Rapid Fire 09.16.04

Welcome to this special intro-free edition of Rapid Fire! Right back on the saddle, it’s time for…


FIRING BACK

McNutt gets first dibs this week…

The DS will have no problem selling. It’s a new handheld from Nintendo. The GBA:SP had absolutely no hype…it was revealed about a month before it went mass market. Sure, just an upgrade, but it was enough. I’d expect full details from Nintendo in the upcoming weeks. Then, as soon as advertising for Pokemon ends in Mid-October, expect advertising for the DS to begin. That gives it a month, plenty of time to register with parents and kids come Black Friday, and then onto Christmas Lists around the country.

I know you even pointed out that the N-Gage situation wasn’t a good example, but I still think it’s so very different. There was no Nintendo name. No launch games worth noting. No real market to speak of…it simply wasn’t planned.

McNutt brings a good point to the table. What if Nintendo isn’t going for a solid launch, but a great holiday season instead? There’s something to this theory – Nintendo has to hype up Pokemon first, and the DS second. And if what Nintendo says is true, the DS won’t interfere with normal GBA operations.

So, by this logic, the hardcore fans will buy it upon launch. Over the weeks that follow, the casual crowd will take notice of the new gadget and put it on their Christmas lists. However, if this is the route Nintendo wants to take, the company needs to take measures to ensure that the necessary quantities are available to consumers. Remember how hard it was to get an SP when they first came out? Hopefully, Nintendo has learned from this experience and will be able to launch the DS better in this respect.

While it’s true that the N-Gage comparison wasn’t the most apt, it’s the system with the most recent launch. One of the biggest reasons for people not to get an N-Gage is because Nokia failed to provide consumers with a reason to purchase another handheld. Similarly, Nintendo hasn’t come out and tell the gaming public why they need another portable Nintendo system. Come to think of it, Nintendo hasn’t come out and told the general gaming public ANYTHING about the DS.

Again, can Nintendo have his cake and eat it too – that is, make BOTH systems the must-have app of the holiday season? While time will provide us with the true answer, it’s not likely that both systems can coexist peacefully for very long.

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Cory compares ESPN and Madden once again, saying it’s easier to run and pass in ESPN NFL 2K5. Running, absolutely. Passing, not so much so. Maybe it’s because I run the ball 35 times a game and pass 15, but I found running the ball insanely easy in ESPN. On the flip side, I couldn’t pass for anything. In Madden, it was just the opposite. Passing was way easy, but running was very difficult.

Which is more realistic? Tough to say. Today’s NFL is a running league, so that gives the nod to NFL 2K5 off the bat. The passing game requires rhythm; if you have it in ESPN, you can make it work. Now, compare that to Madden, where running is always hard and passing is always relatively simple. Cory’s right; believe it or not, Madden’s emphasis on Defense hasn’t made the game any more realistic.

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This week, Alex Williams takes on a true classic in Captain Novolin. What do you say about a game like this? That’s a tougher one to tackle than evaluating the quality of the coverage, which was magnificent. Alex Williams is the best thing going for Inside Pulse right now, and this hasn’t changed in a long time.

Now, as for the game, it does reflect one shining light that was present in that era of gaming. When games come out now, they’re for a profit. When games were made in the formative years of home gaming, they existed for a purpose. Even when that purpose is as ridiculous as educating people about diabetes. People thought video games could be used as a learning tool, much like the Internet is today. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite as well as planned. Still, you’ve got to give the developers credit for trying something like this. Nobody today would dare to take a concept like diabetes and insulin and try to make it work in a compelling side-scrolling action game. Yet ten years ago, it was somewhat routine. That’s the way of the changing world that games has changed along with.

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The Dark Knight comments on the price slashing of the SP…

I was fine with my ORIGIONAL game boy the big grey brick with the yellow and black screen until 1999 when i wanted to play Pokemon red and blue, and i’m sure a lot of games who are happy with there first advance, and won’t need or want the SP.

The only selling point to me right now is the “classic” NES look to the newer sp’s. Also looking back on the anniversary of the birth and sacrifice of the best game system sence the saturn we have found out that its’ not about the hardware but the games that make a system great

Perhaps the truest thing anyone has said about the price cut. Does it really matter if a system is cheaper if that discount won’t buy a great game? In the case of the SP, the answer is fairly obvious. For a system like the GameCube, which lowered its price drastically but couldn’t find the right games to make the overall package work, it’s a little tougher. Like Batman said, it’s the games, not the system, and games will keep people coming back.

Consider this: Nintendo seems to be trying very hard to sell GBA owners on the SP. Nintendo is well aware that many people who bought the GBA made their purchase so that they could play their SNES classics on a handheld. These are the people who will buy the NES version of the SP at the reduced price. Who wouldn’t want to play the original Zelda on a system that looks just like a Nintendo controller, especially when the whole package costs under $100?

Now, Nintendophiles, or anybody else for that matter, wouldn’t dare make that investment if there weren’t other options besides Zelda and the NES Classics line in general. That’s where the GBA excels. Nintendo has created a game for everybody with the GBA, and Nintendo has shown a desire to have gamers play these games on the best system currently available. You could call the DS an experiment of sorts, one that might not work. But you know that the GBA is the best in the business and you might not hesitate to drop $80 on it if you wanted one.

