Thursday
Dec022010

The Good, The Bad, and The Wacky of Wii Accessories By Robin B.

The holiday shopping season is upon us! Festive advertisements are abundant, full of cheery-faced children playing with the latest toys and adults donning cheesy smiles and warm, fuzzy sweaters. Along with all the holiday hype, there's a slew of gimmicky gaming products on the market beckoning a place on your shopping list. Some are purely laughable but some perhaps have potential. Here's my breakdown of the best, worst, and strangest accessories the Wii has to offer.

Inflatable Car
Price: $39.99 at www.toysrus.com
Rating: Awesome (if I was 10 years younger)


If the Wii Wheel wasn't enough to enlighten the racing game experience, CTA Digital has kicked it up a notch and added some superfluous inflatable fun to the mix. The inflatable go kart promises to bring all the fun of arcade gaming to your home console complete with a comfortable cushy seat, plastic steering wheel to house the Wiimote, and a stylish “sports car design”. It boasts support for up to 300 pounds allowing even the adults to get in on the go kart fun.

Final Verdict: There's no way that even my short stubby legs would fit comfortably in that blow up seat, but it would make a nice gift for a little one with a big imagination.

Wii Zapper
Price: $19.99 (with Link's Crossbow Training) at www.Amazon.com
Rating: The Crossed Arms of Indifference

It's debatable whether a plastic shell can actually amplify the interactivity of a game. But the Wii Zapper is Nintendo's official attempt at enhancing the Wii shooter experience by giving the player that legitimate trigger feeling. Unfortunately, it is mildly awkward to handle and has faced some control issues due to lack of comfortable access to the A button. Overall though, since it is bundled with Link's Crossbow Training, it may be worth the $20 price.

Final Verdict: Using my Wii Zapper to play Goldeneye felt like running around and aiming with an AK-47 strapped my ankle while looking through a periscope. The Zapper is definitely best suited for the on rails shooter experiences of games like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles.

Slip Proof Wii Gloves
Price: $12.99 at www.Amazon.com
Rating: Intense

Do you ever have trouble keeping a firm grip on your Wiimote? Nope, me neither! But for all those butterfingered gamers out there that are deadly serious about their Wii gaming, the slip proof gloves by CTA Digital are guaranteed to improve remote handling while “providing ultimate comfort” and “allowing ventilation so your hands don't perspire”. As stated on www.ctadigital.com, these gloves are even multipurpose - “they are also great for recreational activities like weight lifting, baseball batting, and anything else that requires a firm and secure grip...” I'll just leave that up to user's interpretation.

Final Verdict: This is the type of thing that this generation's Lucas Barton from The Wizard would have described as: ”I love [my slip proof Wii gloves], they're so bad...”

Babysitting Mama Doll
Price: $49.99 (with game) at www.gamestop.com
Rating: Cutesy (except surgically implanting the Wii remote into the doll's spinal cord)

Obviously geared towards the younger female Wii audience, the Babysitting Mama doll is somewhere between adorable and creepy as hell. But with the pretty respectable Cooking Mama franchise behind it's creation, Babysitting Mama might just be the best out there for that particular audience. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much...

Final Verdict: On the bright side, it sure as hell beats Imagine: Babysitters, Imagine: Party Babyz, and Imagine: Babyz Fashion combined.

uDraw Game Tablet
Price: $69.99 (including uDraw Studio game) - $29.99 for additional games at www.Amazon.com
Rating: Potentially Nifty

I may be getting sucked into the horribly deceiving gimmick black hole, but the idea of a drawing tablet for the Wii actually sounds kind of fun. The THQ uDraw Game Tablet comes bundled with an “expansive drawing, coloring and art-based video game” called uDraw Studio. Several other titles are compatible with the tablet including a Pictionary game and a platformer called Dood's Big Adventure that plays similar to the DS's Drawn to Life. The price may be slightly steep, but with supposed planned future support for this peripheral, it may be worth the investment.

Final Verdict: If somebody doesn't hop on this and make a Mario Paint sequel, it will be a terrible shame.

Nintendo Wii Deluxe Gaming Ottoman
Price: $139.99 at www.Kohls.com
Rating: Elegant

And finally, after you've purchased all of your gaming peripherals, you'll need a snazzy place to store them! The Nintendo Wii Deluxe Gaming Ottoman can store up to 44 games, 4 Wii Remotes and nunchucks, and even your balance board. What better way to conceal your gaming gear than in “deep espresso” leather.

Final Verdict: It may set you back a good hundred bucks, but it nicely conceals the evidence so visitors will never know that you fancy playing Wii Fit in your underpants. Classy.

Wednesday
Dec012010

The Future of Digital Platforms By Sean B.

