Gaming Zen: The Return


For long time readers of IP Games, you may remember I used to write a Monday column called Gaming Zen which featured a look at the past week’s news, a top ten of something, mini-previews, and general asshattery. My column was meant as a way to try and spin bad news good and good news bad (if there was any room to spin). Of course it devolved into me bitching about what’s wrong with gaming. Surprisingly (especially considering the wonderful state of next generation gaming), Not a True Ending embodies this principle of sticking it to the man. Technically, this will be the first real reoccurring column for NaTE. It is my hope, nay, promise that Gaming Zen will not miss a column for the rest of 2006 (even if it’s a very short column).

Here’s going to be the new improved(?) format of Gaming Zen. I’m scrapping the news and just talking about something that caught my interest for the week. Afterwards, I’ll give my good news bit of the week (typically a game announcement or something else). Next deal of the week, game of the week, and then we’ll finish things off with either a mini feature or a top ten. Sound good folks? Sure it does. Let’s get to it.

News of the Week

Let’s switch on the way back machine for a second.

“The PSP launched this week in the UK… finally. Over 185,000 units of the PSP sold on the launch trampling the previous record held by the Nintendo DS, which in turn will be trampled by another system launch in the near future. The big hits right now are Ridge Racer, Wipeout Pure, and Virtua Tennis. Good for them for finally getting a system the rest of the world has had for over 6 months now.

Say what you will about the Brits, but why the hell didn’t Sony launch the system earlier? The PSP is selling well in the US, but not to the point where you can’t walk into your local Wal Mart and still pick up the value pack. UK gamers were clamoring for this system, and Sony not only didn’t launch the system fast enough; they also said “f*ck you” to them over the importing issue.

It seems like UK gamers are forgiving Sony this time, but how many Xbox shortages or delayed launches are they willing to deal with before giving game companies a big middle finger. I think it’s happening sooner, rather then later, and that sooner will be when somewhere around 150,000 units of Xbox 360s land in the UK and that’s it until after Christmas.”

This is a quote taken from a previous column. Obviously, our friends in Europe didn’t get pissed off at the 360 launch (my guess is because the 360 launched with a rather meh line-up). Obviously, I’m getting at the fact that the writing was on the wall with this week’s big news. The PS3 is not being launched until 2007 in Europe (with only 100K in Japan and 400K in the US). Europe gets screwed again. I think this might be the end of Europe’s love affair with Sony. They killed for a PSP, yet I don’t see this happening with the PS3 simply because I don’t know how often Europe is going to collectively take it up the ass from Sony while two other next generation systems are out.

Ignoring the Europe angle (like most of the press), this is a relatively smart move for Sony. Even though the PS3 will end up getting some people killed in Japan, the question will be for what? Ridge Racer 7? Genji 2? Full Auto 2? The simple fact is that nothing on the PS3 will really serve as that much of a system seller for Japan. Additionally, there’s no battle in Japan. The Wii and the PS3 are different enough that Japanese consumers will potentially buy both, and the Xbox 360 is completely dead in the water in Japan.

The big PS3 launch game is Resistance: Fall of Man, a first person shooter that has little to no appeal in Japan. Without question, Sony’s big fight this generation will be in the United States with the Xbox 360. Resistance could potentially be what Perfect Dark Zero should have been. Considering the 360 holiday line-up is dwindling down to a questionable game in Viva PiÃÆ’±ata (I hope this game ends up being totally awesome though) and Gears of War, the PS3 could potentially suck up all of the excitement that Forza 2, Too Human, or Bioshock (that’s what the kids want, right) could have brought. Since it’s the seventh birthday of the Dreamcast, the DC launched Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike, Jet Grind Radio, Samba De Amigo, and Skies of Arcadia all within a month before or after the PS2 launch. Look how many customers bought a Dreamcast when they couldn’t get a PS2 instead. It’s bad news (shocking I know) out of Sony’s front, but they made the right decision in terms of the breakdown for PS3 systems to regions (except Japan, who are getting F’ed in the A).

Oh and the PS3 doesn’t come with a HDMI cable for the $600 version too. How stupid is that? Sony can’t make cables now? Bah I say.

Deal of the Week

It’s an utterly crazy week for DS owners as I’ll be picking up five, that’s right, five of the DS titles out this week. Thankfully, Best Buy and Nintendo are running a promotion where you can buy 2 DS games online and get 1 free if you register your DS with Nintendo. In store pick up works and the offer is good until Friday. Go ahead and take advantage of it to pick up any of the great titles coming out this week.

