Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 04.15.04

Welcome to TGIT! And Happy Tax Day to all of you! Some of us are enjoying our tax returns as we speak; others, who procrastinated and sent out their taxes on April 14th, are praying they arrive on time (yes, I fall in this category). Either way, we’ll all be happy once tax season is over.

And what better way to kick off the rest of your year than a new edition of TGIT! This week, we’ve got some news, and a wrap-up to the next-generation console analysis you’ve been reading in these pages over the past three weeks. This is where the readers will be heard, so don’t miss it!

I actually got a bunch of letters this week accusing myself, and the rest of the staff, of being biased against Microsoft and their X-Box. This backlash is presumably in response to my bashing of the company for placing such an emphasis on their Halo bundle. While the green X-Box does look amazing, I still feel that it’s not something to get overly excited about. Evidently, a number of people disagreed.

Most of the Kliq own X-Boxes, if not all of us. We LOVE Microsoft. Remember last November/December, when we gave away a ton of X-Box games? Microsoft hooked us up big-time, and we appreciate that greatly. Personally, I like the X-Box better than either of the other two consoles. I could give you a million reasons why we’re not biased, but that would waste everybody’s time. Trust me, there’s no bias against ANY company, least of all Microsoft. Even if Microsoft Word is mysteriously missing from my computer.

Anyway, as always, some news to start. Enjoy!



TOP STORY: New N-Gage On The Way
As most of you know, we at 411 have taken every opportunity to bash Nokia’s N-Gage. A lesson in how NOT to market a system, the system was quickly dismissed and discounted by most game retailers, and many have already given the N-Gage a premature eulogy. Premature, because the system hasn’t quite died yet.

Instead, Nokia announced yesterday that they are revamping the N-Gage and the strategy behind it, resulting in the N-Gage QD. This is a system that has been tweaked by Nokia to emphasize the features that are essential to the system’s success (cell phone capabilities, quality software lineup) while trimming the fat in problem areas (price, MP3 capabilities, cartridge loading). What Nokia is left with is a system that people still won’t understand, but is far more impressive than the original model.

The “quality software lineup” you just read about is something Nokia struggled with in the first go-around, and that’s why it’s a big issue now. Nokia is receiving major support from EA in this venture, and all developers are being encouraged to use N-Gage Arena technology as much as possible – Arena now comes standard with each system. Also, the N-Gage’s price, while still steep, isn’t nearly as large a problem as it was. The system will retail for $199 without service contract (including Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater) and $99 with the contract. This isn’t too far off from what most cell phones cost currently; however, most casual gamers will immediately go for a GBA, which is priced at $99 with no service contracts required.

As you know, these new features and games won’t do a lick of good without solid promotion behind the system. I’ve argued that promotion is the main area where the first N-Gage failed, and I stand by that. And I’ll guarantee you that the system will fail – again.

Nokia’s slated the N-Gage QD for a May release in America. That’s WAY too soon. Nokia doesn’t need to rush this thing, and shouldn’t. The difference between the gaming market and the cell phone market is that new phones come out all the time, while new game systems are few and far between. Nokia needs to build this system up and create a launch date months away, where they can really promote the system’s features. Besides, it’ll distance the current N-Gage from its predecesor, which can only be a good thing for Nokia.

This is a system that CAN find itself a nice niche market, but only if Nokia will let it. Unfortunately, Nokia seems intent on rushing the N-Gage QD onto the market as fast as possible. This will be the downfall of this new system, and it’s a shame. The handheld market hasn’t scratched the surface yet regarding what it’s capable of, and the N-Gage QD sounds like it could push the envelope a bit. The sad part is that nobody will even know it’s out there because Nokia won’t market it properly. And if people aren’t aware of something, they’re not going to buy it. That’s why nobody bought the original N-Gage, and that’s why the QD won’t fare much better.

