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Join sisters NinJaSistah and Pandalicious and the rest of the ESH Crew each day as they discuss video games, tech gadgets, anime, manga... pretty much everything within the geek chic lifestyle.

From Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and PC game reviews, previews, news, and gushings to audience questions and rumor mill seeding galore you'll find it here at ESH!
First Nerdgasm of 2010: ESH@CES Las Vegas!

Goings On

Search through the goodness that is ESH. Want to see if we are writing and chit chatting about the crap you're interested in.





    CES Coverage

    We went to CES and here's what we saw and molested.

    E3 Coverages

    One stop shopping for all of the ESH E3 goodness.

    Xbox 360 Stuffs

    Check out crew rantings on the XB360 platform.

    PS3 Things

    Yeah, we've talked about Sony stuff too, check em out!

    Wii Little Bits

    Get your Nintendo bits and bobbles here.

    Oh Hai! Anime-niacs

    Peep the stuff we've written about on the anime tip.

    Manga Love

    We less than three manga as well, so peep the manga reviews.

    ESH Photo Galleries

    Check out the snapshots we've taken at events and more here...

    If You Can't Say Anything Good...

    posted @ 1/07/2010 12:11:00 PM by evermore
    For about the 325th consecutive year, Microsoft delivered a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Wednesday night. Billionaire Steve Ballmer might as well have phoned the thing in.

    It is a guarantee at these things that some major glitch or computer crash will occur during Microsoft keynotes. YouTube is filled with such fun clips. Wednesday's keynote was no exception as the major problem occurred just 10 minutes before the thing was supposed to start.

    I sat in the press section -- the best seats in the house, in the first seven rows right in the middle of the Las Vegas Hilton Center -- as all the lights in the house suddenly shut down, leaving us in darkness for a few moments before the emergency power kicked in. When we saw that the dozen Microsoft monitors were still dark, we knew we were in for an unwanted adventure.

    It was interesting to watch the world's largest Black Screen of Death.

    About the time the keynote was scheduled to start, an announcement came over the loudspeaker: A "small power problem" has occurred and we would be starting in "about five minutes." Then technicians rushed the stage frantically trying to bring life back to the still powerless PCs on the stage.

    "About five minutes" turned into 30, and it was obvious that some of the PCs were still having difficulty being restored to their former health. Microsoft finally gave in and started the show anyway.

    What followed could only be adequately described as "Amateur Hour." I'm sure it resembled the old Homebrew Computer Club demonstrations of the mid-1970s more than what passes for modern keynote deliveries of the 21st Century.

    Steve Jobs of Apple has set the standard on the modern keynote address, with his simple graphics and well-rehearsed deliveries. It's rare that a glitch occurs in his keynotes, and when they do, he always manages to pass it off with a funny line and gets on with it.

    Steve Ballmer's keynote couldn't have been more different. He fumbled over his words during some rocky moments and when it came time for humor, it was obvious that it was scripted. You coud tell he was about to make a joke because he would raise the volume of his voice in order to let all of us know that he was about to make a joke.

    Ballmer's hit the road during 2009 making a lot of speeches about just how crappy Microsoft's products have been. He's apologized on different occasions about the Xbox red rings problem, the worthlessness of Windows Mobile 6.5 and just how much everybody hated Windows Vista. He offered no such apologies in Wednesday's keynote. In fact, he acted as if Microsoft didn't have any problems at all.

    For example, as the media was being seated before the show, we were all instructed to turn off "our cell phones and Windows Mobile devices." Well, practically anybody in the press corps who might have owned a Windows Mobile device had turned it off a long time ago. It was probably sitting in a shoebox at home.

    But Ballmer, talking about Windows Mobile 6.5, acted as if it was the industry's leading mobile phone OS, with marketshare expected to be growing into the next year (and probably throughout the millenium to come). The media folks rolled their collective eyes.

    It was a rambling presentation, with a lot of empty words being spoken about a lot of equally empty products. Ballmer didn't offer anything new. After talking about Windows Mobile, Windows 7 and a new cellphone designed to run WiMo, he finally got the media excited when he revealed some examples of some new "slate" computers that were being developed. Ahhh, here's the Apple-killer everyone wanted to see. But when he admitted that it was just a concept, everyone slumped down in their seats again. Alas, Microsoft's patened FUD (fear-uncertainty-doubt) struck again.

    Finally, Ballmer relinquished the stage to Microsoft's Entertainment head, who presented some genuinely interesting -- and actual -- products, such as the next version of Halo and some more details about the gamer-is-the-controller concept they call Project Natal. He even promised that Project Natal would actualy be available during 2010.

    But by that time, Steve Ballmer was already gone, not to return to the stage. With the keynote being at the Las Vegas Hilton, Elvis Presley's old hangout, I expected an announcement along the lines of "Steve Ballmer has left the building," but it didn't happen.

    Instead, he rode out in the same silence that will undoubtedly surround most of Microsoft's big ventures of 2010.

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    Bayonetta Demo is SuperOMFGCrazyInsanity

    posted @ 12/11/2009 11:00:00 AM by Vichus Smith

    Have you played the Bayonetta demo yet? Well, HAVE YOU? The Bayonetta Demo is currently available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

    The Creation

    Bayonetta is brought to you from the wacky mind of Hideki Kamiya and the fine folks at Sega. Kamiya is one of the creators behind the Devil May Cry series of games, which are also totally out there and insane. Bayonetta is more of the same, with a fresh current gen look.

    Bayonetta the Witch

    Your heroine, Bayonetta, is an outcast, born to a union that was deemed illegal. Bayonetta is not killed. Instead, she is kept alive, but unable to take part in society or perform magic. Well, obviously, she finds some way to escape her bonds and become a badass angel killing witch.

    Stylish Vengeance

    Bayonetta is an incredibly leggy, dark-haired, bespectacled woman who has a wide array of weapons at her disposal. Her basic weapons include a sword, double guns (of course) and guns on her feet! Using your handheld weapons is typical Devil May cry fare. When you pull off a certain command, you flip upside down and let off some shots with the guns on your feet, gun-kata style.

    What Bayonetta can also do is slow down time after successfully dodging attacks. Bayonetta gets even more nasty when she does punish moves, which are basically quick time events that give you an option of dealing more damage.

    When it comes to fighting bosses, that's an even better story. Once you beat a big enemy with an inch of its life, you can summon your witchy powers to call forth a demon- made of Bayonetta's hair. Now that's what I call witchcraft! This is the ultimate representation of Bayonetta's combo moves. It's a bit gruesome to watch, but it's also very cool.

    With ups, there are downs

    Bayonetta does have familiar problems. As a game that allows you to fly high in the air and attack as fast as lightning, the camera has an issue with keeping up with you. You can see the action just fine, but when you're faced with so much on the screen, it could have been good to have more camera angles at your command, sort of like when yu can change angles in the Grand Theft Auto games.

    In addition, a nitpick comes Bayonetta's way because Bayonetta has one of the weirdest stances ever in a game. When you let Bayonetta stand still, she looks incredibly unnatural.

    These gripes don't kill the fun at all. If you love the wild action spectacles that are the Devil May Cry games, Bayonetta is DMC's exotic cousin.

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    Inglourious Podcast

    posted @ 8/24/2009 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    Oh yeah! It's the beginning of the week, so you know we have to hit you with a new episode of the podcast right?

    In this episode of the podcast, Pandalicious kicks the show off with what she took away from the new Tarantino flick "Inglourious Basterds," followed by some open conversation about the Rock Band support for the Lips wireless microphones as well as the new PS3 slim. Then we back the conversation up to games and NinJa jumps in with quick reactions to both Live Arcade titles Trials HD and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled.

    To give you an idea of what this episode is like, here are some of the titles we didn't use:
    • It's Not a Spoiler Alert If You Spoil It Before the Alert
    • It's Got T.I.T. Right In the Middle
    • Canada Isn't a Religion
    • Don't Waste Your Microsoft Points -- You're Going to Need Them
    • The PS3 Slim Is No McLovin
    • and finally,
    • The Only Girls On the Internet Asking for Stalkers

    Listen to this week's podcast episode: Episode 160: I Fought Physics and Physics Won. Then get started on Assignment Avatar!

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    Halo Legends Trailer

    posted @ 7/27/2009 04:35:00 PM by Douceswild

    I'm always up for a good anime. When the Halo Legends anime trailer was shown at this years Comic Con, that immediately got a spot at the top of "To Watch" list. It's a shame it won't be out until next year.

    The creative director overseeing the production is Shinji Aramaki, director of Appleseed and Appleseed Ex Machina, both of which are awesome. I hope Aramaki can keep up the good work with Halo Legends.

    Update: Halo Legends will be seven anime shorts.

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    Fun With Audio: The Next Round

    posted @ 7/06/2009 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    The gals took the weekend off and left Evermore to his own devices [meaning Adobe SoundBooth and Final Cut Pro] to Frankenstein together another one of his infamous ESH clip shows!

    There is music, there are interviews from some of our E3 booth stops, and maybe even a nugget or two of fun. From Warner Bros. Batman: Arkham Asylum to my Beatles: RockBandinterview with Creative Director Josh Randall. from Harmonix and more. [Can you say Heavy Rain walkthrough? What about Ratchet and Clank: walkthrough.]

    You'll find the last remnants of our LA time in this one, so sit back, relax and enjoy Electric Sista Hood podcast episode 153: The Last Word From E3 (We Promise!)

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    Mmm, Podcast Goodness

    posted @ 6/15/2009 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    Once again, Monday brings with it a new episode of the Electric Sista Hood podcast, and in this one I think we finally put the nail in the post E3 wrap-up content.

    Pandalicious and Ninjasistah talk about some of the lesser known or presented games like Warner Bros. Scribblenauts for the DS and a few titles from Playlogic including Section 8 Who had the best looking man candy by far. From Alpha Protocol to The Lord of the Rings: Arrogorns' Tale we talk through the last bits of our E3 notes... until we finish unpacking that is.

    So kick back, relax, and enjoy ESH podcast episode 150: The Brownies Were Mad Crazy Delicious

    p.s. more photo galleries to come, so be sure to check out the website this week often.

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    Another E3 in the Can

    posted @ 6/08/2009 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah

    We aren't dead, but our feet [and brains] are dead tired from traipsing around the LA Convention Center last week to cover E3 for you guys. [And if I'm honest, for ourselves as well.] I couldn't tell you how much both Pandalicious and I enjoyed our time in LA. First there was the catching up with the rest of the AllGames fam, followed closely by the meeting and greeting of new gamer-type press groups and the exchange of thoughts and ideas over free drinks. [Crix Lee from GirlGamer, Destructoids' Nick Chester, and Mr. Crecente himself from Kotaku to name drop a few.] The side-story fun stuff aside, we descended on LA for a reason and that reason was to get the low down on the soon to be released and up-and-coming video games.

    I won't bore you with a list of what we looked at, and whom we spoke to now as it wouldn't leave us anything to write for the rest of the week. What I will do is tell you that this podcast was one of our more enjoyable ones to record. We recorded it live from the show floor and Crix Lee popped by during our The Beatles: RockBand time and shared some great insights with us. A few people were wow'd by my laptop skin [courtesy of DecalGirl] and interrupted us a bit so you may notice that in here as well, but we had a lot to talk about... Bayonetta, Scribblenaughts, Prototype, and Batman: Arkham Asylum come to mind as I write this.

    From the stronger female presence both physically and pixel-y at this years' show to media briefing impressions and being excluded from demos we talk about it all. Grab your beverage of choice and put on your headphones, it's time to enjoy Electric Sista Hood podcast 149: While My Pocketbook Gently Weeps

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    New Podcast Episode For Ya

    posted @ 6/01/2009 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah

    Right before we head off to LA we cooked up a fresh new podcast episode for you to enjoy while we sleep on planes.

    In this episode of the podcast hosts NinJaSistah and Pandalicious talk about what they hope to see, learn, and play at E3 this year as well as deal a bit gossip out for your enjoyment. From the confirmed PSP GO to discussing some of the many ways Harmonix/MTV Games will be storing all the money they are stand to make with The Beatles: RockBand we leave no gaming cranny uncovered.

    Then we cap it all off with our first reactions to the upcoming hand-drawn Disney feature length animated film, "The Frog Princes," which features a nearly all black cast of characters. There's a lot of energy and a lot to enjoy in ESH podcast episode 148: A Disney Movie With Black People? Well, Zippity-Do-Dah

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    Microsoft Announces Cheater Branding

    posted @ 5/18/2009 09:21:00 AM by Douceswild

    Microsoft is not taking Xbox Live cheating lightly. If you're one of those who has done something underhanded to juice up you Gamerscore, then prepare to publicly wear the mark of shame.

    Stephen Toulouse, XBL Policy and Enforecement official says that besides dropping the Gamerscore of cheaters to zero, they're also marking their Gamercards as cheaters so everyone will know you're a dishonest gamer.

    "It also puts a tag that you've been caught cheating on your Gamercard. That's a pretty big Scarlet Letter.", says Stephen.

    So, I guess cheaters have an important decision to make. Is a few extra gamer points worth a permanent cheater brand?

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    The Future Will Make You Blind

    posted @ 11/03/2008 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    Monday morning creeps around again, so the sistah's got to gabbing again to create a new episode of the ESH podcast for you. And this one is another single topic-er.

    We couldn't think of a better way to herald the return of NinJaSistah to the East Coast the girls get together to chit-chat about Fable 2. Actually, first they talk about Fable, then Fable 2, open environment games, and action RPG's, and a bunch of stuffs surrounding the Lionhead Studios titles.

    I'll warn you now, there are a bunch of spoilers to go around in this episode if you haven't finished either title, so you may want to download this episode and wait until you finish your game before you listen to this one. Don't say I didn't warn you. Seriously, look at the titles that we didn't use for the episode:
    • You Can Kick Chickens and It Doesn't Affect Your Purity
    • He Shoots Your Sister, Then He Shoots Your Dog...Bastard
    • Fable 2 Teaches the Horror of Eating Meat
    • I Want My Dog Back, I Really Don't Care About My Sister
    • The Future Will Make You Blind
    • and finally
    • Desperately Seeking Spot

    See, told you, spoilers poppin' off all over this joint, so sit back and open up your ears for Electric Sista Hood podcast episode 119: You Better Play Fable 2 Before You Listen to This One.

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    An Open Letter to the Folks at Bungie

    posted @ 7/22/2008 02:16:00 PM by evermore
    Dear Bungie,

    I read in Variety this week that you have had some disagreements with your previous owner Microsoft and that was why there was no Halo announcement at E3 this year.

