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Thursday, June 04, 2009

State of Play at E3 part three: It's-a-him

So the final part of my E3 2009 round-up brings me to the conference of my game's company of choice, Nintendo. Last year's confrerence was a PR disaster for the big N as many of the company's 'core' fanbase felt left out in favour of the "expanded audience". Which was a bit of a cock-up as they are the only people who actually will be watching the E3 coverage. But fair play to Ninty they admitted their mistake and apologised. This year was a different story.

It might have not seemed so when they unveiled the 'vitality sensor' and Wii Fit Plus, but some major core games were shown too. Firstly Super Mario Galaxy 2 was announced. It looks simply fantastic, and is the first time a 3d Mario Game has recieved a sequel on a single system and will add Mario's beloved dino pal Yoshi to the mix. Frankly as SMG is my favourite game there needn't have been any other news. They could've just showed the trailer for Galaxy 2 and left the stage and I would've been happy. But No! They just kept on giving. Metroid Other M is a continuation of the classic Metriod series that returns it's to it's roots and away from first person shooters such as Metroid Prime. It's being made by Team Ninja the acclaimed developers of the Dead Or Alive and Ninja gaiden series. A new Wii Zelda was announced behind closed doors too- no footage was available but it's hoping to be released next year but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets delayed.

But wait... another game featuring Mario was unveiled. And unlike SMG2 this one will be released in 2009. It's not a sports game or spin-off but a real true proper Mario Game. Not a 3d one but a true original old school 2d platformer only with shiny modern graphics to go with the classic gameplay. With up to 4 players at once. For an old school Nintendo fan like me who mourns the demise of the 2d platformer this is like a dream come true. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the game I've been waiting for...and it's coming out this Christmas!

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

State of Play at E3 part TWO: Sony but so far

Sony really surprised everyone (note: sarcasm mode engaged) with the announcement that PlayStation 3 is to get a Wiimote like motion controller. Unlike Microsoft's Natal however it doesn't seem to have anything to distinguish it from it's competitors- at least nothing that's been unveiled yet. Maybe Sony is keeping that under it's hat for now. However it really can't help but seem like a very 'me too' addition and seemed to be tacked on to their conference as a bit of an afterthought. Sony's big hardware announcement was the remodelled third generation PSP (PSP Go!), a very badly kept secret (it leaked days before E3) that drops the UMD drive and really doesn't seem to make me any more keen to get one to be honest. It's the lack of decent games that's the PSP's big problem not the design of the machine itself.

Speaking of games the PSP is getting a new Metal Gear game plus a portable Gran Turismo that may go someway to improving the handheld's library, but the PS3 has a couple of exclusives worth mentioning too. I loved Uncharted: Drake's fortune and find it to be one of the best PS3 games I've played, so it's good to hear that Uncharted 2 was shown off at E3, even though it was already announced. Completely new however is the interesting sounding (if unimaginatively monikored) Agent made by the bods behind GTAIV- Rockstar North. It's someway off but promises to give you a chance to be a super secret agent in a 70's setting. Could be ace.

Next time: Nintendo!

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

State of Play at E3 part one: Post Natal

It's that time of year again, the E3 when all the players in the videogame ...er.. game gather to show off their wares and we the fans get to see what games will be released in the future. And so I will be breaking my extended Blogging break (sorry about that) to write a series of posts about the big news from LA. First up is the 'shock' announcement from Microsoft....

OK so It was pretty much inevitable when Microsoft showed off their Natal motion controller. The video showed will be familiar to anybody who's seen any of Nintendo's Wii ads, this is a pretty blatant declaration of War on the big N. Which seeing as the Wii makes more money than God is understandable from a business point of view. Doesn't mean I have to like it. I'd also balk an calling this 'innovative' as it's essentially a combination of the Wiimote and Sony's Eyetoy. I can't see the 360 Hardcore's taking to it, but it all depends on the software support it has. As of now the video didn't win me over but I will reserve judgement until we've had a chance to see what it has to offer. The real question is will it be able to tempt the New expanded audience away from Nintendo? I don't know, but as a self confessed Ninty fanboy I have to say I hope not.

