Cake Bake Betty

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5.9.2006 - [Some Thoughts About Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3s] Hide
Just Wii

There is no reason for me to use more than a few sentences discussing the new video game consoles showcased at this year's E3 Expo in LA this week, since they are being discussed everywhere, from the [New York Times] to the blog next door. Videogaming is a big business. Most younger people enjoy such games, thus all of the verbiage. Nevertheless, I'll speak a bit about the three main contenders, since I like console games, too:

Nintendo Wii: Unofficially referred to as "Revolution" for a year or so, now it's named in a way that reminds of urine, or its spigot. Not nice imagery, but in Japanese it's purely innocuous (with no bad homophone), so there. No matter, it's going to be a fine console, geared at kids (as most Nintendo product ultimately is), or those looking for a more casual and kinetic experience. See, the secret is movement - swing or point the new controller, and your virtual self does the same. It sounds like grand fun, but I really don't care for Mario and Link and crew (the Nintendo mascots). They kind of repulse me, just like Disney things do. Thus, if there are games that use this new technology, and don't involve Nintendo characters, then I'm there.

Wii In The House

The Wii also has a large network component, which shines if you want to download older Nintendo or Sega games (for a fee, of course). I think it might be fun to play old stuff, and Nintendo has made sure that they have an alternative controller that doesn't evoke a baton, for more normal finger functions. It's bound to be an inexpensive console, that plays Gamecube and older games, and will benefit from the new gameplay technologies. If it gets good 3rd party support, and graphically surpasses the original Xbox, then it will flourish even with the harder core.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 is all about monetized online connectivity, and I actually own the beast, and have given it a spin on and off the net. Out of perhaps 2 dozen games so far, I like about 2. If it doesn't involve shooting realistic humanoids, then I'm there. Fighters like [DOA 4] or [Rumble Roses XX] that involve beautiful females are ideal. I also like puzzlers, like Hexic, or arcade games, like those you can download from Xbox Live. To me, the 360 feels a lot like the dearly departed Dreamcast, only with less Japanese games for my taste. I think it will do well, but I don't think it will ultimately win the battle this generation.

360 Stands Tall

Microsoft, of course, thinks that they will win. They have a "lead" in sales of a few million units (since the shipped first). They have a few games people like. They're trying hard to be the destination for the hardcore gamer. They'll have cameras, microphones, pinatas, whatever it takes. Yet, they will still "lose" the larger economic battle.

Despite the $599 price tag, I feel that the Sony PlayStation 3 will ultimately prevail. No one wants to pay a lot of money, but early adopters will. Then, as always, the price will go down, the console will be updated for cheaper production, and the price will go down further. If it can play all PS2 and PS1 games, as planned, then it's a lock in for Sony fans that can afford it. The graphics will ultimately be better than the Xbox 360, in part due to the massive amounts of storage on the BluRay discs (more geometry, textures, etc). Such BluRay support also means that Sony might prevail over Toshiba's HD-DVD format (which Microsoft is backing), simply due to the eventual PS3 installed base.


The hardware itself seems slightly better than the 360, but harder to program (as is the PlayStation way). Plus, you get all of the Japanese developers and games focused on the PS3, along with the big Western coders focusing where the money lies. None of the launch games may strike my fancy yet, but in 2007 and beyond there are bound to be things I enjoy - more games eventually equals more possibilities for games that don't involve shooting people. I also think the PSP will start to come of its own, as a full peripheral to the PS3 - emulation of PS1 games, acting as a controller or second screen, etc.

In conclusion, I will probably own all three, with the Wii next, and PS3 when I feel the price is right (maybe at the beginning, maybe in 2007 or beyond). Personally, I'm hoping that the PS3 allows for playback of Japanese PS2 games, so I can better explore the massive library. I'm sure the 360 will have a few titles I like, but I can't count on Rare (one of the design houses that Microsoft now owns) or Bungie (best known for [Halo], another Microsoft studio) since they make shiny games I don't really enjoy. Furthermore, it's severely doubtful that many Japanese developers will utilize the 360, so it's basically still born, except perhaps in the US.

All of that said, E3 continues this week, and I'll download some promo stuff from Xbox Live in a few days, so I can try out the latest. Perhaps I'll be more specific about this topic later.


5.1.2006 - [Ze Amazing Life Of Ze Frank, Sports Racer] Hide

Ze Frank

Over the past few months I have established my Rocketboom fandom; Amanda C. is the bestest. Last week, there was some fun synergy between her vlog, and one by Ze Frank, another New Yorker with equal parts goofus and galant.

The interchange between shows was hilarious, starting with Rocketboom's glamor shots in places like [Rolling Stone] magazine, and ending with a large mug fest (both like silly faces). Doesn't sound that funny, but it was, and it quickly addicted me on to The Show, Ze's magnum opus.

Turns out that for the past few years, he's been up to great, award-winning stuff on the web, recently in the form of a video blog that out snarks all others. It's laugh-out-your-nose loud yet very simple, with examinations of current affairs and randomness, seeped with post-and-pre-irony. I've only had a week or so to appreciate his POV, but it's something I'm going to come back for daily.

Since I usually find out about cool stuff about a month before it becomes big (too late for many, early for a few, like a mine canary), that means that you should expect to hear a lot more from Ze Frank, quite soon.


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