Saturday, March 29, 2008

WORLD CYBER GAMES 2008 : Calling All Guitar Hero III Enthusiasts!

We at Pinoyxbox are now initiating a search for a Guitar Hero player to represent the Philippines for the World Cyber Games 2008! If you're interested to join, please visit the PINOYXBOX EVENTS thread and help contribute to the discussion for the qualifying tournament!

WCG Philippines 2008 - Guitar Hero III

http://www.pinoyxbox.com/phpnuke/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=214198#214198

Thursday, March 27, 2008

PINOYXBOX Needs Sponsors to Send a Halo 3 Team for the World Cyber Games 2008

I've been in contact with Mr. Joan Martinez from WCG Philippines and he informed me that, currently, they have 8 player slots for the WCG, and only one player slot is allocated for console gaming (Xbox 360). That said, their initial choices for the games were either Virtua Fighter 5 or Guitar Hero III. Since they can only bring in one player for consoles, this means that they can't bring in players for Project Gotham Racing 4 or Halo 3.

I've informed him that I feel the Pinoyxbox community can best contribute to the WCG by helping bring in a team for Halo 3. I've seen the skill of the Philippine Halo 3 players on Xbox Live and on LAN tournaments held during Pinoyxbox's local events. Some of our players have very high rankings for Halo 3 on Xbox Live and they already know how to work well together and play as a team. They are very familiar with many of the nuances of Halo 3's various multiplayer modes and are aware of the strategies and tactics employed by players from other countries. I feel that some of the Halo 3 players on Pinoyxbox are well-prepared for the challenging environment and the international level of competitive play in the World Cyber Games.

As mentioned earlier, there's only one slot currently allocated for console gaming on the WCG Philippines roster. Pinoyxbox has to find a way to bring in three more Filipino players for the World Cyber Games. It will cost about $3,000 per additional player (for airfare, accomodations, etc), so that means that Pinoyxbox has to find $9,000 in funding in order to help send a complete Filipino Halo 3 team to the World Cyber Games. If there's anyone out there who can help secure a good sponsor for a Pinoyxbox Halo 3 team, please inform me as soon as possible (please post in the comments section of this blog post). I'm giving this until Saturday this week; if I do not receive any concrete leads to a sponsor on or before Saturday, I'll deviate the focus away from building a Halo 3 team and more towards helping find players for Guitar Hero III or Virtua Fighter 5.

Granted, Pinoyxbox does have players for GH3 and VF5; it's just that I'm pushing for Halo 3 because I think we've got some great players for that game. I think it's worth a shot to keep looking for a sponsor for a Filipino Halo 3 team.

Again, if anyone has any concrete leads for sponsorship for a Filipino Halo 3 team, please send me a message via the comments section or visit the Pinoyxbox Events thread for the World Cyber Games here:

http://www.pinoyxbox.com/phpnuke/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=15714&start=45

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More on PS3 Hardware Failures: AICN's Moriarty Hit By BDL

Earlier I posted about how the PS3 is no less susceptible to hardware problems. The issue was dubbed the 'BDL' (Blu-Ray Disc Laser problem) over on Pinoyxbox by the multi-console users in the community. You'd find a lot more information about this by searching for error 80010514 and 80029906.

That said, I saw this post on AICN from Moriarty....apparently he also got hit by the BDL problem. He had the console repaired by Sony, and when he got his replacement, he was hit by another problem: he encountered an issue while updating his PS3, causing his system to get bricked. So now he's had two broken PS3s in a row, and the system has lost his recommendation as a blu-ray player system of choice for consumers:

"Regarding Moriarty’s Awesome Non-Stop Blu-Ray Coverage... Or Lack Thereof!

Dear Sony...

Y’know, some days it doesn’t pay to be a movie fan.

I’ve done tons of DVD coverage over the years here at AICN, and it’s funny... I’ve heard some people actually say, “But you guys don’t really cover DVD at Ain’t It Cool, do you?” I know I’ve been writing reviews for DVD since 1999 at least. And I’ve been a home video freak for as long as there’s been home video. I was a first generation video nerd in the ‘70s.

When I got my Blu-Ray player last November, I fell in love fast with the format and with my PS3, my first Blu-Ray player, and writing about that experience kicked off not only one of the best talkbacks I can remember recently, but my own experimentation with the format.

A couple of studios added me to their reviewer lists for HD content, and Blu-Ray discs started to arrive. I reviewed several, and then about six weeks ago, I stopped suddenly and completely.

Didn’t mean to. It’s just that my PS3 shit the bed.

