Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nintendo Wii: Maybe Not So Dumb

Yes, the jokes started flowing after Nintendo announced that the Revolution was changing its name to Wii. Most jokes pointed to the fact that the name (pronounced "we") can be used as a synonym for urinating or part of the male anatomy. Heck, even I had a few laughs at its expense.

Revolution was a great name, but I think we all knew it was just a codename like Katana (Dreamcast), Dolphin (GameCube), Xenon (Xbox) and many other systems had. I still think a lot of people have a problem with the name, but once you get over the initial craziness of it all it starts to grow on you. Let me throw some names out there for you:


When those four (and I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting) came out, what was your first reaction to the name? Yahoo was the first in that group and you had to laugh at it. Now the creators are rich and they can laugh to the bank. Same goes for Google and they have become even bigger than Yahoo.

The iPod is the #1 digital device out there and Apple is always adding functionality to it. I know I snickered the first time I heard iPod and I'm not sad to say I've owned one for over 2 years now.

The last one (GameBoy) was considered a stupid name when it was first announced, it is just that we didn't have the internet at that time like we do now. In the end the GameBoy has become the #1 system of all time, selling over 110 million units. That's crazy, but the name stuck through several iterations and people got used to it.

In the end who is to say that Wii isn't going to catch on like the four above? It is far more innovative than Microsoft (Xbox 360) and Sony (Playstation 3) have been with naming their new systems. It was also smart for Nintendo to announce this before E3 as it gives people time to let it sink in. I still think the Wii is a very interesting wild card going into the holiday season. Chances are there will be more units of the Wii than the PS3 in Japan/North America by the time the end of the year rolls around. Nintendo is still the innovator, they just need the 3rd parties to come along with them and not leave them in the dust like they did with the N64 and GameCube.

So, come back and think about Wii in a few days after the jokes have subsided. I think it may grow on you...or I could be entirely wrong.

Welcome Back

Sorry for the 3 week gap in posts. Things have been busy at work and I've just kind of hit a lull in gaming. I'm about 20 hours into Kingdom Hearts II, but I think the talking and cutscenes were starting to get to my better half, so we took a break from it and haven't picked it up again, but I hope to soon.

I did play some Top Spin 2 on the 360 and I'll try to do a review for it in the near future. The game is really good, but it is a bit more convoluted in how you dole out ability stars than in Top Spin. For the most part the loading is gone, especially when going into matches, but actually getting the location loaded does take a bit. Another cool thing is you can now save inside of a tournament, something you couldn't do in the first game.

I'll also have some comic book thoughts coming up as well. Next week is HUGE! Civil War #1 AND Infinite Crisis #7 comes out next. So basically Marvel opens up its big event as DC closes theirs and opens up the door to the lost year in 52. It's an exciting time and there are a LOT of rumors flying around in both the Marvel and DC universe.

Once again, welcome back and hopefully I'll keep this up...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Infinite Crisis #6 (Major Spoilers)

Well, my guess was right that the regular Earth Superboy was going to bite the big one. Psycho Pirate also bit the big one by the hands of Black Adam once he was released from the vibrational machine. It's unknown whether Superboy Prime lived through the destruction of the machine, but the preview on the last page for next issue says something related to whether Prime can be stopped or not.

My guess is by the end of Infinite Crisis #7 everyone who knew about the multiverse before Crisis on Infinite Earths will be dead minus Power Girl. This means Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime will be dead (if they're not dead already, although I believe Prime is still alive, we never really saw where Alex went to before the destruction of the machine). This also means Earth-2 Superman will be dead as well and he will probably be the one to kill Prime, which goes against his beliefs when IC began. He'll realize the only way for there to be a resolution is for Superboy Prime to die and he'll handle it himself.

Conner Kent's death was a bit of a cop out and his death doesn't equal Supergirl or Barry Allen's death in COIE. I've never been a big fan of Superboy, especially when he was born after the death of Superman as a genetic combination of Superman and Lex Luthor. It's also a bit of a cop out if you read Teen Titans this week, the first one year later chapter for that book. At the end Robin is seen as trying to recreate Conner with Superman and Luthor's genetic material. I believe he is on his 96th try (don't have the issue in front of me at the moment) and all have failed, but he continues to try. Geoff Johns is writing Teen Titans, so we should not be surprised that it would tie into IC and the upcoming 52 pretty tightly.

