Staying Power

So Tetris was recently made available (again) on the Play Station Network for ten dollars. For the PS3. In 2011.

Is there any other video game that is over 25 years old that, over the years, has had its fundamental game mechanic changed so little but can still demand “top tier” pricing the way Tetris can?

(I still have my original Gameboy Tetris cartridge plugged into my old Gameboy Advance SP and play it at least three times a week.)

Final Fantasy XIII and the platform philosophy

I could simply do an “In my hands” post like we usually do, but purchasing Final Fantasy XIII is a special milestone for me. You see, I hate Japanese RPG’s. I hate them with a passion. The why’s and wherefore’s are worthy of their own topic and I won’t belabor them here, but the end result is I don’t play JRPG’s. I attempted to play Lost Odyssey late last year. I bought the game for my Dad, which he loved immensely and played through it twice. With his passing I felt like it was an easy way to connect with him. I essentially inherited a game that I bought for him as a gift. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get into the game but it feels too much like a JRPG in all the wrong ways.

I am, for the first time, buying a JRPG for the story. Stories are important, don’t get me wrong. However, I want to play a game, not watch a game. I get plenty of stories from movies and books already and I don’t need games for their stories. When a game has a good story that’s just a bonus for me. Even Mass Effect 2, which you largely play for its story, is still primarily a game-based purchase, if such a term exists. However, everything I see in Final Fantasy XIII is just gorgeous. I am hoping against hope that they’ll resist to do the usual anime tropes. You know what I mean. The evil corporation, the needlessly convoluted storyline, the betrayal in the third act you saw coming from the first, etc. I’m sure they will, they can’t help themselves. JRPG’s and anime are addicted to a very predictable plot cycle that has made one much like the other in the past decade. Still, this game is brimming with so much potential that I have abandoned my strict “No JRPG” stance. I am hoping this is a game that will transcend it’s genre, like Dawn of War or Borderlands.

All that said, I bought this on the PS3. I like my PS3, but it’s a massive pain in the butt. The ridiculous installation process and the ponderous and intrusive updates actually make the infamously unreliable XBox 360 hardware look good by comparison. That’s an interesting accomplishment considering Microsoft effectively went into overdrive to deliver the most unreliable console of all time. Yet the 360 dominates because, when it works, it is simply a better game delivery platform. Yet there are games, even multi-platform games, that just feel right on a particular system. I loved Fallout 3 on the XBox 360, but the PC is definitely a better platform if you have the hardware. The 360 is my favorite, but I would lie if I didn’t admit Batman: Arkham Asylum just “felt right” on the PS3. If you don’t own a PS3 I’m sure Final Fantasy XIII will stand well on its own merits regardless. Don’t feel bad playing it on the 360. When someone asks me which version I’m getting though, it’s one of the few times I would answer snobbishly “The Playstation 3, of course.” This is a game that demands it look the best, and I’m going to play it on the platform that is best suited for it. Don’t get mad at me, I wouldn’t dream of playing Modern Warfare 2 without XBox Live and I switched Borderlands from the PS3 to the XBox 360 because I realized I had chosen poorly. I’m not a PS3 snob. All I know is that I want to play a game on the platform that will maximize my experience. Alas, like anyone, I often have to make do with the best I have on hand, not necessarily the best there is.

PS3/PSN Problems Make People Cry

Bumbling irresponsibility, horrible math, and overall stupidity come to mind

Unless you’ve been living under a video-game rock, original PS3 owners (think “fat”) are experiencing all sorts of problems with their console in what appears to be due to an internal clock bug. My guess is that the system goes all bung-holio because the people at Sony don’t know how to do calendar math. Oh wait, they knew how to do it on the newer systems but didn’t really stop to bother with the older ones. My guess is a firmware fix would work. Problem: the PS3 fats cannot connect to the PSN to get it. What’s Sony’s solution?

We hope to resolve this problem within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you have a model other than the new slim PS3, we advise that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality, such as recording obtained trophies, and not being able to restore certain data.

I see what you did there.

Wait 24 hours for the day to go through the cycle and it works. Brilliant. Reminds me of the Zune fiasco.  In the meantime, no games, no Netflix, no media center, no nothing.

This, of course, affects our system at home. Ironically, since getting rid of our satellite, the PS3 has been our go-to media device. We don’t use it everyday, but Mondays are the days we use it the most. I guess not today. A couple of things:

  • I’m amazed that in 2010, a rather large company that has a computer division cannot due simple calendar math.
  • I’m amazed that many PS3 games will not work because they cannot check in to the PSN for various reasons. Want to play some Heavy Rain? Forget it.¬† (What do offline people do? )
  • We’ll see how Sony responds to this “outage.”
  • At least PS3 users don’t have to pay for their downtime. (Zing?)

It’s for the last reason alone that I’m not royally ticked, just mildly annoyed. Shame on them for allowing something so simple to happen, and shame on them for having so many handshakes for games and movies with their service.