Consumers are currently being introduced to a new concept known as "Cloud Gaming", and with OnLive at the current pinnacle of this exciting new mountain of opportunities, it's going to change how we all play games. Every title will be digital, the access service will be free, the controller will be sleek while presenting itself to be familiar, and finally the console itself will be -- almost literally up in the clouds? Really, what's the point of calling it "Cloud Gaming" if it's not literally true in any way? Though the Xbox is no longer shaped like an "X", it's still a box. You "play" on the PlayStation, which also happens to be a "station" for your games, movies and music. By now you probably get the picture, so enough of this nonsensical babbling.

 


With the OnLive "micro console" package for 99 dollars you'll wind up with the following -- OnLive's primary connection unit, controller and miscellaneous cords, including HDMI cables. OnLive works by plugging the small, cookie sized device (pictured above) into your TV or personal computer. Games are then played, saved and received via OnLive servers from the continental United States. Unfortunately users outside of the States may encounter latency issues, resulting in less than desirable (if not unplayable) gaming experiences. The prices are nothing to be too thrilled about either, according to this screenshot from 1up. For example, It'll cost you at least $4.99 to simply rent Arkham Asylum -- a digital version I might add -- with no strings attached for three days. For just $6.99 you can increase that amount of time for two days, or even buy the whole damn game for $39.99, which is no different than brick and mortar retailing. That's right, 40 dollars will allow you to purchase a temporary right for "instantly" playing a digital copy on a console you don't even own. Who cares, for the same price one could either go on a miniature adventure to buy it from a store or wait in anticipation for a new package. I don't know about you, but I personally love waiting for packages, unless they're late or missing (damn FED-UPS). Hell, for $39.99 you could even hug it every night for the rest of your life, but to pay the same price for a digital copy on some potentially volatile server? Most seasoned gamers probably won't see the appeal.



But will the service really be so dreadful? Folks with speedy internet connections located in ideal regions will be able to experience fast, efficient gaming at their fingertips with numerous titles, any time of day for what's supposed to be a relatively efficient renting cost. Fears and concerns of hardware failure and the "Red Ring of Death" will be a thing of the past, so long as you know the OnLive servers will continue to function properly. Many will love obtaining their favorite titles in a seemingly easy to access library, with (hopefully) hundreds of other titles to choose from. We may also see the end of those lengthy download patches and updates game companies have become so fond of. Regardless, we'll still probably run into server shutdown times or maintenance periods. This means even if you didn't wish to game directly online, but instead desired to relax with a solitary single player campaign -- tough shit. The servers need to update for X hours until Y o'clock, meaning every "console" and function goes entirely offline. Perhaps they'll find ways to fragment their maintenance in order to prevent game disruption, but sadly most major updates require precise debugging and complete shutdowns to guarantee proper installation (like weekly maintenance periods seen on MMO's). I don't know about you, but I'd sure as hell be ticked knowing there were set hours where I couldn't even game with myself, let alone vent my rage on an online FPS. Of course this is assuming we're in the year 2555, and true retro gaming is an impossible concept when all other services are down. We're lucky to still have multiple options at this time, but future generations of gamers may not be so blessed if we continue on this path of digital domination.

Really though, how much will we sacrifice until there's nothing left? Classic moments of shopping will be fed to the digital gods, as going to the store for physical media will suddenly seem like a chore to some. I for one prefer fuzzy memories of being able to go on small adventures, seeking out titles that may even be harder to find, as do many other gamers I've spoken to. The convenience will definitely improve with digital services, especially since we'd bypass such problems as Microsoft's infamous RRoD, but at what cost? OnLive is a great opportunity for those looking to test, play and rent games with convenience, but for those of us who prefer to own and hold what we legitimately purchase -- these are some rather dark and murky waters we're diving into. A wise (and absolutely correct) man once said, "you get what you pay for", so buyer beware. Just because the price looks good on paper doesn't always mean you're getting the better bargain at the end of the day.

Thursday
Nov252010

Games Club 2: Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Hey everyone, Press Pause Radio is only two strong this week but that's because we're joined by Fellow podcast & new friends Tom & Matt of Sega Addicts. This week as we've mentioned we're taking the opportunity to talk about our impressions & play through on Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 along with the meaning of "Settling" also we take the opportunity to talk about we want out of the premise of Dreamcast & Saturn games for Xbox live arcade while finding ways to talk about Segagaga, Mcdonald's Treasureland Hunt, & Nights: Journey of Dreams, Forgive Georgie Boy for being sicker than a dead baby & reply back to the forums, presspauseradio@gmail.com, or call our voicemail at 2095660190 & we want to thank Sega Addicts again for guesting with us, please take the opportunity to check out the best independently ran Sega fan/news/podcast website on the web! stay tuned next week guys as We'll be talking about Social Networking & video games!