Game Restrictions Voted Down
You may remember reading about the efforts of California Assemblyman Leland Yee a few months ago in these pages. He proposed a radical program of restricting the availability of M-rated gaming by placing games on highly elevated shelves, or not at all. These proposals have been voted on by the California State Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media. The Committee, unfortunately for Mr. Yee, didn’t totally agree with the Assemblyman’s ideas.

A proposal requires seven “yea” votes to become legislation. The Committee voted against Yee’s proposal to hide M-rated games where children could not see them by a 4-3 margin. Yee’s second idea, which required M-rated games to be classified as “harmful matter to children”, was actually favored 5-4. Unfortunately, the proposal did not get the required seven votes.

That these proposals couldn’t get enough votes to be taken seriously brings up a significant question about how educated we are on this topic. If this Committee, who has the power to approve or reject legislation, can’t be bothered to vote on a proposal of this magnitude, or even be bothered to have a view either way, then there’s an issue we need to face. Most people will say that something needs to be done – not ban games, mind you, but something to ensure that children won’t reenact video game violence in real life – but the people who CAN do something don’t seem to care. That’s worse than any violence a video game could depict. Not to say that Yee’s views are right. But at least the guy’s trying, which is more than I can say about some people who point fingers and contribute nothing.

Quick Hits
Nintendo At E3. Nintendo plans on having a major presence at E3. Not only will it debut the DS (with up to 30 games ready), but Nintendo will also unveil a GameCube peripheral. No word on what the peripheral might be or any connection it might have with the DS, but Nintendo promises that it will “improve functionality”, whatever that means.

More Famicom Mini Games. Nintendo has announced a second round of Famicom Mini games, including Dr. Mario, the original Mario Bros., Hudson’s Adventure Island, and seven more titles. These titles will actually replace the current Famicom Mini lineup so as to increase the collectibility of these games. We can only hope that the new titles will be released in America as well.

MLG Adds ESPN NBA2K4. Major League Gaming has added Sega Sports’ latest pro basketball title, ESPN NBA Basketball, to its roster of games. This begins at the league’s Dallas event this weekend. MLG and Sega have done business before, and this seems to be a growing relationship between the two entities.

Plugs
News Reports
Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. Cory’s got some really interesting Nielsen numbers this week and delves into the ol’ mailbag a bit. Good stuff here.
When did the U.S. State Department give up cool-sounding operation names and go to completely politically self-serving ones? Was it Desert Storm? I miss the stories of Operation Mickey Mouse.

Misha – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games. Misha speculates about a FF port for the PSP. Please let it be FF4!!! PS2 doesn’t play the Chronicles version, so what better way to make up for that! I’d buy a PSP if – and only if – FF4 is available for the system.
Marvin: If there’s one thing The Kliq agree on, it’s how much the N-Gage sucks the proverbial monkey balls.

Matt Yeager – The Casual Gamers Corner News Report. Matt’s jumped on the NGPC bandwagon that Lucard has driven to the Promised Land. This second effort by Matt is an improvement over the first. And the format of this news report is a great one, so we should be seeing more excellent things from Matt in the future.
Although I did get my girlfriend to play the game and we beat it together (on easy) which was great because I was able to share something I had enjoyed so much growing up with someone I love. I’ve been trying to convince her for an Area 51 themed wedding if we ever get married.

Columns
Alex Lucard – Retrograding. Hell freezes over in Retrogradingland as Alex lists a Square game at #15! It’s a Mana game, and that’s why it’s there. Secret of Mana ruled, and Legend sounds like a good game, so its position definitely seems justified.
I should warn you though that from here on in, the games are obscure or ones that even a dead person knew were going to be on the list, so if you want to call it controversial. I just call it my own personal taste.

Previews
Bebito Jackson – Suikoden IV (Playstation 2). Yes, it’s an actual preview! This is a game based on a character from the Tekken series, and it sounds like it could be pretty neat. Of course, there’s no proof of its neatness, which is why it’s a preview… we’ll find out when the game’s finally released!

