Gamer Mania 2

Monday, June 26, 2006

No 360 price drop in late 06'

"'As you're all aware, there have been rumors of a price drop for the Xbox 360 coming along later this year,' wrote Porcaro. "The official word from folks in the know is that there are currently no plans for a price drop this fall." (Emphasis in the original.)

The rest of Porcaro's blog post goes on to talk about how the cost of a $299 baseline Xbox 360 is a small price to pay to enter the next-generation of gaming, given the fact Xbox Live Silver is free and the console also plays DVDs and MP3s. Oddly, though, Porcaro's superiors in the Redmond, Washington, headquarters had not returned requests for confirmation of the price drop as of press time."

I can't blame them. Their premium model is already $100 less then the base PS3 and their base model is only $100 more then the Wii. They're really right where they need to be, but this doesn't even mean that there won't be one.. he just said that there are currently no plans. It doesn't make sense for them to announce it now anyway - people would just wait and pay less.

Ah well, we'll see what happens.

Ton, out.

P.S. There are some freak power outages going on around here.. so blogging will be at the minimum till Wednesday. We'd rather not write articles and then lose them halfway. Sorry guys.

Friday, June 16, 2006

New Gamer's Opinion Poll

It's about time for a new Gamer's Opinion poll. By the way, if you're wondering, the Wii got 61% of the vote on "most interesting console after E3" with 17 votes. PS3 got 29% (8 votes), 360 got only 7%. I'm surprised by that number, with all of those cool games they showed off.. And last, PSP got just 1 vote, which isn't surprising since it was on the back burner at E3, along with the DS.

Now, for the next poll, you have to have read the blog a little bit. You probably noticed that we've been trying to bring back Website Wednesdays, but we kind of stopped again because we don't know if people are reading them. We're also thinking about bringing back a weekly deal post, either MDM on Mondays or Deals of the Week on Tuesdays. And I had an idea for "Music Mondays" which would be like my Song of the Week post, except Zam and I would both post a song or video, and it would always be on Mondays.

So, the question is: Which weekly posts do you/would you enjoy reading? There are a bunch of different choices which should cover everything.. So vote it up.
Ton, out

By the way, Zam is off in our version of NY for a couple days, so it's just me here.

Gates has left the building, in 2008.

In a press conference held Thursday after the stock markets had closed for regular trading, Gates announced that over the next two years he will gradually step away from his daily responsibilities at the company he cofounded some 30 years ago.

Microsoft's chief technical officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect, Gates said. In addition, chief technical officer Craig Mundie will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will assume Gates' responsibilities for the company's research and incubation efforts.

"Our business and technical leadership has never been stronger, and Microsoft is well-positioned for success in the years ahead," Gates said in a release. "I feel very fortunate to have such great technical leaders like Ray and Craig at the company," Gates said. "I remain fully committed and full-time at Microsoft through June 2008 and will be working side-by-side with Ray and Craig to ensure that a smooth transition occurs."

Yes, you read that right. Gates is leaving in 2008. I see this as a very mixed bag. For one, everyone knows him as the creator of Microsoft, and a lot of people who don't know the industry will probably think: Without him leading them and creating ideas like the XBOX, Microsoft will be dead. Even though people who know whats going on know he probably will still stay around in back for a few years. My other thought on the bad side is: Could this maybe be a foreshadowing of something bad on the horizon? Maybe he thinks Vista is going to bomb? Interesting. We'll see.

There's also a few good things. It gives a chance for some new ideas to come along since a bunch of people no one knows are taking over. Could be good, could be bad. And lastly, he had to retire sometime.. At least he's leaving them with a good console, and a good operating system coming up. That's all I have to say really... except: Elvis has left the building. So have I.
Ton, out.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ridge Racer 6 vs. Full Auto

So in my search for good 360 games that I don’t have, I tried out Ridge Racer 6 and Full Auto. Now I’m going to talk about them a little bit in kind of a vs. style, I know it's a weird set of games to put up against each other, but I'm going to do it. They're both still racers inside, so they're kind of alike.

