Archive for the 'Experience' Category

Portable XBox 360

I needed a break in early December so Ben (my temporary combat SAR swimmer roomie) and I went down to the San Diego Car Show. Imagine my surprise when I saw an XBOX 360 customized car – amazing crossover. Amid the muscle cars and hopped up trucks is this little Suzuki packed with gaming hardware and cutting edge display technology. I especially liked the circuit board door paneling.

Obviously this reached out to the car show fans, many of whom were attending with their kids and all were amazed. The big screen in the back allowed the car owner to play with the wireless remote, and a reverse projector controlled all the magic.

Looking past the projector I could see the action was controlled by two Xboxes – that heat issue they have is a show stopper for sure, and who wants the action to stop in a car show!

I was very impressed with the workmanship that put the controllers into recessed compartments, and for a total of four controllers, two Xbox systems could be used for all four occupants to play head to head or co-op.

What I’m waiting for is an Xbox motorcycle.

Charles Jeter

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Black Box Flight Recorder

Do you remember a heavy duty black box that used to sit below your TV? It was a games console like any other, without much hope of toppling the mighty PlayStation franchise.

There was nothing special about the Xbox, until one day those beautiful games were released with Xbox Live monicered across the top. Suddenly the Xbox was connected to the entire world, and everyone loved it.

Ah yes, Xbox Live breathed into that ridged dark brick and gave it life. Whole communities appeared as the people threw on headsets and talked to new friends from Sydney to New Orleans. Games became a place to be in their own right.

With Halo 2 a fully functional gaming community blossomed into groups of dedicated gamers, school kids, parents, husbands and wives. The community was full and I loved it. It was like what gaming should always have been, robust and full of real people. Hell yeah – this was good!

Then the new baby arrived. Pristine, white and curved; the 360. Surely this is the machine to set this new community on fire. With it came a new level of games. The community hunted as a pack from one release to the next, buying each title they could afford. My community became spread ever more thinly, and our cohesion of the past became fractured.

So we pinned our hopes on old faith-full, Halo 2. Now emulated, this surely would keep the community backbone strong. But 360 Halo2 still lacked any new ‘player matches’ and with failed loads and map problems, it was soon getting dusty back on the shelf.

The bottom line, my Live experience was watered down. No longer was it a place to find friends evey night, but simply somewhere to see what the next big game had become, and wonder if I could save up in time before the next title hit.

Are we ready for Halo3 in my clan? Damn right, we are shouting for it. We’re hoping that Live can again be somewhere to hang out. That a body of players can grow around a game that keeps them coming back for years not just months, games that last and evoke an ongong following.

We miss what has been lost and yearn for its return; TrUe GaMiNg CoMmUnItY.

Richard Robertson

What Nintendo Did Next

What to do when your portable is ruling the waves, your consoles are selling faster than you can produce them and there is this little Gameboy brand waiting in the wings? These are tough times for Nintendo Corp.

But hang in there Mr Nintendo, for we have seen the future and there is hope! A weary traveller called in not more that 2 days ago, full of news from a distant time. Here is his foretelling of what Nintendo did next.

Wii-bird: He told of the return of the grand-daddy of controllers. This time not only wire free but now is fully packed out with multi-directional rumble.

Not only that, he said, but it also comes with a built in charger that plugs into the USB port on the back of your Wii. So no more scurrying around for batteries.

Wii-player: He whispered of using his DS to play Game Boy Advance (GBA) games on his TV. Simply pop in your old GBA cart into the DS and follow the on screen advice to connect wirelessly to the Wii-player channe, and away you go! You can then play those classic GBA titles using your DS as a controller with the action super large on your TV.

Not only that, he said, but you can play GBA games that used the link cable for mulitplayer, against your friends via the Wii Connect 24.

Wii-board: He spoke of a full querty keyboard for the Wii. Complete with holster for the Wii-mote to provide wireless typing fun!

Not only that, he said, but it also has built in game controls for a quick switch of context between movement and typing, for any major MMO’s that may show up on the Wii sometime soon.

gameboyvc.gifWii-boy: He sang with joy about the original Gameboy Virtual Console. For just 100 points, you can buy a packs of original Gameboy games and play them in all their pixelated green/grey full screen glory.

Not only that, he said, but you can play Gameboy Colour titles too, and take advantage of any Super Gameboy features on the cartridge.

Mii-stats: He talked of a new Mii statistics channel to provide graphs and statistics of your Mii’s progress through the games it has played.

Not only that, he said, but this also enables your Mii’s stats to travel with them to other Wii’s, thus enabling comparisons and competition between your friends.

Phew! Well there you have it, the honest to gospel truth. Well that’s what he said anyhow.

Andy Robertson

Who is Michel Musters

card_andyr_small.gifWe want to apply our people centric focus to what we read as well as what we play. To that end, we have recently launched the new Blogging People set of cards.

The first brave sole to step up was Michel Musters of Moz La Punk. Along with a shiney new Blogger Card (Top Trumps style of course), we interview each new blogger. Here are some choice excerpts from the interview:

MozLaPunk:Moz La Punk can bring you news in a laid back way, without avoiding opinions, as long as they’re placed in a context so people know they are opinions (there is the objectivity again), and a place where lots of editorials and columns could really shine.