Reviews
Lee Baxley – Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (GameCube). Final Score: 6.0



Commentary of the Week
For the past three weeks, we’ve taken a look at the console makers and what they might have in store for us when the next generation of consoles are unleashed. Now, it’s time to see what you guys thought of it all, and if these letters come out a little unformatted, I apologize.

Sony
Sony’s future was the easiest to predict, so it made for the best article with the least amount of questions. It’s pretty clear that Sony is trying to be everything to everybody, and its upcoming system seems to be on that path.

From Game Crazy Christian…
Liked the Sony profile this week.

One thing maybe to mention as well is a hard drive for the PS3. I was
thinking that the current drive might be usable on the PS3, or they may
release a new one to go with it. That would almost be necessary for
the Online Subscription Service, however with Memory Sticks it may be
out of vogue. Problem is, they’ll need hard drives for MMORPG’s.

What do you think?

The hard drive is something I mentioned in passing. I think the one Sony just released will be compatible with PS3, but Sony may release one with a bigger capacity around PS3 launch time, just to mess with the public a bit.

As for the MMORPG’s, I’m not really sure, simply because I’ve never played one and don’t really know what they entail in terms of hardware. But if it was packaged with FFXI, it’s probably a necessary component. And that’s how they’ll sell hard drives to start, slowly adding more advantages as they go. Not enough, however, to stop people from buying Memory Sticks, which will persuade people to buy Sony digital imaging hardware as well.

Microsoft
Micosoft’s was a little tougher in that the original X-Box is still making a name for itself through X-Box Live and an impressive lineup of third-party exclusives like Ninja Gaiden. Still, the company seems to be stressing interactivity through Live, so it is an area Microsoft will continue to explore.

From Myles McNutt…
When it comes to Microsoft, I have to believe you are on the money;
Microsoft is definitely in a position of power…however there are two
concerns I have, both regarding crippling flaws of the their next
system that you seem to think they’ll write off with handy-dandy peripherals.

While I’m sure the idea of an optional hard drive peripheral makes all
sorts of sense, you run into the problem (For song ripping) that you would
likely have less developers willing to use it, same with others. Look at the
PS2 Hard Drive; it really isn’t being used as often as it could. In Japan,
the only high profile games to use it are FFXI and Miina No Golf (Hot
Shots) Online, and in the states it’s really only launching on the prospect of
FFXI.

When everyone has a hard drive, it is more likely to be utilized. But,
Microsoft realizes that they can instead make large memory cards, and
then proceed to sell them at a profit; it’s a money making venture. A Hard
Drive, on the other hand, is a high cost item, likely in the $40 range,
whereas a memory card may only be $25, and they could sell more and thus make
more money.

However, the greatest oversight was no doubt the backwards
compatibility issue…let me quote you on this one.

“We will see the same thing when it comes to gamers who wish to play
their original X-Box titles on X-Box Next. Microsoft has already said that it
is unsure if the new system can handle backwards compatibility. Of course
it can! It’ll just charge $20 to do so.”

Now, there are two scenarios here. I’ll assume, considering your
answer, that you aren’t aware why there is no backward compatibility. If this
is not the case, I apologize.

Very simply, they are switching Graphics Cards, and very simply
switching hardware. They are going with ATI instead of NVidia. Now, this may not
seem like a big deal…but considering the general falling out between MS
and NVidia I don’t see this happening. It isn’t because of the discs, but
instead because of the issue of a different architecture. It would
require another graphics processor, or some form of major hardware add-on to
get that system to be backwards compatible, not a cheap $20 “DVD Remote”
style accessory. And, I don’t see Microsoft going to too much trouble over
it.