Gameplay: Ridge Racer 6 is the same as usual, for about the 7th time, and it’s getting really old. All you do is drift.. and drift… and drift. They tried to make it a little better by adding a nice nitrous system, but it doesn’t do enough to change the game. They both have a nice set of modes by the way, Ridge Racer with just time trial, career, and a few others, and Full Auto with career, arcade (racing without guns), and I think a time trial. Anyway, in Full Auto, it’s got a nice, fresh idea: adding guns to cars. So you’re racing but also trying to blow up the other cars. Real cool idea with a lot of potential, but they could have made it a lot better. The Unwreck (reverse time) feature is beyond cool and very useful though. Who wins for gameplay and fun? Well, it’s kind of hard to put these 2 against each other, but if you do, it’s an easy win for Full Auto. Way more fun and cool.

Cars: Since these are racing games, I guess I should talk about the cars. Ridge Racer 6 has a nice line-up with like 100 some cars and a bunch downloadable on the marketplace. Nice set. Then Full Auto has about 25 cars, all of which are really cool and different… but they all go about the same speed: really slow. This is a hard call: Ridge Racer has like a million cars, but FA’s are all different and cool. I’m going to say it’s a tie even though FA’s cars all feel slow.

Graphics: Then we go to the graphics. Ridge Racer 6’s cars look stunning, but all the 360 racers cars do. The problem with this game, some of the grassland/forest tracks have graphics that look way arcadey, and it pisses me off. I’m not paying $60 to get a game for XBOX 360 with games that remind me of arcade games. Now, Full Auto, wow. Everything looks great, awesome particle effects when you blow up buildings, shiny cars, nice looking tracks. Easy win for FA.

Sound: Sound is another one-sider. Ridge Racer has a ton of music, but it’s got the most annoying damn announcer ever. I swear, this was one of the things I hated the most about the game. HE TALKS 10 TIMES A MINUTE! His voice is also annoying as hell. If you could turn him off, the sound would be great. I think you might be able to use a custom soundtrack, but I don’t know if it would get rid of the announcer. I shouldn’t have to do that either. Full Auto sounds great. All the guns, music, and everything is nice. Another win for FA.

Multiplayer: The last competition area is online play/multiplayer. Ridge Racer really excels here, with up to 14 players in online races. I didn’t actually try it, but it sounds nice, still… it’s the same game. I actually tried Full Auto, which is for up to 8. It’s not all that amazing, but good none-the-less. Gonna have to be another tie here.

Everything Else: It’s pretty obvious which is going to win, but I’m just going to talk about a few small things. Ridge Racer has some really confusing menus… which get pretty annoying. It’s got quite a few modes, which makes it a little bit better… but overall, this does not feel like a next-gen game at all. They really just slapped on pretty cars and a nice online mode and tried to call it next gen. It also has some weird ass achievements like – beat all the races without nitrous. Umm.. wasn’t that supposed to be one of the big improvements? Why award someone for not using it? I don’t know.

Full Auto, however, feels like a next-gen game. It has its problems though too. Most of its maps are way too alike, and they’re hard to tell apart, but there is some variety. I also have to bring up the slowness of the cars again… It’s not that cool, but the thing is, if it was faster.. it wouldn’t work that well. I don’t know what they can do about that. And, two last things. There are too few guns, but they do mix them up some, so it’s not all that bad. Last thing, even though it has an incredible level of destruction, there are things missing. I’d love to be able to knock down subways and make my enemies go around.

Verdict: In case you didn’t realize, I think Full Auto is a better game, but it gets kind of old and something just feels off. It easily beats RR6 though if you put them up against each other. But if you don’t.. Ridge Racer 6 gets just 2.5 bottles of “CRAAZY nitrous” out of 5. Full Auto gets 3.5 out of 5. My suggestions are, Ridge Racer, unless you are a diehard Ridge Racer fan (pick it up if you are), get the PSP version instead, maybe a PS2 one for probably $15-20 for either. Way cheaper, and pretty much the same game. If you want a good, pure racer for the 360, get PGR3, NFSMW, or Burnout. I bought RR6, but returned it the next week for Tomb Raider: Legend. Full Auto – rent it, then maybe buy it. If it drops to $40 I know I’m getting it.

I can break dance in the middle of rush hour traffic, so suck it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

PS3 In-Depth

The PS3 has been making a horrible reputation for itself currently with its price, and all of the rumors about used games and whatnot. Well anyway, the system is still incredible. There are many people who want to buy this system, but some who don't know the in-depth info and actual power of this thing. Well, GM2 has got you covered. Our close buddy Trey has written up a report of the PS3. The information is extremely reliable being that the president of Sony himself provided it. This is definitely an article to read if you want to know about this new bundle of graphical and processing joy. It's a good and interesting read. Download it below in either PDF form or in a Microsoft Word document. Since we don't have our own server, we had to upload to a very trustworthy hosting site, so don't be scared when downloading this. ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Super Mario Bros. Review

That's right, Mamma Mia Mario is back and in a new side scroller game for the Nintendo DS! We are all excited, yay. And it's a side-scroller! Yes, the first Mario side-scroller in about 15 years. Wow!

