Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 08.14.03

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 08.14.03
By Bryan Berg
Teaser: This week – Nintendo’s REAL business plan! Also, Madden 2004 thoughts and the greatest inventions ever.

Hello. Welcome to this bastion of quality gaming news, the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report. As always, thanks for dropping by.

Got some excellent feedback from last week’s column. One thing that was pointed out by more than one person was the issue of third-party game development, something I didn’t mention at all. It was correctly pointed out that Nintendo needed to strike more exclusive deals with third-party companies to complement Nintendo’s first-party sellers. And, of course, that’s absolutely true. My thinking was that Nintendo needed to prove itself to the industry before anybody would want to enter into an exclusive partnership with them. However, I’m sure that these companies would be more than willing if the dollar sign was in the right place.

Another issue that was pointed out was shelf space. This is something that I haven’t really paid attention to, but it does sound significant and warranted mentioning in Bebito’s column. Nintendo needs to market two systems, so it needs to worry about having enough shelf space for both. Sony and Microsoft don’t have this problem, which gives them a huge leg up in their battle against the GameCube. It’s definitely something that comes into play right now, and it’s something Sony will have to deal with when the PSP comes out.

Overall, great responses from EVERYBODY who wrote in. Thanks!

As for this week, back to the usual format, slightly modified for the complete lack of gaming news. Enjoy!

As you may have read in Lee Baxley’s news report from yesterday, Nintendo announced its business strategies for the next few months last week. Here are a couple of the highlights from this conference:
– Wario Ware will be released for the GameCube by the end of this year in Japan.
– The next GC Zelda game will be released in 2004.
– Nintendo will be collaborating with third-party developers on future GameCube games and has no plans to purchase any third-party companies.
– Nintendo is hard at work on a new product that will be unveiled next spring.
– Nintendo is launching Club Nintendo, a point-based promotion that will give Nintendo game players the opportunity to receive points for the games that they purchase. The points can be used to try out new Nintendo games and give feedback to Nintendo on these games. Nintendo hopes that this will increase the company’s awareness of market trends.

In last week’s column, I mentioned that Nintendo should throw a bone to the current GameCube owners rather than focusing entirely on moving systems. This is Nintendo’s effort to do so. Will it work? Let’s go through these points, one by one:
– Wario Ware is already out for Game Boy Advance. Many people already own a Game Boy Player or intend to get one. Therefore, a GameCube version of Wario Ware, as awesome as the game is, is completely irrelevant. This is a perfect example of Nintendo having no idea who its audience is or what it wants, and it’s embarrassing to watch.
– More Zelda is always a good thing. Nintendo is mistaken, however, if it expects the new Zelda to sell as well as The Wind Waker, which had not only a huge promotional push, but the curiosity factor of it being the first Zelda game for the Cube. Their announcement of the title now is smart on Nintendo’s part, as it serves as incentive for someone to purchase a Cube this year.
– Third-party software is definitely something Nintendo needs to address. Hopefully, they’ll be able to land more exclusives and find a niche that they can cater to.
– Not much is known about this new product that Nintendo is working on. Some are speculating that it may be the next GameCube or GBA, but that doesn’t sound entirely accurate. It’s probably a GameCube peripheral of some sort, which will probably do good numbers for Nintendo.
– I had intended to incorporate some sort of promotion like Club Nintendo last week, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work without requiring Nintendo to hire a good-sized staff to maintain the promotion. In any event, this should work out nicely for Nintendo. That being said, they shouldn’t have waited until now to get a better handle on market trends. This is something they should have been doing since Day One.

This week, I’ve gotten some praise from fellow staff members for being “right”. But that’s not really the point. The point of last week’s column was to show that there’s so much that Nintendo’s NOT doing to make the GameCube work. What they’ve announced is a good start, but they haven’t really addressed any pressing needs. What will Nintendo do about the Cube not selling despite giving away their best-selling titles? What can Nintendo offer current Cube owners despite a new Zelda game and a useless Wario Ware game? These are questions that we don’t know the answers to. Until Nintendo takes on these points head-on, they will remain in last place in the console race.

Madden 2004
It’s out, folks – Madden 2004 is here! But is it as good as the hype?

Yup. The game plays VERY well. Passing the ball is an art form in Madden 2004. You’ve got to figure out where the safeties are going to go and make sure you avoid them. Finding the one-on-one coverage is tough, but it definitely can be done. Running isn’t too bad, as your linemen do a fine job of opening up holes for you. On the defensive side of the ball, your linemen are very controllable, which is a great thing. The DB’s are great as well, making it very possible for you to pick off the ball.

The much-publicized Owner Mode is everything that’s been said about it… and more. You will never be able to go back to your older Franchise modes after this. You control parking prices, concession prices, and even the option to hold a Fan Appreciation Day. When you’re creating your own team, you create the stadium as well – right down to the stairs and the placement of scoreboards. You could enjoy the heck out of Madden and never even play a game.

All in all, definitely a great job by EA this year. If you’ve already picked up NCAA Football 2004, definitely rent Madden. If you don’t own NCAA, Madden is worthy of your purchase, even if you have Madden 2003. The enhanced Franchise mode makes the money spent worthwhile.