Here’s the thing... I’ve been positively evangelical about the PS3 since I got mine. I know I’ve talked at least four friends into buying the machine, and I’ve repeatedly discussed my evolving admiration for just how adaptable and versatile machine it seemed to be. There are some sound issues that still need to be resolved, and some interactivity that is still being refined, but the constant stream of firmware updates (something I recall being horrified by when I first heard about them) is one of the things I really like about the machine.

Or at least, I did until today.

I digress. Point is, the system worked. There was no indication of the problem. Then I turned it off and went to bed.

When I turned it on the next day, it came on like normal. The same menu screen as always. The remote worked fine. I was going to watch THE ROCK in Blu-Ray, and when I put the disc in, I saw the familiar blue “loading” circle in the right corner of the screen, like a soothing cigarette burn. Only... it didn’t go away. It just kept loading. And loading. And loading.

I thought maybe it was the disc. I’d just opened it. Just gotten it in the mail a few days earlier. Maybe it was a defective disc. I took it out, looked at the surface of it. It looked fine. So I tried it again. And the second time, it did the same thing. Loading. Loading. Loading.

So it’s the disc. Obviously. After all, I’d just watched a disc the night before. I took LIFE OF BRIAN out of the case, put it in to double-check.

Loading. Loading. Loading. Loading.

Oh, shit. I tried CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. RATATOUILLE. PLANET EARTH. Nothing was working. So I decided I’d try one of the games. I’d just picked up ASSASSIN’S CREED and THE ORANGE BOX, and I’d been playing HALF-LIFE 2, chipping away at it a little bit at a time. I put in the game... and same thing. Loading. Loading. Loading. Loading.

Every other feature of the PS3 was still working. I could play any of the music I had stored in the hard-drive, look at the photos I’d put in. The trailers I’d downloaded from the Playstation Store were still there, and they still played perfectly. I used the wireless connection to download the DEVIL MAY CRY 4 demo, and sure enough, it played. Because there’s no disc in use, it played fine. But THE ORANGE BOX? It wouldn’t recognize it.

The machine had simply stopped recognizing discs of any sort. Seems problematic for a device that is built to play discs, eh?

So I did my reading online about similar examples of this issue, and it seemed like it happened infrequently. It wasn’t like the Xbox 360’s RROD. It wasn’t a widespread gripe or a nonstop problem. It was an occasional thing where it seemed like the laser just stopped working for some reason, and you would have to replace the whole machine in every case.

Great. I contacted Sony, and I asked them to send me the free shipping materials for me to send the machine back to them.

And then today, the UPS guy showed up, as he is wont to do here at the Labs. Toshi likes to sign for the packages, and today, there was one that looked a heck of a lot like the box I’d sent off to Sony a few weeks back.

Yep. Inside, my brand-new PS3. I cleared the shelf space for it in the family room, plugged it in, hooked up the HDMI cable, then plugged the controller in so it could charge as I set the machine up.

Oddly, it was in “Factory/Repair mode,” which didn’t really make sense to me. That’s not how it was the first time I set up a machine. I was told that it would not be my original machine that I got back, but instead, it would be a brand-new one. That’s why I had to copy all my saved game info and other settings to a USB card when I sent the old one in.

But this machine had obviously been on at some point. I moved through the PS3 menu screen...

... and just did the bare minimum set-up to get started. I wanted to try some discs.

More importantly, I wanted to install the latest system firmware update. And pretty quickly, the PS3 told me I needed to do an update, and directed me to the System Update screen.

I did what it told me to, after setting up the wireless connection so it could access the internet, and it went through the update process.

The last step in the process is for the system to automatically restart.

Which it did.

And when it came back on, instead of the familiar onscreen menu you see above, it was just a red screen with the alarming phrase “A SERIOUS ERROR HAS OCCURRED, PLEASE CONTACT SUPPORT” written in a couple of dozen languages.

Bricked. Fried. Dead.

Again.

And when I called Sony Tech Support today, they told me that I can... send it back.

Again.

They also made sure to tell me that they have only a 1% failure rate in these machines. And they repeated that to me several times to make sure I knew that only 1% of their machines ever fail like this.

So how many millions of units do they have in the marketplace? And somehow, with only a 1% failure rate, both of the machines I’ve had have failed?

The first girl who helped me today told me that the update can do that to machines. Now, when I first got my PS3, one of the selling points was that the machine is essentially “future proof,” but if these firmware updates might fry your machine completely, then that’s not really future-proofing anything, is it? The girl seemed to be totally nonchalant in telling me this, too, like it shouldn’t bother me.

So suddenly, I’m feeling a whole lot less evangelical, folks. I’m going to call my friends who I convinced to buy the PS3 this week, and I’m going to make sure they know that this might be an issue. I thought I could sneer at the Xbox 360 RROD, but it turns out this machine is just as susceptible to sudden and complete system death. At least in my experience.