Speaking of which…

Game of the Week

Ugh, what a horrible week to have to pick something. There’s a ton of great games out this week. It’s almost all DS this week so my somewhat surprising pick for this week is ……*drum roll*…… Mega Man ZX. Why Mega Man over a new Harvest Moon, Lego Star Wars 2 (non-sucky edition), Mario Hoops, Mech Assault DS, and Cooking Mama? Well I’ve renewed my being a whore for Mega Man games, and I continue to be a whore for the Nintendo DS. Capcom combines the two for a new platformer that has a “hard” difficulty for people who breezed through Mega Man Maverick Hunter X/Mega Man Powered Up while keeping an “easy” difficulty for gamers looking for an easier experience. That’s not to say that I won’t snag Mario Hoops (which looks great) or Cooking Mama in the first week (I’ll snag Harvest Moon a little later as I’m still playing Animal Crossing DS and happy with it). I’ll go and pick up Mech Assault and Lego Star Wars 2 when the price is right though. Speaking of Lego Star Wars 2…

Best Newsbit of the Week

Lego. Batman. That is all.

What I’m Playing

Lots of stuff I haven’t talked about at all ever. Thankfully though, most of those are for a feature this week for NaTE. We’ll pass on those games though. Still, there’s a few new ones worth mentioning.

PokÃÆ’©mon Coliseum- I hate you Lucard. I really, really hate you.

Sudoku Gridmaster- A lot of people crapped all over this game for not being as good as the free version of Sudoku included in Brain Age. Here’s a little secret kids. The fact that Gridmaster doesn’t zoom and rather has what you are writing or tapping on a keypad in the corner is not a big change from Brain Age. Furthermore, I like it because I think the hand writing recognition in Brain Age sucks, and I’d rather tap out numbers. The music is nice too, and the unlock system is sensible. I only paid $10 for this, but I can see myself putting in quite a bit of time with it.

Star Fox Command- This game desperately needs simple D-pad control. Sorry Nintendo. Look for a review coming of this soon.

Plus Animal Crossing DS goes without saying these days. I also got a Game Boy Player recently so that has been getting a workout with a few GBA platformers I knew I’d enjoy more with a controller.

The Top Ten

Well this is the first new column since April. What have I done gaming wise since April? Well…

1. I bought a PSP- It’s a decent system, and I’ve got about ten games or so for it. I’ve been using it to read a lot of books late at night though recently (much more so then gaming) simply because the less light the better at night.

2. I bought a Neo Geo Pocket- 20 bucks for a system and 6 games. I don’t know when I’ll get the staff favorites of SNK vs Capcom: MOTM or Cardfighter’s Clash, but it will eventually happen.

3. I bought a shitload of DS titles- Too many in fact. I currently own every “major” release on the system besides Magnetica. This will change come next week as there are just too many AAA titles to snag and to save up for a Wii.

4. I haven’t saved any money for the Wii launch- $&#$%$@

5. I had a GBA Renaissance- One of the wonderful things about the DS is that I finally have a safe way to store GBA games. Since then, I’ve picked up a ton of the great games I missed out on with the GBA simply because it was too hard to store them and keep them safe from dust.

6. I started becoming a PokÃÆ’©mon Master- Fing Lucard. Fing Williams.

7. I bought a DS Lite- Thirty second review of the DS Lite. I love the extended battery life and the screen brightness. I like the weight of the original DS a lot more though, and the Lite still feels sharp. I wish I could snag a Black Lite though, but color really doesn’t matter that much.

8. I got my first reason to want an Xbox 360- Capcom’s Dead Rising is the first 360 game that has come out that has made me really want the system. Granted, we’re still a long way away from my needing at least five “must own” games before buying a system, but there’s one.

9. I played too much Animal Crossing- There was a stretch of about two months where I didn’t play any Animal Crossing DS. Then all of a sudden I got an urge to play the game on the Lite and discovered how much fun bug catching could be. I’m hitting a second wall playing it at this point (just got my big house so no more loans), but something tells me that I’ll be back again sooner rather then later. Harvest Moon DS might distract me for a couple of months though. Then again, I love Winter.

10. I worked too hard at the game of life- Because of this, I am one semester away from graduating from college and being out of school until I tackle the Doctorate. Hurrah! After December I’m going… to teach public high school? Aww what the hell? I was almost out and then they pull me back in.

Well, that’s the column. I hope you enjoyed it. It’s good to be back writing for IP Games again. Expect big things over the next couple of weeks. We’re also going to be hiring to fill out a larger staff so don’t be shy in filling out a resume. Welcome to the future.