Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 10.02.03

Hello, and thanks for reading the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report! I’m Bryan Berg, and I’d really like to know why I need to have the AC on in my room even though it’s very cold outside.

Anyway, we’ve got a lot of stuff you all today. You should definitely enjoy today’s column. And if you don’t, that’s cool too. The other excellent writers we have on 411 should provide any game lover with plenty of quality content that can’t be found anywhere else. But as long as you’re here, let’s do some news!



Nintendo
Who are you?

That’s what Nintendo wants to know.

Nintendo has launched an all-new $50 million ad campaign that is geared toward strengthening the Nintendo brand. The ads feature the faces of various Nintendo characters superimposed onto pictures of people such as sumo wrestlers, football players, kids, and boxers. Also included in this announcement is that Nintendo will be investing an additional $50 million in the promotion of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance.

The “Who Are You?” campaign will last until the end of the year, at the earliest. But how successful will it be? At first glance, it seems kind of hokey and doesn’t really do much. And it’s not like no company has ever tried putting cartoon heads on the top of real people.

If you’re thinking this way, you haven’t been to the Who Are You? website. Visit the site, and I think you’ll find the campaign makes a little more sense after seeing some of the stuff they’ve got up there. Here are some of the things you’ll find…
– a test to determine what kind of games suit you best
– the opportunity to create your own “Who Are You?” ad
– a mood tester
The two tests are particularly neat because Nintendo recommends games to you based on your results. For example, I tested as a “Quick Fixer” (not far off, I might add) and the site recommended that I try Wario Ware and F-Zero GX. Notice the blending of GBA and GC titles there. It’s the kind of site that you can burn a good hour or two messing around with, and this is EXACTLY the kind of thing Nintendo needed to make this work.

Ultimately, an ad needs to be seen in order for it to be effective. Nintendo has all bases covered here. You’ll be seeing “Who Are You?” ads everywhere, from movie theaters to subway stations, from malls to billboards. Nintendo has even filmed a short clip that will be shown before big-name movies in the upcoming months, such as The Cat in the Hat and The Matrix Revolutions.

The main selling point of all of this, though, is the website. The ads will get you to think of Nintendo and maybe even get you to have a better image of the company. But you won’t fully get it until you go to the website and let it WORK FOR YOU. This interactivity is the kind of thing Nintendo does better than anybody else, and it needs to be emphasized. That’s why Nintendo dropped the ball by not securing the whoareyou.com domain name and promoting the heck out of that site. Hopefully, Nintendo will have the foresight to make the site a pop-up at Nintendo.com so that people will actually get to see what this site has to offer.

The bottom line is this. Nintendo has been on a real roll recently with the GameCube price reduction and the wireless adapter for the GBA that was just announced. This ad campaign may be what Nintendo needs to really get the word out on all of the good things they have been doing recently. And they’ve done this ad campaign in just the right way – you’ve got the “Who Are You?” campaign to promote the Nintendo brand name, and then you have separate large-scale campaigns for the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. So even if “Who Are You?” doesn’t work, they’ve still got an advertising presence that should help move systems. You have to give Nintendo credit for ceasing the ridiculous “Let’s give away everything we have with a GameCube” promotions and getting back to basics. And you know what? I think it could work.

N-Gage
In an effort to jump-start the N-Gage, T-Mobile has agreed to give 30 free days of wireless gameplay on Nokia’s handheld system. The wireless provider will also be giving away $50 worth of voice and text messaging services to those signing up for the N-Gage. After this 30-day period, gamers can sign up for the T-Mobile plan of their choice, with the option of unlimited wireless gaming for $9.99.

It says something about a system when we’re just getting word about ONE service provider on board two weeks before launch (this news was reported on September 23). Namely, it says that everyone knows the N-Gage is going to be a flop except for Nokia. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nokia gave T-Mobile a serious threat along the lines of “If you don’t support the N-Gage, we won’t supply you with phones anymore”. Think about it – if T-Mobile REALLY wanted people to sign up for the N-Gage with their service, wouldn’t they have heavily publicized this from the start? Wouldn’t they have implemented some program to have contracts expire right around this time so T-Mobile users could hop right onto the N-Gage bandwagon?

Just to show you how high of a priority the N-Gage is on T-Mobile’s list, T-Mobile’s website does not contain a mention of the N-Gage. When your main selling point is wireless connectivity and you’ve only got one service provider and that one service provider could care less about what you’re trying to do, you’re in trouble. Nokia needs to get more providers on board, and FAST, or else the N-Gage will be dead on arrival.

NASCAR
Electronic Arts announced this week that it has entered into an exclusive partnership with NASCAR, meaning that only EA will be making NASCAR games from now until 2009. In the past, NASCAR games were made by more than one company, much like the other major sports organizations.