One thing that caught me a bit off guard is that Superboy Prime said the Flashes tied him up by a red sun for years. He doesn't explain whether the Flashes watched him during this time or anything, but he escaped and built a suit (that looks Anti-Monitor like) to give him continual yellow sun energy. The problem is that it was a known fact that Prime was not vulnerable to the red sun like the modern day Superman is, so I don't know how the Flashes kept him at bay for years using just that. It was also funny to see Prime say that Black Adam's punches only tickled and he joked about a weakness to magic.

The next one should be exciting and hopefully 52 will be exciting as well. It's a good time to be a comic book reader.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DC Comic Book Catch Up

Well, Infinite Crisis #6 was moved back from last week to this week, so I thought I would catch up on comic books before the bomb is dropped tomorrow. Let's start with IC and the One Year Later books.

Infinite Crisis #6: This is the big one, the penultimate chapter of the series. Last issue we saw that Superboy Prime (the Superboy that stayed with Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 and Superman and Lois Lane from Earth-2 at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths) was back from his trip with the combined Flash force (Bart, Wally, Barry from the future and Jay) with Anti-Monitor gear on looking ready to kick some major butt. The last battle Superboy Prime was in he killed a few old Teen Titans and beat up the Superboy of the current Earth pretty badly.

The rumors have been flying that this is the issue where a major someone (or someones) bites the dust. All signs point to Superboy of our Earth, especially after he and Wonder Girl had sex in the Titans annual before he went off to fight with Nightwing against the Alex Luthor weapon. Much like horror movies, you have a target on your head if you're under 18 and have sexual relations. There may be more people biting it as well. Heck, Alexander Luthor better watch his back. If Superboy Prime ever finds out that he was duped he can get in line with Superman from Earth-2 to pound the living daylights out of Alex. I can't wait to read this issue, I mean just look at Superboy Prime in Jim Lee's variant cover:

One Year Later: There are a few people we can take out of the death talk above. The biggest one would be Dick Grayson (Nightwing). He's obviously alive and well (and doing one night stands) again. I wonder what the heck happened between he and Barbara considering he proposed to her in the Nightwing before One Year Later. Other obvious characters still alive include Superman (more about him later), Batman and Robin (Tim Drake).

Most of the books have not been all that great in One Year Later. The Superman 8-part story certainly stands out of the crowd though. Clark Kent has lost his powers, possibly been powerless the whole year. He's back to being an investigative reporter and relying on his superhero friends to help him on occasion. Lex Luthor has fallen from grace in LexCorp and it sounds as if it is about to be sold. Lex is corroborating with the likes of Toyman and Metallo and is back to his old "scientist in a dungy place" spot in life. Even though "the alien" is gone, he is still up to old tricks. Obviously Clark will probably get his powers back by the end of this 8-parter, but while we're getting there I have to say Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek have created a wonderful story.

In the world of Batman there is also an 8-part story. It sounds like Bruce, Tim and Dick all went to the Middle East for the year to train and become a better "family" unit. Who knows if this idea is going to stretch to Robin and Nightwing, but it would be interesting to see what happened to them in the year missed. The first part of the story was fantastic, but the second part felt a little too much like the old days with everyone back in place (Jim Gordon is commish again, Harvey Bullock is back as well). From what I can grasp it seems Harvey Dent (and/or Two-Face) has taken to becoming a vigilante while Batman was gone and at the end of the 2nd part it looks like Magpie was eliminated (is that a shout back to Legends that I hear?). Now I wonder if this will clash with the supposed fact that The Question becomes Gotham's guardian while Batman is gone for a year...we shall see.

Firestorm is interesting in the fact that it is now Jason and Lorraine as Firestorm instead of Jason and Prof. Stein as it was before the leap. The interesting thing is I thought Lorraine was getting out of the superhero business, but she has the added benefit of being part of Firestorm AND being able to change into Firehawk. Of course there is that little matter of not being able to be apart by too much of a distance...

I can't think of any others that stand out. Teen Titans starts its jump tomorrow, which is of course perfectly timed with IC #6 and the rumor of Superboy's death. With TT being written by Geoff Johns chances are it will be well tied in to IC and the upcoming 52 storyline.

Well, onto Marvel...

Marvel Comic Book Catch Up

On the other side of the fence we have the upcoming Civil War in the Marvel comics universe. They've been running The Road to Civil War lately in Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. So far I'm not super hot on it with the prelude, but the overall story sounds intriguing and The New Avengers: Illuminati that came out last week really helps set the stage for what is going on.

