Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 07.10.03

Hello again. You’ve reached the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report, found every Thursday morning here on 411mania.com. Thanks for checking in this week.

Last week’s column sucked and I’m sorry to subject you to that. It was the first time in a long time I wasn’t proud of something I wrote. You people deserve better than that, so hopefully you’ll enjoy this one a little more.

I’d just like to set the record straight – I was not at all offended by Lee Baxley’s comments in his column from 7.02. In fact, I agreed wholeheartedly with him, and the whole stripping of medals was merely a device to ensure that both Lee and Bebito were “honored” by medals. Sorry if I led anyone to think otherwise.

Just so everybody knows – THQ is the greatest company in the world.


Playstation 3
As I infringe upon Bebito’s territory…

Rumor has it that game developers and publishers have already begun work on games for the upcoming Playstation 3, expected to be delivered sometime in 2005. According to ign.com, some developers have been given the PS3 specifications so that they might be able to start the game-making process for the system. Among the companies in the know are THQ, EA, Capcom, and Rockstar, who will be working on Grand Theft Auto for the PS3.

The ign.com article also addresses rumors on the system’s backward compatibility. The buzz is that the PS3 will be compatible with PS2 games, but not PS One games. Sony also plans to cease production on the PS One once PS3 is released. Lastly, companies are starting to develop their “kid” games for PS2 as opposed to the PS One.

So, what to make of all this? Not too much, really. We already knew we’d be seeing PS3 around 2005, so that’s nothing new. Obviously, companies need to start on their games earlier than that, so that’s not something you couldn’t have gathered on your own. I’d say that the biggest part of this story is the possibility of PS One games not working on PS3. Yes, they’ll be ten years old by then, but the old Playstation games do have some value to gamers, and it’s not as if it’s impossible to make a PS3 that could play games from each Playstation. What Sony will probably do is create “Best Of” discs that will contain the classic PS One games that you’d be willing to shell out money for, then charge something less than the price of an ordinary game for the disc. Shameless, but it’ll work.

Data East
In a move that affects gamers more from the sentimental side of things rather than its actual significance, Data East has declared bankruptcy. The software company was responsible for some of the finer titles for NES and Super Nintendo, including the Bad Dudes series, Metal Max, and Fighter’s History.

Data East hasn’t made any impact at all in the new millennium, but it’s always sad to see a staple of your childhood go this route. When you’re in debt $28 million, though, it’s time to make a change of plans. Maybe Data East has something in store for us down the line, but probably not.

NFL 2K4
The game that’s currently known as “ESPN NFL Football” has announced an innovative feature this week that allows gamers a first-person view of the action. Not only will the look be first-person, but it will also be possible to hear the footsteps of other players as they come closer to you, grunts, and the other football sounds we’ve been dying to hear up-close.

If it plays like it sounds, this first-person feature should be AWESOME. Imagine how cool it would be to see the field as a player instead of via the “Blimp Cam” or whatever your fancy might be. However, odds are good that we’ll be seeing this in a somewhat crude form in NFL 2K4, as it’s a new angle altogether and will be developed over time. At this point, I can’t really see people playing a game exclusively in the helmet cam (evidently, you can’t switch in the middle of the game), but it’s definitely something to watch in the future.

One question that springs to mind is this – if this feature is as great as everyone’s saying, why did they wait so long to unveil it? This is the kind of thing you want to get the buzz out on somewhat early so as to take the wind out of Madden’s sails. Sega didn’t do that, obviously. Perhaps they thought that if they announced it too early, EA would come up with a first-person scheme of its own. Still, they should have done something rather than what they did during the NFL Draft (nothing). We may see the situation we have seen for the past few years, with Sega having the better game in many people’s minds, but the sales figures leaning heavily toward EA.

Midway
Midway recently announced that it would be packaging 20 of its finest arcade classics together on one disc. It will be called Midway Arcade Treasures and will be released in the fall for the home systems. Among the classics will be Paperboy, Marble Madness, Rampage, Toobin’, and 720.

This is nothing new – we’ve seen these arcade packages many times in the past. This time, though, it has a chance to get some pretty good sales figures. The retro craze is in full effect, and people might be more inclined to pick up this compilation of old games than under ordinary circumstances. If this game were to be released at a reduced price, a la Evil Dead, the game could be a huge success for Midway.

NFL Street
Following up on the success of the NBA Street series, Electronic Arts will be making an NFL Street game. Like NBA Street before it, NFL Street will be a less-restrictive game with some changes to the official rules of football.

Punts, field goals, and extra points have all been eliminated from NFL Street. The gameplay will be seven-on-seven, and penalties will not be called. Gamers will have the option of choosing any of the NFL’s 32 teams or creating their own. The game is expected to see the light of day in early 2004 for X-Box, Playstation 2, and GameCube.

We’re seeing a very interesting battle going on between Midway and EA here. Midway’s two arcade-style games, NFL Blitz and NHL Hitz, are moving in a more realistic direction. On the other hand, we have EA, who has always been known as the leader in traditional sports games, going to the very extremes Midway is now abandoning. It should be very interesting to see how NFL Blitz performs against NFL Street this year.