They’ll have XBox Live, and they’ll have a strong Online community and
a more recognizable name. But, at the same time, they will likely face a
challenge. In many ways, they are moving backwards. They are not
allowing Backwards compatibility, and are too cheap to include a hard drive. And
they won’t see a Halo game for launch, especially not if they launch in
2005. So, in reality, let’s look at this. I don’t think they can fight Sony on
this in any way whatsoever. Microsoft and Nintendo will have very similar
systems based on tech specs, there are even rumors floating around that they
might end up being identical hardware wise (Far-fetched, but same chip
developer).

I very simply don’t think Microsoft will be able to match up to
Sony…there are amazing rumblings in the industry, from people in Japan especially,
that both the PS3 and XBox Next will have amazing specs and will pump out
some amazing graphics and engines…but I really have to wonder if that will
matter to the general gaming public. They like backwards compatibility,
Sony has proven it, and Nintendo’s lack of it has hurt them this gen, in my
opinion. I think Microsoft has put themselves in a good position…but
they cannot fix their conceived image with a few peripherals. Especially not
backwards compatibility.

The first of Myles’ concerns was the hard drive. The current hard drive isn’t being used NEARLY enough, and that’s probably a big reason why it’s not coming with Next. So many games would be awesome with Custom Soundtracks when it’s not an option. That’s annoying. But they probably don’t see a reason to develop X-Box specific features when they don’t profit from it at all (i.e. EA’s dispute with X-Box Live), and so they leave out Custom Soundtracks. Can’t really blame them, I guess. But the same scenario exists in Japan with the PS2 hard drive. And people will buy hard drives, not because they need them, but because people want the instant gratification of being able to save whatever they want without space limitations. Selling the hard drive separately only helps Microsoft, and if they offer developers a cut, we might see more games offer Custom Soundtracks.

Memory cards is an area that Microsoft hasn’t explored with the current X-Box, but will with the second. Current X-Box owners won’t like that. So they might go for the optional hard drive. I don’t think hardcore fans will accept an X-Box without a hard drive. But you never know, as long as Microsoft gives these fans other things to make them happy (i.e. a better Live experience and who knows what else).

As for the question of backwards compatibility, Myles brings up the technological issues that keep this from happening. These are very relevant issues, but I don’t see how they couldn’t create a sort of X-Box Emulator to play the old games. When the PS3 was first announced, Sony hired a bunch of emulator developers to work on PS2 backwards compatibility. Microsoft could do the same thing. That’s why I refuse to accept that there won’t be backwards compatibility. It’s definitely a key to survival in the next generation, so hopefully Microsoft gets it done somehow.

Nintendo
Nintendo’s analysis was, by far, the toughest to do. If I’m going to be wrong anywhere, it’s on Nintendo. You never know – this “gameplay revolution” Nintendo keeps talking about could happen. But the “hardware revolution” we’re stuck in right now seems to be the prevalent force.

Another from McNutt…
When it comes to Nintendo’s next system, there is no question it’s do
or die. There is no way Nintendo is going into this with an advantage.
Yet, Nintendo is all about making some money, and for this reason I see a
few general issues with your ideas.

1. Spring Release? Death. There is no question, for me anyways, that
such a release would be a death knoll for Nintendo. While it would give them a
spring to themselves, their first major Christmas it would be an old
hat; with the brand new PS3 on the shelves, Nintendo’s system would need
multiple Killer Apps of the GTA/Halo/Mario/Zelda nature, and I just don’t see it
happening.

Also, it has to be considered that the system will launch in Japan
first, and this is an important consideration. Sony doesn’t have to worry
about Japan, they’ve been building houses with PS2s for years in Japan (Or
watching DVDs…either way, the software tie-in ratio is atrocious for
the system). Microsoft is dead in the water, so it’s not a factor for them.
But, Nintendo REALLY has to worry about Japan. And, in my opinion, this is
the area their focus lies on, and rightly so.

