing; I know … maybe one of these days I will get with it … probably. I digress.

I am trying to think if Facebook integration is a cool feature or downright silly. No idea, but I doubt the vast majority of my friends would care that I just picked up two free premium bonus Plus Fat Princes avatars. Actually, they would probably say I was a wanker.

Free Games
I downloaded Wipeout HD, Rally Cross (PSOne Classic), Age of Zombies (minis), and the free avatars and theme. I am not really sure what to do with the “free” expansion content – over the weekend I am going to download it to see if there is any possibility of “keeping it around” for later in case Warhawk or Fat Princess become “free” Plus content or maybe discounted content.

Was the first month of Plus worth it to me? Probably not, although I did get Wipeout HD, which is a game I would have never purchased. Based on the reviews I can find, the Zombie minis is considered one of the better made minis. Too bad, because I thought it pretty much sucked.

Back in the day I loved Rally Cross, but I doubt it has aged well. I consider this bonus content for my PSP because I doubt I will play it on the PS3. I am going to look to see if I can find a game save on one of my old PSX memory cards, but even if I do, while I can transfer it to my PS3, I doubt there is a way to transfer saves between the PS3 and PSP.

The rest is well, not worth much to me. What am I going to do with a couple of avatars and a theme? I doubt that I will purchase any of the discounted games and content, although I will give them a look over the weekend; maybe I am missing out on a hidden gem.

Finally, inFamous was included in my PS3 Slim bundle purchase. Since I have not opened the game, I may give the free 60 minute trial a go. If do not like the game, maybe I get some eBay value out of an unopened copy of inFamous.

Automatic Downloads
This was one of the features that sold me on the Plus service. I love the concept of my PS3 pulling down patches and firmware updates in the middle of the night, so I can just install the next time I fire up my PS3 or patched game.

Right now I have no clue how this works. When I started Wipeout HD for the first time, I was greeted with a message that I needed to download the latest version. Strange since I downloaded and installed (but did not play) Wipeout HD Tuesday night, and played it for the first time Wednesday night. My PS3 is set to auto download between 4-6AM.

It is worth watching to see how this feature plays out, and what sort of message or info is provided when I turn on my PS3. It would be lovely if I was informed that a new firmware update, game patch, or demo was downloaded for my gaming pleasure. Or maybe that is too much to ask.

At one point I read that Qore would be part of the service. I was an initial subscriber, however I did not think it was worth the money and did not renew my subscription. The only reason I would like to see it is included is for more Plus content. Seems like it would be a nice perk for Plus subscribers, but no real loss if it remains a “paid for” download; I just will not pay for it again.

PSN Future Purchases?
This is where things could get interesting for Sony. Will the Plus service cannibalize other potential sales? Now that I have paid $50 for Plus, I am not sure that I will purchase minis and other PSN titles. At least not right away because sooner or later they could (hopefully will) end up as part of the Plus service, which in turn would devalue my subscription. Of course we are only talking $3.33/month, but in general I am cheap.

Let’s see what happens next month.


Gran Turismo 5? What to play while waiting?

I know that this is somewhat older news, but I figured I would touch on GT5 for a minute after reading the Nürburgring news at the Official-ish PS Blog.

Nürburgring is definitely a favorite among GT fans, and I’m excited to share with you that Gran Turismo 5 will feature its three courses: the Grand Prix course, the Nordschleife, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours course.

Who doesn’t want to do some GT style racing at Nürburgring? The problem is more along the lines of who is waiting for GT5? I guess most of the PS3 user base, but good grief, what a wait. GT5 better be something special or I have a feeling that it will get killed in the mass market gaming site reviews.

Some good news for simulation style racing fans is that GT5 should have a nice damage model since a NASCAR license is included. Then again, it’s the GT series we are talking about, so I have my doubts. I am sure I will jump in like I always do … I just think the GT series has lost some luster.

