Encore Extra Stage #17

Greetings all, and welcome to another Friday! I’m Alex Williams, and this week we have plenty to talk about.

To start with, I’d like to formally announce that I’ve finally invested in beatmania IIDX. I was going to choose between that and Pop’n Music last week, but IIDX won fair and square. I ordered two games (7th Style and 8th Style), as well as an official Konami-brand IIDX controller. If all goes well, I should be receiving my new Bemani goodness by next weekend.

Also, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Pump It Up: Exceed is coming to the US consoles. I’ll touch more on it next week, but as far as initial thoughts on the matter? Consider me a happy, happy, HAPPY music game freak.

Next, before I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s column, I’d like to address that I made a mistake last week. A mistake that warrants…


Just a quick note: The PSP is being bundled with a UMD version of the film Spiderman 2. That is to say that gamers won’t get an actual game, but they will be receiving the likely only UMD movie disc available to the early adopters at launch.

Thanks to Jeff Peterson for the correction.

So it turns out we DON’T get a free game after all, eh? Instead 1,000,000 PSP owners get a movie to watch? How…disappointing…

I take back the “smart business decision” comment I made last week, and I’ll replace it with “paltry offering”.

One the one hand, it shows that the PSP is not just a gaming system, which is exactly what Sony is going for. On the other hand, if I’m going to spend upwards of $400 (i.e. the super-bundles EB and Gamestop are offering) for a PSP and games, I’m going to want to play the GAMES. What does Sony think I’m going to do? Tear off the packaging, turn on the system, and then sit nice and quietly watching Spiderman beat people up? And probably squinting in the process?!?

Something tells me that if you wanted to see the Spiderman 2 movie, you already went out and bought the DVD like I did. What a friggin’ waste.


And of course, “Mailbag Day” is every single week. This PARTICULAR week, it’s taking up most of the column.

The reason? Well, I wanted to rip of Bryan Berg this week. (He’s just SO FRIGGIN’ GOOD! I WANNA HAVE YOUR CHILDREN, BRYAN!!!!!)

No, seriously, the e-mails I got last week allowed me to talk about a ton of stuff today. And as I’ve said before, much of this column’s inspiration comes from you guys. I appreciate each and every one of the e-mails, you know. Yes, even the flames. Those are my favorites, I think.

And if you don’t like the idea of a mailbag column for the week? Well, I’d like to see YOU come up with new material for nine weeks in a row without running out of things to talk about. You know, other than EA and DDR. It’s not as easy as you might think!

So anyway, we’ll start things off by talking with an EA fanboy! (They exist?) But to his credit, he doesn’t go about insulting anyone to prove his points. He writes:

Not sure where your ongoing problem with EA lies. I personally am not the sort to bitch about the exclusivity of the NFL, as I understand that it is a integral aspect of capitalism, and since that economic system has brought me great happiness (or at least great video games) I cannot whine when it doesn’t go my way. But bottom line is this: you can go on hating and screaming about how horrible EA is, while I will pay little to no attention and play such incredible franchises as 007, MVP Baseball, Tiger Woods (ahhh, the game that keeps on giving) the Battlefield series, Freedom Force, LOTR, Burnout, Sims, Oddworld, Medal of Honor and so on. Those spectacular games/series are more than enough for me to forgive EA for a game i did not bother to buy such as Catwoman.
Maybe every so often, while I take a break from playing those above games, I will wonder to myself how anyone can “hate” a company that produces so many awesome games.

My 2 cents.
Dan B

For the record, I do not “hate” EA solely because of the games they produce. In fact, I quite like the Medal of Honor games. (I’ll say what I will about the company that makes it, but I still have to give credit where credit is due.) They are allowed to create games, just like all other companies that do. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I “hate” EA because right now, they are restricting others as to the games they can make. This includes the NFL deal, the AFL deal, the ESPN deal, the past FIFA, NASCAR, and PGA deals, and quite possibly an NCAA deal in the near future. I “hate” them because they are making money hand over fist over the broken backs of their employees. I “hate” them because they choose not to compete with others, but wave their gigantic bankroll to various organizations to eliminate the competition instead. It’s good for their business, but bad for us gamers.

