Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Genji: Dawn of the Samurai

Genji is beautiful, there's no doubt about it. Although it's not made of fully 3-D environments, the ones that it does provide are just amazing. There has never been in my experience a nicer looking Japanese architectural review. You truly feel like you are there and that's a great thing.

So what's the bad thing? Well, Genji's depth isn't really there in the gameplay department. Other reviewers have claimed it's too short ... well, I didn't find that but maybe it's because I had a hard time mastering the 'killer' move that makes defeating the toughest enemies easier. So I died. And died. Yep, there's me dying some more.

But I finally made it through and the ending was quite the battle and a little disappointing ... but it was a beautiful ride that's for sure. This is one of those games that makes you appreciate the culture in this world and the beauty that other cultures have to offer.

This game is not for everyone, but if you like some hack-n-slash with your hashbrowns, this one won't disappoint. A 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

PS3: My first impressions

It's big, it's black and it's beautiful? I seem to remember everyone making fun of the Xbox and described it this way when it first came out in the last generation. This time, things are reversed: the Playstation is the bigger, bulkier and most certainly heavier brand ... and, the most powerful. I find it somewhat amusing that Sony fanboys (and Sony themselves) laughed at Microsoft for releasing two sku's on the 360, and yet here's Sony doing the same thing. Just goes to show you: choose your battles. But what about the machine?

The PS3 is a great machine and does deliver on the bulk of the promises Sony made, although to a lesser degree but that is Sony for you. The graphics are great, the sound is great and the games are decent for launch titles (those that I've played anyways). Resistance: Fall of Man does not disappoint as a great launch title even though first person shooters are not really my thing. I gave it a chance because of Insominiac (developers of one of my favourite series, Ratchet & Clank).

So here's what is good: built in Wi-Fi (even though I probably won't use it) and this is only on the higher priced version, HDMI output for my LCD TV, Blu-Ray movies are a nice bonus: but I'm not rushing out to replace my DVD collection...oh wait, I couldn't if I wanted to (but I can get 'Click' with Adam Sandler .... HOLY! rolling my eyes), the graphics and sound, rechargable controller with motion sensitivity....jury is still out on the games but they will come.

Here's what's bad: the menu system: it looks and works like my PSP but unfortunately that is NOT a good thing. The monochromatic display may be functional, but annoying: the 360 wins out here hands down....their "Online system that will rival Xbox Live" -- sorry Sony, not even close. Not that we blame you: it's free and it's first generation for you. Just don't sit there and tell us it will be better than Microsoft's because it isn't. The online store is nothing more than a webpage and it feels just like when you move around the web browser on the PSP: ok in a pinch but you wouldn't want to live there. Not being able to do anything else while downloading something is a major bummer and Microsoft fixed it with an update to their service--why would you not have learned from that? Finally, no rumble in the controller. Yeah, it makes the controller yet: and yeah, that makes it feel kinda cheap actually. I will miss rumble in my games, although it's not a's disappointing that business issues and legal issues for Sony are resulting in the consumers losing out. Pony up the cash to Immersion and fight them about it later, for chrissake.

Bottom line: The PS3 is a great console... it's potential will wait to be seen (just like the 360 which is now starting to get some great titles, one year later). The bigger question is, with Sony losing many exclusives will they be much like Nintendo is and the only exclusives become ones from their own studios? That could be . There will still be great exclusives. That's why I'm lucky to have all the consoles: they are all great in their own ways and will have games on them I want to play. The 360 will have Halo 3 and the Wii has Zelda and the PS3 is going to have another Ratchet & Clank.

I'm going to give the console an 8.5 - TODAY. Maybe by this time next year it will hit a 9 or higher but it loses points for price, lackluster interface, no rumble, poor online mode and a less than stellar launch lineup. These are all things that can be worked on, let's hope they do it right!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Death Jr. for the PSP

Well I finally finished this puppy up after a long time, but I have to admit something: I had to enable a cheat to get past a few just got NUTS with the guns and ammo and everything else. It was challenging but then it went a little beyond challenging to plain annoying. Overall though, I found the game to be good. A lot of people complained about the camera and I didn't find the camera so much of an issue as I did trying to line up to do the jumps that were just required that you be really precise, which I was.