GT1 was ahead of its time. GT2 was a great sequel; more of the same, only better. GT3 was a nice PS2 graphical upgrade over its PlayStation counter parts; however it was really nothing special. I enjoyed GT4 and spent countless hours with it, including a boatload of playing time in my PS3. In my opinion, GT4 is the best game in the GT series. Too bad my youngest son cracked the game disk. GT HD Concept? What was the point? It was just a throw away demo to let us know that GT5 was in the works. I have gotten almost no value from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue; I cannot think of the last time I have given it a go. Maybe I will in the next few weeks just to remind myself why it goes unplayed.

More than anything else, I would like to see a GT/Daytona Prototype type game similar to Le Mans 24 Hours – great sense of speed, extremely long races (seriously, you could go 24 real life hours), and a grid of 18-24 cars (do not remember the specific number). I bet that is too much to ask, and is something better left for PC simulation racing. If it could be done on the Dreamcast and PS2 … well, it would seem like some publisher would be able to pick up a license on the cheap.

Before my PS3 died, I was getting some quality time with Ferrari Challenge. I know it is not a great game, but it provides me with a decent simulation experience and a decent racing challenge.

Over the last couple of days I spent some time with F1 Championship Edition. The Turkish GP inspired me, so I ran some Time Trail hot laps at Istanbul, and then Montreal in anticipation of next week’s Canadian GP. This game is great fun for me running hot laps.  It is hard for me that this 2007 release is still the only US F1 release. What a waste of a great license.


F1 Is Back – Bahrain Within The Hour

I missed out on the qualifying session yesterday, but I thought it was interesting that Vettel took the poll, Massa and Alonso showed well for Ferrari landing the second and third spots, and finally Nico out qualified Schumacher (5th vs. 7th). I wonder if that is what Schume had in mind when he decided to come back at 41?

All things considered, Schumacher securing the seventh position is respectable considering a three year layoff, and the various changes to the cars, rules, and regulations.

In typical American fashion (at least I think it is typical) I am a Ferrari boy, and I always have a few favorite drivers. In the past 14 or so years that I have been following F1, I have cheered for Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Scott Speed, and of course Schumacher and the drama of putting the Scuderia back on top.

This year things are different. I anticipated a US entry, but alas, I was thwarted in my bid to cheer for the Red, White, and Blue. Disappointing. This year I hope for a remarkable comeback for Schumacher and I expect to see Massa and Alonso splitting race wins. Hopefully there will be good racing all around, with a few surprises to boot!

On the videogame front, maybe we will finally see a worthy successor to the Formula One Championship Edition (PS3). After all, I got my “racing” love back in 1996 by playing Psygnosis’ Formula 1 for the PSX.  It is very disappointing that we have not seen some sort of new F1 game – this is a far cry from the PSX heyday when we would see yearly releases, often with competing developers in the same year with semi-licensed games.


Net Yaroze for Sale – Fund my Marauder

I want to flip my Net Yaroze into a Benjamin Sheridan Marauder. Well, I at least want to sell my Net Yaroze to fund a Marauder. If you are interested, go to the eBay listing and bid. The Net Yaroze is complete, in box, and in great shape!

I have also added a near mint (like new) Namco neGcon controller for the original PlayStation. Yes, I am whoring myself out to get the Marauder.

Probably more to come. I really want to go PCP, so hopefully some of my older videogame stuff will help fund this purchase.


Is there honor in third place?

I ran across this article via N4G and thought it was a bit ridiculous. The author is claiming that the PS3 is really not doing that bad. Huh?

In their lifetimes, the Gamecube sold 21.74 million units, and the original Xbox 24 million. With the PS3 at 23 million, that means that it has sold the same amount as the Gamecube and Xbox in about half the time.

Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to this one. Dreamcast! I am sure Sony never saw the day coming where their shiny new Blu-ray of wonder would get compared to the Gamecube. Good grief. There are silver linings and then there are dark clouds of mumbo-jumbo.

Lastly, there’s the issue of cost. Sony lose money on every PS3 sold. In 2006 when the PS3 launched, Sony were losing approximately $250 on every PS3 sold. But now with Blu-Ray development costs dropping (as well as Sony taking a few features out of the console), the development costs are (as of January last year) about $450. 80 GB PS3s currently cost about $400, which means that Sony is now only losing $50 per PS3. The development costs of Blu-Ray will continue to drop, which means eventually Sony will start making money off of the PS3. Until then, though, they still have sales from the PS2, PSP, and other electronics (such as TVs and standalone Blu-Ray players) to help recover their losses.