As an example, lets bring up the NFL deal for a second. Last year, I had a choice as to what NFL football game I wanted to play. I chose ESPN NFL 2K5; not because of the price, but because I believed it to be the superior product that particular year. If I thought Madden 2005 was the superior product, I would have purchased that game to get my NFL fix. It was nice to have that choice. I could play what I thought was the better game. But NOW, I can no longer make that choice. Both EA and the NFL have stripped me of that choice, and I am angry. I’m VERY angry.

Let’s see if I can relate this scenario to you in any way…hmmm…okay, I got it. Let’s take Medal of Honor as an example. You enjoy that game, right? You got to simulate storming the beaches in Normandy, right? Wasn’t that great? Well, lets pretend in the PUREST of hypothetical instances that Activision gains 100% exclusivity to create games based on World War II. This means that no more Medal of Honor games can be produced, striking a major blow to EA and this particular franchise. And to think, you had a CHOICE between Medal of Honor and all the other WWII games out there. Now you can only play the WWII games made by Activision, and you don’t even LIKE Activision games all that much. And to think you used to have a choice in the matter…

Now I’m not knocking your right to like EA. Just don’t knock MY right to point out what’s wrong with them.

Next we have DarthCharizard who weighs in on a few things…

i know you didnt talk about the PSP much, but you mentioned it once or twice so im going to comment on it. deal with it.

HEY! Who said you could give me demands?!? You know I could stop printing your e-mails right now, mister! Buuuuuut…I’ll let it slide this time.

if im not mistaken, when sony first announced the PSP, didnt they say it wouldnt have any ports whatsoever? of course im sure we all knew that was a lie but it sounded good at the time. they even had trailers for death jr.! see? new stuff!! but i havent heard anything about death jr. for several months, but ive heard about spiderman 2 and grand theft auto.

I do recall that Sony, at one point, said their system would not be port-oriented. And of course, on launch day, the PSP games will instantly outnumber the DS games in terms of ports. Ah, company spin…

i really dont see the point in playing games ive already played on a bigger screen without having to worry about battery life just because its handheld. however, i have already invested in a DS and i love it. sure, they ported super mario 64, but they added all that extra content.

To be fair, some of the PSP ports have been announced to include extra content. For example, THUG 2 Remix is set to have some new stages and such.

and ive heard rumors about nintendo announcing the wi-fi in march so its gonna be even better. plus its cheaper than the PSP so its clearly the better system. but sadly, the casual gamers that want their digital boobs as detailed as possible have come back again to ruin our fun like they did with madden. and im sure theyll go crazy over the PS3 once they find out the cell chip has 6.4 ghz. nintendos revolution is gonna be innovative and designed with gamers in mind instead of money, but god damn! 6.4 ghz!! just imagine how detailed the boobs will be!!!

As of right now, the only ultra-advantage Sony has over Nintendo in terms of handheld supremacy is the graphical components. The PSP does have better graphical capabilities over the DS. And unfortunately, most gamers are too stupid to realize that good graphics DO NOT EQUAL a good game. So they’ll ignore the price tag and battery issues, purchase one or two games they can already play on the big screen, and feel all warm and gooey inside about it. And while the PSP launch doesn’t thrill me all that much, the DS launch was less than stellar as well. In my opinion, the best handheld on the market right now is STILL the GBA SP, and it will continue to be so until the new handhelds can get their acts together and produce a steady flow of titles per month that aren’t all ports.

As far as what next generation console will be better, I’ll make that decision when there are physical units for me to play around with.

Next we have EES favorite Chad Smith, who begins with remarks on IIDX:

Anyway, Kudos to you for trying it out. It’s very, very addicting, and very, very hard. I’ve burned out my IIDX controller, and don’t know where to get another other than eBay, and I don’t particularly want to pay through the nose for a controller. If you find a good source for *quality* IIDX controllers, I’d appreciate a link to where to get them. B4U on highest difficulty = GAH.