Tony Stark gets together a group of the most powerful and smart people in the world: Reed Richards, Dr. Strange, Namor, Black Bolt and Charles Xavier after the original Kree-Skrull war. They decide that this group will meet whenever anything serious comes up so they can become a combined effort instead of groups here and there (like the Avengers and the X-Men). For years it seems this group doesn't get together, then the Hulk attacks Las Vegas and they meet and decide to throw the Hulk to another world (which is of course being spelled out in the Planet Hulk arc). They also explain how Nick Fury was there at that point in time and not underground...S.H.I.E.L.D. created Life Model Decoys of Fury to keep up the illusion he was still around.

Tony then assembles the group again, this time to talk about the upcoming Superhero Registration Act that is going to pass through Congress. Tony wants the group to stand behind the bill to show solidarity and not be against it so they can bend the legislation to their liking. Some people don't like the idea of civil liberties being destroyed by every superhero having to give up their identity. The Congressional hearings are being spelled out in the Amazing Spider-Man arc. This will of course all build up to the Civil War in May where heroes choose sides (supposedly Tony is on one side and Captain America is on the other) and Spider-Man is the dead center focus of the whole thing as he decides which side he should be on, especially given how much Tony Stark has given to him since The Other travesty (a new costume that is growing on me for instance).

At this point I'm more excited about Civil War than the fallout from Infinite Crisis. Chances are just like House of M many people will feel disappointed by Civil War, but it seems Marvel has been planning this almost as long as DC had been planning Infinite Crisis.

Also of note with Marvel: please do Dan Slott a favor and put The Thing on your monthly pull list. Dan Slott is a gifted writer who has great ideas, but neither this book nor She-Hulk are really lighting up the sales charts. I can tell you both books are good, but Dan himself has put the future of The Thing in comic reader's hands and I hope enough people go out and buy it and keep that fantastic book going.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)

Most of the weekend was spent with this game. I am so far amazed by this game. The camera is better and the Gummi Ship minigame is more exciting. The story is highly confusing early on even if you've played Chain of Memories on GameBoy Advance before this, but everything goes back to normal after the multiple hour prelude (yes, the KH2 logo is not shown until hours into the game).

There are a lot more cutscenes in this game and I would dare say this game comes close to matching the Metal Gear Solid games in the amount of cutscenes to gameplay time. As many of you know, I love the MGS games, so it should come as no surprise that I absolutely love this game as well. I'm about 11 game hours in so far and don't see myself dropping this game because it just sucks me in. The best thing about this game is that my wife can grab the controller and look around for treasure chests and do a lot of the legwork while I am employed when big fights or boss fights come up.

There are some reviews out there (especially pointing toward IGN) that I shake my head at. The difficulty is indeed not much, but then again the first game wasn't all that difficult either. Maybe some people have been skewed by Chain of Memories and its difficulty, I don't know. My wife and I can attest to the fact that Kingdom Hearts II isn't so much about difficulty, but more about being a family-oriented game. You also have to realize that there are a lot of children out there that will be playing this game and if the developers skew the game toward them it isn't going to be so difficult. Saying the game is disappointing because of its difficulty is a slap in the face honestly. I can already tell this game will take longer to beat than the first one and all the reviews support that idea saying it takes 40-50 hours to beat. That is a long game and there's no way you could keep children's attention for so long with more difficulty.

Bottom line is Kingdom Hearts II is a fantastic game and they've fixed everything I had a problem with in Kingdom Hearts. Anyone who likes Square or Disney should pick up this game and enjoy it for a long time.

More Oblivion

Well, I got some Oblivion playing done in-between Kingdom Hearts II marathons this weekend. In RPG games like Oblivion (the "do anything you want" type of RPG vs. the more linear Japanese/Console RPG) I tend to reach a point where things are no longer exciting, a wall if you will. Yes, I could be doing a myriad of things outside of the main quest, but I find myself attracted only to the main quest and actually bored with the game outside of that. This of course makes Oblivion the type of RPG I like, that being a more linear one. The problem is that going through only the main quests will make Oblivion a short game. The beauty of the game is that someone with the style I have will be just as happy with the game as someone that likes to just go off and do things for hundreds of hours. I still think Oblivion is a really good game, but taking it from a linear perspective (main quests only) it is actually shorter than many other RPGs, including one I will be posting about next (Kingdom Hearts II). Oblivion however has a leg up on many other RPGs though in the fact that it is so dynamic that any person playing the game can find their own enjoyment in it.

I really like Oblivion, but I also realize I am going to hit my wall with the game pretty soon. I'm just happy to say I stayed with this game far longer than I did Morrowind. Maybe Bethesda just made this game more accessible to the masses than Morrowind was, I don't know. Oblivion really is a great game, but my time with it will be coming to an end soon.