AndyR: It is interesting as this comes back to communities and groups. We need to enable visitors to feel like they can hang out and read in surroundings that they identify as their own. You see this in larger record stores that have different areas for different types of music, the people you find in each section are very different.

MozLaPunk: Indeed, and it is funny that you mention that because gaming is so behind in this. Why on earth are stores categorizing games by consoles? There is a Playstation section, a Wii section, a handheld section, Xbox section, PC section. You don’t see this with other types of entertainment products.

AndyR: I guess there is a balance to be struck. What I have been realising at Game People, it is better to establish a handful of quality community dwellers than to have a mass of people who flit in and out.
MozLaPunk: Exactly, I am of the same opinion. At MLP there have always been certain members who seem to never go away even if you’d try, and I’m grateful for that. They are the base you start out with, and the trick is to keep expanding that while you keep that base satisfied.

Like a Wavebird from the Ashes

wavebird.gifcard_andyr_small.gifThe GameCube pad was an instant hit with me. No previous controller fitted as snugly in my hot little mitts. The buttons were where I wanted them, the sticks were responsive and distinctive, and the analogue triggers worked like a dream.

One thing was holding it back however, a little black cable tethered it to the cube. The stage was set for the grand-daddy of Nintendo controllers, the WaveBird. Once held untethered, all else felt cumbersome and tied down. (A similar experience to the first hold of the Wii-mote/nunchuck.)

The WaveBird continued Nintendo’s use of AA, rather than proprietary, batteries and still managed to last a good 100 hours. It supported up to 16 simultaneously players (if you could find a game and enough friends).

But now the Wii has arrived, are its days numbered? Not at all, it is in fact seeing a resurgence of both its popularity and its usefulness. Not only can you use it to play all those classic GameCube games, but it even works with NES, SNES and N64 virtual console titles.

wavebird2.gifOf course, it does have to compete with the Virtual Console (VC) controller. But for me there’s no competition. The WaveBird not only plays more VC titles, but also continues to support GameCube games. And critically, it’s not tethered to a dangling Wii-mote.

The WaveBird has seen great fluctuations in price over its turbulent life. I recently put together the following list that shows the little fella’s popularity reflected in its price (in my local and on-line retailers):

  • GameCube Launch Price £34.99 (Electronics Boutique)
  • Mid GameCube £27.99
  • Late GameCube £22.99 (Game)
  • End of Gamecube life £5.99 (WH Smiths Sale)
  • Wii Launch £17.99 (Play.com)
  • Post Christmas price £24.99 (Amazon.co.uk)

I think we will see this price increase as its popularity goes up, and availability goes down. So it could well be a good time to buy into some of that WaveBird stock.

Let’s end by quoting from the IGN 9.5 review:

Nintendo’s wireless WaveBird controller is my father. It owns me — there is no doubting that. From the moment I first used it, I knew I would have to worship it for the rest of my life. Really, you’ve read our review — you know we love this thing.

— Update (12th March 2007) —

Thanks for all the feedback. That’s made interesting reading. If you are still after a Wavebird, and beat the escalating ebay prices, Amazon now have them for £17.98 and Play have them for £17.99.

Andy Robertson

Memories of Legend

A masterpiece, a feat in game design, or a work of art. Call it what you will, but I remember Ocarina of Time as a game of memories.

My cousin and I spent long hours playing this game, exploring every nook and cranny of Hyrule, defeating bosses and navigating dungeons. This game represents a period in my life, a period of simplicity and lazy winter days.

The game is often noted as the first 3-D game in the Zelda series, but being new to the land of Nintendo games, I hadn’t played previous 2D Zeldas. And so I approached the game with a brilliant naivety.

I was first introduced to it when my cousin brought it over at our annual New Year’s Eve party. It was the end of 1998, as I recall. He was still in Kokiri Forest. Watching him navigate through the town was amazing. The graphics were beautifully realistic for the time. I knew that this game was something big, and I immediately wanted a copy of my own.

Around this time, my father had been wheeling and dealing with a friend of his at work to buy his old N64 games off of him. I believe he managed to get Ocarina of Time from him. I can’t quite remember how it went, but I do remember the excitement of holding the game in my hands.

And so it began. The days of working together with my cousin to get past dungeons. The jealousy of seeing him as an adult Link while I was still in the child part of the game. It always seemed he got me wherever I wanted to be.

During those days, I was new to the world of complex adventure games. My cousin ended up completing most of the game for me, but I still played it a lot.

Those were the days of gaming I remember the most, and in my mind, no game has ever rivaled the experience I had with Ocarina of Time.

Matt Atkins

Cross-Pollenation 1: 8BitHero

In the first of our blog exchange program here is a review of 8BitHero. Their review of us is found here.

8BitHero is an up and coming blog headed up by Kerri Sharp (aspiring games journo/designer/DJ) and Craig Langridge (hopeful video game translator/localizer).
The Brighton based team provide a window on all that is new and happening in the gaming world. In addition key articles pepper the left hand bar, providing in depth opinion to go alongside you helping of news.

Going from strength to strength since October 06, long ay they continue. The question just remains, which one is 8bit and which is the hero.