While the American Market is the largest, by far, it is also a market
in which Nintendo is performing well. They aren’t being blown out of the
water, there is no massive exodus of third party titles YET, and many of the
companies “pulling support” never supported it in the first place. In
North America, they have a good installed base, have been selling software at
a high rate (Only Electronic Arts sells more software each month over all
systems) and generally succeeding. If anywhere where they need to truly
be more aware, it is Europe. The UK in particular has been a failure for
Nintendo, and there is somewhere where they are truly sruggling. For
North America, I don’t think you can say the same thing.

It’s not a failure; it has multiple Million sellers (Metroid, Zelda,
Mario, Luigi’s Mansion, MK:DD, Smash Brothers) and is definitely seeing enough
Nintendo releases to sustain development (With the promise of another 3
editions from the Triumvirate that is Mario (Late 2005), Metroid
(November) and Zelda (Early 2005)). They still have cards to play, in my view.
This Fall, we see an FPS (Geist), an RPG (Paper Mario 2) an Action/Adventure
(Metroid) and party/sports (Mario Tennis/Mario Party 6). Just
themselves, they’re building a diverse release schedule.

What needs to be done, very simply, is to best set-up a system that
will work for them in both making money and advancing their market share.

First off, they have the technology, it launches with only wireless
controllers. With that tech already in place, it would be simple to
package the system with a wireless controller. I half expect all three to,
actually.

Next, it is important to launch the system with One Multiplayer Killer
App and one Single Player one. For this reason, Super Smash Bros. 3
launches for sure, and considering the release pattern, the most likely title for
the launch of the next system when it comes to single player is Metroid (2
Years, roughly). I agree, Pilotwings is already in development for “N5”
(According to IGN) at Factor 5, so that will prove a strong graphical
showcase.

Next, whatever you do, launch with the XBox Next, or launch with the
PS3. I fully expect them to let Microsoft beat them to the market, as Sony is,
and launch alongside the PS3. As we suspect, if they don’t go with the DVD
Player, etc., it may not be as crippling as you’d think. Against the
PS3, you’re looking at a home entertainment juggernaut and a gaming system.
If they can make this contrast evident, they may be different enough from
Microsoft/Sony that they keep the niche they have and maybe grow
further. Sony, of course, is talking about releasing two different systems for
this reason likely; one home entertainment model with all the features, and
then one basic model for pretty well just Gaming and DVDs. This would be
crippling to Nintendo, for sure, as they need that difference.

In some ways, as Sony and Microsoft get more caught up in “Home
Entertainment”…you know, whenever I write that I feel like I’m
comparing Sports Entertainment to wrestling. Like one is the new breed, and the
other is the classic. The more they get caught up in all of these features,
the more contrast Nintendo gets. This generation, it was just DVD
players…next gen it will be more, no question. For this reason, if the price is
right, this time the price difference could actually end up making it seem
more like that basic system it wanted to be this time, but it might stand
out more now, as the alternative to major technology.

Another important thing for Nintendo, that I’m surprised you didn’t
mention, is that it MUST be backwards compatible. It’s a feature that Microsoft
is losing, Sony has been using, and Nintendo must utilize. Also, it will
probably help sales of its flagship titles. For instance, if Super
Mario 128 launches as Nintendo’s major GameCube game for Christmas 2005, it would
have at most a year to sell; if it’s a great game, and the N5 is backwards
compatible, it would be the type of game that would really keep
selling, and be considered something to purchase. Majora’s Mask, as an example,
suffered from this, as did Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Both titles were acclaimed, but
sales were cut off after one year, and the GameCube took center stage.

Nintendo had said they planned on continuing the support the GameCube
for a longer period than most consoles way back when, and it might not be a
bad idea. Games like Wario Ware: Mega Party Games, as an example, would be
cheap to develop and able to be developed for the GameCube fairly easily and
cheaply; release them as budget titles around the launch of the N5, and
you’d be able to at least keep those unwilling or unable to purchase
the new system to continue enjoying their system; and, with small Multiplayer
games of that nature, they could even be purchased by N5 Gamers, and still be
enjoyed. Very simply, something that’s gameplay is so classic that a
step back in graphics will be overcome by fun factor (I’m looking in The
Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures as the best current example, Pac Man
Vs. as well). Maybe even release special edition 2-Packs with Mario
Sunshine/Luigi’s Mansion, Smash Bros./Mario Kart, and Wind Waker/Four
Swords at N5 Launch to make new N5, non-GameCube owners buy some classic
software.