    I know it must be difficult after so many years kowtowing to the likes of Steve Ballmer, and if you think that maybe it's time for a little payback, I've got an idea on how to have a little vengeance against the Evil Empire.

    Give Steve Jobs a call. I understand that it may be a little difficult to get in. Between drinking macrobiotic shakes and counting all that money coming in from WALL-E and emailing to pals on the next version of the iPhone, he's a little busy these days. Tell him you've got an idea.

    First, tell him you've mended your ways. You're sorry you sold out to Microsoft all those years ago and took all those fun games away from the Mac. Then tell him you've got a way to kick the likes of Microsoft, HP, Dell and all those Asian computer makers right in the tail.

    The Halo Mac.

    The Halo Mac is not just a Macintosh with a bunch of decals on it. It's a Mac designed to play Halo. Take a MacBook Air and give it a multi-touch screen, like an iPhone. Just throw the controller away. You have everything you need, between the multi-touch screen and the keyboard.

    Inside, put a processor capable of bringing out the best in Halo, along with a solid-state drive and the maximum amount of RAM possible.

    And keep all the great capabilities of the MacBook intact. The 802.11n network is superior to anything on a console. Voice and video chat is built in -- not an add-on. In fact, you could share your screen with other players. You could even capture your screen play and turn it into Machinima with the free iMovie program on the Mac.

    Imagine the possibilities of a Halo-player that is as light as a MacBook Air and just as useful. The Xbox 360 is OK, but you only move that hot plate when it Red-Rings-Of-Death.

    [MacBook Air photo credit: Tim Malabuyo]

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    E3 Day One Summary

    posted @ 7/14/2008 08:31:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    If you are an avid listener of our podcast or frequent visitor our site you know that the ESH crew is not in LA covering E3 on the ground this year. We are there in spirit though, and I am more than happy to share what I have surmised from the day one coverage of the media bru ha ha.

    We kick off with Microsoft. From the land of online community comes the announcement of "Experience," the new online community framework that will be put into place on the XBox360 platform. Taking the hint from how successful the community has been, "Experience" leans towards giving the user base a similar digital entertainment hub to that of MS counterpart/major competitor Sony with it's "Home" application. Through "Experience" users will have avatars that they create that can interact with each other over the internet, have access to an even broader base of electronic media entertainment [including the newly announced partner Netflix] and more.

    On hand were the pre-requisite hype game trailers for both Gears of War 2 and Fable 2 [both of which make have many of us in the gaming community salivating at the mere thought of them] upcoming titles. I will have a gallery collection of my favorite E3 released trailers up later on this week. The XBox camp was also proud to announce that the new Final Fantasy XIII title will launch simultaneously on the XBox360 platform as well as the PS3 platform. A huge win for MS in the fight to end PS3 exclusivity dominance over the Final Fantasy franchise. [Try saying that three times fast.]

    All in all MS tried to come out swinging at this event, making it known that that they are not afraid to jump into the brawl to be the best home entertainment system and not just gaming console. It's hard to not notice the trend towards a path of total digital media delivery package that the next gen systems seem to be moving toward. It is a road that competitors Sony and [to a degree] Nintendo have been marketing towards for well over a year now, but it still awaits to be seen if it is the predominant market for success here in the US.

    We will just have to see what day two brings us tomorrow evening.

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    Like a Soap Opera without the sex

    posted @ 6/26/2008 11:17:00 AM by evermore
    Way back in the early 1970s when I was a college student, I remember seeing a one-panel comic in the newspaper. A Martian explorer was reporting back to his commander, "They worship Beatles and want them to get back together."

    That accurately reflected the times. Hardly a week passed when you didn't see some story about rumors of a Beatles reunion. The media ate this stuff up. Every interview with one of the Fab Four contained the inevitable question, "When will you get back together?"

    Those questions ended when John Lennon was gunned down on Dec. 8, 1980, but it seems that today there is a new will-they-get-together fanaticism among the media: Microsoft and Yahoo.

    Just as in the 1970s with The Beatles, the media can't seem to let go of any half-baked rumor regarding the possible takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft. Jerry Yang was seen golfing with Steve Ballmer... This insider told that insider... I think it's true, so it must be true...

    It's like a Soap Opera without the sex. The tech websites are full of this meaningless chatter. Every new little rumor spawns innumerable stories and blogs and Twitters. And then, a few days later, some official at one of the companies dismisses the entire thing, which spawns even more stories, blogs and Twitters.

    The tale they all tell is pretty much the same: Microsoft must buy Yahoo or Google will take over websearch permanently and for all time. Microsoft must be crazy to not buy Yahoo. Yahoo must be insane for not giving in to Microsoft.

    And what if it all comes true? What if Microsoft swallows up Yahoo? Well then the media will really have a field day: Microsoft is insane for wasting all that money on Yahoo. Yahoo made a huge mistake to give in so easily to Microsoft.

    In either case, Google's laughing all the way to the bank.

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    New Podcast Day: Artificial, Smart, And Sneaky

    posted @ 6/23/2008 08:00:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    Monday brings with it yet another episode of the ESH podcast, and in this one the sistahs' steal the limelight and hold it hostage for about an hour.

    NinJaSistah takes the mic first this go 'round to speak on a topic near and dear to her heart, Ninja Gaiden II. From new visuals, lamest ninja name ever, to best and worst aspects of initial gameplay NinJa brings the sexy black. I mean back.

    Then Pandalicious talks about her newly addicted Wii Fit experience. The yoga that is easy, what the game is and is not, and how it affects her daily life. MagicMystic chimes in a time or too before having to head out early. All in all, it's one of our normal, wacky shows. Here are some of the episode titles we rejected:
    • It Helps If You're Nimble and Omnicient
    • From The Look Of The Ninja Gaiden Girls You'd Think Goodyear Was The Sponsor
    • Lamest Name For A NinJa: Joe
    • AI Can Be A Sneaky Bastard
    • No, The Dog Didn't Eat Panda's Homework
    • And Then She Mentioned Richard Simmons' Weiner
    • If Your Kid Turns Into A Pretzel, Turn The Wii Fit Off Now!
    • My Fat Mii Haunts Me
    • and
    • Gravity Is A Bitch And Always Wins

    Told you it was the normal wacky episode from the ESH girls. So sit back, relax and enjoy podcast episode 102: When NinJa Talks About Her Nuts, People Listen

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    Microsoft Copiers Strike Again

    posted @ 4/09/2008 09:09:00 AM by evermore
    It's bad enough that Microsoft copies everything that Apple does and calls it its own, but now it appears that the company is trying to strike gold by Wii-ifying the Xbox.

    Normally, I wouldn't consider MTV News to be a venerable source of hard-hitting journalism, but they did manage quite a scoop this week -- a sketch of a new Xbox controller that looks remarkably like a Wiimote.

    I don't want to hear all that guff about Microsoft being the great innovators. They had a decent marketing department, but the real innovation was from companies like Apple and Sun. I could go on all day about Microsoft innovations that were either bought or stolen, like DOS (bought), Windows Media Player (stolen) and the Aero Glass interface (stolen).

    In fact, I defy you to point out a Microsoft innovation that didn't appear earlier in Unix, Linux, the Amiga or the Macintosh. If you don't believe me, just Google the phrase "Microsoft steals."

    Oh, and if you haven't seen it for a while, here's a representative scene from Pirates of Silicon Valley.

    And now here's something that's gotta be really embarassing. It's from the January 2007 launch of Vista Office. Mike Sievert, the corporate vice president of Microsoft, shows off the online gaming capabilities of Vista, as he challenges his son, who is at home on his Xbox 360, playing (wait for it) UNO!

    "And, of course, this is my Games Explorer. This is what Windows Vista does to make my gaming experience easier than it's ever been, because all of my games are here in one place where I can manage them the same way.

    "I'm going to step into an upcoming release of Uno for Windows Vista, and I'm going to use my Xbox 360 controller plugged right into my Windows Vista machine, and I'm going to pull up a multiplayer game. Because what Uno for Windows Vista can do is something that games before have never been able to do, and that's cross-platform play. You're going to see the familiar Xbox 360 set of settings, and I'm going to use the Microsoft Live gaming platform to see if I can find my 10-year old son Jonathan at home in Seattle, Washington on his Xbox.

    "Now, he goes by the alias, Ice Monkey, and you can see that he's online. That's good because I'm on stage, and this would be important at this point. (Laughter.) And I'm going to go ahead and select him and invite him to play this game of Uno with me.

    "Now, you know, I travel quite a bit, and maybe I'm in a hotel room in Tokyo with my Windows Vista laptop, and it's really important that I'm able to have connections with my family when I'm gone. And this scenario is fantastic because it allows me to steal away a few minutes to play a game with Jonathan across thousands of miles, eight time zones, and two gaming platforms.

    "Take a look at this as I press Start. We launch into a game together and in just a moment across all those times we'll be playing cross-platform game play.

    "There it is. Now you need to applaud that, because I had to wait a minute. All right. (Applause.) And there it is, we're all in this game playing across the thousands of miles, me on my Windows Vista machine, and Jonathan on his Xbox."

    The guy even has to beg for applause.

    Sievert left Microsoft in February of this year. I guess you can take only so much UNO.

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    Your M-M-O-RPG Is Now M-O-B-I-L-E

    posted @ 3/04/2008 12:42:00 PM by Douceswild
    Wouldn’t it be awesome to play your favorite mmorpg on a portable device? I know what you’re thinking. “I do that already with my laptop.” Well I’m talking about something just a bit more portable than your average-sized laptop.

    How many times have you missed the train or bus to work because you didn’t want to log out of your mmorpg? Have you ever wished you could take your mmorpg with you on that long family trip so you’ll have something to do in the car? Well the OQO model 0.2 might be what you’re looking for. The OQO is basically an ultra mobile PC capable of running XP or Vista and weighs about one pound. You can also play a variety of other pc games on the system.

    Here’s World of World fully functioning on the system.

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    Zune To Be Amazed

    posted @ 3/01/2008 12:13:00 PM by Douceswild
    Seeing as how Apple did it, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft decided to make their own version of the “Jesus Phone”. Move over iPhone. The zunePhone is coming.

    Just over six months ago, Apple released their revolutionary iPhone upon the world and the cell phone industry has never been the same. Other manufactures have tried to follow in the footsteps of Apple since then, such as HTC’s Touch and LG’s Prada, but only one company can truly bring us the cell phone of all cell phones and that’s Microsoft. Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Gates and Microsoft proudly bring you the zunePhone.

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    Want to sell more Zunes? Put an iPod Dock in it

    posted @ 2/01/2008 02:49:00 PM by evermore
    This is getting ridiculous. It seems that if you want to improve sales of a product, all you have to do is put an iPod Dock in it. The latest example is the Razer Pro|Type keyboard, shown here. But that's not what would get me to buy a new keyboard, so I mocked up a picture of what would sell me on a new keyboard.

    What are we likely to see in 2008? Well, one answer is certainly more products with iPod Docks in them. Here are some products I expect to see an iPod Dock added to this year:

    Microwave oven
    Microsoft Zune
    Electric toothbrush
    Cuisinart food processor
    Playstation 3
    4GB thumb drive
    Glade Plugin air freshener
    Wii Nunchuck

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    Bad News/Good News

    posted @ 1/02/2008 06:00:00 PM by evermore
    Time for another segment of Good News/Bad News, but in the spirit of the new year, we thought we'd give you the Bad News first, followed by the Good News.

    Xbox Dead

    Bad News: Xbox Live players experienced dozens of hours of downtime this past weekend, believed to be due to thousands of new post-Christmas players on the system.

    Good News: The shut-out players returned to the holiday activities that they led in their days before video games took over their lives: football and that Futurama marathon they ran on Cartoon Network.

    Jack Thompson Hates Army Men

    Bad News: Videogame opponent Jack Thompson claims there is an "unholy alliance" between the gaming industry and the U.S. Department of Defense, teaching "an entire generation of kids that war is glamorous, cool, desirable and consequence-free."

    Good News: The IRS is hoping that computer programs like TurboTax will make an entire generation of kids think that paying taxes is glamorous, cool, desirable and consequence-free.

    Retailer Becomes Scalper

    Bad News: One videogame retailer took their allotment of Wii consoles and scalped them on eBay, rather than offering them at regular retail prices to their customers.

    Good News: At least they didn't make their female employees model the units in skimpy clothes. Remember this from last year?

    That Love Letter You Wrote In 1996 Is Going Away...

    Bad News: Microsoft is modifying Microsoft Office 2003 so Service Pack 3 can no longer open Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Access files created in a format earlier than Office 97.

    Good News: You finally have the justification to stop using Microsoft Office. Instead use the FREE OpenOffice, which will gladly read all your ancient Office files now and in the future.

    ...And So Is Netscape

    Bad News: Development is being halted on the Netscape browser Feb. 1, AOL announced last week.

    Good News: Netscape hasn't been on the cutting edge of browser development since about 1997. In fact the latest version was just a reskinned version of Firefox.

    Now Everyone's a Crook

    Bad News: In a supplemental brief responding to questions from the judge in an Arizona music piracy case, RIAA lawyer Ira M. Schwartz says that the simple act of moving your music from CD to a computer is also an "unauthorized copy" that incurs legal liability.

    Good News: "By claiming that reasonable, legal behavior is theft, the RIAA trivializes piracy," writes Wired blogger Rob Beschizza. "This is a fatal act of self-destruction. This will result in more law-abiding people thinking 'screw it' and doing it themselves. After all, when everyone is already a pirate because they 'stole' music from their own CD collections, why not add a few more counts on top?"

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    Hello, Superuser!

    posted @ 10/28/2007 03:16:00 PM by Alex J. Avriette
    I wish I could say I was surprised that Microsoft's software is behaving this way. Having worked for them, and knowing the people that work for them, I still do find myself surprised. When connecting your Xbox 360 to a network, it isn't simply enough to, you know, connect it. No, you have to actually have it routable. This means that you have to carry internet service, and it means you have to expose your Xbox to whatever nasties lurk out there on the internet.

    Let's start off with a fact that isn't quite obvious. I don't have internet service at home. When I do, it's because I mooch off people with open waps. Most of the time, though, it's through work, or the public libraries, or wherever that I bring this invaluable sarcasm and razor-sharp wit. So at home, we have several computers, none of which are really connected to each other, except via wireless connection (all Macs). As it turns out, the apartment I live in is wired with cat 5 (that's "ethernet" for those that don't know), and it's in the walls. Great, I thought, I'll connect my music machine (in one room) to my Xbox (in another room, but hooked up to the tv) via the wall. So, the mini (the music machine) gets its wireless connection (so we can talk to it) via an airport express. This means it's connected via a straight cat5 cable to the airport, which creates its own network. Now, we've added a crossover cable for the WAN port on the airport, connected it to the wall, and on another wall, connected a hub to the cat5 port, with the Xbox plugged into that (we have a PS2 also, a PS3 is in our future, and a Wii, etc).