Coming up next: Sony and Nintendo's slate plus other big game news

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

State of Play: Game on through the crisis

Despite the current Global Recession (or as the UK media would have it the much less worrying-sounding Credit Crunch) 2008 was still the biggest year ever for the video games industry. Propelled by the ongoing success of Nintendo worldwide the market has continued to expand. Companies may be going bust left and right and people are losing their jobs but it seems to be salad days for gaming markets as people look fore entertainment to escape the gloom. Or more accurately it's good times for some in the gaming industry- for while Xbox 360 had it's best year to date and Wii and DS have sold in ridiculous amounts, sales fell across the board for all PlayStation formats (PS2, PS3 and PSP), and gaming behemoth EA posted massive losses. The UK has now officially overtaken Japan to become the second biggest gaming market in the world and more than 50% of total software sold last year was on a Nintendo format. How the tables have turned.

On a purely personal level the most satisfying statistic among those that have been released about last year is that after all the massive hype about the enormous sales Grand Theft Auto IV racked up (described as 'the biggest entertainment launch ever' by several sources) the biggest selling game of last year was.... er Mario Kart Wii. Sales of GTA were very impressive but Mario won. Not only was Kart my personal fave of the year but I also find something reassuring that more people would rather take to the track with the plucky plumber than nick a car and shoot a prostitute. Or maybe I'm just going soft

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Wii is 2.

This week marks the second anniversary of the Nintendo Wii launching in Europe, and what a couple of years the little white box has had. Even the most hardened Nintendo fanboy would have to admit it hasn't all been plain sailing. The console boasts a modest library of classic titles but there aren't enough, and at times it can seem that the majority of games for it are shoddy, badly presented mini-game cash-ins. However I've had more fun with my Wii than with any other system I can remember. It's worth baring in mind that the reason there's so much crap on it is because it's been such as success at expanding the audience.I'm sick of so-called hardcore gamers who criticise the Wii and DS as being for 'girls, kids and grannies', when that's just part of the audience- they are trying to appeal to everybody. Anybody who likes to call themselves a 'true gamer' should be pleased that the audience is expanding and that more people are playing games. Maybe the games they enjoy are not the same as what you do, but why begrudge them that? There's enough games for everybody. And who knows, having played Brain Training and Wii Sports, maybe they'll graduate to more 'gamey' games later. Personally I don't care whether games are casual or 'proper' games- as long as they're fun. The Wii's future looks bright- it looks likely to sell out again this Christmas, (the third in a row) and all without ever having a price cut. Not so long ago Ninty's stratergy was seen by many as crazy, now here we are with them outselling the competition (Put together!) and with Microsoft desperately trying to grab a bit of the casual market. What a difference two years can make.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

This week is the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) confrence in L.A., where all the video games companies traditionally show off all their future releases and make announcements, although recently the event has become much less of a big deal. Nintendo have been facing some criticism from the specialist games media for a conference that leaned heavily towards the casual or mainstream games (including Wii Music and a Wii Sports sequel). Some have felt they neglected their hardcore fans. Criticising them for releasing mainstream games is daft- they have proved have very successful and opened up the gaming market to a much wider audience. And the likes of Wii Sports appeal to practically everyone (if you think "not me sir!" then you've probably never tried it!). There have been a few tidbits of info for the hardcore though- and these should be enough to temper any sense of disappointment. New games for Wii are in development in the Mario and Zelda series, as well as a long awaited third installment in the Pikmin series that started on Gamecube. There may have been nothing to show at the show but Nintendo often don't show games until their near completion- unlike certain competitors who have been know to mock-up footage for such events. The most unexpected announcement though? Grand Theft Auto is coming to the DS. Hands up who saw that one coming?

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

So I've finally played the most hyped game of the year (possibly ever) the somewhat eagerly anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV. Coming off of lots of declarations that it's 'The best Game Ever', and lots of perfect review scores. it had quite a lot to live up to. And my verdict? Meh.