I’m really looking forward to it as well, and am fully anticipating that I’ll have my work cut out for me if I want to get good. As far as IIDX controllers, the only one you can really trust is the official Konami brand. There are cheaper ones, such as the “Rave Discman”, but I’ve heard horror stories about how they break often. Try looking at Lik-Sang.com for a good deal on them. They seem to offer them at $20 less than most places.

re: Boom Boom Dollar KOGG3. God DAMN I love that song. It’s one of the songs I play quite often in DWI, and on my 3rd Mix game CD when I throw in it.

Yes, BBDKOGG3 is quite a good song. I remember back when my local arcade had a 3rd Mix machine where I intentionally picked the song on Basic, did the final part of the song without looking, and watching the stupid crowd think I was a god at it. (That’s right folks, jump through the hoop! Jump through the hoop!)

Quite frankly, what I think the lovely fellows at Bemani and Konami *should* do, is make their own online category where you can pay 2 bucks (or whatever) and download ANY song from ANY DDR game ever released, and you could play it to your hearts content. This could be done on the PS2 and the xBox, and even a PC version of the game. Release the base game, say DDR Ultimate Mix, and you can hop online and chose from the literally hundreds of songs and download whatever you want. You could even have a step-file server where you could download stepfiles that other people have created for existing songs. They could include songs that don’t have *any* stepfiles associated with them, but are there only for people to download and create stepfiles for. Monthly sales have X number of songs at a cheaper price than the others. Exclusives could be made only for this version of the game. It could be a huge online community, if done right.


Do you realize how many holes this plan HAS?!?!?

(1) Downloading ANY DDR song from ANY DDR game would severely completely eliminate the need for sequels. By putting up all the songs at once, all of the sudden, there are more songs in the pool of unused materials. Would YOU buy a new full-version game with classic songs if you could just download them all for half the price?

(2) In order to download EVERY SONG EVER, Konami still needs to obtain the licensing rights to the bulk of them. That’s an entirely different process that’s WAY too complicated and time consuming to go into right now. In any case, the end result of it could be that you end up paying $2 for Synchronized Love, and $10 for Sandstorm. Is that fair?!?

(3) Songs with NO step patterns? That wouldn’t work either. The majority of those who play don’t even delve into Edit Mode most of the time. They expect to have all their songs immediately playable without doing any of the work themselves. Honestly, who wants to pay $2 for something you can’t play?

(4) This would not work well on the PS2. In order to download songs, you’re going to need to buy the hard drive. And according to sales figures, the hard drive flopped a might big flop. Even WITH Final Fantasy XI as a pack-in. Add the fact that the newer models don’t even have a place to HOOK UP the hard drive, and …well…

(5) This probably wouldn’t work well on the PC either. DDR actually saw a PC release back in 2002, but it was made available ONLY out of one location in Hawaii, and it didn’t do so hot either.

(6) This leaves the XBox as the only viable console that can pull this off. And it still wouldn’t work well given #1 and #2. The collection is too big, no more sequels would be made, and some songs would cost much more than others due to high licensing fees.

It’s an idea that’s been suggested by many, but the feasibility of it working out for the long term is 0%. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Anyway, lots more to say, but not at this time.

Chad Smith

I’ll be looking forward to it.

Next, “The Dark Knight” writes in with this:

Hey Alex, great column.

Thanks. I try!

I think you are right about any game that re-releases a great game like Mario 3, I remember getting that game on the day it was released, all my friends were clammering to come over and fire up my NES, so hell yeah i would agree with you that it’s a hell of a fun game to play when you are on the go and once i find a used Game Boy Advance SP i’ll buy it just can’t see paying that much for a game boy, when just for a little bit more i can get a PS2 or X-Box.

Um…a GBA SP these days cost half as much as a PS2 or XBox. $80 VS $150, man. Unless there was another price cut I’m conveniently forgetting…

There was one game that almost forced me to go get one and it was the GBA re-release of Link to the Past, which has to be my favorite Zelda game ever. I’m hoping that the new MIDISH cup game is as good as that.