    Right, so everything is plugged in happy. Blinkenlights (oh no he didn't just put a telnet URL in this post, did he?) abound. The Xbox says it's got an IP address. Let's details this quickly:

    subnet mask:
    default route

    I happen to know that you don't need anything more than that (and you don't even need a default route if you're just using a local network). However, Microsoft not only wants you to have a network that complies with, you know, normal numbers (it won't, for example, take 4/8 numbers as IP addresses or use a mask), but they want you to route out to the internet and to have nameservers and all that good stuff. You can't just connect your Xbox to your network.

    In this case, I want it connected because I want to use my television as speakers when I'm in the living room, even though my music is in the other room. I accomplish this normally with Connect360 – you haven't truly enjoyed a good Mech game until you've blown the living shit out of everything listening to Bad Religion's Recipe for Hate. But, in this case, Microsoft's ridiculous demands on connectivity or what is reasonable for people to have in their homes, or even what goals their customers have for their networks, take much greater precedence than, well, common sense. Or, hell, even accepted standards. Like, you know, TCP/IP.

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    Stupid Gadget of the Year: First Candidate

    posted @ 9/13/2007 09:28:00 AM by evermore
    I hereby open the nominations for Stupid Gadget of the Year, and it should come to no surprise that the first candidate is from a company that has littered the world with plenty of stupid gadgets: Microsoft.

    Microsoft, as you may remember, has brought you such Instant Junk as last year's Zune audio device, for example. It had built-in WiFi, which could have been used to wirelessly connect to a music download service. But nooooooo. The WiFi was put in there to (in Steve Ballmer's own words) "squirt" a temporary music download to someone else with a Zune. (Just try to find two people in the same room outside Redmond, Wash., with Zunes.)

    Not satisfied with 2006's undisputed Stupid Gadget of the Year, Microsoft has followed up with a candidate easily worthy of repeating last year's accomplishment: the Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 (I must have missed the previous 7,999 versions of the thing).

    You're going to see some stories about this thing in the media in the next few days (after which, the talk about the thing will all dry up), and most of the stories are going to be dead wrong about the thing. Most media outlets are going to say that it's the first computer mouse with a built-in Flash drive.

    But they're wrong.

    The mouse doesn't have a Flash drive at all. The mouse is a wirless mouse -- with a 1GB Flash drive in the transceiver of the mouse. You see, you plug in the transceiver into a USB slot on your computer, and it acts as the bridge to relay information from the mouse to the computer. And it also can store about 1GB of information.

    But it's much more complicated than that -- and that's where the problems lie:

    -- It's also a Bluetooth mouse. Flip a switch on the mouse and it can operate via Bluetooth, without the need for the transceiver, unless you are also using it as a Flash drive, which means you must have it plugged in anyway.

    -- You can carry the transceiver around to transfer data from the Flash drive to other computers, but if you leave it in another computer, you won't be able to use the transceiver for your mouse. If the computer's not Bluetooth, it's back to a wired mouse until you get the two parts back in the same room together.

    -- The batteries in the mouse hold only a three-week charge, according to Microsoft. To recharge the batteries, you have to connect a cord between the transceiver and the mouse, and that doesn't exactly make it a wireless mouse anymore, does it?

    -- A whole 1GB? Really? I'm sure that was a lot of space at some point in the 20th Century, but a quick look at the CompUSA website shows a couple of different 1GB USB Flash drives for only $11.99. Microsoft is charging $100 for its Flash drive/mouse combo -- quite a premium for such a misguided product. For that amount of money you could get one of three different 8GB USB Flash drives from CompUSA and use the free, wired (No batteries!) mouse you got with your computer.

    Yes, the Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 (I'll bet the guy who named this thing is getting a bonus this year!) is the first candidate for Stupid Gadget of 2007. Why not just go ahead and give Microsoft the award already? Why, there are more than three months left in the year. That gives Microsoft more than 100 days to come up with something even stupider (I'm betting on a new Zune that also dispenses three flavors of wine coolers).

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    E3: The Journey Kicks Off

    posted @ 7/11/2007 01:28:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    NinJaSistah here with the jump off of E3, and I have to say, it was interesting.

    If you don't know what E3 is, I'm not exactly sure why you are visiting this site as you are obviously not a gamer. Allow me to extend a branch of friendship to you. If you are a fan of Anime, think of E3 as you would AX. It is holy and to be cherished. Or at least it was, until the "invite only" revamp this year. That being said, you awesome readers and listeners made ESH popular enough to get invited to many of the festivities surrounding the new "exclusive" [in the not happy-time in the pants way] expo. Tonight's' fare dropped NinJa off in the land of Microsoft, and boy were they happy to see me. At least I think they were happy to see me, they lit up all green and whatnot.

    Anywho, I'm going off on a tangent and I have lots to share with you.

    The night started off cool. The venue was the Santa Monica High School drowned in the familiar neon green of the XBox brand and a kick-ass tent like thing that was setup to spew Microsoft folks onto the stage before the crowd. The whole idea was to show us in the crowd enough "cool" and "wicked" stuff [Peter Moore's words, not mine] knock our socks off. I personally had one sock knocked off of me, so they sorta did what they set out to do. Knocking a ninja's socks off is impressive, even if it's only a single sock. Digressing again. Before Peter comes out to speak, the massive screen that nearly engulfs center stage displays a "screensaver" for lack of a better term, that creates a nexus type of deal by connecting lines between random gamertags that float by. [I just want to say that my gamertag did float by on the screen and I took it as a personal shout out to me from Peter Moore and Shane Kim.] They definitely get an "A" from me in the "good ambiance" department. Hell, they gave me a butt cushion y'all!

    Normally this would be the part of the article where I recounted who came on in what order and what they said, quote the folks who obviously had been drinking the XB360 kool-aid a bit too much, and then piss and moan about not having E3 credentials. I would be well within my rights to do so. What I thought would be a better idea though was to share with you the few of the things that left lasting impressions on me, and what I took away from the night as a whole.

    Game numero "A" that got my juices flowing to the point that I thought I might be in need of a towel was Rock Band. Pandalicious and I have made no attempt to hide our lust, nay, obsession with Guitar Hero 2... so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Rock Band would be high on my "must have" list. What surprised me was the live demo the audience was treated to. Peter Moore himself suited up with the fine folks from Harmonix to play a song by the Hives I think, and it just rocked... the game, not so much Peter. Peter needs to work on his hammer-ons a bit. But the demo seemed to go off without a hitch. Well, Peter kept accidentally pausing the game, but it was forgivable, almost cute in a way. What struck me was how much of a "get together" game Rock Band potentially could be. If the peripheral controllers don't cost an arm and a leg to get at the same time as the game, I could really see people buying the whole set to host some impromptu jam sessions.

    Next up to bat was the trailer for a title that blatantly was going after the Mario Party people, Viva Pinata: Party Animals. It's a party game people. A party game based off of the "Viva Pinata animated series... in it's second year of broadcasting." The way that line was delivered it made me immediately think that MS Game Studios really wanted to distance this game from the existing Viva title on the XB360 as it did not do as favorably in sales as MS would have liked. It struck me as odd though. Viva didn't suck out loud. Those that did buy it completely enjoyed it, so why the need to declare the new titles affiliation with such an obscure TV show. One of the reviewers sitting beside me asked the guy to his right if it was really true that the cartoon was still on the air. Another reviewer in the row ahead of me didn't even know that there was a Viva cartoon series. Just odd.

    Lastly, what hit me were the missing demos. For all the talk about the new XB360 titles being delivered in 07, [and there are a shitload folks] it seemed to me that there was a huge lack of BioShock, DMC4, or even Fable 2 footage. There was about as much video evidence of the existence of these games in video we were treated to on average as there was for Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Fable 2 is no small release for MS, and yet there wasn't even a section set aside to run the trailer we saw last year. I only know that BioShock exists because there was some pre-rendered video that did make it's way into a video montage that we saw. Because you gotta have-a MONTAGE!! But there was a longer clip for DW:Gundam in that same montage than footage of BioShock.

    But anyways, it's late and I'm sure you just want me to complete my thought and go to bed, so I will. [You guys are awfully pushy tonight.] I kinda left the gathering tonight feeling as though I had been sitting in on a state of the union address. A lot of information was put in front of me. Some demos worked while others had some technical difficulties. That said, important person after important person came out onto the stage to tell me that these games were good and these games were cool, and that millions of people were going to want to play these games, and I'm sure that they are right, but the lack of focus on the other games that are known "blockbuster" titles for MS gave me pause. Being surrounded by a gaggle of gamers like myself it was hard to not get caught up and drink the kool-aid my damn self, but I think I made it through day one with my integrity still in tact.

    It's not like they gave me a free XBElite to replace my busticated XB360 or anything cool like that.

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    Bloody Hell!

    posted @ 3/27/2007 06:30:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    Being one of my few days off from my regular daytime torture routine [a.k.a. the job that pays my bills] I decided to hit up ye olde XBLive in hopes of improving my Gamerscore...

    Two hours later my score has not increased a bit. I'm not a bad gamer, or even a being slightly lackadaisical. I didn't play anything because I couldn't play anything. Well let me rephrase. I couldn't play anything online against people because I *thought* my network was failing.

    See I had just bought this smoking new router from Apple because I heard it supports that nice new faster wireless protocol 800.11n. Screw those dawdling ass backwards 802.11 A,B, and G protocols. We are in the days of the new. We are on the precipice of the future, and um, we need a helluva lot more bandwidth for all the digital shit we are stealing using. The 802.11n spec sheet says that N networks have a max data rate of 540Mbit/s with an indoor range of about 165ft while the max data rates for G networks falls in at about 54Mbit/s and B networks at a meager 11Mbit/s and equal indoor ranges of about 98 feet. Now that I got that bit of geekiness out the way, I shall continue.

    So I purchased this router in order to lay the foundation for the next expansion of my entertainment system project. There will eventually be a box that will allow me to dish all of my digital content to my beautiful TV so I need fat pipe. Got the router in, hooked up, computers all connecting to the router with no problem [I will say that only one of my current computers can actually handle the N networks load, but I'm fine with that for now] and so it was on to getting the game boxes on the network as well.

    On the back of the new router are three ethernet ports for sharing the wi-fi connections which works out great for me: one for the PS3, one for the XB360, and one for my VOIP line, I should be golden. First I hook up the PS3 and other than needing a system update [told you I don't use the thing too often] it got right on the web. The Wii was easy because it saw my wifi network and connected to it without hesitation. So last up was the XB360. I figured this too would be a easy as getting a picture of Paris Hilton sans panties but this was not to be. Over and over again the XB360 would fail to pass the MTU test. I would reset my cable modem, reset my router, give each machine it's own IP address on the network, but nothing made my sad little world become bright. There was to be no joy in Mudville.

    I even went as so far to call up my ISP for help. I know they are clueless, but at this point I'd take anything... anything over not being able to get my Live on. After 20 minutes on the line I got a person who directed me to the companies website for instructions on how to setup my network for Live, or that I should seek help from MicroSoft immediately as this is a 3rd party product yada, yada, yada, and a boogity boo. After landing on the website I find that I have done everything I was supposed to in the order I was supposed to. I was going to have to go to the Microsoft site and ask them for help... and then a funny thing happened. The website was down for maintenance.


    Why did no one tell me of this? Did they just assume that I was going to go to their stupid website regularly like some sort of lemming on a journey to get my daily ration of XBox news? Huh? Well? Because I don't. I have labors to attend to during the day that aide in my being able to fund my video gaming lust under the cover of darkness.

    Except for today, because XBLive is down till about 8pm. Just FYI.

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    Mac and PC, 1 Million Years B.C.

    posted @ 3/14/2007 04:24:00 PM by evermore
    The fight between the Macintosh and the PC has gone on for years -- about a million of them, by our count. Our comic shows one early battle...

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    HD DVD XB360 A BetaMax?

    posted @ 1/05/2007 04:05:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    I didn't say it first though, the guys at MS did... in and interview with Ben Kuchera over at arsTechnica. I'm not kidding. After reading the piece that Mr. Kuchera did on the double sided interview with the MS goblins I gotta say, Kuchera's got balls.

    Personally, I think that making a 360 box with a built in HDMI port is a good idea. Such a good idea in fact that I think that they should have done it from the launch of the damn thing. What's going to happen when this new box hits the shelves and all of us fine folk who bought systems before they got their proper port allotment? Are we going to get a make good? Is this part of the reason why MS upped the warranty for the XB360? Am I going to get to call customer service and get my 360 "fixed" and be sent a replacement box? Huh, MS? You gonna hook a sistah up or what? I need to know.

    Jokes aside, it was nice to see that after another heads up comparison of the 360 and the PS3 what I've been saying for a while is turning out to be true: PS3 isn't going to blow anything out of the water just yet. Between the scaling issues, the games division losing something close to 1.4 billion [that's billion, with a "B"] that we may have not been off our nut when we said Sony might be in some trouble.

    I like being right. Damn it feels good to be a ninja!

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    Blue Dragon Madness

    posted @ 12/09/2006 01:10:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    Ok, maybe "madness" is a tad bit strong for what's really going down in Japan right now, but the MS Game Studios title Blue Dragon has sure gotten some serious attention out of our friends in the East.

    In all honesty, I hadn't heard much about the game [I've never been big on imports] nor do I tend to like RPG's... so Blue Dragon flew in under my radar. I'm just glad I caught wind of it when I did. Normally, I can't stand turn-based RPG games as the "turn-based" part tends to slow down the gameplay and bores me, but Blue Dragon doesn't look like a typical RPG game.

    Blue Dragon is the first MS project out of Mistwalker [a development studio founded by Square-Enix's Hironobu Sakaguchi.] If the character design looks familiar it may be because you've seen the work before. Akira Toriyama actually handled design duty on this game. Some of Toriyama-san's work includes an anime series called Dragon Ball... you might have heard about it. I've no idea if this game is going to be coming to the US, but it would be a shame if it didn't.

    Peep the trailer here:

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    Animal Crossing : Wild World for Nintendo DS

    posted @ 12/04/2006 08:08:00 PM by geekwoman
    Animal Crossing : Wild World for Nintendo DS by Geek Woman

    Animal Crossing for the Nintendo DS is like a tiny milling MMO of ity bity people. There is a large "E" friendly community surrounding it. In addition to being able to connect and play with other DS owners while in the same physical location, the easy to use wifi capability can connect you with other players world wide.