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover. This is the recipient of Bebito’s Most Improved award… if you’re not reading Cory Laflin, you should be.
The difference between the Dreamcast (that is to say, the ARCADE) and PS2 voice talent is the difference between Will Smith and the nerdy guy on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”

Bebito Jackson – 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. New look… same great content!
Guess Nintendo WAS reading the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report last week, eh?

Chuck Platt – A Thumb to the Eye. Last week’s classic was a tough act to follow. Chuck didn’t do too badly this time, either.
People buy HALO and GTA but not a game in which a FUCKING ROBOT DOES THE ROBOT DANCE. A robot doing the goddamn robot dance and it isn’t the best selling game ever. Shame people, shame.

Best of the Rest
Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. The Bad Guy flicks his toothpick at 411Mania’s “wrestling-only” stigma.
So if you’re reading this, and you like the site, please tell your buddies. Even if you don’t like ME, tell your friends about the site and tell them to avoid the crazy otaku guy who likes to hump things.

Rest of the Best
Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. This is how the quality vs. quantity debate exists in the gaming world. Definitely give this one a read.
But for action games…they shouldn’t take hours upon hours! These kids are possibly passing up great games, based on no other than factor than timespan.

Alex Lucard – Retrograding/Retrograding Mailbag. Anyone who can spout wisdom about Shining Force and rally the troops like Lucard can only be known as… The Heartbreak Kid.
Retrograding is about loving the obscure. Not saying ‘Fuck the mainstream.’ It’s about broadening Horizons for our demographic and not taking the easy way out.

Jeff Watson – Friday’s Slice O’ News. Jeff owns a LOT of video games.
Don’t forget the other influential aspect of The Legend Of Zelda which doesn’t get enough credit, its lithium battery

Lee Baxley – Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. An excellent review of what appears to be a great game! Then again, aren’t all Castlevanias? Check out Lee’s mini-history at the top of the review to find out!
This game is easily one of the best games out there for the GBA right now, and would have a happy home in anyone’s collection.

Alex Williams – Sega Arcade Gallery. These games all rocked in arcades and on the Master System. As for the GBA? Read the review!
While there’s no driving wheel to speak of (On a handheld? Please…), moving left and right doesn’t take a lot of effort.

Jeff Watson – Superman: Shadow of Apokolips. Find out if this game is super (HA!)…
It finally delivers a Superman game with control over his powers with only a few limitations.

Alex Lucard – Phantasy Star Collection. More retro RPG fun from the Retrograding man himself.
This game should be the hottest selling GBA title out there…if Sega and THQ actually publicized it was out!

Non-411 Games Link of the Week
You guys are not going to believe this. At ShopRite, we’ve been having some trouble with certain Haagen Dazs coupons that are “illegal”. What makes them illegal is beyond me. Anyway, my store manager told me that the coupons are being traded illegally on E-Bay. I responded with something along the lines of “You’re full of crap”.

A search of “Haagen Dazs” on E-Bay resulted in this item. People, this is what I’ve got to deal with. And some people wonder why I hate my job.

CD of the Week
TSOL – Beneath the Shadows. I’m pretty sure this hasn’t “won” yet. It probably should have a long time ago. One of the best CD’s ever, and I’m sure that most of you have no idea it ever existed. Take a great, maturing punk band and put in keyboards and strings. The result is Beneath the Shadows, a CD that easily could have become a huge mainstream hit if the stars were aligned properly. Instead, the band broke up after this album. Fortunately for us, they’ve since re-united and are still playing today.

Commentary of the Week
In this day and age, there’s so much we take for granted. There are certain things in life that have become indispensable, so much so that we forget that people lived without these things for a very long time. So, borrowing a bit from fellow news reporter Jeff Watson, I present… the Top Ten Inventions of All-Time.

– The Glass. Imagine life without being able to pour yourself a glass of soda, milk, or whatever your fancy. Has there ever been anything so convenient, practical, and useful as the drinking glass? Without the glass, you’re not able to get anything in a bottle, canister, or any type of contraption that holds liquids.

– Toilet Paper. Picture it – you’ve just gotten home from a fun night at the local White Castle. Just as quick as The Crave came and went, you now feel the need to extricate yourself of this food. So you go and do what you have to do and use up half a roll in the process. Now, think of how much harder your life would be without the good ol’ TP. Appreciate what you’ve got in your john, because it’s vital to who you are.

– Alarm Clock. Sure, you sleep through it half the time, but there might not be anything more important in your life than your alarm clock. It gets you up on time, reminds you of somewhere you have to be, and is just a good friend in general. Far more reliable than the wake-up call of a relative or the shining of the sun, the alarm clock rarely fails to disturb you from your peaceful sleep and awaken you to the harsh realities of the world.

– Scissors. Life without a haircut? Not worth living.

– The Calculator. Quick… what’s the square root of 150? Bet you didn’t know that before you went to consult your trusty calculator, eh? Yes, you can do math on your own, but why on earth would anybody want to when a machine can do it in a fraction of the time? If all calculators ceased to work immediately, the world would soon come to an end.

So, what of the other five? That’s where YOU come in! Give me your greatest inventions and they’ll be here next week. Go for something that you use every day and totally take for granted. Stay away from the obvious choices like “Internet” and “remote control” – you guys are way too smart for that line of thinking! Send in your best and we’ll finish the Top Ten next week.

Guys, it’s been a lot of fun. So next week, check back here and you’ll find another edition of the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report. Make sure to read everybody else during the week, and have a great weekend!