When I mentioned to the second guy I dealt with on the phone today that I felt like should write about why I couldn’t write my reviews, and how unreliable my experience with the PS3 has become in the last month and a half, he told me to “go ahead and slander us if it makes you feel better.”

When I asked him to clarify what part of the account I’ve just given you above was untrue, he then said, “Okay, I’m sorry, I guess that was incorrect.” Fucking ay, right, it’s inaccurate. It can’t be slander if it's true, and my personal experience with the PS3 has gone from dream to big fat pain in the ass in one fell swoop. And as a reviewer, that’s got to be the review now.

I still love my PS3 in theory, but if I weren’t sweating my taxes right now, I’d just go buy a stand-alone Blu-Ray player tomorrow and completely remove the PS3 from the equation. When I get it back, if it works, great. I’ll be thrilled. But I can’t rely on it anymore to actually work when I need it to, and I find it both embarrassing (publicists don’t send me these Blu-Ray discs out of general human kindness) and frustrating (I bought a Blu-Ray player because I wanted to watch some goddamn Blu-Ray discs) to think that I dropped that much money on a machine that, at the moment, seems to be worth so very little."

In my opinion, these next-generation systems are fitting too much power in too small a package. I have a feeling that heat is the number one issue for both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. If you've seen and felt both of these consoles in action, you'd notice that they both generate an incredible amount of heat, and people don't really pay attention to taking care of that problem; they turn off the system right after playing [it's recommended to leave it idle for 10-20 minutes to cool down after play], they play for long stretches of time....these systems get a lot of abuse. So eventually this takes its toll on the hardware because of the massive amount of heat that gets accumulated inside these systems.

Hopefully in the future, game console makers will build systems where looks don't matter as much as reliability. I wouldn't really mind if the next Xbox were as big as the Xbox 1, so long as its more reliable. The same goes for the Playstation 4.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

World Cyber Games 2008 Games Announced


http://www.worldcybergames.com/6th/fun/news/news_view.asp?keyno=C08031710001

"Official WCG 2008 PC Games:

· Half-Life®: Counter-Strike™ 1.6 (5 v. 5 Team FPS )
· Starcraft®: Brood War™: (1 v. 1 RTS)
· WarCraft® III: The Frozen Throne™ (1 v. 1 RTS)
· Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath™ (1 v. 1 RTS)
· Age of Empires® III: The Asian Dynasties (1 v. 1 RTS)
· FIFA Soccer 08 (1 v. 1 Sports)
· Need For Speed™ ProStreet (Xbox 360 in US & Canada) (1 v. 1 Racing)
· Carom3D (1 v. 1 Casual)
· Red Stone (4 v. 4 Team MMORPG)

Official WCG 2008 Xbox 360 Games:

· Halo® 3 (4 v. 4 Team FPS)
· Project Gotham Racing® 4 (1 v. 1 Racing)
· Guitar Hero® III: Legends of Rock (1 v. 1 Music)
· Virtua Fighter® 5 (1 v. 1 Fighting)


Official WCG 2008 Mobile Game:

· Asphalt 3: Street Rules (1 v. 1 Racing)"

Pinoyxbox has been in touch with WCG Philippines and we hope that there will be a contingent for Xbox 360 titles. I think some of the gamers in the Pinoyxbox community are very skilled at Halo 3, and it would be great if we can send in a team for that game.

On that note, I did play a lot of Virtua Fighter 5 on the Xbox 360....hmm, should I try out for this? I'm currently involved in a major project in real-life, so I'm not sure. At the very least I want to help form up and send a great Xbox 360 team for the Philippines. It would be fantastic if an unsupported country like ours wins for the Xbox 360 competition in Asia!

Friday, March 14, 2008

February NPD Sales Figures: Time to gloat

Sales figures now up.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=10191438&postcount=1

"Hardware

PlayStation 2 351.8K
PlayStation 3 280.8K
PlayStation Portable 243.1K
Xbox 360 254.6K
Nintendo DS 587.6K
Wii 432K

Top 10 SW
Top-Selling VG Software - February 2008
RELEASE TOTAL U.S. RANK
TITLE PUBLISHER DATE UNITS

360 CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE* ACTIVISION 7-Nov 296.2K 1
360 DEVIL MAY CRY 4* CAPCOM USA 8-Feb 295.2K 2
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE NINTENDO OF AMERICA 7-Feb 289.7K 3
PS3 DEVIL MAY CRY 4* CAPCOM USA 8-Feb 233.5K 4
WII GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK* ACTIVISION 7-Oct 222.9K 5
NDS MARIO AND SONIC: OLYMPIC GAMES SEGA OF AMERICA 8-Jan 205.6K 6
360 LOST ODYSSEY MICROSOFT 8-Feb 203.6K 7
360 TUROK TOUCHSTONE 8-Jan 197.7K 8
PS2 GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK* ACTIVISION 7-Oct 183.8K 9
360 ROCK BAND* MTV GAMES/ELECTRONIC ARTS 7-Nov 161.8K 10"

What can I say? I called it.