If its a Zelda game, you can bet your bottom dollar that it OOZES quality. I can honestly say that about every Zelda game I’ve played.

I also wanted to voice my opinion about the PSP, its great in theory but just a few years ago an egg head created a portable PlatyStation out of his basement for a couple hundred that actually played PS1 games.

I heard about that guy. He spent about $500 making his own portable PS1. It was big and bulky as hell, but he did it! He even considered selling the thing, but I don’t think that panned out that well.

Why Sony would abandon there core system to go for a new media format is beyond me. This is why I personally think that the DS will crush the PSP when it’s all said and done. Which is the same one thing that made the PS2 such a hit over X-Box and Game Cube, backwards compatability. Sure you plop the money for a DS yet you can still play your GBA games on there, at least you have something to play on it while you save for the killer app for the system. I just don’t think that Sony put a lot of thought into this. I peronally don’t think that it wouldnt’ have made the system that much bigger.

Sony wants to be #1 in the handheld market, and they want to be #1 NOW. They forwent making something equivalent to a portable PS1 and went straight to making a portable PS2 that could do 50 other things other than play games. They want to make an all-in-one unit like the N-Gage, and they know people will buy it (Unlike the N-Gage! BA-ZING!) because of the Sony brand name.

Had Sony announced that the PSP was going to include slightly better PS1-style graphics and a $100 price tag, the handheld market would instantly have been there’s. I mean, the entered the CONSOLE market with a PS1, right? And look what happened! They’re the kings of the industry! Entering the handheld market with the same damn thing would still be as revolutionary as they releasing a portable PS2. They would have saved on costs, AND still received the same developer support. Cheap system + cheap, addicting games + recognized brand name + loyal fan base = a gold mine. They would have found the one way to grab Nintendo completely by the balls. But NO, they want the handheld gaming market, AND the I-Pod market! Plus they want to cut into the sales of their own portable DVD players, apparently!

I think the DS won’t “crush” the PSP, and the PSP won’t be a “flop”, but I feel that Sony’s shooting itself in the foot quite a bit for this venture in the financial sense. But you know that they’re going to make quite a lot of their money back anyway. We’ll just have to see what happens when all is said and done.

Anyway was wondering if you could give me some info about doing beta tests for gaming companies. I already do beta testing for AOL, and a couple other software companies, who would i contact to get a job like that. Thanks again for your help.

Believe me, I wish I had some specifics to tell you here. Otherwise I’d have my resume at ALL the big companies already! All I can tell you is to keep your eyes and ears open. When a hardware / software company puts out an announcement about needing beta testers, jump on it like its the last piece of cake at a birthday party. You can’t apply to what you don’t know about.

Finally, we have another instance of “letter at the buzzer”, as Scotty J shoots this one off just before #17 hits the Internet:

Hey Alex.
Once again, a great EES. I have found a new reason to hate EA, if youll be so kind as to allow me to share it.

Please do!

Recently I purchased Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 for my PS2. Im not so much a huge fan of Tiger himself as I am of Mike Wier, Phil Mickelson and golf in general. So, imagine my dissapointment when I fired up TW2005 and saw that both of my favorite players were missing from the game. Along with Mickelson and Wier, other noteables missing were Ernie Els and KJ Choi. Now, realistically this shouldnt be such a big deal right? Well for one, this is a PGA licensed game. One would assume that a game with the license would have the players. In the place of these players are Legends like Ben Hogan, Jack Nickalus and “Sunday” Tiger. Ok thats great, legendary players. But oddly, rounding out the player list are 10 fantasy characters, similar to the ones found in Outlaw Golf style games.

I can’t say that I’m a big fan of golf and the PGA, but I definitely see your point. In theory, Tiger Woods PGA 2005 should be like Madden NFL 2005 in the sense that both are true-life simulation sports games, and both should be realistic as possible. This includes players, locations, etc. Not including the players you mentioned in the golf game is just like not including Terrell Owens, Peyton Manning, Patrick Ramsey, and Clinton Portis in an NFL game when they are CLEARLY playing in that particular season.