On the subject of online play, I wouldn’t write it off entirely.
Because, I’m pretty sure it’s inevitable. What Nintendo is unwilling to do is
spend money in the process. And, the reason Third Parties aren’t supporting
it is very simply because there isn’t any real Killer App or reason for there
to be the user base needed for online play. Sony has EA Online, and its
own SOCOM. Microsoft spent the money for a full-on service. Nintendo
doesn’t have anything of that sort.

Nintendo has all the components in place; they announced a deal with
AOL regarding some form of online components in the future, and they’ve had
a middleware agreement with GameSpy for the longest time now. It really
will come down to how much money they are willing to spend, and right now
it’s not any at all. I think they’ll loosen up in the future though; I know
that rumors are still spreading that there is an eventual Pokemon Online
mode. There is little to be known, really, which is why you’re right;
Nintendo’s is the hardest to call.

There is no right answer for Nintendo; they will be blasted for leaving
their roots if they go nuts with technology, and they’ll be blasted for
being stuck in the past if they don’t. It’s a tough situation, and
honestly I think it will end up in third place again…but this casket shit is
BS.

Why? Because I simply don’t see Nintendo going down without a fight.
Before they abandon the console industry, I see them buying out a large video
game company (Sega, as a hypothetical example) and building a system
featuring both company’s games, or partnering with a major electronics company
(Panasonic, who released the Panasonic Q, GameCube with DVD Player, in
Japan) in building a DVD/DVR/Nintendo system hybrid for market. I don’t
think they’ll go Third Party any time soon, I’d think we’d see them
seek support before that happens.

As it is, I can’t disagree that things are not perfect for Nintendo.
But rolling over to die is not an option, and it very simply won’t be the
case.

N5
Launch: Fall 2006
GameCube Release Schedule: Mario (Fall 2005), Zelda (Spring 2005),
Donkey Kong (Fall 2005-Spring 2006), Metroid (November 2004)
Launches with: “Super Smash Bros. N5”, “Metroid N5″,”Pilotwings N5”,
“Too Human” and, bundled with the system, “Origin of our TV Games:
NES-GameCube”.

“Origin of our TV Games: NES-GameCube” is a series of N5 Games filled
with ports of classic titles, much like the recent Zelda Collection. The
system will be bundled, at launch, with a selection of three different discs.

Disc 1: Super Mario
Includes: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super
Mario Sunshine

Disc 2: The Legend of Zelda
Includes: The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past,
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Disc 3: Metroid
Includes: Metroid, Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2

All discs include one game form each of the past 4 generations, really
playing up their illustrious past. The Zelda Collection showed us that
people like nostalgia, why not play off that.

Yeah…I’m about done, I swear.

In all, I think Nintendo has at their disposal the tools. XBox Next/N5
are both running of ATI graphics, and will pretty well be nearly identical
power wise (Even drawing rumours they are identical hardware). It really all
is based on when they launch, really, and what software they have.

Ok, from the top…

Spring release is negotiable. I picked Sony to launch in 2006 and Microsoft in late 2005, so Nintendo would do well to avoid competition with either and pick its own time to launch. That’s early to middle 2006. If they’re stuck fighting Sony for systems sales, they’re screwed. I doubt Nintendo’s ability to keep the “juggernaut vs. gaming system” distinction clear enough for people to really get it. If Sony does something stupid like launch two different versions of the PS3, it COULD work. But that’s a big risk to take.