This is pretty big news for EA. Two questions come to mind…

1)Will EA stick with NASCAR Thunder as its only NASCAR game, or will it go the THQ route and put out one game for each system at different points during the year? EA might do well to look into what THQ has done with the WWE license. By creating three separate games for three separate systems that are released in three different months, THQ has made each game a must-have for wrestling fans and has maximized its own profits. The only negative aspect of the THQ model is that each game has had at least one significant flaw that never seems to get fixed. It’s been quantity over quality with the WWE games recently, something which has served to undervalue the entire genre.

2)Will we be seeing more sports leagues enter exclusive deals? It might not be as far off as you think. NASCAR is actually ahead of the NHL just about everywhere and even the NBA in some places in terms of fan interest and TV ratings. It’s not like EA signed a deal with the Arena Football League or something; this is a legitimate deal that might change the way sports games are made. This is even more significant when you consider that just about every company in the world sponsors NASCAR, or at least a NASCAR driver. For them to enter into an exclusive deal shows a great deal of faith in EA, and this may be incentive for other leagues to follow suit.

EA Sports’ NASCAR Thunder 2004 was released this month for PS2, X-Box, and PC. It should be interesting to see how future editions are affected by the lack of competition among NASCAR games.



Plugs
Gold
Alex Lucard – Retrograding. I agree with everything Alex says here. A very interesting look at people who go too far.
Why people get so psychotic over a hobby is beyond me. It’s supposed to be fun. For amusement. For an escape. Not something taking seriously and something you’re willing to fight over.

Silver
Chuck Platt – A Thumb to the Eye. Chuck does it again. And he mentions Bizarre Love Triangle, the coolest 80’s song ever.
Bizarre Love Triangle: That year I spent wearing all black and listening to Joy Division and New Order FINALLY pays off.

Bronze
Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. Who else thinks Lee should quit his job and become a full-time soothsayer?
Master Higgins in fact wears a grass skirt and is very manly. And I admit that his skirt goes very well with his baseball cap. So I’m sorry, Master Higgins.

Best of the Rest
Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. Liquidcross discusses his feelings on the GameCube, and they’re not quite consistent with the sentiment of the “10 Reasons to Own a GameCube” article.
Newsflash: great games alone don’t cut it. You want to make money, and stay in business? You cater to the masses. Period.

Rest of the Best
Jeff Watson – Friday’s Slice O’ News. Jeff dropped one bit of news that was REALLY disturbing. Click the link for one of the most horrifying stories you’ll ever hear.
Teresa had shaved her daughters head and would also give her sleeping pills to make it appear that she was getting chemotherapy, made her wear a protective mask and put her in counseling to prepare for death.

Frederick Badlissi – The Gamer’s Conscience Mailbag. Fred’s compilation of e-mails he’s received wows me simply because I can’t believe he’s written so much awesome stuff in such a short period of time.
However, when it comes to RPGs, I’m as lost on direction as Bush 43 on fiscal responsibility.

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. It just goes to show how truly bad the Tigers were this year when they can’t even lose twice in the last week of the season. Can’t they get anything right?
Sierra Entertainment, publishers of the venerable NASCAR Racing series for the PC “chose not to renew” its NASCAR license, according to GameDaily. See also “rats”, “sinking”, and “ship”.

Alex Williams – 411 MAX: News News Revolution. I really liked the commentary here, even though I’ve never played a Dance Dance Revolution game.
Boy, Konami should have bent over BACKWARDS to accommodate us! Instead, they give America something for EVERYONE. Cheap bastards.

Alex Lucard – Retrograding Mailbag. Damn, Alex gets a lot of mail. I guess that’s because he’s a hard working guy and never “mails” it in (HA!).
I’ll still never get how anyone can get a 6.5 to be bad. 5.0 = AVERAGE people. 6.5 = Better than Average.

We’ve got a ton of solid reviews this week! Rather than attempt to summarize these reviews in one line, I’ll let the reviewers do the talking.
Chris McCarver – The Simpsons Hit and Run.
Chris McCarver – Starksy and Hutch.
Alex Williams – DDRMAX2: Dance Dance Revolution.
Cory Laflin – Raw 2.
Jeff Watson – Otogi: Myth of Demons.



