Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 07.29.04

Hey! Welcome to Thank God It’s Thursday, the only news report on 411 Games to appear each Thursday! Bryan Berg here to greet you and thank you for taking the time to stop by 411 Games today.

Today: Not much news, but it doesn’t relate to NFL 2K5! Hooray!!!

New Look For Nintendo DS
This one didn’t take long. Just two months after debuting at E3, Nintendo has revamped the appearance of the Nintendo DS. It’s more sleek and perhaps more “modern” after the revision. You can see some shots of the new DS here.

The IGN article makes the new DS sound as if it’s the greatest looking ever. I really don’t know. It almost looks bigger now, and I don’t like the removal of the black plastic around the two screens. The previous model had that, and it really drew attention to the two screens, which are the obvious focal point of the system. The new look doesn’t do that, which I think sort of detracts from what Nintendo is trying to do here. And don’t even get me started about the new placement of the Power button. Wait until you’re involved in an intense game of Zelda and you accidentally turn off the system as you’re beating the boss. Won’t you wish you had the old model instead?

Just a question – why does everything have to be silver nowadays? Seriously, this is getting out of hand. Virtually every cell phone, the GBA SP, and now this. Where will it end?

Unrest At Rare
Word coming out of Rare is that employees are unhappy. Very unhappy. So unhappy that they’ve been walking out on the company.

Why are these walkouts taking place? According to GamesAreFun, Rare’s employees are said to be frustrated with the company’s political situation, as well as a lack of confidence in the direction of some of Rare’s projects. And who can blame them? What has Rare done since leaving Nintendo?

In two years under the Microsoft Corporation’s wing, Rare has put out exactly one game. And they severed a long-term relationship with Nintendo to jump on board with Microsoft. If I were an employee, I’d be pretty upset. I might even worry about my job security – after all, it’s not like Rare can be making a ton of money with its current output.

This is an issue the Kliq has kicked around a bit this week. Lee Baxley said that it’s an indicator of how these corporate buyouts often aren’t as profitable as the participants would like. And he’s right. Then again, it’s entirely possible that Microsoft only bought Rare to put the screws to Nintendo. Given Microsoft’s reputation, that’s quite a likely scenario.

Still, when employees are this unhappy, it’s always cause for concern. Maybe this is a sign to both parties to maximize their relationship before things get worse. Hopefully, both Microsoft and Rare see it that way.

Quick Hits
NFL Street Sequel In The Works. Already? The original came out in January 2004, so you’d think a sequel might be far off. Evidently, EA plans to release Volume 2 in early 2005. Why? The Street series has always been way more about gameplay than anything else, updated rosters included, so there’s not really a point in revisiting this series right away. Then again, it’s a quick buck for EA at a time when it’s not releasing any other sports games, so there you go.

NBA Street, Vol. 3 On The Way. Speaking of the Street series… EA is putting out a third NBA Street title, which is also slated for early 2005. This one actually makes sense – Volume 2 came out early 2003, so that’s a two-year gap. This will allow for people to want a new version of the game, instead of the one-year gap that will create no anticipation for NFL Street, Vol. 2. Good move by EA here.

HDLoader Shelved. Remember reading about the HDLoader device that would let you copy PS2 games and save files? Well, it’s not available anymore. According to the HDLoader site, the contraption “has been withdrawn from the market”. Guess that solves that particular piracy issue, eh?

Series 2 of Classic NES Titles In October? Rumor has it that Nintendo plans on releasing its second series of old-school titles for GBA in October. Much like NFL Street, that’s quite a turnaround. Then again, who knows how long this retromania will last, so Nintendo is wise to get these games out sooner rather than later.

News Reports
Alex Williams – 411MAX: News News Revolution. Alex returns from Las Vegas to find – what else – a slow news week. We’re all feeling the pain, bro. But welcome back!
The closest we’ve ever come to a classic Nintendo Anthology came in the form of Animal Crossing, and even then you had to unlock them, AND Nintendo decided to release the same games on $5 e-Cards (which was a cool idea, actually), and on $20 GBA carts (a 95% BAD idea). So as much as I love the Big N, we will NEVER see a cheap, easy Nintendo Anthology, and that sucks ass.

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. Cory does some game news, then breaks down the salaries between one sport that gets it (football) and one that doesn’t (baseball). Enjoy.
In fact, the total payroll for the Chiefs last year was $77,394,073. For that you can get Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds ($18,000,000), Alex Rodriguez ($21,726,881), and 92.783% of Derek Jeter ($18,600,000).

Matt Yeager – The Casual Gamers News Report. All things must come to an end, and so too must the Casual Gamers News Report. I’d love to see Matt keep us informed of the low-cost gaming specials out there in some form. But either way, you’re going to love his replacement.
Sure many of the games you’ll find in bargain bins aren’t as well developed, but many times these are the games that are taking the risks that major developing companies are afraid to take.

Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. LC makes a great point about the longevity of the NeoGeo. The A-Room, a rehearsal space we often frequent in Hicksville, has a King of Fighters machine, which is actually pretty sweet. I wanted a NeoGeo badly when I was younger, but the price was too prohibitive. Same for now.
So why don’t I own this marvel of gaming technology? Simply put, the price. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it fiscally feasible? Unfortunately not. I’ve got bills and rent to pay. See what getting a college education earns you? Debt!

Lee Baxley – Front Mission 4 (PlayStation 2). Final Score: 7.0

Chris Pankonin – Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (All).

Commentary of the Week
This week, I re-discovered a lost classic from my youth – Bad Religion’s “Stranger Than Fiction”. This is an album that I originally heard late in 1995, when I was still in 9th grade. It had a profound effect on me and how things turned out in my life. I hadn’t heard it in years – until last Thursday.

I went out with some friends after work. Our driver for the evening happens to be a huge Bad Religion fan as well. He had “Stranger Than Fiction” in the car, so I asked him to put it on. It was quite a trip back to my high school days, but it made me wish I still had my copy of it. I was ready to go out and buy another one when, out of nowhere, I found my original copy in my living room. Funny how things turn out.

The point of all of this is to point to music as a way of remembering things. You might remember the song that was playing when you first kissed your girlfriend. You might remember the first song you heard after graduating high school. No matter what the situation, there’s probably a song that goes along with it. It just so happens that this Bad Religion encompasses just about all of high school, which is a pretty remarkable thing.

So, the logical extenion of this phenomenon is, can a game remind us of a particular time in our lives? And the answer is, of course!

I’ll always associate Final Fantasy IV (then known to me as Final Fantasy II) with fifth grade, and I remember re-discovering the game in 11th grade. I even remember paying $60 for a used copy at Funco Land in the summer of 1999. The game didn’t save very well. I didn’t care. Still ruled.

Secret of Mana reminds me of my senior year of high school, when I played the game every day after school. After getting through that one, I played F-Zero till my thumb had the B button imprinted into it. That was senior year for me – playing games that had come out years before, but games that I loved because they were games of substance instead of the trash that was popular at the time.

Every so often, my buddies and I have gaming nights where we revisit old classics. We always hit Mortal Kombat, because we went to Mike’s Pizza every day after school to play it at the arcades, because we couldn’t wait for it to arrive on the home systems. Same for Street Fighter II. Part of it is definitely nostalgia – that is, trying to recapture parts of ourselves that we know don’t exist anymore. But that’s all part of it. These games make us remember, and that stands for something.

It’s nothing that we should be self-conscious about, but every game we play creates another long-lasting memory. Just like our favorite songs now, our current favorite games will be remembered, cherished, and enjoyed for years to come. This way, we’ll never forget who we were in 2004.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend, and see you next week!