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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

Hey! Look! Listen!

Friday, February 5th, 2010

HLLfinal

I can’t wake up today. I laid in bed until 1:30 p.m, and I’m still not awake. A bit of an annoyance, to be sure, but I suppose there’s nothing to do but attempt to meet the day head-on in spite of myself.

…or what little is left of today, rather. Welcome to Riddlethos.com, everyone, and welcome to my twice-weekly (sorta) column, Hey! Look! Listen! More than a few things caught my eye today as I scanned my RSS feed, so without further ado, let’s get to the meat.

Damn straight.

IGN Reviews BioShock 2

Hoo boy, it really is almost here, isn’t it? The sequel to what remains my favorite game of this generation, and possibly, of all time. For the last few months, all the many reservations and concerns I had for BioShock 2 have been slowly melting away, and with the heralding of IGN’s written and video reviews, I can safely say that they’re gone. Check out IGN’s US review here and their UK review here. They awarded the game a 9.1 and a 9.0, respectively.

If the reviews are any indication, 2K Marin knew their source material well, and delivered a sequel accordingly. If that’s the case, (and I’ll know for sure in a few short days) then I can’t ask for any more.

No More Original Xbox Games on Xbox Live

Well, it had to happen eventually. After March 15, 2010, Microsoft will not be supporting online play for original Xbox titles. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing on an original Xbox or a 360.

Apologies to the (likely absurdly large number of) people still playing Halo 2 online. I’d almost like to get some official numbers on that. Having never even owned an original Xbox, (or a Gold subscription, for that matter – see the editorial below) this really is a no-never-mind affair to me.  I imagine that it might suck for a variety of other people, but seriously… the world has to move on at some point.

To read Microsoft’s PR spin on the matter, check out the original story on Kotaku.

bayonetta-witchYes, Bayonetta Was  a Commercial Success

Lots of publishers are in the process of reporting Fiscal Year result to this point, and Sega is no exception. And guess what, a certain Bayonetta was their second most popular game in the last nine months, second only to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. (Which really doesn’t count anyway.)

Reportedly, the game has sold 1.1 million units since its initial release in Japan. I brought up sequel talk a few weeks ago in this very column, and it’s only looking more likely now. (VG247)

Oh Shit: Disgaea Publisher’s Financial Fortunes Looking Grim

Any Disgaea fans out there? Yes? No? Possibly? I know I’m not one of them, but I bought the original game for my brothers a while back and they’ve been telling me to give the series a try since then. I also know a certain Shawn Cooper enjoys them quite a bit.

So, if you do enjoy Disgaea, or any game published by Nippon Ichi Software, you may want to be aware: in the first nine months of its current fiscal year, NIS’s operating profit is down an astronomical 97.5 percent.

Ouch. Big-time, major ouch. I’m too lazy to research in detail right now, but in the last nine months, has NIS release a single game in North America? The Kotaku article I read mentions several titles released in Japan, (Disgaea Infinite, A Witch’s Tale, another Phantom Brave) but not a single game that made it across the ocean.

Just an observation. (Kotaku)

Tease.Final Fantasy VII on PS3 Looking Less and Less Likely, Square Enix Hates Making Towns

Y’know, looking back, I’m forced to wonder why and how the gaming community became so convinced that a Final Fantasy VII remake for the PS3 was going to happen. They showed us a flashy video back in 2006 (which was probably little more than chopped Advent Children footage) called it a “tech demo” and like the hopeless fanboys we are, we latched onto the prospect of a glorious, HD remake, and haven’t let go.

Granted, Square Enix hasn’t really helped the matter; every time it’s brought up they say something to the effect of “yeah, that WOULD be totally awesome, wouldn’t it?” And yet, four years later, they’ve failed to provide such a remake, and they’ve failed to provide adequate an adequate reason as to why it wouldn’t/shouldn’t/couldn’t be made.

Until now, that is. Speaking to Ultimania Magazine, Square Enix big shots Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase finally explained why a Final Fantasy VII remake isn’t feasible: designing towns in HD is just too much of a bitch.

No, seriously:

“It is a result of considering HD graphics will be the mainstream. Considering the amount of work to make graphics that deserve HD, it is hard to make towns in the conventional style,” Toriyama said.

“It is very hard to make games on PlayStation 3 in the same style as the games in that era had. Making graphics will take enormous time,” Kitase added.

Well, there you have it. I suppose this is why Final Fantasy XIII did away with towns altogether, eh?

Weak, Square Enix. Weak. (VG247)

I Want This

Yes, it's for real.

Yes, it's for real.

We’ve reached the end. You’ll note I didn’t include any clever remarks about how this column was somehow worse than February. And that’s because this column isn’t worse than February. February sucks ass.