FGotY 2009 [Playstation 3]

The Playstation 3 really seemed to come into its own in 2009. Your humble host does not own a PS3, but his blog pals do. Here’s what they had fun with:

Brock – Between playing older PS2 titles on it and working through many of the great exclusives and eventually multiplatform titles, I found my PS3 becoming my go-to game console for most of 2009. InFamous and Uncharted 2 are tied for my picks for the most fun I’ve had on the PS3 this year. Both had me hooked from the first screen and were those rare games where I didn’t play anything else until I had completed the game hungry for more. I also loved Batman: AA and Assassin’s Creed 2 on the PS3, which surprised me as this was the year when I started to switch my multiplatform purchases from 360 to PS3.

Jason O – The PS3 was a late year addition to my house and I’m still kind of struggling with what kinds of games I’ll purchase for it. For the most part, cross platform titles are purchased for the 360, but in this case I actually purchased Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PS3 purely on the console exclusive “Play as the Joker” feature. While I only did this once, I never regretted Batman as a PS3 purchase despite the quirks of the platform. This game belongs on this system. All that aside, the game itself is outstanding. One of those rare games where the genre doesn’t appeal to me but I love it anyway. I typically hate stealth games, but I love the character of Batman and this game finally gets it right. I felt like Batman. The gadgets, the combat, the ease of movement in the environment were all excellent. Yeah, the endgame is a little cheesy, but the ride getting there is outstanding.

Nat – Two years ago I hated…no, loathed Sony with a passion. This year the PS3 was my platform of choice. After the 360 had red ringed for the second time I started purchasing all my cross-platform titles on it. This was a banner year with inFamous, Assassin’s Creed II, Red Faction: Guerrilla, Killzone 2, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, it’s Batman: Arkham Asylum that gets my pick for the most fun on this console. I was the Batman. I still pop the title in to play through some of the challenges.

Will – Sony is pretty much unwelcome in my home, as decreed by my Nintendo fangirl wife. As a result, I don’t get to do much gaming on that console. The only two 2009-released PS3 games I played were Killzone 2 and inFamous. I give my FGotY 2009 [Playstation 3] award to the latter title; I enjoyed its comic book-style storytelling and its great graphics (which is sometimes difficult to find in a sandbox title). Its only real weakness is that I never felt like a superhero (or supervillain, depending on your choices). Cole just seems so weak when I have to fire so many bolts of lightning to put the Reapers down, yet very few of their bullets will put Cole down. That is a very minor quibble for an otherwise fine game.

January Releases

It’s the new year and what a year it’s going to be for gaming! The excitement starts this month and hopefully the momentum carries us through the year. Let’s get to the list:

Xbox 360 banner

Week of January 4th
Bayonetta– I’m torn on Bayonetta. On one hand, it looks beautiful and wicked stylish. On the other hand, I’ve never gotten into the stylized-action-game like Devil May Cry or God of War. Maybe it’s time to try.
Darksiders– In a month loaded with triple-A titles, I’m worried I’ll never get around to playing this, but I am definitely intrigued.
Divinity II: Ego Draconis– I didn’t even know there was a Divinity I. Anyone have any info on this game?

Week of January 11th
Vancouver 2010 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Winter Games– Gotta fit this game in somewhere I guess.
Army of Two: The 40th Day– Another one I’ll probably end up passing, but I wonder what I’ll be missing.

Week of January 18th
Dark Void

Week of January 25th
Mass Effect 2– There it is. This should do just fine to tide me over for quite some time. At least until February. I hope it doesn’t take me two years to finish this one.

Wii banner

Week of January 4th
My Fitness Coach 2 Workout and Nutrition

Week of January 11th
The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces
Crazy Chicken Tales
Walk It Out
Sleepover Party– Walk It Out? Sleepover Party? Have you Wii game makers have no shame?

Week of January 18th
Fast Food Panic
Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection

Week of January 25th
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Tatsunoko VS Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Nintendo DS banner

Week of January 4th
Fast Food Panic
Learn Chess

Week of January 11th
Daniel X
Sands of Destruction

Week of January 18th
Glory of Heracles– This looks like a solid DS strategy game. Tempting…
Bejeweled Twist– Haven’t you milked us enough already, Pop Cap?
KORG DS-10 Plus

Week of January 25th
Quad Kings
Personal Fitness Women
Legend of Kay

PC banner

Week of January 4th
Divinity II: Ego Draconis

Week of January 11th
The Sims 2: Fun with Pets Collection– Looks like the Sims 2 will not die.
Two Worlds

Week of January 18th
Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventure
Dark Void
The Tudors

Week of January 25th
Hotel Giant 2
Mass Effect 2

PS3 banner

Week of January 4th
Bayonetta– See above.
Darksiders– Ditto.

Week of January 11th
Army of Two: The 40th Day

Week of January 18th
Dark Void

Week of January 25th

PSP banner

Week of January 11th
Army of Two: The 40th Day

Week of January 18th
Shepherd’s Crossing
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Week of January 25th
TNA: Cross The Line
Shadow of Destiny

Not a bad way to start the year off. While I think I’ll be grabbing Mass Effect 2, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. What are you picking up?

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