Gaming Zen (8/31/05)

Howdy all. Welcome to the end of August. I’m Tom Pandich, and this is where I usually say something along the lines of “we have a lot to cover this week” or some variation of this. Truth is that there isn’t too much to cover this week, and I’ve got a shitload of other things to do around the site and for school this week. So let’s do it to it.

“I scoff at thee Nintendo DS”

The “big” news this week is that Phil Harrison, VP of studios at Sony, dismissed the Nintendo DS as a “irrelevance” in an interview with MCV. “It’s fair to say that Nintendo stepped out of the technical race and went for a feature differentiation with the touch screen,” he said. He added, “Nintendo knows its target audience, because it has really narrowed that down; and it’s pretty much defined by a boy or girl’s ability to admire PokÃÆ’©mon.”

My first reaction was, yikes, what crawled up his panties. Beyond that though, I’m wondering how concerned Sony must really be about the DS and the eventual Game Boy Super Advanced that they’re willing to take pot shots at Nintendo a few days before the PSP launch, which European gamers have been clamoring for.

These pot shots tend to come out when companies are most concerned about their competitions. It happened right before the PSP launch from Nintendo and it will happen at the 360 and PS3 launches as well. Sony is banking pretty highly on Liberty City Stories as the PSP hasn’t had a major release since the launch. I’m telling you right now that the success or failure of the PSP will depend almost solely on GTA. Until then though, expect Nintendo’s command over the market to grow slightly but steadily.

The plumbing business must be good… or is it?!??!?

Nintendo announced Monday that they will be buying back 2.2 million shares of their stock. Nintendo will own about 11% of their public stock if this deal goes through. This means one of two things. Commonly when a company is buying back their stock, it’s a good sign meaning profits are up and it’s a good time to invest in the company. Perhaps they’re expecting a holiday bump from the DS followed by the new Legend of Zelda game and then the Revolution launch.

The other possibility is that Nintendo fears a buyout. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a combination of the two coupled with a bit of smoke and mirrors trying to get people to buy Nintendo stock driving the price up for a nice little profit. Most likely this will just end up being a throwaway story though. So forget reading about this and move on with your life and this column.

Another Konami lawsuit in the making?

Codemasters has announced that they’ll be putting out a game for the PS2 called Dance Factory. Dance Factory will allow gamers to put a CD in and the game will generate steps for any song. The big issue is whether or not these steps will, well, suck. Alex Williams probably has a better reaction of the DDR crowd, but as a moderate player of dance games, here is my take on it. DDR is only really fun after a while if you play on the more challenging settings mostly because the basic steps are pretty boring.

Additionally, it’s hard as hell to do a long song with complicated steps for more then 2 minutes or so. Williams pointed this out in his ITG review a few months back, and I couldn’t agree more with him. So Codemasters biggest problem will be managing to bridge that difficulty gap. If you’re interested, it’ll be out in Europe for the PS2 mid-06 for the PS2. No US date has been announced yet.

Game of the Week

I have not played any of the games out this week yet nor do I plan to. I hate video games!!1111 Still, I’ll try to pick what game sounds the most interesting this week. Releases are picked from what Misha says so if the winning game isn’t out this week, it’s his damn fault. Except Misha hasn’t put out a list of games for the week so I checked Gamestop while also picking up my $2000 Xbox 360 bundle. Oh and this will be console games only as you’ll probably end up downloading the PC games anyways.

In a close battle, this week’s game of the week is… *drum roll* Pump It Up: Exceed! Why a DDR clone over Mario Superstar Baseball and Radiata Stories? Very simply, Pump It Up is twice the game Dance Dance Revolution is. This is simply because Pump It Up is actual dancing as opposed to stepping on a line. Because the arrows are in the corner, PIU requires you to actually have better balance while playing it because your legs are further apart. Additionally, PIU “feels” more like dancing because you’re moving in a diagonal direction rather then just vertically and horizontally. I have yet to meet a person who has put serious time in with both DDR and PIU that prefers the former. Give PIU a try if you like dancing games.

That wraps it up for this week. See you next time where I’ll talk about whatever is up and probably drone on about how much I Love Katamari.