Overall, given the format I think they did a very good job and I give Death Jr. a 7.5 out of 10... of course, I would finally finish it up just in time for a sequel!
The artwork featured here is from the limited edition, which I have ... sort of. I picked up this version (with the different artwork) and apparently it comes with a comic (which I don't have) and that's it ... otherwise, it's exactly the same. I picked up this one for completeness in my collection (I like to do variants, except the whole "value priced" stuff on all the platforms).

Friday, November 17, 2006

Playing with my Wii Wii

OK so I was one of these lucky people who has received their Wii early. Don't worry Nintendo, I didn't break any legal agreement with anyone and "purchase at retail" prior to Sunday. Let's just say I got it, and leave it at that.
I was actually surprised to come home Thursday evening to find it waiting for me! It was a great present.
The only downside? The games weren't there... just the included Wii sports. But that's ok, early adopters have to suffer sometimes. Hopefully the games arrive later today (it's now Friday at 5:59 am). Why is it so early? Because I decided to go see if I could pick up an extra PS3 from Wal*Mart or Future Shop. Didn't happen. I got up at 3am, and headed over before 4. At Wal*Mart, they told me they only got six and they gave out the coupons for them already and the line had disbanded. When I headed over to Futureshop, I saw tents...and a line....small line...looked promising. However, they also had handed out their coupons but these guys were waiting until 8am to actually pick their units up. I thought I was hardcore. Yeah, right. Anyways, the Wii: I played with it last night and am happy to report it was a blast. The 5 sports games that are included are all a lot of fun. There seems to perhaps be a little something going on with the remote where it jumps a bit but I'm not convinced I have it set up perfectly. The baseball was great--I think I actually pulled a shoulder muscle though! Boy games are getting more physical. I have only two complaints: 1) The video cable included is a composite video cable. Nintendo, I realize you need to accomodate the lowest common denominator, but I have news for you: COMPOSITE SUCKS AND IT SUCKS LARGE. At least make s-video and preferably component available AT LAUNCH not sometime later. You are going to piss off the people that have the TV's to go with it. The second complaint I have is that I have a problem with the Internet connection: it's just not working and I don't know if it's because it's prior to launch or what. I'm getting an error 32001 and it says to go to for more information. Well if you go there you get an Apache error ... nice. Again, I'll reserve complete judgement until Sunday but you'd think this stuff would be working early for retailers setting up demos and such. Anyways, enough bitchin. I tried out my Zelda Collector's Gamecube disc just to make sure it boots and works. It does. So for those that have it, I guess you can save those Wii points by NOT downloading the Legend of Zelda from the classic gaming service-- really, why bother it's got to be the same. I am not sure why I'm thinking of downloading ANY of the games since I have pretty much all of them as originals, but it might be nice to load up Dungeon Explorer on a high definition television. Well, I guess I should get some other work done or I'm going to end up playing that Baseball game again. I really think this system is going to be fun. And Sony: screw you. You made me get up at 3am for nothing. At least I had a nice breakfast at Tim Horton's with my brother. Did you know some of them start making those breakfast sandwiches at 4am? At least I learned something. Other than low blu-ray yields suck. Bad.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Xbox Emulators

I've been playing around lately with some classic emulators for the Xbox... ones that emulate laser disc players (Daphne), the original Nintendo, the Super Nintendo, and the Genesis. I don't have overly big expectations from the little box with the hefty weight in terms of processing power compared to today's modern PC's, so running things like a Nintendo 64 emulator to me just seems like you're asking for trouble (even though they exist).

What a pleasant surprise. I haven't spent an extensive amount of time with them yet, but the MAME emulator runs the classics with ease and the Genesis emulator does it spot on. Dragon's Lair looks awesome on the Xbox - just awesome.

It's getting to the point where I might almost consider not having the actual machines out to play on. In the museum, I am definitely going to put the emulators out there because I don't have the space for the classic machines ... so running Pac-Man on the 122-inch screen has got to be an experience every arcade kid should have.

The amount of dedication and work that has gone into this stuff is truly amazing - to all those who have worked on these emulators, a big THANK YOU. Your work is very much appreciated.

Will I put away the three N64's I have out? Not yet. But maybe. One day. Maybe.