PPR Games Club Sonic

Tuesday
Nov232010

choosing to Play & Playing to choose By Robin

I have a lot of thoughts about moral consequence systems in video games, I really do. I filled entire pages with web diagrams of how I feel moral choices impact a game's story, immersion, and personalization. I contemplated how designers use it to impact everything from the game environment to a character's wardrobe. But I think I finally realized after all of that - it isn't some defined effect on a gameplay mechanic that creates a truly successful moral system in a video game. It is most memorable when a game presents you with a situation that you can honestly relate to your life, and it becomes more than “how will this affect my good/evil stat”. It becomes a legitimate contemplation of “what would I really do in this situation,” and the best answer isn't obvious. 

Unleash potential evil on entire galaxy for good morality points?

    The problem is most moral systems thus far have been obsessed with tracking ethical purity on a linear scale. Good versus evil, paragon versus renegade, shiny blue glow versus shiny red glow – every choice is defined on a set “+10 asshole” or “+10 angel” points. Unfortunately, this often degrades the choices in the game to a mere tacked on character stat, and it becomes simply more advantageous to  consistently respond to people as a careless murderer or a squeaky clean savior. And honestly, there aren't many dimensions to these linear types of questions. The choice whether to harvest the lives of little girls for your own benefit or offer them a brighter future is pretty straightforward.

Are my angel wings a bit too much? I just wanted people to know I'm a good person!

    Some games are beginning to transcend the blunt morality fault, though. Despite Fable's continuously cliché demonic versus angelic character development, I can honestly say Fable III presented me with situations that left me yelling at my television screen, heart torn in opposite directions at my options. The third instillation in the Fable series seems to have finally gotten it right. It's moral choice system is very emotionally compelling because it manages to embody the feeling that whatever you choose, there will be consequences.

“Life in the Castle: Choose who must die.”

    For example, Fable III smacks you with one monster of a moral decision within the first few cutscenes. Your brother, the King of Albion, forces you to choose between the life of your close friend or the lives of a group of protestors. This type of question goes beyond a virtual setting. It's essentially a question of what you, as an individual, really value. Neither option is in any way ideal, but the game forces you to weigh logic and emotion to make the decision that you believe is best.

    In addition to some incredibly emotionally compelling decisions, Fable III consistently holds the notion that doing what is “right” isn't always the easiest. The latest release in the Fallout series, Fallout New Vegas, uses a faction system to rate the player's karma. Like real life, different groups of people react to your decisions in different ways based on their perceptions. And despite it's reliance on stereotypical benevolent blue and evil red meters, the Mass Effect series has provided some intense situations that make you wonder the impact of your judgment. Since all of the decisions you make in the first two Mass Effect games will carry over to the conclusion of the story in the third, I predict Mass Effect 3 will really display the weight of all of your previous choices.

    I think we've really only scratched the surface of the game experiences that could be created with moral systems. The gaming industry is continuously evolving to offer gamers engaging stories, unique environments, and new ways to play. I see moral choice systems continuing to evolve with those goals. Granted, despite all the story-telling possibility, life contemplating immersion, and future gaming implication – it's really damn fun to just be evil sometimes.

Monday
Nov222010

PPR 32

You have been given a choice; listen to the newest episode of Press Pause Radio or ignore it. We really really hope you choose to listen. Please? On this week's episode we will be discussing moral choices in video games, and the popularity of such games as Fallout and Fable. With so many western developed games utilizing choice as a option in the role playing experience, will we see this trend continue in other genres? The group will discuss this as well as updates to the Xbox 360 dashboard and George's Kinect impressions. Serraxor will also be reviewing Ys: The Oath in Felghana for the Playstation Portable, and proudly informing the listeners of becoming the best in the world in Raiden Fighters Jet Score Attack!

Thanks to everyone for listening to the show and providing feedback on the forums as well as our social networking sites. Don't forget to review us on iTunes or Zune before December 4 for your chance to win our massive Zom-Blowout contest with over fifteen games!

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PPR Episode 32

Saturday
Nov202010

The Evolution of The Hedgehog By Sean B.

 

Sonic Colors has arrived, and the reviews are pouring in. The results for the Wii version are rather promising for a three dimensional Sonic title. Though the current Metacritic score (not that it means anything) is weighing in at 78, most contributing review sites still agree that it's a step in the right direction, which is terrific news. As for the more classic feeling DS version, less review scores have combined to form an assumed 80. Among these (volatile) statistics, the most interesting reviews came from Destructoid, who gave the Wii version a pathetic 4.5, while presenting the classic revamp for the DS with an 8.5 -- guess they're retro nostalgia freaks like we are.