    It is an ingenious game in several aspects. The security for keeping identities secret seems to work and it is fairly easy to screen and block out unwanted parties. The exchange of a Friend Code has to be given someplace out side of the DS. It has to be someone that you physically know or meet through numerous Friend Code listing message boards. Once there though how would someone know if they were communicating with a an adult or a kid? They do require a verifiable email address to register at most forums. But that isn't much protection, so wifi chat should be supervised. Also many McDonald's restaurants and other hotspots permit people to play together wirelessly on the DS.

    The game has an understandably "E" rating. However it should be specified someplace that a person does need to be able to read fairly well in order to be able to play the game. Maybe at some point in the future suggestions about the age a kid who would enjoy a game could be made on the packaging. Like "for children 5 and up".

    You would think that game that consists of farming a fruit orchard, fishing and collecting fossils would be relaxing. Not for me. I became obsessed with paying the huge, escalating and continuous morgage(s). Oh no! This is like a nightmare. I suppose it is to teach kids responsibilities but it made me frantic. I picked oranges and gathered shells. I learned how to perfect my fishing skills pretty quickly. In the first day I got it paid off. I thought I would be relieved then. But it was not to be. Tom Nook the owner of the only store in town, extorted me for another mortgage to build me a bigger house, even after I told him I didn't want it. This reminds me of an episode of the Xfiles... At least I could pick a lilac roof. Now I have an even more huge debt! If you do chores for townspeople, dig up some treasure, and discover some of the other secrets hidden in the game you earn lots of gold. There are many little side ‘missions’ in AC:WW.

    I consoled myself with fishing. I caught several kinds. Notably I got a Koi and an Octopus. When I returned to the store the next morning they were closed. I am worried that my fish might spoil. I read online that I can time travel and set the time back on the clock to sell the fish. Then I have to reset the clock back to the correct present time so that I don't screw up the game. Heaven forbid that if after you turn the DS on - that you change your mind. A creature pops up and bitches you out with over 30 screens of a harangue about how important it is to save the game before you shut it off. Typing in "Shut up" or other epithets don't help any. I would love to know how to get that dubious feature to quit.

    I was penalized for my trips back to the past by loosing trees. Several of my flower plants also looked as if they had been plant - napped by a neighbor and put in her garden. When I switched my clock to February 14th there was snow on the ground and my plants in that time weren't too happy about this.

    Fishing is a tricky but fun pass time. The ocean wave sound effect is almost convincing with ear buds. This is a typical RPG. You build stuff, customize things, plant gardens and weed around the town. But the map is tiny. It suffers for only having one little town area to be in - unless you visit other peoples towns to trade items online. Compared to Pokémon which has many of these tiny towns all on one GBA cartridge this game has only one small one. The moon phases and weather are correct for my area. But this game goes in too many directions and is lacking fundamental basics. If space mattered then some of the odd customization features could have been skipped. Making constellations, or designing umbrellas could have been done without for example - to make the individual single person game experience larger.

    Customization gives you the option to decide what you want the interior of your house to look like, along with your clothes, hairstyle, outdoors, museum, constellations, and music playing in your house. Compared to the GameCube version of AC, there are more items and more to do in the new DS version. Online, you can buy items from people. That makes it easier to complete sets you’ve been trying to collect.

    To make me even more paranoid the game is still playing even though I am not. For example, if you don’t play the game for a month, your town will have weeds throughout. The weird townspeople will forget who you are, and sometimes move out. There isn’t a big reason beyond obsession to continue playing the game after a few days or so. You would have to pick all the weeds, and talk to everyone in your town again which isn't very interesting. I got crestfallen seeing that my trees and plants died. You can only plant one tree per day so many of my fruit trees died. I am glad I don't have as bad luck with gardening in real life. That would be sad. There’s not much motivating you to play this game in the first place, and the punishing mortgages aren't enough incentive to make you continue playing it. There is a thin line between realistic and engaging and reality check and stressing. AA : WW is more like a sim than a game.

    Sound and Music
    The background music changes every hour all of the tunes sound boopey and empty. The animals don't talk, they make odd little noises which you can thankfully shut off. It has a rudimentary sound program in it so you can make your own Town song and online you can use that to play songs that people have worked out and posted the tablature for. Also in the coffee shop in the Museum you can watch a coffee bar act and listen to several unlockable songs there if you are into music on the Nintendo there is plenty of it to be found in this game.

    When it comes to networking and people skills the DS is way ahead of the Sony PSP on this so far. Though Microsoft also intends to push Nintendo's hardware out of people's hands, they will be hard pressed to compete with the feel good, goody - good Nintendo. Again another one, a community that springs up like magical mushroom fairy rings around games like this one. There is something about Nintendo characters that make people rabid, and this is one of them.

    The game is addictive without being entirely fun. It is an amusing way to kill time. And it will kill lots of time on you in between battery charges. Collecting items can make you crazy. There are several aspects of this game that are vast and endless. Though somehow filling all that empty space sometimes feels daunting rather than exciting. It is all about the grind without really getting anyplace. Skills like fishing have an endcap on them. There is a finite number of kinds of fish that you can catch.

    It is a step forward in technology and it plays very stable. It is a solid game and from what I understand kids really like it. There are a number of women playing it. It could be considered a chick game because of the heavy elements of clothing and interior design and the lack of violence. The characters are those cute little badly rendered icons that seem to charm people so much. Not much to complain about here I give it a 4 out of 5

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    Game Hardware Shopper

    posted @ 12/03/2006 11:43:00 PM by geekwoman
    Holiday Hardware Guide by Geek Woman

    If you are looking for some shopping advice on game hardware for the female, or male, gamer on your list then hopefully this article will help you understand it all. The location that is preferred for a game environment is an important choice to be aware of if you are shopping for games and accessories for your gamer. Games come in three basic types which are the PC, Console or Handheld. I'm going to try and give you the keys to the kingdom of the consoles.

    First of all "What is a game console?" These are a box like machine that you attach to a TV set. Games are played with a controller that is held in the hands and effects the action on the screen. These have indeed been around since Pong and Pac Man, and if that is where you left the game trail, then you might be glad to know that those old school or retro games are still offered, in game packs and collections. Sometimes they have been updated and upgraded. If you want to pick up something like that for a gift you need to know the brand name and the model of the console or game device that your gamer has. Write it down and take it with you when you go shopping.

    Some people opt for playing games on their PC rather than on the television. It seems that older people and women are the dominant demographic that enjoy using the PC for gaming. PC game - play are very popular for playing the massively multiplayer online games or MMOG's. Games such as World of Warcraft or Guild Wars are played on a PC with a keyboard and mouse. These games enable the player to interact with thousands of other players. Some of them also include the ability to talk to the other people while you are playing with them. Thought those features have been developing more slowly on PC. If your friend is playing an MMO there aren't many additional accessories for those. If they are a Guild Wars Player they may not have the new chapter called Nightfall which is a great game to add to the original Guild Wars or to buy it as a stand alone game. There are the Limited Edition Keyboards that are available for the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing) games that are good looking and work well which are sold by a company called Zboard. Zboards

    Perhaps the best way to determine what console to buy is to go by the age of the person who will be playing it. Right now there are three "next gen" consoles. Last year in November Microsoft upgraded their hardware and it is called the Xbox 360. It has mid - range graphics. There are over 100 games available for it at this time. The games are mainly of the first person shooter type or FPS and sports games. If you have heard of Halo 2 and Gears of War, or Oblivion those are titles for the Xbox 360. These games are for a mature crowd. The action is fast paced and bloody. Often the most popular games for the "360" carry a "T" for Teen or an "M" for Mature rating. Those ESRB ratings mean that Teens of 17 and 18 years old and above are the recommended age limit. These ratings can mean that there could be language or behaviors that some people would consider too crude for younger kids. It is no joke either. If you have a mix of older and younger kids in the house, the choice of games is crucial and requires your attention as much as monitoring what movies on DVD or cable that your younger kids could get into.

    With Xbox the online aspect is called Xbox Live. A paid subscription is required for this additional service. With the online feature more games and demos are available to download directly into the console. The console can be bought with one of a few choices of hard drive size for saving downloadable games and other functions. Xbox Live gives players access to playing with many other players at the same time. It isn't 'massively' multiplayer as it is with with PC. Although large groups of strangers can interact with each other in an open ended party - line conversation. There are over 4 million users on Xbox Live. Xbox Live has something of a reputation for "Trash -Talking" which in short, means that a player that is wearing the headphones is opening themselves up to the possibility of hearing unkind and curse word laced tirades about the flaws in their game from other players. There is no one monitoring these conversations and there is no one censoring what the others could be saying. Because of this tendency, I would not recommend the Xbox 360 for little girls or young women under 18.

    Costs for the annual subscription is approximately $50 US, its called Xbox Live Gold which includes voice chat, and Xbox Marketplace for gamers to buy and sell content. Sometimes original games, and old school arcade titles are downloadable. Xbox 360 works on HD TVs. They claim to have 250 old Xbox or "original Xbox" games that will play on the new console. Be careful to look up a list online for games that are called "backwards compatible" prior to inserting an old Xbox game into the Xbox 360. The digital media that it plays are DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD.

    Microsoft has two variations of Xbox 360 available for sale. One has the Xbox 360 faceplate, and a Silver Xbox Live package, $300 known as a core package, that comes with one wired controller, standard A/V cable, and the console. The Gold package is required to actually play online games. There is a $400 system with a 20 GB hard drive, Xbox 360 Remote Controller, High Definition TV component cables, Xbox 360 headset and a wireless controller.

    Next the Playstation 3 was released last week the manufacturer's suggested retail price is between $600 and $700 dollars US. It has been in the news and has gotten some bad press. Most of the incidents involved mismanagement of the long lines of people who were camping out to be able to get the very low quantity of these premium machines that were produced. One Massachusetts man was shot in a hold up of a line of customers waiting outside a store in Putnam Connecticut. The gunmen were attempting a hold up when this man refused to pay them. Because Sony was not able to make enough of these complicated advanced machines to fulfill the demands for them, it created chaos in several ways.

    In the past Playstation 2 has been the most popular gaming console in the US with the most millions sold. Perhaps Sony should have waited to launch the sale until they had more of them ready. The PS3 Platform plays a few more accessories peripherals than the 360. It also boasts to be the most graphically advanced system. The new Blu-Ray Disc™ is a type of High Definition disk for playing movies that is supposed to be the future of disk published media. The way that DVD's replaced VHS a few years ago. The PS3 has what is called a SIXAXIS™ wireless controller that interacts with the screen in a close to 3D experience. You can use your Playstation 3 with High-Definition displays as well as conventional or standard TVs. It comes with either a 20GB or 60GB removable hard disk drive (HDD). The thousands of PS One® and PS2 PlayStation®2 games as well as CDs and DVDs are useable on the PLAYSTATION®3. The thing supposedly plays just about everything including some digital photo cards.

    The PS3 has online capabilities including multiplayer gaming, text and video messaging, voice chat, downloading content and browsing the web. Even though the PS3 has impressive technical specifications, you may not be able to get one for the December holidays. It could be a moot point until sometime next Spring. There are over inflated PS3 prices on ebay, and buying those is not only exorbitantly expensive, but could be risky as well.

    The PLAYSTATION®3 is available in two configurations with either the 20GB hard disk drive or the 60GB HDD. Some PlayStation 2 or PlayStation format software titles may perform differently on the system than they do on the native systems for example the PS3 doesn't support a vibration controller.

    Then last Sunday the offering of the first Nintendo Wii consoles' launch was a 1960's "Love In" where the people in lines waiting were exchanging free hugs, ordering lunch for each other and playing games together. Something can be said about the two different types of people that were attending these launch parties. For the most part the Nintendo Wii draws a younger crowd and is most popular with younger kids and people that enjoy Nintendo's cute and quirky games.

    There are approximately 50 games for the Wii, and we are told that there will be enough of the consoles to go around. Nintendo and developers seem to be in a rush to create new games for this innovative new product. Nintendo wanted to bring gaming to everyone, and has many titles that are rated for all ages and for kids. They went one more step and made a controller that is supposed to be easier to pick up and play since it is designed to resemble a television remote controller. You play with two hands and the actions resemble the actual movements of slashing a sword or driving. The remote is used as a handheld pointing device and can detect motion and rotation in three dimensions . The controller set called the "nun-chucks and wii-mote" interact with a sensor strip that you placer near your TV for a realistic complete 3D experience. A one-handed controller that uses a combination of accelerometers and infrared detection in conjunction with the sensor bar to sense its position in 3D space. Some people have found the workout to be a bit strenuous

    The Nintendo Wii is not all things to all people the way that the other two consoles are attempting to be an all around media hub that takes the place of all the other components in your home entertainment center. What the Wii does do is add another level of fun and mirthfulness back into games. The unique controller has been a big hit so far and has gotten high marks from every reviewer. It is rare for something so gimmicky and unusual to get such a unanimous welcome from the jaded and snarky gaming community. People that have the 360 are getting the Wii too because it is like the apples and oranges in the PC world yet again.

    The Wii is an ideal choice for a household with older and younger kids, seniors, and for the homes that do not have a High Definition TV set. Those aren't interested in the more mature titles, and those chat capabilities that are for adults or older kids can have a fairly safe online experience with the privacy and Friend policies from Nintendo. The console also features its own online service WiiConnect24 , which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet. The Wii console won the Game Critics Awards for Best of Show and Best Hardware. The console has a few kid safety features such as parental controls to prohibit younger kids from playing the wrong games. It reads the content rating and won't play games that are not set to the right age level.

    The number of Wii consoles that will be available in the Americas during the launch rollout are expected to meet demand and sales of 4 million consoles worldwide by the end of 2006 are anticipated. The company affirmed that they "are working to ensure a plentiful supply and a consistent flow."

    The launch Wii package includes the console, a stand to allow the console to be placed vertically, a circular clear stabilizer for the main stand, one Wii Remote, one Nunchuk attachment, one Sensor Bar, a removable stand for the sensor bar, one external main power adapter, AV cables (component video and other type of cables will be available separately), and a copy of Wii Sports in the US and Canada. The Wii console is the smallest home console unit of the three contenders and the least expensive at $250. US. The front of the console features a slot-loading media drive lit up by a by distinct blue light and it accepts both Wii software and discs from Nintendo's prior console, the Game-Cube. They are telling us that it is fully backwards compatible with all the Previous Game Cube games.