But mom! I am only a little pregnant. Something like that. The author can spin the numbers any which way they darn well please, but the simple fact of the matter is that Sony has had it handed to them the last few years.

How is this current generation going to play out? Will a $50 price cut [you know we all want to see $100, but predictably Sony will do the wrong thing] actually salvage things for Sony? Will Sony attempt to keep the PS3 on a 10 year cycle similar to the PSX and PS2? Will Sony abandon the PS3 in hopes of competing with Microsoft by simultaneously launching the next PlayStation with the next Xbox?

There are lots of questions to ponder, but no real answers right now. Maybe I will start a rumor or two later. Until then, happy Sunday!


Wednesday night gaming update.

Because everyone needs a hump day dose of gaming goodness …

Slow go on PS3 HDD upgrad
I got my new 250GB HDD and the USB 350GB My Passport drive today, so I figured I would give the upgrade a go tonight. It turns out that the actual upgrade may only take 10 minutes, but the PS3 backup takes forever and a day. I am upgrading because my PS3 original system 60GB HDD is all but full. After plugging in the USB drive, I selected the backup option (full data; not selective files). As I write this, the PS3 progress bar shows 3% or about 1 hr and 20 minutes remaining. Good grief! I hope the backup program actually backs up everything; I would hate to have to re-download all my games, Qore episodes, and Shakira video.

Remote Play update
Remote Play, at least the connectivity part, is holding up well. No random start-ups and eventual disabling on internet mode. That is the good news. The bad news is that the lag makes menu navigation very much hit or miss. My PS3 also seems to be struggling to play PlayStation (PSX) games, which would make this feature rather worthless to me. The main reason I want Remote Play to work is to get some use out of some of my older PSX games.

The lag is probably due to not getting on a great wireless connection, but I still think my PS3 is slower in wireless mode compared to my laptop. The PSX game issues probably have nothing to do with Remote Play. Instead the issues are probably more repercussions of my two-year-old son inserting three games into the PS3.

In general Remote Play seems to be poorly conceived and under supported. Of the games I have, I can play PixelJunk Monsters, PixelJunk Eden, and High Stakes Poker. That is pretty much it. Looking at The Unofficial PS3/PSP Remote Play Compatibility Thread Lego Batman may be my only hope at a decent Remote Play title. I am sure it would be too much to ask to make more games Remote Play compatible, but going forward, it is time for Sony to start supporting Remote Play or discontinue it as a supported option.

Pangya: Fantasy Golf a no show from Amazon
Unbelievable. Amazon is now showing Pangya as being available June 26. This may be the last time I preorder from Amazon.


Racing games radar update.

Thanks to Ferrari Challenge, and the blazing summer heat, my racing jones is back on in full force. I have spent a little time with Ferrari Challenge over the last couple of days, and I have to say that this is one of the best $18 purchases I can remember making. With that said, it is time to start window shopping for some upcoming racing game purchases …

SuperCar Challenge
First up on the list has to be the upcoming sequel to Ferrari Challenge. These videos from UK chequeredpad look fantastic.

With no confirmed US release, I suppose this one will just go to the back burner. Hopefully a US publisher will pick this one up because it looks balls out fun.

F1 2010
I would like an updated F1 game. Nothing confirmed; these screens from The SixAxis will have to do.

It looks like there is an upcoming F1 2009 release for the Wii and the PSP; at least in the UK. I am not sure why Codemasters chose handhelds and the Wii for F1, but I suppose they know their market segments that they are trying to reach.

Need for Speed: SHIFT
Is the NFS series really going to get a reboot? Will the series return to its roots from the early days? By early days, I mean 3DO (remember that one?) and the first PSX release? Last week PlayStation Life posted a brief E3 hands on impression of the upcoming game.

Despite how different it is from past NFS title, fans of the series will definitely appreciate the advances that SM Studios and EA are bringing to the racing genre. The game will have an extensive customization feature that will cover everything from the car body to the tires, and has a dynamic reward system that keeps track of, for example, how many cars the play passes, how many vehicles they take out, and how good their driving performance was. The demo was a lot of fun, and we can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.