I know it's controversial, but I was distinctly underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible. It's technically a marvel what they've achieved (although graphically it's not top of the pile) but it's not such a giant step up from GTA III, more of a evolution. Running amok in Liberty City will always be worth a giggle, but Best Game Ever? Hardly. Perfect scores? There's far too many niggling annoyances and there's a humongous list of classic games I'd rate higher. Think I'll stick to Super Mario Galaxy thanks. But I certainly do have to say- the little TV shows and radio ads you get to watch in the game? Genuinely very funny. So you know, I can be nice about it. But sheesh talk about Hype getting out of hand!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Long time readers may have noticed a certain Nintendo bias in some of my posts, and may remember my less than glowing comments around the launch of the PlayStation 3. So how could it be that just over a year from the launch of said console, I have come to be an owner of Sony's massive box (snigger)? Have I had some massive u-turn and suddenly decided to turn my back on my beloved Wii (another snigger)? Well.... no it's all to do with the coming together with a number of circumstances- blu-ray winning the Hi-Def Disc war, me getting a very reasonably priced HDTV, and perhaps most importantly there being a pristine condition second hand PS3 available to me for under £200. So I was weak, and bought one. I'm only human. It's very shiny, and Blu-ray movies do in fact look spiffy but I'm not going to turn my back on my Wii any time soon. It's just now I have the option of shiny HD gaming as well as classics like Mario. So I don't have to miss out on any games..... unless their Xbox exclusives that is.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mario Kart Wii was released this Friday, so naturally I had to get my copy. If you have a Wii, and you haven't got it, then you need to correct this as soon as possible (if you don't have a Wii, then you have a couple of extra steps- you need to get a Wii, then get Mario Galaxy, then get Mario Kart, then thank me). It comes with the Wii Wheel (missed opportunity #42- shoulda been called the Wiil) which is great fun to use -although alternative control methods are available. Best of all though is the fantastic online features. I made my first steps into online gaming, and found myself racing against 11 strangers spread from across the world. And it was awesome. So those Wii owners out there might just find themselves racing against me one of those days (and probably beating me), so I'll see you on the track!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's just coming up to a year since the Nintendo Wii came out. And what a year the plucky little console has had. Just over a year ago it would be a brave person indeed who predicted that the console would not only hold it's own against it's more technologically advanced (well, in terms of graphics) rivals but actually outsell them. However fast forward a year and the dinky white box is still selling out everywhere having broken every record going and shows no signs of slowing down. Neither Sony or Microsoft were really worried by the release of the console, and were noticeably complementary in some statements before it's release, perhaps indicating they didn't really see it as a credible threat. Many games developers missed the boat too. Now of course seeing the huge success it's having everybody wants a piece of pie (mmmm, pie!) and MS and Sony are aggressively going after the casual market (In MS's case with Scene It a 360 version of a DVD board game. Wow. Board Games! Ninty must by quaking!) It's not all rosy in Wii land though. The stock issue is a real problem as some people who can't get one might turn to the dark side and pick up a High Def Console that's readily available instead. There's also a lot of lazy mini-games collections, bad PS2 ports and movie and TV licenses as developers rush to cash in. It's only now that the really big guns are starting to come out, with the likes of Metroid Prime and The Officially recognised Best Game Ever Super Mario Galaxy. However this is only one year in- we can only imagine the many delights that the big N have save up for us Wii gamers in the future!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sod Halo 3. Stuff GTA IV. Gears of War? Gears of Bore, more like. For the true Connoisseur there was only one game worth waiting for this year, and it's finally here. I'm talking of course about Super Mario Galaxy, the long awaited Wii incarnation of the world's best loved platform franchise. I was going to wait until Christmas but in the end I couldn't. It's therefore somewhat gutting that I can't really play it properly thanks to my recent eye-operation temporarily rendering the world in Blur-O-vision. Even through a slight haze I couldn't quite manage to not give it a good go so I am already able to let you know that it lives up to expectations (and the average 97% score awarded to it by metacritic- a website that works out the average review score for games across many review sites and magazines). The Graphics are gorgeous (why can only Nintendo make Wii games look like this?) the design is amazingly imaginative and the gameplay is spot on. In comparison to the overwhelmingly brown and grey games that make up the vast majority of the Xbox and PS3 line-ups it's a breath of fresh-air. Now I just have to wait until I can really appreciate it. Bummer....