Plugs
A new format of sorts for the plugs section. Rather than write similar-sounding stuff for each writer, I’ve decided to let the writers plug themselves…. Kind of. You’ll see.

Gold Medal
Bebito Jackson – 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. Anytime a 411 Games writer makes a Chappelle’s Show reference, they will receive a Medal. Guaranteed.
It’s time for Precious Roy’s CRACK PATCH!!!

Silver Medal
Alex Lucard – Retrograding Weekend News Report. The man loves his GBA, and it shows.
But see, these companies know that the average gamer assumes 3D is better than 2D for some reason I still can’t fathom. That any game in 3D is automatically better. And that’s just so far from reality, it hurts.

Bronze Medal
Polecat – Clock Tower 3. This game sounds really freaky… and really cool.
I mean c’mon, do you think any of those kids who fended off Jason of the Friday the 13th series, or Freddy of the Nightmare on Elm Street series were anything really special?

Best of the Rest
Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. The master of the sarcastic quote strikes again.
I may not be management, but I know what would help the company, but if they’re content to suck, so be it.

Rest of the Best
Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. Finally, someone who hates the Yankees almost as much as I do.
I wish George Steinbrenner would get the Rasputin treatment, live on pay-per-view so I could watch.

Jeff Watson – Friday Slice O’ News. Jeff rings in the Fourth with his excellent sophomore effort.
But, movies based on games have the same track record as games based on movies, they suck more than they are good.

Alex Williams – The Hulk. The summer movie comes to the video game world.
I guarantee that as a weekend rental, The Hulk will entertain those who want to participate in mindless destruction. As a purchase, you might find yourself smashing the disc itself in to many pieces.

Lee Baxley – Unlimited SaGa. Good review, not-so-good game.
For a game that could be screaming “I’m fun! I’m fun! Play me!” this game instead screams “I’m different! I’m special! I ride the short bus!”

Cory Laflin – Burnout 2: Director’s Cut. Sounds like a smashing title!
However, don’t try to get in your car after playing this. Your insurance company would never forgive you.

Alex Williams – Cheat! It’s only cheating if you get caught…
Greed will get you everything, huh? We’ll see after my next trip to Las Vegas.

Non-411 Games Link of the Week
This week, it’s not a website link. Rather, it’s an e-mail link to Mr. Ron Davis. I interviewed with him for a job last week and, while it wasn’t for me, it might be for you. If you’re in the Manhattan area (or have reasonable access to it) and you are interested in financial services, e-mail a resume to Ron and he’ll be able to help you out.

CD of the Week
Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction. Simply put, one of the most important albums of the 1980’s. Not only was it an alternative from the 80’s “hair” bands, Appetite For Destruction rocked hard in its own right. I challenge anybody to find a better 3-song sequence than Mr. Brownstone, Paradise City, and My Michelle – it can’t be done. You need to have this CD.


Commentary of the Week
This week, I’d like to talk about personal responsibility – or, the lack thereof in the modern world.

There was a time in the past, a simpler time, when one parent’s salary was enough to support the family. One income meant a roof over your head, food on your dinner table, clothing, entertainment, you name it. The man worked hard for a living, and the woman raised the kids into respectable citizens.

Those days are long gone.

In today’s world, two incomes are damn near a requirement. The more overtime, the merrier. The kids are being neglected, and the cost of living is skyrocketing beyond our wildest nightmares.

To put it quite simply, the standard of living to which we’re accustomed is simply unattainable by ordinary means. To live up to the lofty goals we’ve set for ourselves, we’ve had to ask for the help of others. This help isn’t the altruistic kind – in fact, it’s quite the contrary. We’ll be paying back this help until our kids are in the retirement home.

The use of credit in modern-day America is absolutely astonishing and sickening at the same time. Astonishing in the amount of debt we accrue each year, sickening because there’s no way around it. The computer you’re using right now to read this column probably isn’t paid for yet. Neither is your new TV or car. The same would most likely apply to the house you’re living in.

How did we get to this point? We live in a society that emphasizes fast-moving technology. So many appliances cost a fortune, but don’t even last for three years. The cell phone you got last year was top of the line, but now can’t even be given away. If you buy a computer today, you buy it with the full knowledge that it will be obsolete in six months. The question becomes, how does one keep up with all of this and stay afloat?

The answer – you don’t. The standard of living dictates that we keep up with the technology. Nobody really needs digital cable, but it sounds really good, doesn’t it? Same goes for Palm Pilots, high-speed Internet, and walkie-talkie cell phones. And all of it is at your fingertips. You can have it now, and pay for it later. Who could argue with such logic?

It’s the same line of thinking that spurred on the Great Depression. Odds are good that we won’t have to experience that again. However, with unemployment at a nine-year high, something’s got to give. It’s time for people to start showing some fiscal judgment before it’s too late. At a point in which a college education is the bare minimum to gain employment, with tuition costs rising, with a weak economy, with ridiculous amounts of credit card debt, with two-income houses clipping coupons to get by, something needs to change, and it needs to change now.


Bye
Another Thursday, another news report. Thank God, eh? Till next time, people. Enjoy Jeff tomorrow and Alex over the weekend, then the work week with Cory, Bebito, and Lee. Thanks for reading.