Obviously the solution to this problem would simply be to create Phil Mickelson, Mike Wier, ect right? Well two things prevent this. 1) The Create A Player feature text is only long enough for ONE name. So, “Mickelson” is all that would fit. 2) Upon firing up the actual PGA Tour section of the game, guess whos names were on the leaderboard. Thats right, Mickelson, Wier and everyone else I mentioned. So while EA has the rights to their names, they dont have the rights to include the players? Absurd.

All right, now this is complete “half-assery” at work here. You’re able to create your own player to the tee in Madden games, so why not here? And the fact EA just threw in the names of certain people without even putting them in the GAME?!? Absurd is the right word here.

Im sorry this is so long, but this doesnt stop with the PGA license. Next up is the NBA license, NBA Street 3 AND Fight Night 2005 feature Mario characters (and Street3 has the Beastie Boys on PS2).

Now to be fair (hard to do with EA, yes, but bear with me), the GameCube exclusive additions to these particular titles really don’t change the gameplay very much. The jury’s still out on whether the Mario teams in NBA Street V3 are broken, but special stuff in Fight Night 2005 is simply the classic SNES Super Punch-Out! game. You don’t even need to unlock it, as its reportedly just…there. Nothing like that compares to your first point with the PGA and such.

My point, as long and as drawn out as it is, is that what is the point of EA trying to dominate the market with exclusive licneses if they arent even going to use them properly? I know Street is an arcade style game, but TW2005 is presented as a sim with arcade features/gimmicks. Any true die hard golf fan is going to dissapointed to know that the last 2 players to win the Masters arent even in the game. Oh, and neither is the course Mickelson won his on. PGA Tour + Fantasy characters and courses = Wasted License.

EA Hater

In other news, EA announced that the New England Patriots will not be included in the 2006 edition of their popular Madden NFL Football series. “We’ve replaced them with ‘The Gobblegerkies from Alberkerky’, and we are very excited about it,” said EA Chairman Ima Dumass in a recent press conference. “They are a local street team with everything to prove and nothing to lose. We feel this inclusion of soap-opera drama is exactly what the NFL needs in order to increase the overall realistic experience.”

No, the above isn’t real, but it could still happen now EA owns the license. And it probably will. Asses.


Here’s some more stuff for you to read. Not reading it makes Baby Jesus cry.

Yes, your non-willingness to read this stuff will have some adverse effect on space/time that will transmit some sort of pain sensation to Jesus Christ HIMSELF to when he was an infant over 2000 years ago. And we wouldn’t want THAT, now would we? WOULD WE?!?!?

I thought so. Moving on…

Bryan Berg makes the same boo-boo I did in regards to the whole PSP / Spiderman 2 deal. He took it a bit harder, though.

Liquidcross remarks that the end could be near for Nintendo if they don’t change strategies quick for the PSP. Oh come on, it’s not going to be THAT bad.

I lead a new Tribunal, and Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction is the target. How does IP think about it? READ!

Tom Pandich didn’t e-mail me this week, but only because he was hired to the staff instead. He DID write a nifty review of Dragonball Z: Budokai 3, though.

The planets must have aligned or something, because Eric S. finally plugs me! You know, after I kinda said he never did, and…um…well, he still plugged me this week! (And for the record, I’ll never stop hating EA. It’s too much fun.)

Orange Lounge Radio gets weekly loving yet again. Eventually, they’ll get sick of me calling in every week. So until that happens, I’ll milk this relationship for all its worth!


As today’s column nears its end, I prepare myself to review Winnie The Pooh on the PS2. It’s not a pretty site, a grown man playing a game featuring Winnie The Pooh, but I do for the site. I do it…FOR THE PULSE!

And then I question WHY I do it for the Pulse. But that’s another story for another day.

Stay tuned next week when I talk a bit about PIU, and even compare it to DDR. Which game is better? YOU’LL SOON FIND OUT!!!

As for me, I’m off to stuff myself with honey. (NO, not like that! PERVERTS!)

Alex Williams, The Norwegian Athlete