Looking back at the big picture, what did happen to sonic? We saw a great amount of success with Sonic Adventure, one of the first launch titles to hit the Dreamcast, but why has it been so hard for them to recreate this in later 3D Sonic games? It's like they're trying too hard with all these additional bells, whistles and werehogs nobody even asked for. And then we have those terrible voices, don't even get me started on those. Perhaps Sonic Team lost its spunk after being dethroned from the console wars?

Then we have Sonic 4, quite possibly the elephant in the room. Most folks will agree it's one of the greatest Sonic titles this generation's seen, with spectacular connections and references to past Sonic games, especially 1 and 2 -- unfortunately this also reflected a serious problem involving Sonic Team's assumed creativity. The game's supposed to be a follow-up to the classic Sonic saga, technically ending after Sonic 3 (even though there were additional 2D titles like Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic CD and Knuckles Chaotix), so why do we see so many reoccurring events and themes? Don't get me wrong, it's extraordinary to be greeted with revamped, familiar Green Hill and rather sexy Casino Night zones presented in diamond sharp High Definition, but to what extent can this go on? Again, the game was great, but as a follow-up to a series that saw obvious points of evolution throughout the years, why not just call this "Sonic Rebirth"?

We know the creativity and skills are present. Let's also not forget about the undying support from legions of fans, submitting thousands (if not millions) of suggestions while dying to see the next great thing Sonic Team has to offer. Please, listen to your fans, and listen well. It's the greatest thing you'll ever do when it comes to satisfying your audience and continuing to be progressive. As for myself, I'll probably head towards the "best of past with future" route and look into Sonic Colors for the Nintendo DS. As far as I'm concerned, 2D remains the best way to play with the hedgehog. If I want a three dimensional werehog, I'll go wander into some mountains. At least nobody will complain when I discover it -- though I may be killed (or possibly raped).

Saturday
Nov132010

Gran Turismo 5 release date confirmed! By Sean B.

So we recently heard some significant news involving the release of a prolonged project from Sony, one which was even deemed their own "Apollo space program" according to the president of Polyphony Digital Inc. I'm talking about Gran Turismo 5, finally announced to hit stores on November 24th, just in time for the holidays. Seriously, we've been hearing about this one for what feels like an eternity.

It's weird looking back at an era where two guys could design a hit title in their basement, publish it practically the next day and profit from that release over the course of a week. It's especially weird when you take a look at how things are now, where entire teams of artists, designers and software engineers will take months or years trying to design a smash hit title, that can still receive a minimal amount of reception from gamers, along with a review score of 80 percent or lower.

Many gamers can look at the situation and accuse developers of being "slow" or inconsiderate to fans, but we also need to realize how much technology has changed over the past two decades. We're in an era where single artists or tiny firms can no longer be credited with some of the most powerful games, but where developing a groundbreaking title really could be compared to something as large scale as a space program or medical research project. Yes, new games are projects. Sure, we'll have a couple of hit titles where excuses should be limited, especially when you look at past endeavors from the same studio, but some folks might need to wake up and realize how much of a process development has become.

Though also gazing on another side of the spectrum, are some of these "innovations" and "groundbreaking" features really necessary? Some gamers have also expressed their disinterest in newer additions they didn't even ask for, stating how passionate they are to see the same thing for a second, third or maybe even fourth time around. Take some of these "Neo Retro" titles for instance, how many of them have slipped away from a perfect score or even become ruined by some of these adjustments? Some classics were simply meant to stay that way -- classic, priceless and untouched by the hands of modern technology.

It's a slippery slope no matter which side you look down. Either way I think it's safe to assume there's one thing we can all agree on -- that an 80 percent score is still way better than a half-assed game rushed out to the market. So next time you're walking down the street, and you just happen to see a concept artist, sound engineer, level designer, software developer, quality control tester or anyone else from a game developing giant walking down that same path as you, be sure to give them a nice, hearty pat on the back and say "Thanks for not rushing my game and therefore ruining it."

Thursday
Nov042010

PPR 31

On Halloween Day, we at Press Pause Radio recorded a massive Zombiecast which is now available for all to hear. The normal cast welcomes special guest Daeruna to discuss current events in the gaming industry as well as some twitter fighting and resignations.  Toast harnesses the energy of Ryu before reviewing the recent Left 4 Dead 2 DLC,  "The Sacrifice".

Toast then is attacked by an incoming zombie hoard, while the remaining cast runs for safety. From there they explain the history of zombies not only in video games but in writing and cinema as well. It seem like everything nowadays has zombies, and Press Pause Radio is no different. Go to the forums or respond on the Facebook, Destructoid and Twitter pages about this week's episode. Also please remember to rate and review us on iTunes and Zune for your chance to win fifteen amazing games and more

PPR Episode 31