    Additionally the interface for the console is designed around the concept of television channels, with a Wii Menu. Nintendo will not charge fees for playing games from the service. Channels are graphically displayed, and are navigated using the point of the Wii Remote. They are the Disc Channel, Mii Channel, News Channel, Forecast Channel, Photo Channel, Wii Shop Channel, Internet Channel. The Virtual Console Channel is basically an “online service, similar to Xbox Live Arcade. The Nintendo DS will be able to play game demos downloaded from the Wii console which gamers would receive from Nintendo, similar to a DS Download Station. Gamers can download retro games not only for the NES, Super NES, and Nintendo 64, but also Sega’s Genesis, NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 and others. The Wii has average graphics and only a 512 MB built-in flash memory, expansion is available via SD card memory, up to 2 GB max. It will take Game-Cube Memory Cards for saving GCN games only.

    In addition to the larger game consoles or PC games that you find at home, mobile games have become very popular. The Nintendo DS is a hand held, rechargeable dual screen portable game system. It comes in a variety of colors and it is pocket sized. It is the most popular handheld game console, which easily buried the competition, which were the Sony PSP and the N-Gage. it has continued to hold the record for the most units sold just as the Game Boy has for years. It comes in two sizes. The original unit that made its debut last year, is referred to as the 'NDS' and it can play both the library of Game Boy Advance games as well as games for the DS. The DS Lite is a smaller sleeker version of the same DS machine, but it smaller and does not have the additional slot for the GBA games. You can find several reviews and editorials about the DS right on this website. Nintendo DS and the Wii are expected to have a type of connectivity to use functions like the Nintendo DS's microphone and touch-screen as inputs for Wii games like Pokémon Battle Revolution. It is expected that all of Nintendo's huge repertoire of well known game franchises, such as Zelda, Metroid, Mario, Animal Crossing, and Pokémon will come to the Wii in some form.

    For very tiny kids and toddlers Leapster has the education interactive toys for under $100 Leapster

    For an easy comparison chart you can check out Gamefly. They have a chart showing the three consoles. The Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3. Renting games or giving a Gamefly subscription is a good gift idea.

    For a stocking stuffer I recommend Geek Woman's Game Guide 2006

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    We's Going To CES!

    posted @ 12/03/2006 11:43:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    We finally got some cash together and figured we ought to hit a big convention/tradeshow and CES was the obvious choice. CES is the Consumer Electronic Showcase, basically anything and everything electronic that companies could possibly want to sell to you [the consumer] make their debut here. CES has been going strong and growing strong since 1967, so to say that we are excited to become part of this rich tech history would be a slight understatement.

    Now you might be saying to yourself, "Why is the ESH crew going to CES? Isn't it just a bunch of TV's on display?" It's a valid question to ask, but it ain't accurate. CES is actually the show that COMDEX and even the former incarnation of E3 were modeled after, and while there will be a lot of new TV technologies introduced at the show there will also be lots of home theater setups, sounds systems and components, wireless technologies, and even video game related items that will surface from the show. I think as gamers sometimes we forget that getting our hands on the latest and greatest game stuff isn't limited to just a console, or piece of software.

    No matter who you are you have a gaming rig that you use, be it just a 23" TV or an elaborate setup containing a 7.1 surround sound system, 42" flat screen LCD TV, a chain of UPS', several gaming consoles, a harmony remote, and a theater style seating arrangement. [Huge sigh] With that said, one of the things that you will start seeing around ESH will be our takes on different components that you may or may not want to add to your rig, so it only makes sense to us that we start by going to CES. We are going to be looking at different audio setups, home theater systems, peripherals for both computer based and console based gaming, LCD TV's [this will come in handy for those of you wanting to upgrade that tiny little 25" TV to something a little sexier] mobile gaming, and gaming in general. And we can't forget portable media stuff, mostly because they won't let us. We'll be on the look out for the hottest new gadgets at the show that will help you get the most out of your iPod, portable video player... hell we'll even take a look at stuff for the Zune while we're at it. We are committed to covering your electronic needs, but only in the good way.

    While CES is not E3, Microsoft and Sony are going to be there, and there is going to be a separate "video gaming" section on the tradeshow floor, so we aren't going to be forgetting our roots any time too soon. It just seems to us like it's time to take that next step forward in covering the whole spectrum of gaming life, that I think sometimes gets overlooked. You can't use a game console without having a TV to hook it up to. You can't hear the games without some kind of sound system hooked up to [or built into] that TV your connected to, and you have to have some place to park your ass in order to play and enjoy those games you are playing... and in January, NinJaSistah and Evermore are going to bring you some first hand accounts of the new toys you'll want to add to your rig from CES.

    This will be one time that what happens in Vegas, doesn't stay there!

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    Viva Es Una Fiesta!

    posted @ 12/03/2006 09:04:00 AM by Ninjasistah
    El fiesta en su pantalones! Holy Bob is my spanish bad, good thing for you this game is not... I'm talking about Viva Piñata from Rare [Microsoft Studios] of course. I've been able to sit down with the game for a few weeks now, and I'm ready to share my thoughts on it with you... because you are my friend, you are special to me.

    I'll start by saying that if you don't enjoy games like The Sims or Animal Crossing, this is not the game for you. If you are above the age of 7 and don't relish in the thoughts of how you are going to micro-manage your beings on any given day, you are going to HATE this game. Personally, I LOVE those types of games so Viva Piñata should have been right up my alley... and it is.

    In Viva Piñata, you play the guiding hand in growing a piñata plantation. [It's more like neighborhood building, but I like the way plantation sounds better.] You start out with a crummy shovel and a small plot of land that you have to work into something piñatas in the wild will want to give up their roaming ways for. Sounds easy, and in the beginning it is, but as you progress on in the game gaining new plantation residents you'll start finding out that keeping your new little eco-system in tact will be difficult. For instance, in order to get some piñatas to become residents on your plantation you have to let them eat some of your existing residents. Before you start with the, "hey this is supposed to be a kid friendly game, not violent at all..." crap remember that I said they are piñatas. They get broken open [being paper mache] and their carcass floats off into a bright light towards the sky leaving behind candy which is eaten by the conquering piñata. It's so cute you barely recognize that your plantation residents are happy canabals. ☺

    As I said, Viva Piñata is very much like a Sims game... you have to do a job [tend to your garden planting flowers, trees, grass, digging ponds, etc.,] and meet criteria in order to get wild piñatas to want to visit your garden. Once they have visited you now have to find out what they need to have happen in order to get down to business. Yeah, you heard me correctly. Once you get a couple of the same species of piñata in your garden/plantation you have to figure out how to get them to reproduce. This usually entails having a house for their species built on the plantation and feeding them one of whatever thing it is that they like to eat. The first piñata that you will get to be resident and reproduce will be the "worm" piñata which are called whirlms. The first time you get your piñata to "romance" [that's what it's called in the game] you will have to guide a piñata through a mini game to the other piñata in order to get them to do the mating dance and make a baby! And when it is the first time that you have gotten a species to "romance" you actually get to watch them do it. The mating dance you perv, not "it" it. Every species has a different dance. Once the dance is completed the piñata leave the house and wait for Storkos to bring their baby egg. It is at this point that the game is nearly too adorable for words. I'm not kidding. It is the most cute thing I've played I think ever. This game is MORE adorable than Animal Crossing... and that's a HUGE statement coming from me. I used to play that game for 8 or more hours a day man! Moving on.

    Viva Piñata is actually a challenging game. As night falls you have to defend your plantation resident from wild poacher piñatas by whacking the invaders with a shovel or sprinkling them with water. You also have to break up fights between your residents from time to time, else they may get injured and require you to spend money on having a doctor come and make them better. I'm not kidding. There is a little dude that wears a monkey mask that drives out in a shrinermobile to the aid of your nearly dead piñata. How do you make money to pay for these doctor visits? You can sell the fruit from plants you grow, seeds, flowers, pick up coins during the "romancing" mini-games, or just sell your piñatas that are residents. I recommend breeding the hell out of your "bee" piñata as you get over a grand per bee you sell, and the only things they need in order to get busy are a bee house and any piece of fruit. This is why I refer to the garden as a plantation, because you spend most of your time breeding and selling piñata in order to be able to attract other piñata to your land in hopes of ensaring, I mean, encouraging them to live on your land.

    This game is damned addictive. I can't stop playing it. The textures are gorgeous. When piñata come into view and move around their paper hair moves [i.e. rises and falls] in a way that seems natural, but it looks sooo good. I love that all the helper characters that speak in the game have an English accent. It makes it seem like it really is a "goodnight" story that someone is reading to your kid... even if that kid happens to be 27 yr old me. But what I like most about Viva Piñata is that it's a game that parents can actually enjoy playing with their kid or at very least enjoy watching their young kid play. It's light hearted, it teaches your kids how to manage money, and take care of things. All this, and it looks good too!

    All things considered I'm going to give Viva Piñata a 4 out of 5. I'm giving it two aqua-green candies because it's definitely a kawaii overdose waiting to happen. One green candy for helping to educate our young kids on the importance of having money and spending it wisely. [No money = no house. No house = no nooky. No nooky = unhappy piñatas.] And one orange one for just being some adorable, yet odd fun. If you have young kids, or are a young kid at heart with an XB360 system you really ought to pick this title up.

    Have I steered you wrong yet?

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    UT OH! May Be A No!

    posted @ 11/13/2006 07:13:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    Proving that [1] Microsoft's paper is LONG son and [2] never say never, there is a rumor going around that MS may be purchasing the game house that is Capcom.

    You read that correctly. It's not a typo, though I do make those on the odd occasion. According to this post from GoNext and evidently an article in EGM hinting that MS was interested in buying Capcom in order to make them a 1st party developer. And while I have my doubt about this actually coming into being, I can't just brush it off as not possible... they did buy Rare and Bungie, and I sure didn't see either of those coming when they happened.

    And before you go off about a Japanese company never "selling out" to a western one, remember that we are talking business here, not individuals. Capcom has a stockholders that hold them accountable for turning a profit on their investment. If an opportunity to increase profits, passing by it solely based on where the offer comes from geographically will not be accepted. And while I visited the newly re-designed Capcom website, I was unable to find much of anything there. Their support, press, and contact us pages are all "coming soon" as they have been since the relaunch.

    On a personally note, the idea of MS buying Capcom excites me and also scares the hell out of me. I'm excited because I really would like to see more Capcom titles on the XB360 system, but not like this... not like this. I think Onimusha and Okami would benefit from being on the XB360 system, as would God Hand... especially with a new online component. But the idea of DMC4 being an XB360 exclusive does really bad things to my tummy.

    Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

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    Daily News: An All-Wii Report

    posted @ 11/06/2006 12:06:00 AM by evermore
    In today's news, we look at All Things Wii, with advice on how to get one on launch day, whether you'll need to bolster your health insurance to play the new controller, some Zelda pics, choice quotes from a Nintendo spokeschick and the lengths that a famous TV star will take to get one.

    Need a Wii? Here's how to get it: If you missed out on the pre-orders, here are some great tips on how to get a Nintendo Wii on launch day.

    Here's Best Buy's launch playbook: Planning on buying a PS3 or Wii from Best Buy? Then you'd better bone up on the company's launch weekend playbook. Kotaku provides all the details. Prefer shopping at Target? Here are their plans.

    All about the Wii Startup Disc: Startup disc? That's right. You'll set up your Wii with an included startup disc. What will it do? The folks at Joystiq aren't sure, but there are certainly plenty of opinions.

    The answer to the most important question of 2006: Will you get tired using the Wii controller? According to this story from someone who pounded hard at the Legend of Zelda for more than 10 hours, the answer is no.

    Spoiling Zelda for you: Can't wait to see just how Zelda is going to look? Here's a site that reveals a bunch of screens from the Wii title.

    Nintendo's questions and obfuscations: Game Informer magazine recently interviewed Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for Nintendo of America, about the Wii. According to Kaplan, several celebrities are already queueing up for the console, including Sean Combs and Uma Thurman. When asked about Nintendo's vantage point in the console war between Sony and Microsoft, Kaplan told Game Informer, "I think it could be the tortoise and the hare."

    Will the Wii support custom soundtracks? This screenshot on the Darkzero site certainly suggests it.

    Will Cartman get a Wii? The little South Park sparkplug was so anxious to get a Wii that he had himself frozen in last week's episode, with some unfortunate results. The conclusion can be seen this week, Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern time, and repeating at midnight Wednesday, 10 p.m. Thursday, 12:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday. If you missed last week's episode, you can search for it on YouTube or wait for it to show up on iTunes.

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    Daily News: Console Deficit OK for EA

    posted @ 11/04/2006 10:51:00 PM by evermore
    In today's news:
    • EA expects PS3, Wii shortages
    • Take that Wii-mote off your head
    • Are some game blogs just advertising?
    • Your WoW habit may be imaginary
    • The Bad News Go Clubbers

    Game maker expects PS3, Wii shortages: The folks at Electronic Arts aren't kidding themselves -- there could be fewer PlayStation 3's and Nintendo Wii's than the manufacturers are admitting. "It's probably going to be just as challenging to find a PlayStation 3 this year as it was to find a XBox 360 last year," said Warren Jenson, electronic Arts' chief financial officer, on a conference call with analysts Thursday. "There are many short term uncertainties. There could easily be hardware delays."

    The controller that thought it was a hat: Did you know the Wii-mote controller for the Nintendo Wii started off as something you wore on your head? This and many other facts about the creation of the Wii are featured in this story from the Wall Street Journal. From the article: "The company has sponsored private Wii-playing parties in volunteers' living rooms. At a recent one in the Kansas City suburb of Tonganoxie, Kan., Karlye Weatherford stood and punched the air with her fists, clutching controllers that translated her hand and body movements to the screen. In front of about 50 friends and family members enjoying a catered barbeque lunch, the 29-year-old mother of three knocked out her husband's character after a series of blows. She says she rarely touches the family's Microsoft Xbox 360."

    Should "adver-blogs" reveal their company connections? The GameSetWatch website investigates the trend of videogame blog sites that seem to know a little too much inside information about a specific company. Are these sites semi-official company organs? And, if they are, should they have to be labeled as such?

    Tired of people complaining about your WoW habit? If so, you need to read this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's an excerpt: "Temple University psychology professor Donald A. Hantula said he believed the medium was not to blame for dysfunctional behavior by its users. 'I know people who spend 40 or 50 hours a week playing golf,' said Hantula, who is executive editor of the Journal of Social Psychology."

    Hikaru No Go, Vol. 4 -- The Ghost in the Net: Now that Hikaru is a full-fledged student at Haze Middle School, he's ready to join the Go Club and enter tournaments. Unfortunately, his team is one player short. Can he convince Yuki Mitani, a fellow classmate, to give up scamming players at the Go Salon and join the team? Aww, heck. Why not?