Well the game starts off with Mario and Peach walking along, minding thieir own business, when a giant strand of lightning hits Peach's castle. Mario goes to investigate and one of Bowser's close relatives comes and snatches Peach behind Mario's unawaring back. So, as usual, Mario has to go through 8 worlds of cartoony levels to save her from the hands of the Bowser family.

Now, from the name, people suspect this being a remake of the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES, but they would be partly wrong. It does indeed have some aspects from the 1985 game, but it also has many features from all of the other Mario games (well, the ones with story lines such as this) incorporated right in. And there are flags at the end of every level that you jump on like the 1985 game which we all like to see.

In the game, Mario has many power-ups. He has his usual shroom with the flower power, but there are a few more new ones. You have the Mega Mushroom which takes you and puts you about 10 times bigger, enough to fill the whole screen. In this form, you can kick some serious booty. You just walk into things and they get destroyed. It's a really good power, but doesn't work for all levels as you can get stuck. There is a Blue Shell which turnes Mario into a turtle and when he runs fast, he turns into a shell and can destroy any enemy in his way, and finally, there is the Mini Mushroom. This mushroom makes you a little pint-sized Mario. This power is sort of useless sometimes, but most of the time, it's helpful. You are able to jump higher, and......umm.......that's pretty much it. Well the creators put in some little mini fun rooms to play around as a little Mario and collect coins and all that. Now all of these powers are great, but I would have liked the power of the feather (flying) and racoon power and stuff like that a lot in the game.

Oh how there are so many secrets in this game, oh man. You even have to unlock two of the worlds, World 4 and World 7. You unlock areas such as one-up mushroom house thingies, new levels, here and there a secret passage way to get ahead, and other things such as that. It's really fun to find these secrets, as they are in many levels.

The graphics are great for a DS game. Very flashy and cartoony. This one feature will keep you glued to the DS' screens for hours and hours. Very nice.

There is a lot of variety, either being a new form of level, or new enemies which keeps the game rich and exciting. But occasionally, you'll find levels that are nearly the same. But still, they are usually spread out and don't take away much of the fun factor.

Luigi is nowhere to be found in this game unless you play the new multiplayer game Mario vs. Luigi or if you type in a special code. (The code is, at the file selection menu, hold R + L at the same time and select your file by pressing A while holding R + L the whole time to unlock Luigi. You must do this every time you want Luigi.) So I was a little disappointed that he wasn't a choosable character at the beginning.

One problem I found was it really doesn't use the touch screen in the main game mode. All it does it tell you how far in the level you are, how many points you have, what world your in, lives, how many of the three big coins you have, and a power-up you have in holding, that's it. I know it sound like a lot, but you only press the power-up and the menu options. Now at the main menu screen, there is a mini-games section, but it has the same exact mini-games as the ones in Super Mario 64 DS. I didn't like how they used them over again, but it takes the hassle out of switching cartridges to play them on Super Mario 64 DS, but still.

If you play and not unlock most of the unlockables, you'll find the game to be extremely short, one to finish in a weekend, easily. But besides that, overall, this game is fun, and pretty easy. I really enjoyed unlocking some levels and using the new powers. Very fun, addictive, and good for the kiddies. Super Mario World gets 4.5 giant Marios smashing everything in a level to save the princess out of 5. Mamma Mia, Zam, out.


Friday, June 02, 2006

New background over at Swimming in Champaign and 2 reviews up on the Divine Opinion

So, Sean got tired of that Angelina Jolie background on SiC, and decided to make his own. It's hot. So is Adriana Lima, who's in it. Sorry about the bars on there, but that's his sidebar and posting column. Go over and check it out full screen at Swimming in Champaign. The background alone is reason enough to go there now... but the blog is cool too. Also, Doug got up Kicking and Screaming and The Da Vinci Code (novel) reviews on the Divine Opinion. Check them out! I'm probably going to have ones for Poseidon and The Da Vinci Code (movie) up there this weekend.