Japan’s a priority, definitely, but I was only really thinking about America when I did this. Nintendo being huge in Japan, that’s an area they need to focus on, even at the expense of America.

The GameCube is NOT a failure, per se, but I think we’d all agree that it kinda fell short of what it could have been. I’d also argue that it could release anything involving Link, Mario, and Samus and they’d all go platinum. These are the games that people buy systems for. The next question is, what else is there that you can’t get anywhere else? That’s where Nintendo botched it with the Cube.

Launching with wireless controllers – interesting. Nintendo would argue that there’s money to be had selling them separately, so they might go that route. But with Wavebird being the standard in wireless controllers, it couldn’t hurt – anything to boost the launch.

I didn’t mention backwards compatibility because Nintendo’s never done it and I didn’t think they’d do it now. Especially since I think they’d be foolish to call this system “GameCube 2”. If Nintendo did something like your idea at the end to let people get a taste of Nintendo’s entire history on one system, that would be phenomenal! I don’t know if it’ll happen – we’ll see how the NES Mini experiment plays out on GBA first. It might tire people out of older games to the extent that playing them on a new system won’t excite them anymore. But that’s where Nintendo would come up with a great idea, not unlike the one mentioned in the letter, to tie all the old games together.

BTW, M5 is an awesome name. i hope they use it!

I really don’t think Nintendo is committed enough to online gaming to give it anything more than the half-assed effort they put forth with the Cube. They’ll resist that pressure to conform, which has been their undoing in recent systems. Hopefully, for Nintendo’s sake, this time will be different.

Nintendo will support the Cube until the day the new system comes out. They’ve been good with that, even putting out good games too late (Yoshi’s Island and Mario RPG with SNES, Majora’s Mask with N64). That’s where backwards compatibility would be key; at this time, it’s tough to say.

Lastly, I don’t think Nintendo will DIE if their next system (PLEASE let it be M5!) doesn’t do well. But that’ll be three systems in a row that have performed below expectations. That’s a pretty bad track record over a ten-year period. Diehard Nintendo fans will stick by whatever the company does; it’s getting the Sony and Microsoft crowds that will determine Nintendo’s fate. If they can’t do that, then I really don’t see them putting millions into another new system after this.

And that concludes the prognostication feature. Thanks to EVERYBODY who wrote in, even those whose letters weren’t printed here. This was a lot of fun to do, and I hope it was just as fun to read. If the opportunity comes up, we’ll definitely do this again!



As an Islanders fan clear out in the hinterland of South Dakota I’d like to thank you for such an optimistic view of the playoffs.

Maybe the guys can pull it together this year. I wouldn’t have really believed it until reading your column.

Thanks!

Todd

It was nice to have such an optimistic view… but after last night’s game, I don’t know. The Isles seem to have lost confidence in their offensive game. It’s as if they EXPECT Khabibulin to stop every shot just because he’s been hot recently. They’ve forgotten how badly we used to own this guy! It’s hard to watch.

I went to Game 3, and it was a huge disappointment. Leaving the Coliseum, I was disgusted. I got home and watched a tape of the game, and it wasn’t so bad. They had their chances. Last night, it was different. It didn’t take long for the team to begin pressing, and their chances weren’t nearly as quality. I spent most of the third period wishing somebody would run Khabibulin – why not? If you’re not going to win the game, at least take someone you’re not going to use and have him run the goalie. If he gets suspended, so be it. At least send the message that you’re not going down lightly.

Yashin played his best game of the year last night. He HIT people. And it was all for naught because they stopped believing they could score. Nobody wanted to shoot the puck. I’ve never seen anybody want to get rid of the puck so badly! Game 5 HAS to be better, or else we won’t be seeing Islander hockey until October – maybe even longer.



Thanks for reading this week’s TGIT! AAAlex is on hiatus for the time being, so he won’t be around tomorrow. Make sure you read Liquidcross today, then come back for Laflin on Monday. See you next Thursday!