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    Daily News: Don't Fall for Phony Sony Scams

    posted @ 11/02/2006 12:25:00 AM by evermore
    Today's news is all about new consoles and new games and old gamers. We do a little name-dropping (Clint Eastwood). Sony does a little drop in launch numbers. And Microsoft simply drops the ball. Did GameStop foil the console profiteers? And will a simple de-frag cause your numbers to go up? All of that and less is answered here.

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    Rumble On Wii Warriors

    posted @ 10/29/2006 09:11:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    NinJaSistah in the spot to be on a fine, fine, football afternoon to share with you some news about the Wii. [Don't get all in a tizzy, I wrote this originally at 2 in the afternoon... Blogger was havin' issues again so just be glad I finally got this thing posted.]

    Moving on.

    In between beers [Guinness if you're curious] and football games [can't BELIEVE New Orleans lost to Baltimore, dammit Reggie, you're a receiver, not a QB!] I've spared a few moments to share with you some wonderful news I've heard about the Wii. Well, more directly, the Wii Nunchaku remote.

    There seems to be a debate about the Wii Nunchaku [the little analog stick dongle for the Wiimote] having a rumble feature. There was a post on the Gaming Tengoku blog that linked to a quote from the NeoGAF forum about a quote from the British magazine EDGE. The forum post didn't link directly to the EDGE article, but I'll help them confront all the naysayers out there. Nintendo's own website SAYS the Wiimote has a rumble feature. This should not be any big news. It's good to know, since SIXAXIS won't have the feature, and makes me curious if the lack of force feedback will be a big noticable difference or not. Now, from the looks of all the attention that this got on Digg with people calling this wrong, inaccurate, and a rumor, I thought I would run with my very own flaming rumors and unconfirmed speculative thoughts through untraceable links and pure flights of fancy, in order to show people what actual bullshit looks like. Maybe that way, when the real info hits, it won't be mistaken for bullshit. Let's test it.

    What is to follow is totally unconfirmed, in all liklyhood never going to happen and as such, should be regarded as incorrect, impossible, or as blatant lies for the sake of entertainment only.

    Not to be outdone by Nintendo, Sony has decided to add in the ability for your PSP to operate your PS3 wirelessly, anywhere. Got to pee? No need to stop the gaming fun, bring your PSP along and you can continue playing your game as you "drop the kids off at the pool." Gotta go to work? Again, not an issue as Sony has you covered with their new PLAYONOYALP system, you can continue to play your PS3 games from your cubical computer, LP2 printer, or fax machine! Sony really means it when they say "Play B3yond!" I heard this over at the forums on the d00dI' website

    Not to be left behind in the race for next-gen game console dominance, Microsoft and Take 2 Interactive in a joint partnership with Dairy Queen are going to create a new XBlive experience for the Gold level members. The new "Just Dip It!" program, not to be confused with Nike's "Just Do It" campaign, will reward XBLive Gold members that (1) pre-pay for 4 years of the XBLive service and (2) can teabag Jack Thompson in public with free small Blizzards, Single-Dipped cones, or Sundays each Friday during their tenure as an XBLive Gold member. Dive right in to the fun with XB360, Take2 Games, and Dairy Queen, and "Just Dip It!"

    You see my friends, THAT is what you can list as being "inaccurate" or "unreliable." Something that is listed on a manufacturers website that you can find by Googling the words "wii controller+rumble" and get in the FIRST FREAKIN RESULT... not bullshit.

    You all my now return to your previous gaming playing, anime watchin', and general geekin' out.

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    Daily News: Who's Up and Who's Down

    posted @ 10/28/2006 12:07:00 AM by evermore
    In today's news:
    • For every two winners, there's a loser
    • Phil Collins regrets the '80s
    • Guitar Hero pulls the plug
    • No legs on this Miyazaki castle
    • A big box of Pikachu

    Microsoft, Nintendo up, Sony way down: In company earnings reports released this week, Microsoft and Nintendo profits were up significantly from the same quarter last year, while Sony profits were way down -- 94 percent lower. Both results were attributable in part to the companys' performances in their video games divisions. Sales of the Xbox 360 video-game console boosted revenues in the entertainment and devices division by 70 percent to over $1 billion, as compared to a year ago, according to a story on the website. Sony, on the other hand, had said that its battery recall would cut earnings for its fiscal second quarter by about $430 million. Sony's net profit in the quarter plunged 94 percent to a mere $14.4 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sony also was hit particularly hard by an operating loss of about $90 million in its videogame division. In the catbird seat is Nintendo, which reported sales of $2.5 billion, up 69 percent from a year earlier. Net income was $458.6 million, up from a loss a year ago, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.

    Well I remember... Veteran rock star Phil Collins is impressed with the way he is portrayed in the latest Grand Theft Auto game -- and a little bit embarrassed. "They have got it spot on," he said in a story at the website. "The five o'clock shadow, the suits and all the other stuff that was so embarrassingly prevalent in my '80s wardrobe."

    Guitar Hero unplugged: Guitar Hero fans will be able to shred with a wireless controller, thanks to a unit coming directly from Activision subsidiary RedOctane. Displaying a new glossy white finish, the $59.99 wireless guitar controller contains the same features as the wired Guitar Hero SG controller. The really boring press release is here.

    Miyazaki's Unmoving Museum: "With spiral staircases, catwalks stretching out above, and doors that are only three feet high, the place has a dream-like quality." That's how the Gridskipper website describes the Ghibli Museum, the world's largest repository of the works of Hayao Miyazaki. Located about a 45-minute train ride from Tokyo, the museum contains replicas of Miyazaki's movie characters and the theater shows shorts you can't see anywhere else.

    Pokemon Advanced Box Set, Vol. 2: Ten-year-old Ash aspires to be the greatest Pokemon (pocket monster) trainer in the world. To do this, he enlists in the help of two friends, Misty and Brock, and his own Pokemon, Pikachu. Together, they must search their world for all 150 Pokemon, while avoiding the likes of Team Rocket and their Pokemon, Meowth. Of course, if you don't already know all of this, you've been under a really big rock for the past decade.

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    Diamond or Cubic Zirconia?

    posted @ 10/25/2006 02:45:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    I will let you be the judge... after I hand down my ruling that is.

    I recently received my Xbox Live Diamond Card in the mail, and first impression was it looked snazzy!

    Indeedy, this isn't some cheazy, sleazy laminated paper card like the ones you get from Blockbuster these days... no this sucker is standard credit card stock and build. The imprinting of my gamertag in the all caps is a nice touch. It pleases me, so it immediately went into my wallet with prominent placement. [which if you need to know means right next to my AMEX Gold card... I had to retire my black card because I was ballin' out of control... hence my broketude.]

    But now I had a dilemma: I needed to know where I could to use my new pretty little gamer status icon. Included with my "gamer extraordinaire" card, was some info on the site I could go to and see what places valued my gaming awesomeness enough to float a sistah a deal. I was all excited, because my broke ass is in serious need of some discounts let me tell you. The first two I noticed off that bat that looked cool were the 10% off of purchases made online at Target website and the 2-for-1 sammiches at Quiznos... which I have to say I hit up on a weekly basis. Toasty! Moving on. At this point I'm thinking to myself, "Self? Yes? Looks like getting that XBLive Gold package and signing up for this dealie was a good idea I had. Indeed self, congratulations on the stroke of genius which is you, me, er, us! Boffo!" But then I started looking through the rest of the vendors and "deals" and started rethinking that whole ego molestation thing that I did to myself. [I am a registered ego molester.]

    Many of the vendors are companies that I've never heard of like, AKA, Chukar Cherry Company, and Furniture Medic to name a few. Now, while many of these vendors seem like great little services on their own... I'm not sure how many gamers need furniture restoration. Wait, I take that back. From all the accounts of people winging controllers about their domicile in anger, someone has to have dinged their wood interiors. [he he, I said dinged their wood...] But the more I went through the list of vendors I noticed that while the list was obviously still in it's "new" stage. Even more obvious is that MS is trying to line up as many vendors as they can to give card holders a good reason to keep the card on them at all times. You never know when you need to order someone some flowers or a gift online, so when you start adding in those 10% off and 30% with a coupon type deals, it can be very attractive.

    It helps to remember that the Diamond Card is free if you have a 1 yr Xbox live Gold subscription. Then the free foods from Papa John's, Popeye's, and Quiznos starts looking real good. The wine and micro brew company vendors out of Washington state really only resonate with residents of the respective Washington state cities those companies are in, but still... American's love discounts, so I think it's a good idea. I'm just a little disappointed that with all their clout, MS wasn't able to line up some more gaming related discounts. I mean, the only things listed under the "Video Games & Hobbies" banner are Hollywood Video and Gamestop. The Gamestop one is a tad disappointing: "Receive $10 off any online purchase of $75 or more, online only," while the Hollywood Video one is a rent one get one rental free with this coupon you have to print out right here. Really Microsoft? Is that the best you can do? Where's the reward for being an Xbox loyalist? Where's the $10 bucks off any MS 1st party game you buy from Amazon or even Gamestop? How about the buy a controller, get a controller half off? I get that it can be difficult to bring on new vendors [even though your online system has been pretty dang large and in charge for nearly a year now] but how does that stop you from offering some in house discounts to gamers that have been nickel and dimed to death for microtransactions through your online service? Throw us a frikken bone here!

    Now, as I said, I'll let you be the judge. Maybe with the holiday season about to start some new vendors can pop up on the Diamond list and make this well meaning idea something to resonate well with gamers and consumers that love gamers. [Mom, I'm looking at you... you know Christmas is coming right?] But as far as I'm concerned right this moment, this card and bonus service is CZ at best.

    What do you think? Any diamond card holders out there that have some stories of how they used their card to get something?

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    Daily News: Play All That You Can Play

    posted @ 10/22/2006 01:28:00 AM by evermore
    In today's news:
    • Army gives good game
    • Happier battery news from Sony
    • Microsoft comes to Halo's rescue
    • Iraqis love anime character
    • Got any Gundam?

    U.S. Army bears gifts to gamers: A U.S. defense contractor and the U.S. Army are teaming up to offer a free videogame that helps demonstrate warfare of the future. F2C2 is described as a real-time tactical strategy game that lets player learn about the Army's Future Combat Systems program by assuming command of a Mounted Company Team in the year 2015. Through game play, F2C2 showcases how FCS can provide the 21st century soldier unprecedented situational awareness, and the ability to see first, understand first, act first and finish decisively. F2C2 can be downloaded for free on the U.S. Army's public Web site.

    Sony reassures PS3 owners about controllers: Sony faced another public relations nightmare when it was discovered that the new Sixaxis wireless controller for the PS3 didn't allow users to change batteries, making the entire controller useless when the rechargeable batteries finally died for good. Once the word got out, Sony was quick to say that any controllers that died could be exchanged for a new one. quotes a Sony representative: "The latest generation of Lithium Polymer batteries hardly suffer any memory effect at all, so it'll be many years before there's any degradation in terms of battery performance. When and if this happens, then of course we will be providing a service to exchange these items."

    Microsoft to save Halo movie? That's the word according to Variety. When it looked like the movie was going to exceed the $135 million pricetag, Universal Studios and Twentieth Century Fox pulled out of the project. Ken Kamins, who represents executive producer Peter Jackson, said Microsoft is already in talks with other distribution partners.

    Anime character used to provide Japanese goodwill in Iraq: A truck rolls up in the scorching midsummer heat of Iraq emblazoned with the image of Captain Tsubasa, from the anime series of the same name. "I figured if we had a picture of Tsubasa on the side of the water supply trucks Japan had provided, maybe people would understand that the anime was actually from Japan," Yasuyuki Ebata, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official, told the Daily Yomiuri newspaper. The Iraqi-language version of the anime is aired in Iraq as "Captain Majed."

    Wars and Rumors of Wars: Two years after the war Between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT, conflicts between the two nations heat up again in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, Vol. 5. Shin Asuka, the new Main Character's eyes are full of sorrow as his family was killed in Orb during the war. Meanwhile, Athrun is torn between protecting Cagalli in Orb and doing something about the war. With new moble suits being developed by ZAFT and the abduction of three new modles by 3 Earth Alliance Pilots, the new story begins. If you understand all of that, then you really need this one.

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    Daily News: Microsoft to Apple: Get Zuned

    posted @ 10/19/2006 11:20:00 PM by evermore
    In today's news:
    • Microsoft tells Apple to Zune itself
    • A feature no one asked for
    • Wii and PS3 kiosks heading to stores
    • The week's best quotes
    • One of those anime things

    When General Motors tried to sell the Chevy Nova in Mexico during the 1960s, they discovered an unfortunate problem. In Spanish, the word "nova" means "no-go." Well, the brainiacs at Microsoft didn't seem to care to check out the name of their new MP3 player against the world's major languages. When told the meaning of the word pronounced Zee-yoon in Hebrew, the conversation with Bill Gates undoubtedly went something like this:

    Microserf: Uh, Mr. Gates, there's a problem with the new Zune.
    Bill Gates: A problem? Is it that damn brown color?
    Microserf: No, it's not that, sir. It's... it's... it's the name.
    Bill Gates: The name? What's wrong with the name?
    Microserf: Well, uh, in Hebrew it means... it means...
    Bill Gates: Spit it out, boy. It couldn't be that bad.
    Microserf: It means FUCK!
    Bill Gates: FUCK? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

    Last week, Sony introduced a new Walkman MP3 player to compete with Apple's iPod. The big, new, iPod-killing feature of this one? The ability to upload music directly from a compact-disc player. Think about this for a moment: Most CD players run at 1X speed, meaning a 45-minute-long CD will take exactly 45 minutes to upload the songs to the player. If you let the batteries run dry, you'll have to upload the whole thing again.

    And, as NinjaSistah asked when I told her about it, who owns CD's anymore?

    Sony's not worried about the PS3 overheating, right? Then why are they installing an extra cooling fan in their store kiosks? Read about it here.

    Speaking of kiosks, Wii and PS3 kiosks are already winging their way to Best Buy, Wal-Mart, GameStop and EBGames stores. Call your favorite store to see if it has already arrived. More...

    Don't play the Wii in direct sunlight. That's the word of a blogger on the Nintendo Gal website: "That's right, if you have the sun beaming right onto the sensor bar, it doesn't work." More...

    "For this Christmas I think the price for what it specifically does as a video games machine [it] is a bit pricey..."
    -- Sony Computer Entertainment Australia Managing Director Michael Ephraim, talking about the Wii's price. From Australia's Age newspaper.