A lot of 360 news and a little Wii news

So it’s been a little while, but Microsoft has released a big bundle of news. First of all there is a new 360 dashboard update coming next week, which I’ll give you a run-down on once I get it. Then, the okay-ish game Perfect Dark Zero is getting 4 new maps (500 MS points) pretty soon, which is definitely good news because there weren't many originally. And then there are some rumors about new prices. The new 360 camera that’s coming out on September 19th is maybe to go for $40 along with a copy of Uno and a month of Live. I might want one, but I'm a little pissed... I really want Uno now, but if I buy one of these cameras in September, I'll have 2 copies for no reason. Then there’s the new wireless headset and 256 MB memory cards that are each supposed to go for $60. Some other MS news, they announced a plan called Live Anywhere back at E3, which will make PC and cell phone users pay for XBOX Live. In one way… it’s cool, because you’ll be able to play against PC users from your 360 and it’ll make a bigger community. In another… it really sucks, because online PC gaming used to be free.

And then… there’s this -

"Nobody is concerned anymore about backward compatibility," Moore said in a Kikizo interview, adding, "More are coming...but at some point you just go 'there's enough,' or 'let's move on.'"

What the hell does that mean Moore? What about all the people that sold their XBOXes for 360s? Gladly, this was on the blog today

"But rest assured, we're not done yet," Porcaro continues. "We know for a fact that there are lots [emphasis theirs] of people who continue to care about backwards compatibility, including the 'Emulation Ninjas' who are working full time on the updates. And those of us posting on this blog. And, of course, many of you."

And Nintendo came out with something interesting today. They were talking about the Wii, and they got on the subject of WiiConnect24. Well, they gave this example of something it could do, like, you could set it up to download new DS demos whenever they’re available (yes.. DS DEMOS!!). So, if one came out overnight, your Wii could download a new demo, and when you woke up a light on the Wii would be flashing. Pretty cool.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mario and Luigi 2: Partners in Time

The dynamic duo is back in black (ok, red and green, but black sounds cooler). Not Oprah and Dr. Phil. Not Master Chief and Samus. MARIO AND LUIGI DUH!! So they’re back and Princess Peach is kidnapped again when these weird purple alien things land and try to take over Mushroom Kingdom. But this time their pimpin bros are here to help. Yes, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi!!!

So they have to do all sorts of stuff like hit each other in the head with hammers to make them squirt and fight big ugly things that go roar. And it’s REALLY, REALLY FUN. I’ll talk about the gameplay first. Before I say anything else, You have to be coordinated to play this game!! If you aren't, you'll probably get pissed off at it quick. Anyway, I think this is the most innovative Mario game in a long time. It’s that simple. I mean, they figured out how to control 4 characters with 4 buttons (Mario-A Luigi-B Baby Mario-X Baby Luigi-Y), a D-Pad, and 2 shoulder buttons. And they use the 2 screens really well too. You can throw the babies up into holes that you can’t fit in and they pop up on the top screen. Otherwise, there’s a map showing or a view of what's above the bottom screen.

Then in battles you can jump, attack with hammers, or use Bros. Items, which have you press the buttons in certain orders, and the bosses are hard as hell, but really cool. Good bunch of monsters out there too. I also love how they make you learn new moves that you can somehow complete all with the 4 buttons. It adds a lot of variety to the adventuring. Some good puzzles too. So basically, it has really good gameplay.

It’s really, really funny as well. I’ve actually LOL-ed a lot when playing this game, which is always good. And the graphics rock too!! M&L2 has some of the best 2D stuff I’ve ever seen. Everything’s really shiny and colorful. Aside from maybe New Super Mario Bros, I think this is my favorite use of the DS’s graphical power. The sound’s pretty much basic Mario stuff, and it’s all good. The biggest problem I can see people having with this game is the fact that there’s nothing to do really once you beat it, but it’s nice and long so it’s not that much of a problem. I’ve had it for a few months and I’m still about halfway through I’d guess.

Verdict: Yum. Mario and Luigi 2 is yummy. Great gameplay, awesome use of the DS hardware, really good graphics, and a nice long game. What more could you want? There’s just about nothing wrong with this game except it can get a little annoying at times and once it's over, it's over. Overall, one of my favorite experiences on the DS. So, it gets 4.5 “Mmm, Mario is yummy”s, out of 5. If you like Mario, Luigi, purple mushrooms, flinging babies into holes, or RPGs, pick this game up right now. If not, pick it up tomorrow.

Just a note: This is one of the first Mario games I’ve played, so it’s not biased in that sense.

E.T. lives on that muffin.

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