Some people won’t want the SP, of course. These are the people who would only buy it if their current GBA was broken, or if the SP was reduced to $19.99 with a free game. Nintendo isn’t targeting the price cut towards these people. Nintendo, in a sort of perverted way, might actually be looking out for the best interest of its fanbase here. By making an SP hard to resist in terms of price and in quality, the system may do even better than it’s already doing.

The Dark Knight closed out his e-mail with this doozy..

I think that if a real “portable” system that can play ur ps1 or ps 2 games now that would be worth talking about, but i don’t think it’ll happen any time soon…

Well done.



THE INDUSTRY: Burning Out
Last Friday, I went to the gym. I was happy to be there. I had something to prove to myself, and I set out to do it. The goal: run as hard as I could for as long as I could. The results were astounding – 3.26 miles in 18 minutes.

True, it was on an elliptical, but I was in awe of myself. I couldn’t believe what I had just accomplished. Then, someone came to talk to me. And it wasn’t to compliment me on my performance.

He told me that while it was nice to run like that, I ran the risk of burning myself out. He explained that instead of trying to lose 20 pounds in one day, I should work toward looking forward to coming back the next day. He left me to contemplate this for a while.

At first, I dismissed his theories. I figured that I was just a fast runner and that was it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was absolutely correct. How much better was I going to get on the elliptical? And how could I motivate myself to work out each day once I reached my maximum potential?

These things weighed heavily on my mind as I devoured Krispy Kremes and McDonald’s cheeseburgers all weekend. Monday, I came back with a new mindset; one that wasn’t so restrictive. One that allowed me to look forward to coming back each day. One that ensured that if I didn’t get everything done in one day, it’d be worth it because I’d be able to stick it out over the long run. So far, so good.

Now, what does this have to do with gaming?

The answer is pretty simple. How often have you started a game, only to never finish it? There might be a variety of reasons for your abandonment of this hypothetical game. Maybe it’s because you didn’t have enough time because of outside commitments. Maybe you got a new game you wanted even more, leaving you to focus your entire gaming time on the new game. Or maybe you just got stuck on a difficult part, left it for a few days, then never came back to it. These reasons are all valid; however, the fact remains that you put time into something that you never saw through.

It’s like that time when you decided you were going to stop eating fast food and start taking care of yourself. For a few days, you were okay. After a week or so, though, you crapped out. Why? Maybe your buddies stopped off at Taco Bell and you couldn’t resist. Maybe you just didn’t have the time and energy to put into the “new you”. Or maybe you just decided that life is short and you wanted to enjoy Whoppers for another year. Again, all valid reasons, but just like before, you’ve stopped doing something you were all for just 10 days ago.

As gamers, we’ve all experienced situations like the two you’ve just read about. We even see them coming before they occur. And yet, we still hold out hope that we’ll be able to handle the task at hand. While one can’t really compare exercise and video gaming on a true level of importance, they are both mediums that lend themselves to burnout.

Gaming burnout is not an uncommon phenomenon; in fact, it happens to many people multiple times a year. A very small part of the blame belongs with the game players who, some would say, don’t have what it takes to beat a game. The majority of the blame, however, lies with the game industry, which crams games down our throats faster than we ever wanted.

Here’s one we’ve all experienced – you want two games at the same time. You want one slightly more than the other, but the second game is on too good of a sale to pass up. So you buy both. What happens? You either get into one at the expense of the other, or you don’t get into either game, not wanting to neglect a purchase you’ve made. Is this your fault? Absolutely not. Sure, you might be naive to think you can make time for two games, but if the games didn’t take a month each to complete, you might be onto the second game a little quicker.

Games aren’t like DVDs or CDs. You can’t just buy five at a time and get through them all in a week. Games require time – too much time, according to some people. And this is why we burn out.

Those people who believe that individual games take up too much time are totally correct. Alex Williams alluded to this in a piece he wrote earlier this summer. By making the games so long, it’s easy for people to miss the fun in them. They become so consumed with finishing the game that the joy in victory is totally lost. This is especially true when you consider that just about every game – including sports games – comes with a strategy guide that tells you how to complete the game’s difficult tasks.

In the battle between quality and quantity, it appears that quantity has won out big-time. And when the quantity exceeds the quality by such a vociferous margin, there’s potential for burnout. You can’t beat a game in one day, and you can’t beat every game you get for Christmas by Valentine’s Day. However, what you can do is enjoy your time playing the one game you really want to devote your time to. You will get more fulfillment from playing – and eventually, maybe beating – that one game at your leisure, and you will look forward to your next game with even greater vigor. That’s they key to getting the most out of your gaming.

When I think about my conversation at the gym last Friday, I can see that while I was initially perturbed, it happened for a reason. I needed that to get my mind straight. Just the same, us gamers need to have an experience where we question why we’re gaming so that we can get back to enjoying our passion. If gamers had more quality gaming experiences to replace the many times where they’ve just lost interest in a game, maybe they wouldn’t be such a jaded bunch. Maybe they’d look forward to seeing what’s new and improved in franchises, rather than chomping at the bit to bash the new features. Maybe, just maybe, gamers can be happy with being gamers.



That’s all for this week. Next week, an intro! Thanks for reading. See you next Thursday!