Friday, November 30, 2007

Seeing as I used to work for Nintendo Official Magazine two years ago some people, rightfully, think I can either (a) get them a Wii for nothing this Christmas or (b) tell there where they can buy a Wii this Christmas. I could line my pockets if I knew the answer, sadly I don't. Try the main retailers, get on the waiting list, or pay over the odds on eBay I tell them. Advice like 'you should have started your Christmas shopping a lot earlier' obviously don't go down too well.
I love Nintendo. Always have done. The fanboys loved the N64 and the GameCube, your Marios and your Zeldas, but with the launch of PlayStation and then the Xbox, the tag 'casual gamer' came into existence and the Big N's dominance was slowly eroded. It appeared that no-one wanted to play board games with Mario or experience the beauty of the Ocarina of Time.
But now Nintendo is fighting back, advertising to families and mums. They're doing a great job and the Wii is selling out across the world. Hopefully kids that are lucky enough to get a Wii this Christmas will experience the difference that, I think, only Nintendo can bring to a gamer. Just as I did when I first played Super Mario Kart on the Super NES 15 years ago.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Video games are once again being blamed, not for another mass school shooting in the States, but something much more closer to home.
According to Britain's biggest selling daily tabloid, The Sun, games are to blame for England's plummet down the ranking of children's illiteracy. In the latest survey we've fallen from third to fifteenth. That's probably on a par with the England football team.
But let's put it into perspective shall we. It's not good if England, the home of Shakespeare, is failing its children. But what are the parents doing? Surely they are the ones to blame if they decide to put their kids in front of an Xbox for a few hours each day and then wonder why their reports are poor.
Yes, games are there as a hobby, but there are plenty of other pastimes that I'm sure they're doing that doesn't involve sitting on the sofa reading the latest Harry Potter or Phillip Pullman. Mobiles, the internet, iPods - there's a whole load of entertainment that kids fill there time with these days. Hanging this poor showing on the hook marked 'Games', unless the research shows this, just seems to me to be a cop-out. Is this just an easy way to blame the games industry yet again when titles like Brain Training and Wii Sports are trying to broaden childrens' minds and get the family involved in a fun pastime everyone can enjoy?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I've just been checking out Wired's games blog, written by an excellent voice in the games industry going by the name of Chris Kohler. Chris used to freelance for Nintendo Official Magazine when I was editor a few years back.
Some research he's uncovered in the States reports that gamers are less likely to buy a game if they rent it first. I get their point, but with the saturation of sites like Lovefilm can it be a bad thing if gamers want to try-before-they-buy?
I don't know about anyone else, but games like Eternal Sonata appear interesting but I'm less likely to splash the cash on something off-beat like this than the likes of Pro Evo, Call of Duty or Orange Box. Games are £40 or so, unless you can find an offer at Hot UK Deals, or another money-saving site. That's where a game rental comes in. Don't ditch them just yet Lovefilm!
In other news, the Father of PlayStation is to be honoured and you can get Virtua Tennis 3 for PS3 on the cheap!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kylie Minogue isn't a good thing for my Xbox. Her show's just been on itv, and with Match of the Day due on at 11 I could only get 25 minutes in of CoD4.

Still, it was enough 'cos the TV room I mentioned yesterday was a pain in the arse to get through. And you want to know why? Respawning troops. Until I got past 'that' particular point in the room did they stop charging in through the back door in their droves. You know the kind of thing I mean. As soon as I was past it, took down the last couple of goons and it was onto the end of the level. Funnily enough, the bad guy I'm looking for Al-Asam Abad or something, wasn't at the TV studio. My intel was wrong. It was a recording of him. The plot trucks on, and I've got more shooting to do downtown.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I've just played two hours of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and so far, so good. I was a bit hesitant when I first saw the game's trailer earlier this year, ditching the Second World War for modern day guns, Middle East scenarios and WMDs.
War games have been part of my gaming diet ever since North and South on the Amiga, moving onto Desert Strike on the Megadrive, check out this geek, and more recently the Medal of Honor series and Call of Duty.
The game kicks off with a training mode, set on a military camp where you get to learn how to fire guns, rappel, etc. Then it's onto the first mission, where you drop onto a ship in rough seas and high winds, trying to find the package deep in the bowels of the ship.
The cargo ship tilts and dives with the churning sea, and it's up to you to blast your way across the deck and then into the other rooms to find said package. It's a great start and ends with a smart cinematic finish to get you in the mood for what's to come.
Cut to you as President of a unnamed Middle Eastern country, rather brutally thrown in a car and taken through a lawless city before you're kicked in the face and shot at point-blank range to open the game. It's brutal.
I'll have more on the next few levels, including the classy night-vision effects, and TV studio shoot-out, in another installment.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Track and Field on Xbox Arcade is awesome, though events like the hammer throw and hurdles, when precision timing is all important, suffers due to time-lag when playing online.
Last night's events were hilarious. Three-player T&F with two American guys online, all yelling at each other down the headset. They may have sounded like geeks telling me their longest throws on the javelin, but it was when one likened my character to Borat that it started to get funny. My opponents put the pressure on shouting 'Borat!', 'Borat!' down their headsets at me as I went to launch the hammer. I failed. It's Game Over. I'll try again tonight.