    "E3 is not a place where product is sold anymore. The industry is recognized as a big part of mainstream culture, so the need for a big glittering event to validate the industry is not what it used to be," he said. "What is needed ... is to focus on the fact that E3 is much more about media-related opportunities. The question is what is the most efficient way to create those opportunities."
    -- Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, the trade association that owns E3.From

    "When building a house, traditional Japanese builders start with the tiniest detail and gradually expand from there. Western builders are the opposite. They start with the picture of a whole and add details to it. When Westerners look at old Japanese buildings, they often wonder how the builders drew the blueprint for such a complex shape. But the secret is that there never was a blueprint. It is this fundamental difference in approach that makes Japanese buildings fascinating to their eyes. The same thing can be said about animation. The way we create large images for movies is similar to that traditional architectural method. I think that explains the appeal Japanese animation can have, particularly in the western world."
    -- Toshio Suzuki, president of Japan's Studio Ghibli. From the Wall Street Journal

    Naruto, Vol. 5 - Shinobi Weapons: As I was saying yesterday, join three young ninjas -- Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno -- as they continue their training. Sort of like Pokemon without all the dang cards, eh? Get the thing here.

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    Daily News: Wii Preorders at GameStop Friday?

    posted @ 10/11/2006 11:19:00 PM by evermore
    In today's news:
    • Preordering will be Wii-sier
    • Sony's in the red until 2011
    • Ballmer's so hip, he's not
    • Burger King's advertising in your favorite games
    • Tenchi's back

    Even if you miss it, you probably won't miss it: With an estimated 2 million Wii consoles available for sale on Day 1, do you even need to preorder one? In any case, the Nintendo Gal blog reports that GameStop and EBGames stores will start taking preorders on Friday (Oct. 13) for a $25-50 downpayment. Want to stand in line? At least you might be able to talk to some other avid gamers.

    When will Sony's business be profitable again? In a Wall Street Journal story, Fitch Ratings has announced that it expects Sony's financial performance to continue to weaken in the next year or two and that it could incur losses in the videogame business for up to five years. Fitch cites Sony's heavy investment in new technologies, tough competition and the current computer battery scandal. In the last fiscal year, Sony's consolidated debt was $37.13 billion.

    The Reverse Hipness of Steve Ballmer: How out-of-it is Steve Ballmer, the head honcho at Microsoft? It's easy to judge by his quote to BusinessWeek magazine regarding the wireless capabilities of his company's forthcoming Zune media player: "I want to squirt you a picture of my kids. You want to squirt me back a video of your vacation. That's a software experience." Squirt? I can't imagine Steve Jobs of Apple telling anyone he wants to "squirt" something to them.

    Burger King Replaces Don King in the Ring In-game ads are becoming more prolific and nothing demonstrates this more than Fight Night Round 3, in which an avatar of the iconic King joins your entourage when you win a Burger King-sponsored event. Heck, they should do this at real boxing matches. I think we would all welcome the flamboyant, yet silent King appearing in the ring after the match instead of noisy ol' Don King.

    Bottom of the Third, Tenchi Up to Bat It's the end of the third Tenchi OVA as Mihoshi’s brother has come to Earth to pursue a deadly mission. Everything seems under control until warrior Z storms in to kill Tenchi and claim his place as the ruler of the universe! Can Tenchi’s Light Hawk Wings save the day? Only one way to find out.

    Newsfree Fridays: No Daily News on Friday. Instead, look for the latest installment of my Robot's Letters to God. This month I'm featuring The Forgotten Robots.

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    Daily News: Nintendo -- No. 1 With a Bullet?

    posted @ 10/10/2006 11:11:00 PM by evermore
    In today's news:
    -- Nintendo's heading back to the top
    -- Live a little behind the videogame counter
    -- There's lots of rumbling, but not from the Sony camp
    -- A new Ghost volume is crawling out of its Shell

    Will Nintendo Win the Next Gen Wars? It's been generally accepted that Microsoft will win the next-generation console wars for 2006, selling about 10 million by years' end, compared with about 4 million sold by Nintendo and fewer than 2 million sold by Sony. But according to UBS analysts Alex Gauna and Steven Chin, Nintendo will have as many as 9 million Wii consoles available for sale before the end of 2006, which could vault Nintendo to the top of the next gen heap this year.

    Life Behind the Counter: I always hate going into record stores. The people who work there always act like they're the rock stars. Videogame stores always seemed a little different, though. And now you can find out why in the DayintheLifeofVideogames blog. One of the site's bloggers, Postman, describes a fight in the store that spilled out into the street: "It was over pretty quick, and the leader came back to grab his CD's that fell, and apologized for what happened. I watched as they left, and here's the kicker -- they all get in the same car and drive away together!" Perhaps Kevin Smith is already checking out the site and taking notes for Clerks III.

    Let's Get Ready to TILT!: To rumble or not to rumble -- that's the big question about Sony's PlayStation 3 controllers. Sony Computer Entertainment America president Kaz Hirai is quoted as saying, "If we have to come up with technology... to isolate the vibration from the sensing, but if that means that the controllers are going to be so expensive, then we're doing the consumer a huge disservice by coming up with a controller that is not very affordable." Meanwhile, Victor Veigas of Immersion Corporation, the company that holds the patent on the rumble technology, insists, "I'm ready to meet with them and try to work out this issue because at the end of the day it's the gamer that really seems to be suffering."

    Friendly Ghost in the Shell: The release of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig, Vol. 7 marks the end of the second season. According to the synopsis, "Things are starting to go Section 9's way, but the nuclear missile is still being prepared for launch!" This version includes the collectible tin cast, music soundtrack CD and collectible GITS toy, er, action figure.

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    Daily News: How to Win Friends and Influence Microsoft

    posted @ 10/08/2006 02:15:00 PM by evermore
    In today's issue, influence Microsoft with your smooth prose, discover the similarity between Sony's PS3 wireless controller and Nazi Germany, revisit the Old School and try to decide why today's stuff just isn't as fun as it used to be.

    Want to Affect What Happens At Microsoft? Blog About It: Former Microsoft employee Robert Scoble told CIO Insight of the company's unscientific approach to feeling out its customers: "We used blog-search engines to find anyone who wrote the word 'Microsoft' on their blog. Even if they had no readers and were just ranting, 'I hate Microsoft,' I could see that and link to it, or I could participate in their comments, or send them an e-mail saying, 'What's going on?' And that told those people that someone was listening to their rants, that this is a different world than the one in which no one listens. It was an invaluable focus group that Microsoft didn't have to pay for."

    The Sixaxis of Evil: During World War II, the troika of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan was called the "Axis Powers." In his 2002 State of the Union address, President G.W. Bush said North Korea, Iran and Iraq "constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world." So it's no wonder that Sony, with all its ultra-intelligent decisions thus far this year, would finally give a name to its new wireless controller for the PlayStation 3: The Sixaxis. The folks at Sony must be hoping it will take over the world.

    Old School Will Be Represented Well on the Wii: Several games defunct gamemaker Epyx made for the Commodore 64 will be emulated on the Nintendo Wii, according to Nintendo Power magazine. Initial titles include Impossible Mission, California Games, The Last Ninja, Gottlieb Pinball Classics, Super Fruit Fall, Puzzle Ball, Leaderboard and Tennis Masters.

    Star Fox Command Comes to the Nintendo DS: Originally released as an SNES title in 1993, the Star Fox series has gone through several iterations. In a review of the newest version, Slashdot reviewer Zonk says, "[Star Fox] Command offers some simple strategy elements, an innovative control scheme, and the tried and true dogfighting gameplay the series is known for. It also dwells on one of the series' weaknesses, plot, to the detriment of the game."

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    Daily News: TotemBall Goes Live Today

    posted @ 10/04/2006 12:14:00 AM by evermore
    In today's issue of our daily news report, play a little TotemBall, beat Cartman at a game of WoW, get put on the disabled list by the newest gaming sensation, try to sit through just one more Pokemon movie and buy the second volume of Basilisk.

    TotemBall Available Today on Xbox Live: Playing with your Xbox Live Vision camera just got a little physical now that TotemBall is available on Xbox Live Arcade. The gesture-based game uses Xbox Live Vision to control the characters in the game. Help Pterry the Pturtel uncover all the musical totems while grooving to your own totem beat. The game is offered for FREE on Xbox Live Arcade, starting today at 4 a.m. Eastern time, 1 a.m. Pacific time.

    South Park Kids Make Love, Not Warcraft: As Douceswild reminded us in yesterday's news, tonight's first episode of the tenth season of South Park will feature the kids playing World of Warcraft. Here's a sneak peek.

    Nasty Injur-Wii: Microsoft's U.S. Xbox 360 chief Peter Moore loves the Nintendo Wii and believes dual platform ownership of the two systems could reach 40 percent. However, in a story on the Next Generation website, he warns about the Wii, "The controller is innovative but it remains to be seen how innovative your shoulder will feel after an hour's play." Could the Wii result in rotator cuff injuries, as suffered by major league pitchers? Below is an example of the damage that could be suffered internally by a voracious Wii player:

    Seems Like 88: Continuing the long-running series, Pokemon Movie 8: Lucario and The Mystery of Mew has just been released. The DVD package also contains "making-of" footage, an hour-long TV special and a mini-comic book. Buy it here, if you dare.

    Available Starting Today: "The passions of the past quickly reignite as one scroll seeks to undo two powerful tribes. Death is on the wind, and the storm continues unabated." That's the description of Basilisk, Vol. 2, The Spoils of War, which just became available in the U.S. today. This limited edition includes an exclusive Japanese insert, collectible cards and original Japanese features.

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    More Wii-Joicing

    posted @ 9/29/2006 12:19:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    This post is going to be short... Seriously.

    Not to be out done by the likes of Sony or Microsoft, it now looks like the Big N is going to be adding Commodore 64 games to the lineup of Wii Virtual console titles. No specific list of C64 titles yet, but one can only hope and let their imagination run wild.

    Cubed article here.

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    Guitar Hero 2 On XB360

    posted @ 9/28/2006 04:49:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    Not to be forgotten in the next gen console race [although I still think having an entire year up on the other two entrants is a tad bit unfair] Microsoft held their annual Xbox event X06 in Barcelona, Spain the past two days, and came out swinging to say the least.

    At some point in the next few days we will get to talking about the details MS shared with the world about the HD-DVD drive, Halo 3, Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2, and Fable 2 being on deck, but the most surprising news to me so far is that RedOctane has been working on Guitar Hero II not only for the PS2 but XB360 as well. Oh, and not only that, but they have been working on a new controller for the XB360 version of the game.

    Now, I got this info from this website because they included a picture of the "supposed" XB360 axe and I have to say, it's nowhere near as impressive [i.e. cool] looking as the existing GH axe. If this puppy is going to fly on the XB360, that guitar controller, if that is what it's going to look like, will need a massive overhaul before launch day. If you want my dollars, it's got to at least look a little cool... I can't have it bringing down my overall "with it" status.

    What really has my brain all a twitter is the idea of online PS3 vs. XB360 GH battles. I don't know if it's possible or if it will even happen... but dude it would be freakin' sweet! I love rhythm or music based games, as Pandalicious will quickly attest to, but all the games that I really enjoy I have a hard time finding people to play with me. I don't have a lot of friends around that are gamers, and it's hard to get people over when I have time to have them over [which is the big struggle] in order to open up a can o' whoop on em.

    In any case, to those of you about to rock, I salute you!

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    Halo Wars: BRING IT!

    posted @ 9/28/2006 03:31:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    Ok, now you might think that what I am about to say won't carry much credence because I haven't really played Halo all that much...

    "Blasphemy" says you, and I know you are on to something there, I won't fight you on that. Well, actually I won't fight you on that because from what I've seen of the forthcoming game title Halo Wars I just may have to change that.

    Now before you go and label a sistah a Sony or Nintendo fangirl [which would be the complete opposite of what the people who read Evermore's article earlier this week have said, or yelled at us. LOL] I've only ever stayed away from Halo because I just didn't think that I would have any fun playing the game because I usually just suck out loud with these types of titles. I always enjoy watching other people play the Halo game, but for me that was the extent of my involvement. It might be shallow, but if I find that I don't have any skill or aptitude to play a game, I will lose interest in it or just not want to play it at all. That's what happened with Halo for me.

    Again, didn't hate it, it just wasn't for me. All was well with my world until I found out about Halo Wars today. I raced over to the IGN website to read this article on the game and watch this trailer from the game. Microsoft announced the game [along with a couple of other Halo titles that apparently stole the thunder of some other games being featured] at this years X06 event in Barcelona, Spain.

    Why the about face on the Halo gamefront? Well, besides the fact that the trailer looks phenomenal, but Halo Wars is an RTS game... a genre of gaming that I'm getting more curious about these days more so because I'm really starting to enjoy online gaming and I think that RTS games and MMO [possibly MMORPG... just give me some time to warm up to it] could be damned entertaining.

    What's even more interesting is that Bungie isn't developing the game but another company called Ensemble Studios makers of the very popular Age of Empires franchise.

    What do you guys think about Halo Wars? Must or Bust?

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    Download Your Anime Legally...

    posted @ 9/26/2006 08:44:00 PM by Ninjasistah
    For a small fee that is. Today ADV Films launched their new anime download store called ADVuniverse

    The website features episodes of various ADV license anime series for download. For a mere $4.99 American you can download episode one of Godannar or Jinki: Extended, or, um, Comic Party Revolution. Keep in mind that the store just launched so there are very few titles with episodes available. I'm sure that more titles and episodes will be added shortly. There are also a couple of movie titles available including Lady Death, but movie titles will cost you more topping out at about $19.99, which may have you asking, "is it worth it?"

    My answer is a tad bit jaded. Why? Well for starters, the files are in WMV format with DRM protection. And before you go all crazy and accuse me of being a pirate [which I am not, I am clearly a Ninja... see my shurikens?] I only object to the DRM in this case because it renders the service useless on a Macintosh. Windows Media Player is only up to version 9 on the Mac, Microsoft has said they are no longer going to improve or add to the application, and neither WMP 9 on the Mac, VLC Media Player, nor MPlayer can play DRM protected WMV files. This sucks not only for myself, but true anime horders like Pandalicious. If I would have been able to buy and play ADV's catalog of content on my Mac I probably would buy a new external drive to devote just to it and I'm sure Panda would add a few drives to her existing arsenal of external storage.