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The E3 games show has been on in the US today, the day when all the games developers show off the games they will be releasing. Naturally I don't give a toss what Sony or Microsoft said, but Nintendo have also had their conference. You can check out the games they've announced here. As suspected, Mario Kart Wii was officially confirmed (and it'll come with a natty steering wheel add-on). But the surprises were a couple of hardware add ons- the wii zapper and the balance mat
. The zapper turns your remote and nunchuck into a gun (not a real one obviously, that would be highly irresponsible) that should turn playing first person shooters on Wii from a bit of a pain in the arse to a more pleasurable experience. The Balance Mat will allow you to control games with full body movements and will be packaged with Wii Fitness a Wii Sports style package that aims to get you fit. Sound like fun. It seems the remote's motion sensing is only the beginning...


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

One of the criticisms of the line-up of games so far released for the Nintendo Wii is the number of lazy 'ports' from PS2 and Xbox, only with half-arsed motion control tacked on. However nobody complained when it was announced Resident Evil 4 would be getting a special Wii edition. On the contrary- the idea of playing through this modern classic with added Wii-enhancements was very enticing. It's here and it's fantastic. One of the most exciting (and pant-wettingly scary) experiences on any console just got better. Using the wiimote adds a whole extra dimension, and it was excellent to begin with! Monkey Pirate Zombie whole-heatedly recommends this to all Wii owners, and we give it five zombies* (out of five).

*even though this one doesn't have Zombies in it per se...


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

According to this here, there's a rumour we are very close to getting official confirmation that a version of Mario Kart is coming to the Wii, and could arrive next year! It was surely only a matter of time, but this is fantastic news. If more concrete information comes through, you can be sure I'll let you know!


Thursday, March 29, 2007

There's been a lot development in the world of video games recently, with Microsoft announcing the upgraded 36o Elite and Sony claiming record sales in the Euro Ps3 launch (it'll drop off soon though if the US and Japan are anything to go on) but this all pales into insignificance in comparison to the most amazing announcement ever: Sonic and Mario are going to appear together in a sports game on Wii!! It sound like an April Fool's joke but look it's real. I'm so happy I might cry...


Friday, March 23, 2007

And so the PS3 has launched in Europe, at long last. Will it rock the world or fall on it's face? Only time will tell, but it's getting whupped in the USA and Japan, particularly by the Wii (woo!) and DS. Microsoft have been up to mischief at the Paris and London Launches (sailing a 360 branded boat past the former) which seems a bit petty and unsporting. Frankly if anything will sabotage the launch it's not anything MS are up to but the £425 price tag without any games.

Apparently people were able to walk into some stores and buy one without pre-order this morning, which means hopefully the scalpers who've bought 10 to put on ebay at massive mark-up will be out of luck. They deserve it! In other news sorry for no updates, very busy week again!


Friday, February 23, 2007

So just under a month until the PS3 goes on sale in Europe, but how will it fare? With the US and Japanese demand for them already on the wane (Ps3 was third in the US in January, second place 360 with Wii numero uno) and reports that while Wiis are still hard to come by there are piles of PS3s unloved and unwanted, some are predicting that it might be something of an embarrassment for the big S. One things for sure, there seems to be no shortage of retailers pushing pre-orders and plenty of stock (people are even guaranteeing delivery on launch day, that almost never happens with console launches) which seems to contradict the huge boasts some companies have made about how popular it is. While I'm trying not to be too much of a Nintendo fan-boy and wish them failure, what with the constant attempts at my-processors-bigger-than-your-processor one up-man-ship and broken promises* it's hard to to think that frankly, they kind of deserve it. Will people overlook the obscenely high asking price (higher in the UK than anywhere else) and lack of killer games to continue the domination of the market set out by PS2? Or will they all end up on ebay with nobody actually buying them? However it's all early days so I'll watch with interest. When I'm not playing Wii Sports that is...

*latest news is the European PS3 won't even feature full backwards compatibility with Ps2