I still do not have a firm grip on how the game balances simulation and arcade aspects of the game. For racing titles, I lean much more in the simulation direction, but fun factor is a must. This one merits close tracking on the radar.

End notes and wish list …
What else? Of course the PSP release of Gran Turismo and big bother Gran Turismo 5 for the PS3. On my wish list, I would like to seen an updated IRL game, or at least a game that comes close to simulating stock and open wheel cars in the mode of the now classic Andretti Racing for the PSX. I would also love a Le Mans type racing game; an updated 24 Hours of Le Mans would be lovely. I am sure there are others, but we have just taken the checkered flag, so all for now.


Eye Candy Retro Style

I have a huge catalog of Original PlayStation (PSX) and PlayStation 2 (PS2) games just sitting around in my entertainment center, various bookshelves, boxes and bins. I know; this sort of sucks as a waste of perfectly good (and not so good) games. I have written before that at one point in time I was pretty much addicted to videogames – buying the game, holding it, owning it, preordering it, playing it for a few minutes. Getting a new game was akin to crack.

Over the years I have broken this habit; sort of. The addiction is partly what drove me from reviewing games, and not getting new material every week also contributes to not having anything new to say, but I digress. Writing about the latest, greatest videogame releases became more of a core than a welcome distraction.

At any rate, I do a much better job of selling some games if I figure I just do not enjoy them or will never get around to completing the game. I try to time selling sports games on eBay so I can get $25-30 in preparations for the next release. At other times, I have a hard time letting go. Seeing the Gran Turismo 4 (GT4) game case, knowing that the disc is destroyed (see previous blog entry – “Life without a PS3?”), I think about tracking down a replacement copy. I know that I will never finish it; the only GT series game that I have completed 100% is the first release for the PSX. Still, to me, GT4 is the best release in the series, even if the graphics do not compare to the PlayStation 3 (PS3) eye candy in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which finally brings me to the point of this column.

I was poking around looking for some information on older PSX games; need to make some decisions on which games to sell and which ones to keep a while longer. I came across this article about upcoming PSOne (I still like PSX) games for the PlayStation Store.

Medal of Honor
Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!
Street Fighter Alpha 2
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Wipeout XL

I still have Wipeout XL (and the original Wipeout). Fun games that I never really got into, but never sold because I know they are “classics” that I will eventually came back to one of these days. I never got into the Spyro games; I am sure I purchased them, but that is a different story. I own Medal of Honor, but never got around to playing it. Several times I thought about selling it, but I always thought I should hang onto it for a while longer. I use to play the heck out of the Street Fighter Alpha series, but was never very good. I think I still own one of these games, but will have to look to see. I do still have the Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter game, which I have held onto just because. Seriously, no real reason other than the Marvel characters in the Street Fighter engine was pretty cool.

The only problem with these older games, that I may or may not get around to playing one day, is that the graphics really do suck on my HDTV. Funny; I have become a graphics whore. Every time I attempt to cull my collection, I think about which games were fun (at the time of the PSX) and which ones have gameplay that would hold up well today. This pretty much rules out sports games, but you cannot get more than fifty cents for many of the older games, unless they have some collectable value (i.e. Tecmo Super Bowl). I would actually play some of these games if I could get my PS3 and PSP to do a decent job with Remote Play. Maybe one day.

I have been having a good time with my two oldest sons playing Midway Arcade Treasures 3; mainly Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder. Back in the day this collection averaged a metacritic score of 67.

It goes without saying that the graphics are certainly better than any of the PSX offerings, but nowhere near the level of PS3 arcade racers. In this case, it all comes down to gameplay and that all important fun factor quality. It is fun “re-discovering” some of these older titles with my boys. They could care less about the graphics (they are use to the Wii and their Nintendo DS); I think they are actually OK with enjoying a game for the pure pleasure of playing something new.

So maybe there is still some life in that old collection of mine, and along the way maybe I can educate my kids in the finer arts of PlayStation and arcade style gaming classics. If my kids learn to value fun factor and gameplay over eye candy, I win.