‘Till next time!

Worse than February: Paying for Online Multiplayer

Friday, February 5th, 2010
Me in February.

Me in February.

Yeah, it’s definitely February. The weather is cold, rainy, and foreboding. Like always, Time feels like it has nearly halted in place.

For the next twenty-three days, it’ll be inching along at an excruciating pace.

It’s currently 1:57 a.m. CST on a Friday. I should be in bed, but for some reason I feel like discussing something that’s arguably worse than this soul-crushing month.

That something is paying for online multiplayer.

The desire to write this editorial actually hit me a few days ago, after reading IGN’s interview with Peter Dille, Sony’s vice president of marketing. Readers might recall that I brought up a few of the interview’s key points in my last Hey! Look! Listen! column. One of them was the possibility that, in the future, Sony might charge for their PlayStation Network services – much as Microsoft charges for an Xbox Live Gold subscription.

I reacted with disgust, naturally. I have no interest in paying console manufacturers for the basic function of online play – and I don’t think I should have to. This is why I don’t have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. And that’s why I really hope Sony takes an alternative route if they do introduce some sort of premium version of PlayStation Network.

Something that’s easy to forget is that online play has been around for years. People were playing Diablo online over Blizzard’s BattleNet network almost 15 years ago. The technology isn’t even close to being novel; however, it was some time before we saw it properly integrated into console gaming.

xbox-live1When Microsoft first launched Xbox Live, it was the first online service that was both stable and incredibly easy to use. Taking the PS2 online was a whole bitch, and few games had any real support anyway. The GameCube’s online support was even more of a joke. But Xbox Live offered reliability, ease of use, and a ton of people to play with.

And that hasn’t changed. Xbox Live is still a fantastic service, with a massive community that continues to grow. But Microsoft shouldn’t charge $50 for online play.

I’ve always praised Sony for providing PSN for free. Perhaps the service isn’t as “streamlined,” per se, as Xbox Live. But in terms of functionality, the two services are practically identical. If the service was buggy or unreliable, Microsoft might be vindicated – but as it stands, the difference is negligible, if it exists at all.

free-playstation-networkAnd, remember, it’s not just the PS3 that offers free online play – it’s every single gaming device aside from the 360: PS3, Wii, iPod Touch, PSP, DS, and of course, the PC. Sure, the Wii’s online functionality is a bit of a joke, but Mario Kart online is pretty fantastic. And guess what? It’s free.

So how, exactly, does Microsoft justify making gamers pay for online play? And why on earth is Sony considering adopting the same business model?

I have a simple solution that I believe would satisfy all parties involved: provide simple necessities such as online play for free, and offer extra, “premium” content to subscribers. By “premium” content I mean original programming like Qore, services like Netflix, and perhaps even exclusive game demos. Y’know, stuff that actually feels like it’s worth paying a little extra for.

IGN doesn’t require an Insider subscription to watch video reviews, but only subscribers can watch them in HD. It’s a business model that Microsoft should adopt, and I sincerely hope that it’s the route Sony takes if they do decide to begin charging for PlayStation Network service.

Oh, and $50 is too damned much. It’s significantly more expensive than the average magazine subscription. And seeing that most of the content on Xbox Live (TV shows, movies, services like Netflix) cost extra money, I’m unsure why I should be forced to pay a royalty just so I can… pay more later.

But hey, this is all just personal opinion, and a bit of a gut reaction. It’s probably worth noting that I’ve never had an Xbox Live Gold subscription, so I haven’t experienced the wonders that fifty extra dollars supposedly brings.

What are your thoughts, people? Do you Xbox Live Gold subscribers feel that your $50 was well spent? Do you think that console manufacturers should continue to charge for online play? Sound off!

So, I was going write up some impressions of Arkham Asylum…

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

…but then it turned out I couldn’t download the demo. Why? Well, two reasons really:

1. My PS3 is a useless, freezy brick.
2. Xbox LIVE, for some entirely FUCKED up reason, requires a Gold subscription to download newly-released demos.

I’ve never liked the fact that Microsoft makes their customers pay for something as basic and fundamental as simple online play, but I can kinda see where people come from when they make the argument that they’re “paying for the stability.” Okay. Fine. But why the hell do I have to pay $50 a year to download demos on release day when I can do it for free on PSN? The “stability” argument really isn’t going to fly; it’s nothing more than a blatant penalization, and I do not appreciate it. At all.

To be perfectly honest, it makes me want a Gold subscription less. In my mind, refusing to pay Microsoft that measly $50 is a way of sticking it to the man. And that makes me feel big.

I’m pathetic, I know. But I’m still not buying a Gold subscription.