Welcome to a shifting Gaming Zen. I’ll be trying out a few things over the next few weeks trying to get a new format down. I think that my old column was too bitchy when my original intent was to point out what was good and what was bad in the gaming world these days while trying to see the negatives in stories generally perceived as good and the positive in stories seen as bad. Let’s try this a bit, I’ll read your feedback, and the next few weeks will be fun.
Besides that, let me do a bit of blogging. This Friday is my 21st birthday. That should be fun. Additionally I have an Amazon wish list up if anyone of you are rich and love me enough to buy me a present. Will that happen? Of course not, but it still seems like its worth a mention.
The Positives This Week
The good news this week comes from Nintendo with their handhelds. Nintendo announced that their wireless network for the DS should be up very soon. Like November 15th soon. What’s the best news though is that Nintendo is setting up hot spots for DS play, keeping it free if you’ve got a wireless router, and selling a cheap wireless adaptor if you don’t have a wireless router.
The Game Boy Micro launch happened and it is selling decently. What should be cool is that several companies are going to offer faceplates like Square-Enix. Since Nintendo is marketing the GB Micro on the faceplates, it seems likely that quite a few of these will make there way over to the US unlike the limited edition styluses (although that’s changing with the release of the Kirby stylus if you register your game).
Finally, the GBA SP got an upgrade with a brighter screen. It’s nice to see Nintendo working on all fronts on its handhelds to give the best to its customers. There’s a lot to celebrate this week with Nintendo.
Warner Brothers hopped on the UMD train, which is, quite frankly the only thing holding the PSP up until the new GTA. The Matrix Trilogy, Batman Begins, and many others are slated. This is certainly a win in the Sony category.
In other good news for the PSP, Sony started their demo testing over in Japan. The demos can be played at a hot spot, but they are deleted as soon as the PSP is turned off. This is a bit disappointing, but it is a start. It would be wonderful if Sony starts doing demos through the web that could revolutionize the hand held market.
In the quest to woo Japanese gamers, Microsoft is opening the Xbox 360 Lounge in Japan on November 2nd. It is a really cool looking building that will have a huge 200 inch screen for gamers to be wowed with the latest 360 games and multiple Xbox kiosks. This building is in the Aoyama district of Tokyo, which means absolutely nothing to me. Hopefully this will let Microsoft get a good vibe going in Japan early.
Rather then focusing on other companies which may eventually happen, here’s a quick news round up. THQ announced the 13 Legends for Smackdown vs Raw 2006. They are Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Bret Hart, Jake Roberts, Steve Austin, British Bulldog, Jimmy Hart, Ted DiBiase, Hogan 80’s, Junkyard Dog, Hollywood Hogan, and Mankind. On the plus side, there’s no masked Kane or old school Undertaker as legends. On the negative side, do we really need three Hogans even if they are going to have different move sets? What is really awesome though is that Wrestlemania IX, the worst Wrestlemania ever but probably the coolest looking venue, will be a playable venue. Also the classic blue steel cage will be a match option. Both of those are really cool sounding features.
Square-Enix announced that they’re porting Final Fantasy V and VI to the GBA, which is great news. Now you’ll be able to play all of the classic Final Fantasy games and almost forget that the PSP will (most likely) have an uber Final Fantasy VII announced by this time next year.
The Negatives of the Week
Seeing as how I’ve been too negative, in my opinion, I’m skipping what went wrong this week in gaming other then briefly mentioning that the PSP has a virus and that Nintendo had to lower its earnings forecast due to the Gamecube selling poorly (and no Zelda until 2006). So that stuff sucked.
What I’m Playing
Ok, so I’m ripping off fellow “kliq”er Lee for this, but I think it gives a bit of insight into what we as the gaming staff are enjoying these days.
Rumble Roses: This is the first cheesecake game I’ve ever bought. I’ve just been in the mood for a new wrestling game and didn’t feel like going with another WWE game. I got this because I couldn’t find Ultimate Muscle. It is a decent game. There’s lots of unlockables and the story is pretty solid. The controls can be exceptionally wonky, but its still fun for what its worth. Plus it has the funniest intros ever.
Super Monkey Ball DX: This is another game I picked up as part of Toys R’ Us’ Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale. It’s not nearly as much fun as I had with the original SMB on the Gamecube. The load times are a pain in the ass and the game hasn’t aged that well. I’ve been playing the mini games more then the full game, which is a problem.
NHL 2K6: Say what you will about EA, but they are light years ahead of 2K Games in presentation. That being said, this is an incredibly good game. It offers a ton of extra features like air hockey, and the controls are incredibly tight. Commentary is good and it is easy to pick up. I may review this if I can find the time.
Trace Memory: This is another game I’m reviewing. It looks ugly as hell but the story is very good an captivating. It seems like it is a bit too paint by numbers to be a truly good adventure game though.
Game of the Week
This week’s game of the week is selected by a panel of judges headed by me, with myself and I serving as the other two panelists. Typically I haven’t played any of the games I have selected and am going from hype, general interest in the genre and the game, and overall quality of previous games in the series (if applicable). If I pass over a RPG or sports game that is a “big game” it’s not because I’m not interested in it or think it will be bad, it’s just I’m more interested in something else.
The game of the week is… *Drum Roll*…. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. With last week’s game of the week going to Trauma Center (you know, if I had a column last week) and this week going to another odd DS game, I think it stands to reason that the odder the game is, the better a chance it has of getting game of the week. It’s not every day a lawyer game comes along to the United States. Despite there being not a whole lot of replay value in what is essentially an adventure game, it still is bound to offer a truly unique experience.
Besides that, there is a brand new *West Coast City* Rush game out. I was a big fan of San Francisco Rush back in the day so its good to see this series hasn’t been dropped. SOCOM 3 is also out this week, which is bound to interest someone.
Well, that’s it for this week. Expect more changes soon.