Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 12.04.03

Hello! Welcome to this week’s Thank God It’s Thursday. I’m Bryan Berg, and I only have four more days of college left in my entire lifetime! Thanks for stopping by 411 to read this and all of the other excellent columns we have here in the Games section.

Sad news on the Fantasy Football front – the dream is over. My team was eliminated from playoff contention with a sound defeat this past weekend. No matter. I’m still in 3rd place in the 411 league, mysterious bogus loss notwithstanding, and I got 11 out of 16 right in the Pick ‘Em league! So it’s not so bad after all. And even if the Jets’ season is basically over, it’s going to be a blast watching Chad the next few weeks.

Football talk done! Gaming content starts now!!!

Before I start the news, a brief announcement that may affect you! Saturday, November 29 was a significant day in the history of the Berg household, as we welcomed a new member to the family. His name is X-Box. He weighs quite a bit, actually, but is in perfect condition as of this writing.

So how do you play into this mix? Well, with X-Box in tow, I’ll be hooking up with X-Box Live soon enough. And I’m REALLY interested to see how XSN Sports plays out. I’d like to start a league with some people who are interested in doing this with me. The game would probably be NFL Fever 2004, and it’d most likely be an 8-person league. So I’m looking for seven individuals who might be interested in this venture. What’s in it for you? Well, for one, weekly mention on 411, as league updates will become a staple of TGIT. Secondly, it’d just be a really neat thing to do, and it’d be a lot of fun. So please e-mail me if you are intrigued by this.

PSX ships in Japan…
But half of it’s missing! In an effort to get the much-discussed system out in time for the holidays, Sony severly skimped out on some of the hardware specifications; i.e. the ones that people actually wanted. Here’s a partial list of what was promised, but is now gone from the PSX:

– No CD-R playback
– No DVD-R playback
– No MP3 format playback
– DVD recording speed has been cut in half

The worst part? The PSX still cost Japanese gamers the same amount of money it would have cost them with all the trimmings! There must be some kind of weird happenings over at Sony HQ, because the company’s being VERY ambitious this holiday season. First, they refuse to upgrade their weak American bundle despite declining sales and general customer apathy. Now, they take all the good stuff out of the PSX and expect consumers to still pay top dollar for it.

But maybe I’m wrong about Sony. Maybe there’s a market in Japan that’s more than willing to fork over the equivalent of $725 for a “lower-end” model DVD recorder that happens to play PS2 games. Because that’s basically all that’s left after Sony half-assedly put out an inferior product that’s guaranteed to go down in flames, just to get some sales numbers for the holidays. If you were wondering how Sony views its loyal customers, this should give you a pretty good idea of how it works. You fork over some serious cash; they give you a thrown-together device whose only purpose is to counteract the mostly poor sales of the PS2, which should come back down to Earth after their recent surge. If the PSX does even reasonably well after this PR nightmare for Sony, this writer will be seriously surprised.

Legislators strike again…
This time, it’s California assemblyman Leland Yee on the attack. His bill proposal is perhaps the most radical yet. It makes sense, yet it is completely irrational. And it just could end up being passed. Here’s Yee’s proposal:

– All M-rated games are to be displayed on shelves five feet or higher off the ground. This ensures that young people will not be able to view the title, or at least take the box down for a closer look.
– M-rated games must be kept in a separate area, away from all other games, so that kids don’t even get the idea of begging their parents to purchase the game for them.
– Mature video games will be included in California’s “harmful matter” jurisdiction, which means that any retailer who distributes this content to children is subject to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.

These ideas, if implemented, would certainly solve the problem of kids obtaining these games in the conventional manner. However, this does not even attempt to solve the bigger issues, such as parents who purchase violent games for kids, or the biggest culprit of all, a society that breeds games of this nature and entices children to want to play them as adults do.

And that’s the biggest flaw of this legislation, or any other such attempt at lawmaking that we’ve seen in the past. As long as people want these games, they’ll find a way to get them. You could attach M-rated games to the ceiling, and people will find a way around it. The problem is, these games are still highly desirable. Why are they desirable? Probably because of the influence that teens and young adults have on everybody else. Probably because of the other media outlets that everyone’s forgotten about – movies, TV shows, even the nightly news! Probably because the world is just so screwed up that only a mature game could depict it accurately.

Someone is going to have to go to the source if they want to solve this problem. The unfortunate part is, nobody seems to know where the source is. And as long as they simply blame the games themselves and not what’s making them, they’ll never find the answer, no matter how noble their intentions might be.