    I know that Apple recently added movie downloads to their iTunes Store, and I do feel that digital downloading is the future of film and animation distribution. Don't believe? Think of all the people that hit up places like YouTube and Viral Video, or how popular video podcasting has become... all those users can't be a fluke or fad. But I do think they have set their price point a bit too high and cut out too much of a potential consumer base to be very successful. Compare $1.99 per TV show episode through the Apple iTunes Store which you can purchase and view on either the Windows or Macintosh platforms to the $4.99 per anime series episode which you can must purchase and play on a Windows machine.

    I guess time will tell. I could be wrong, people might be willing to pay $4.99 per episode for a half hour anime episode that is DRM protected to a Windows machine... but I know I won't be.

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    Do the Math: Will Sony Go Broke?

    posted @ 9/25/2006 03:16:00 AM by evermore
    For video game players, the competition among the three game console manufacturers must seem like a Dead or Alive tournament. There's always a winner and a loser, but someone else is always lined up for another bout with the winner.

    Few tears were spilled when the No. 4 console maker, Sega, dropped out of the market a few years ago. But can you imagine if, in a year from now, there were only TWO console game makers?

    Not only COULD it happen, but we're going to tell you why it WILL happen.

    Can Video Games Bring Down a Multinational Corporation?

    Sony has a book value of $27 billion. It has nearly $9 billion in cash. Sony's not going anywhere. Or is it?

    Sony is looking at a potential for demise it has never faced before. With the failure of its TV and music electronics businesses and its up-and-down movie business, it has relied more and more on the video game business to keep profits up.

    But now even its video game business can't save the company. In fact, it's the video game business that could put the whole company right down the toilet.

    Here's a story of a company in trouble. Sure, you think you could help it by buying a new PS3 at the end of the year. But purchasing a PS3 this year could be the very thing that pushes Sony over the edge.

    The Seeds Are Sown

    Sony's troubles didn't just begin this year, but we all started to realize the wheels were falling off the train when Sony started delaying the release of the new PlayStation 3. The first excuse Sony made was that licensing issues were causing the delay from Spring 2006 to November 2006.

    Around the same time Sony was putting off the release, analysts released a disturbing story about the disparity in the cost of raw materials for the PS3, compared with the estimated purchase price.

    Analysts had predicted the PS3 cost would be in line with the cost of the Microsoft XBox 360 consoles.

    In a February story for CNet, it was estimated that the total cost of components for the PS3 would be in the neighborhood of $725 to $905 -- and that was before it was rumored that Sony would have to put PS2 components in the box because the new chip lacked the ability to emulate the earlier PSOne and PS2 games.

    The CNet story said, "The materials price estimates do not include marketing, software development, advertising or other costs, which will push Sony's total cost per console even higher."

    That there is such a disparity between the price of materials and the suggested retail price for a new console is not unusual because most new consoles are sold as loss-leaders, with the game maker making up the difference with the high margin of profit they get by selling games for the console.

    In contrast, the materials cost for the XBox 360 is estimated at only $501, and should continue to drop as the console ages. While Sony pays $200 to $300 for each raw Blu-ray drive, Microsoft pays only $20 for the simpler DVD drives.

    The Truth Hits Home

    With such estimates for raw materials, video game fans should have known that the new machine would need to cost a lot more. But a huge audience that was prepared to cheer the announced price of the PS3 instead sat in stunned silence when the suggested retail price was announced at the E3 conference: $499 for the basic system and $599 for the premium one.

    Of course, the single most costly item in the PS3 is the Blu-ray drive. Analysts originally figured Blu-ray would add at least another $200 or so to the price of the machine, but that figure has gone way up.

    First, there's more than just the mechanical equipment to figure in. Sony must also pay for all the codecs that must be licensed.

    Second, the slow adoption of high density DVD technology will keep prices high for years.

    Finally, all manufacturers of the blue lasers that are required for high density DVDs are having problems getting up to speed in creating the machines. This will result in low yields, further driving up the price of the drives.

    Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi was not ambivalent about the pricing of the console -- he kept saying it was a premium machine, sold at a premium price. Want a PS3? Work a little harder!

    "Our ideal," Kutaragi said, "is for consumers to think to themselves, 'OK, I'll work more hours and buy it.' We want people to feel that they want it, no matter what."

    But the consumer reaction was swift -- and harsh. Even the Official Playstation Magazine had a bold cover headline that asked, "Is It Worth $600?"

    In June, a month after Sony announced its price points for the PS3, analysts at Merrill Lynch estimated Sony would lose more than $1 billion in the console's first year of existence. By comparison, Sony lost only $458 million during the first year the PS2 was available. The company followed that with two strong years of profit -- $759 million in Year 2 and $1.3 billion in Year 3.

    But Merrill Lynch warned that this generation of consoles was not like the last. Microsoft beat Sony for the next generation consoles by a year and a price reduction for the XBox could result in additional losses for Sony -- $730 million in Year 2 and $457 million in Year 3. That's nearly $2 billion in losses over three years.

    The Cost of Doing Business

    Of course, analysts questioning Sony's moves is nothing new. More than 10 years ago, just six weeks before Sony introduced the original PlayStation, the head of the project team quit amid rumors of difficulties in getting the console out on time.

    Analysts at the time believed Sony could lose as much as $200 million on the project in the first year.

    Sony's answer at the time was to require retailers to bundle the packages with one or two games, which still left Sony underwater, but not as much as it would have been.

    This, of course, begs the question, "Will Sony pull the same thing this year?" It makes sense, especially considering that Sony will be charging a premium price for its games (above $59 and below $99, according to most sources).

    The bad news for Sony this year isn't restricted to video game competition. The company is also liable for a large share in the laptop battery recalls being conducted by Dell and Apple. Nearly 6 million batteries have been recalled in the past two months -- all of them manufactured by Sony.

    The battery fiasco alone could cost Sony as much as $500 million.

    "The most important thing for Sony is maintaining the No. 1 quality, whatever the category or area," Sony Marketing (Japan) Inc. Senior Vice President Kiyoshi Shikano told MarketWatch this month. "So in that sense, unfortunately, the recent happenings have caused some small damage for the business."

    In addition, Sony is far behind its competitors in the fast growing LCD flat-screen TV market and has lost its decades-long edge in portable music devices to Apple Computer's iPod players.

    Sony is also likely to face a fight in Europe over its partnership with Betlesmann AG. A European court ruled in July that the European Commission was wrong to approve the venture. The court decision means Sony and Bertelsmann will have to re-apply to win European Commission approval for their venture.

    At the movie box office, Sony has had great success with its Spiderman franchise, but must wait until May 2007 for the next installment to arrive. The company's biggest film this year has been Will Farrell's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which has made $145 million thus far, but lags far behind Disney's hit sequel for Pirates of the Caribbean, which has already made more than $1 billion worldwide this summer.

    The Market Leader Goes Into the Cellar

    Although the PS2 captured more than a 70 percent share of the previous generation of console sales, it is entering the next generation at a distant third, with Microsoft predicted to sell 10 million XBox 360 consoles and Nintendo selling 4 million of its new Wii consoles, while Sony will be able to push out only 2 million consoles to consumers by the end of this year.

    That fact alone has analysts betting that Sony will introduce price cuts quickly. But price cuts, in combination with the losses Sony takes on each machine it sells, are a double-edged sword.

    "By reducing the price, it appears that Sony may have prolonged its recouping period of initial investments on the PS3 by a few years," John Yang, a Tokyo-based analyst with Standard & Poor's, told the Wall Street Journal today. According to the Wall Street Journal article, Yang estimates the PlayStation 3 will be unprofitable for at least three years.

    The Journal story brings up another point that may draw the most fear in the ranks of Sony -- the PlayStation will no longer dominate game developers. When the original PlayStation and PS2 were introduced, Sony had an impressive lineup of developers who made games exclusively for its consoles. That won't be the case with the PS3.

    "We don't want the PlayStation 3 to be the overwhelming loser, so we want to support them," Michihiro Sasaki, senior vice president of Square Enix, told the Wall Street Journal. "But we don't want them to be the overwhelming winner either, so we can't support them too much."

    So the price cuts have already begun. On Friday Sony announced a price cut for Japanese buyers (about $410 in U.S. dollars for the low-end version), there was no indication that such a price cut would be given to American customers.

    In addition to lowering the price of the low-end model, Sony added an HDMI port to the machine, which further increases the price of raw materials. Sony will undoubtedly be losing even more money than ever before.

    Do the Math

    As a result, Sony is forecasting an $862 million operating loss for the current fiscal year. But that's going to seem like chicken feed, compared to the loss it's liable to see in 2007.

    How much will Sony lose in the next 12 months? Let's count it up.

    Sony plans on making 6 million PS3 units before April. Let's say that they sell every one of them at full retail price. With what we know about the materials price -- particularly the price of Blu-Ray players -- let's say that they will lose only $300 for every PS3 they sell.

         6,000,000 x
    = $1.8 billion

    That's the same amount that analysts figure the PS3 will cost the company over the first three years. Why the disparity?

    The analysts are counting on Sony making up the sales of machines with the sales of video games. But it's not going to be as easy for Sony this time. Few game developers are making games exclusively for the PS3.

    Also, Sony has already said that games would be at least $10 more than the games for the XBox 360 and at least $20 more than the games for the Nintendo Wii. With everything being the same, would you pay $10 or $20 more for the same game that you could play on your XBox 360 or Wii?

    In addition, Sony will be nickle-and-diming you at every opportunity -- particularly with the HDMI cable, which will likely cost between $99 and $129. (That's surely why they added an HDMI port for the low-end PS3. They'll make their money back on the cable for it.)

    Surely the discounts will come quickly, but they'll all be a drag on Sony's bottom line. Let's say Sony loses $400 on every box they sell. Here are the numbers:

         6,000,000 x
    = $2.4 billion

    That really starts taking a mammoth chunk out of Sony's cash. Add to that the half-billion dollars of free laptop batteries they've got to give out and the losses start approaching $3 billion.

    But a company like Sony can afford to lose $4 billion, can't it? Once upon a time, that might have been true, but Sony is a much different company today than it was just a few years ago.

    The Japanese people who owned shares in Sony could see the value in building for the future. But, with its purchase of Columbia Studios and Columbia Records, Sony has become much more of a multinational company. Today, for the first time in its history, less than half of the company is owned by Japanese investors. Investors in the West demand more short-term benefits.

    Devoting nearly half of its cash reserves to losses in the video game and computing sectors, with no guarantee of future profits for another two years, could send the company's stock into a tailspin, once its investors realize the full measure of the grave situation for the company.

    In such a situation, Sony could start selling off large chunks of the company. But even that would come at a large cost. For example, selling off the movie division would result in the loss of the Spiderman franchise for the PlayStation. Without an exclusive there, Microsoft and Nintendo would gain the edge in game sales, since their games cost less than Sony's.

    Sony has become a minor player in the music player and TV industries, so they wouldn't be able to make much money off selling their stake in the aging Walkman and Trinitron franchises.

    When things are all said and done, the most valuable piece of the pie at Sony is its video game division. They could very well put it up for sale. And who could be the potential buyer?


    That's right. I said it. Just think about it.

    Who could benefit the most by purchasing Sony's video game division?


    You might say there's no way the U.S. government would allow such a thing. Anti-trust, you say.

    Just remember who's running the government. A Microsoft takeover would be treated with the same kid gloves that created DaimlerChrysler.

    Who knows? This time next year you could be playing games on a PlayStation 360.

    Want a PS3? Work a Little Harder!

    So you want to save Sony. What can you do?

    Well, as Sony's Kutaragi says, you need to work a little harder and make a little more money.

    Stop complaining that the PS3 costs $600. It doesn't. In order to cut down on its losses, Sony is liable to do the same thing to consumers that it did 11 years ago at the original Playstation launch -- it'll require that you buy two games in order to get a machine. That'll boost the price for you to around $725 or so.

    But there's more! Want an HDMI cable? That'll be another $100 to $125. Now we're at $850 or so. You've got a Blu-ray player, so you'll want a few Blu-ray movies -- Sony titles only, of course. Buy six of them while you're at it! At an average list price of $25 each, we're talking another $150. That pushes our total price to an even $1,000.

    That'll go a long way to saving Sony.

    Now who's going to save you?

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    Finish what you start...

    Does They? Or Doesn't They?

    posted @ 9/21/2006 11:48:00 PM by evermore
    The problem with being a video game analyst is that sometimes you have to read between the lines. That task is harder when the lines are written in Kanji.

    That was the task when the news came across the ol' wire about the surprising price reduction in the Sony PlayStation 3. Price reduction, you ask?

    Price reduction is right. Apparently, Sony announced a price reduction in the lower-end model of the Playstation 3 for Japanese customers -- a 10,000 Yen price reduction. That's $85 to us folks in America.

    It sure looks true. But if you go to the page where it was announced, you have to do a little extra-hard reading to divine the information. Click here to see for yourself.

    The page is written in Kanji, the simpler of many Japanese languages. There are just enough English characters on the page to pull the high points out of the page:


    The original price announced for the PS3 at E3 in May was nearly 60,000 Yen. That means Sony lopped off a full 10,000 Yen off the price. The 20GB model is the low-end model, which was announced to be selling for $499.99 in the U.S. come November.

    We had to learn more, so we sicced Babelfish on the page. Here's the translation verbatim:

    HDMI standard loading
    The Japanese domestic desired retail price 49 and 980 Yen (including tax)

    Corporation SONY computer entertainment (SCEI), next generation computer entertainment system "place t Shaun 3" (PS3) HDMI* (Ver. 3 Deep Color correspondence) standard we load the output terminal in HDD20GB. In addition, desired retail price 49 and 980 Yen (including tax) we set the Japanese domestic price of the same type.

    Announcing the specification of PS3 2005 May E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in, from the fact that later, flat display of the full HD correspondence which loads HDMI is thrown by the market accelerating, high picture quality image and the appearance impression due to HDMI the demand for the digital sound which overflows exceeding expectation, has increased, we decided that standard it loads HDMI in the PS3 all type.

    The software manufacturer each company way while receiving the cooperation, it starts propelling SCEI, at a stroke with the attractive only of PS3 and advancing the development of original title powerfully, PS3 as an entertainment platform of the next generation.

    * High-Definition Multimedia Interface

    Once you get beyond the funny Pidgin English, there's something that you realize about the release. Not only is Sony reducing the price of the low-end PS3, they are also including an HDMI port on the thing.

    Originally, the HDMI port was supposed to be included only on the $599.99 high end model. Now, by putting the HDMI port on the low-end model, it suddenly makes the low-end model a viable competitor to the high-end Microsoft XBox 360.

    And then you stop dead in your tracks. Sure, the Japanese get an $85 price reduction and an HDMI port on the low-end PS3, but what about America? Will we see similar changes?

    The next few weeks should be very interesting.

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    Finish what you start...