Commentary of the Week
Quickie Baseball Playoff Picks (made on Tuesday morning, odds are good that at least one of these scenarios is impossible by now)…

ALDS
Yankees over Minnesota in 4
Boston over Oakland in 5

NLDS
San Francisco over Florida in 4
Chicago over Atlanta in 5

ALCS
Boston over Yankees in 7

NLCS
Chicago over San Francisco in 6

WORLD SERIES
Boston over Chicago in 7

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Quickie Take on Rush Limbaugh’s Latest Idiotic Comment…

He claims Donovan McNabb is overrated because the media desperately wants a successful black quarterback. He’s wrong. McNabb is overrated because he plays for a team that hasn’t won anything. But if the media really wants a black quarterback to succeed, it’s not as if they really have to look very hard. Daunte Culpepper is putting together a very impressive season in Minnesota. Michael Vick, arguably the most exciting quarterback in the NFL, should be back from his injury in the next few weeks. Quincy Carter is doing better than anybody could have expected in Dallas. And McNabb put on one of the gutsiest performances in NFL history last year when he played on a broken leg.

Limbaugh denies being racist, but it’s hard not to think of him in that light. McNabb correctly pointed out that this was obviously something Limbaugh had thought of prior to the show, or else he wouldn’t have said it. McNabb was also right when he criticized the guys on NFL Countdown for not taking Limbaugh to task on his comment, especially the two black co-hosts. Perhaps they were trying to be professional, but I think Limbaugh definitely crossed the line with his thoughts.

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You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite sports teams. For example, Mets fans tend to be blue-collar and diehard, but are gluttons for punishment. On the other hand, Yankee fans are more clean-cut and can support their team in a more subtle way. They’re also used to winning and remind you of this every time they see you. The case could be made that the team influences these personality traits, and whether or not that’s true is unclear. It is, however, interesting how these traits seem to hold true in almost all cases (if you’re not a New Yorker, just take my word for it).

But even more interesting than any of this is how a fan’s #2 team plays into things. It’s an oft-overlooked phenomenon, but one that is actually more significant than your #1 team. What do I mean? I’ll show you my #1 and #2 teams for each sport, along with why I support these teams.

Baseball
#1 team – Mets
Why – Grew up in a Mets-loving household.

#2 team – Red Sox
Why – Went to Fenway last year and fell in love with the team. Besides, they hate the Yankees even more than Mets fans do.

Basketball
#1 team – Knicks
Why – They play in New York.

#2 team – Nets
Why – They play in the local market, but more than that, they play a very exciting style of basketball that’s fun as hell to watch.

Football
#1 team – Jets
Why – If I was anything but a Jets fan, my dad would have disowned me.

#2 team – Giants
Why – Football’s the one sport where you can actually like both New York teams and not violate New York sports code. Furthermore, they have an offense that actually SCORES TOUCHDOWNS.

Hockey
#1 team – Islanders
Why – I was bred to be an Islanders fan. I’m named after Bryan Trottier.

#2 team – Whoever’s playing the Rangers
Why – I HATE THE RANGERS.

So, what’s the point to all of this? Basically, your #1 team is the team that you grew up watching or is the local team for where you live now. There’s not much leeway there. In almost every case, you’ve loved your #1 team since birth.

Now, think of your #2 team. Odds are good that they’re not in the same region, and you probably have only seen them play on ESPN or against your #1 team. Therefore, you probably have a really neat reason for liking that team! And that’s the really fun part about having a #2 team. If your #1 team craps out (like all of mine did this year), you need a #2 team to throw your support behind. You need to be able to say “Well, at least the Red Sox made the playoffs” after the Mets lose 95 games. If you don’t have that, the playoffs lose a lot of their luster.

If you don’t have a #2 team, you should adopt one. What are the criteria?

– You have to have a reason for liking them. Even if it’s something as trivial as “They have cool uniforms”, it can’t just be a matter of convenience.
– They have to be a good team. Because if BOTH of your teams suck, you may as well spend Sunday afternoons watching Lifetime movies with your girlfriend.
– The #2 team cannot be a credible threat to your #1 team. In other words, you can’t very well like the Flyers for their uniforms if you want the Islanders to beat them out for home ice in the playoffs.
– Conversely, it’s very much okay if both teams play in the same division, if and only if team #1 is terrible and team #2 is great (i.e. Knicks and Nets).
– The #2 team cannot be an established hated rival of team #1. Some teams not to mix – Giants/Eagles, Avalanche/Red Wings, Jets/Dolphins, etc.
– If a player on your #1 team goes to your #2 team and it proves to bite your #1 team in the ass….
– You may NOT switch the order of your teams.
– You must drop the #2 team immediately.
– You must begin to hate said player for life.

In two months, the NBA and NHL seasons will be in full swing. Now is the time to begin your search for the ideal #2 team. Come April, you may be glad you did. And if you’re a Rangers fan, you’ll DEFINITELY be glad you did.



Bye
Till next week, people. I’ll be back with some more news and an NHL Preview, so come back next Thursday! In the mean time, you’ll have plenty more to read here at 411 Games. Enjoy the other guys!