Black Friday results are in…
And Nintendo is king! After a furious Thanksgiving week, Nintendo has declared itself the winner of the Black Friday Console Race. According to George Harrison, Nintendo sold a half-million Cubes during Thanksgiving week. Says Harrison, “Our business plan for this year was to maximize consumer interest and sales during the fourth quarter.” Whatever you say, George. The press release also stated that consumers snatched up 600,000 GBA’s over the same time period. Note that these two numbers only deal with American sales.

Before we all anoint Nintendo with the crown, we must first consider the source of this proclamation. Nintendo has never been shy when it comes to self-promoting, and this has come to work against the console giant. How many times this year have we seen Nintendo make absurd claims about its sales, market share, and consumer demand? Therefore, this announcement must be taken with a grain of salt. However, it’s unlikely that Sony or Microsoft was able to move the amount of units that the GameCube did, if only because the price of the Cube is so low.

Wonder if they’ll announce who has the most returned systems on December 26? That’d be interesting to see!

Game Boy’s for boys…
A recent survey of children aged 3 to 11 revealed that the Game Boy Advance is the most coveted of ALL toys, according to the males surveyed. The GBA beat out Hot Wheels, GI Joe, Transformers, and Legos, all traditional favorites. This is a great moment not only for Nintendo, but for the entire gaming industry. It has gone beyond its traditional fanbase and has captured the hearts of just about everybody. That’s something to be proud of, especially with all the negativity surrounding video games recently.

Incase you’re wondering, the girls preferred Barbie, Bratz, and the Care Bears. Barbie actually had two entries, one of which was the Real Food Kitchen. Another among the top five was the Easy Bake Real Meal Oven. Two of the girls’ top five involve kitchens and cooking… that’s WAY too funny. Guess you’ve got to start them early, eh?

Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. I still can’t believe how far this series has come from the days of Rock Man and Guts Man. Can you?
You can’t have Reploids going Maverick if there are no Reploids to begin with!

Frederick Badlissi – The Gamer’s Conscience. This column is the ultimate indication that Fred has “made it” – he’s got a mailbag! Of course, this is not new territory for Fred, but it’s still pretty cool.
That distant and faint time was Friday, November 28th; better known to the business world as “Black Friday” and to the proletariat as “Fear for Your Life and Your Cheap DVD Player Day.”

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. Cory is inching closer and closer to becoming a Master. Good luck!
Nintendo has not responded but it is expected a statement will be issued today proclaiming Sony to, “have cooties,” and to reaffirm the claim that Nintendo “has shots.”

Alex Williams – 411MAX: News News Revolution. Our own Haiku master returns after taking a Friday off. Welcome back, buddy!
If you know me, and you should, you KNEW I’d include a DDR haiku in there somewhere. But those who guessed X-Box Music Maker should be drug out into the street and shot.

Chuck Platt – Karaoke Revolution. You know, I HATE singing. And this game still sounds like a blast. That’s a sign of a good game and a good review.
Ever seen Heidi Klum in a skimpy lingerie set? Imagine her holding a pizza and a six-pack of beer. That is the level of appeal this game holds.

Lee Baxley – Final Fantasy X-2. SquareEnix is lucky they’re making a sequel to the 10th game. Could you imagine Final Fantasy VIII-2? Who would buy a game with a title that stupid?
So just the fact that we have a direct sequel to a game, with the same world and characters, yet the game itself is such a departure, which in and of itself is very original.

Bebito Jackson – Jak II. Really good review by Bebito. His bit about boxing must be read – it’s pure comic genius.
Naughty Dog has crammed so much to do and see into Jak II that you’ll NEVER experience it completely, and that’s half of the beauty right there.

Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. If you click one link, make it this one. Read Lee’s stuff, because it’s excellent!
Konami f*cking SUCKS. They’ll go and make a petition to see if people want more Beatmania in Japan, but won’t do any sort of thing in America.

Alex Williams – Mario Kart: Double Dash! What’s up with every game (and movie) having a subtitle nowadays? This is a really annoying trend.
It’s not often that the world graces us with a game that’s beautiful, fun to play, and keeps you hooked for hours upon hours. I can safely say that Mario Kart: Double Dash is one of those games.

Sorry for the lack of commentary this week – there’s not a whole lot to say. School’s almost out, and I’m just finishing up my final projects, which is actually really weird. After graduation, though, I should have a lot more to say, as school burnout won’t spill over into other aspects of my life.

Next week at this time, I will officially be done with classes at Hofstra. Then, it’s just finals and I’m done for good! The column for next Thursday should be extra-special, so come back and read it! Until then, don’t neglect the other Kliq guys – read them too! Thanks for reading, and see you next week.