Devil May Cry 4 on the Xbox 360 outsells the Playstation 3 version in the United States by a good margin. Let it never be said that Xbox gamers only play First Person Shooters. I always believed that that idea was a fallacy being spread around by Sony fanboys who didn't want to lose any more exclusives to the Playstation 3. Xbox players enjoy games from a variety of genres. That's now a fact and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. DMC4 is quite a unique game compared to its Xbox brethren but despite that it overcame the odds, and the game sold very well. The strong established base of the Xbox 360 practically guaranteed its incredible sales, and these numbers do tell the story. Capcom absolutely made the right decision by going multiplatform with the series; they're reaching more gamers and establishing the series as a key franchise for their COMPANY. It's clear that the DMC games were never made for any specific hardware company, it was made for the success of Capcom and Capcom alone, and it represents their amazing pedigree in the action game genre. Capcom is now reaping the benefits, and takes the bragging rights, taking the number 2 spot on the Xbox 360 platform.

Lost Odyssey sells 200,000+ copies on its first month in the United States. I've posted before that it only needed to sell at least 100,000 copies to be a successful JRPG. That said, it has already broken the curse for non-Final-Fantasy JRPGs. It shows that great game design coupled with excellent marketing can sell a game in a genre that, over the course of time, has become less popular in the United States. Lost Odyssey sold 200,000 despite lackluster, ill-informed game reviews from game journalists who thought it wasn't part of their job to finish games before posting reviews. No wonder gamers didn't pay any attention to the 7 and below scores that the game got from review outlets. 200,000 is an incredible figure for a new JRPG series from, technically, a no-name developer (Mistwalker/Feel-Plus) that's just starting out, using a development kit that they had challenges in making use of. The gamers have spoken, Lost Odyssey is a great game, and no casual-skilled game reviewers could deter them from knowing that fact. Gamers these days are sharper now; they can see ill-informed reviews for what they are and rely mostly on gamer feedback/reviews from the gaming community at large.

Lost Odyssey's sales also benefitted from a television commercial which used an unusual soundtrack; instead of opting for music from the game, the developers allowed Microsoft to pick a soundtrack that's recognizable in US pop culture. Granted, perhaps the ad didn't work when showed to audiences outside the United States (based on comments I've read from youtube and other forums for users in Europe or Asia, some of them wished that Nobuo Uematsu's music was used instead), but in the US, the advertisement might have resounded more culturally with the audience there, and I think Microsoft should take heed of the fact that this approach really works. It's interesting to note that the same approach was done with Gears of War, and we all know that that game was very successful in the marketplace as well (despite being a very violent, mature rated game). I think this goes to prove one thing...if you market your game as a piece of great entertainment (over marketing it traditionally, straightforward, as a game), it can resound well with your audience and can even win over gamers who normally wouldn't buy into the genre of the game that you're selling.

Mistwalker originally decided to develop Lost Odyssey as a JRPG focused for the gamers in the United States. That decision is now paying off for them in spades. Mistwalker now has a PROFITABLE FRANCHISE with a rapidly rising fanbase in the United States, and Microsoft won't be letting them go anytime soon! A lot of ill-informed gamers will tell you that the game failed in Japan and that's the end of it. Don't let them fool you....Lost Odyssey is a game collaborated upon by Microsoft and Mistwalker not necessarily to take the Japanese market alone. Lost Odyssey is their bid for product diversity on the Xbox 360. They're trying their best to appeal outside of the first-person shooter market, and lose the stereotype (that has been branded upon them by gamers and media outlets) that their console is only for first person shooter games. The overwhelmingly positive response from gamers everywhere on forums and user review sections clearly shows that Mistwalker has succeeded in appealing to the American audience (arguably, the most important market for video games in the entire world, today), and it establishes that they understand the market well enough to make a game that feels Japanese but has broader appeal. Now that these figures just got released, Square-Enix must be shaking in their boots. They're making Final Fantasy XIII (five of them!) without the talent or know-how of Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu, and now that those two guys have proven that THEY'VE STILL GOT IT, the pressure on Square-Enix is at an all-time high. How can Square-Enix succeed in the West without the talents in Mistwalker? From an artistic standpoint, I think Final Fantasy XIII is doomed to mediocrity. Of course, it will likely sell well because it's Final Fantasy; but I think it will usher the beginning of Square-Enix's downward slide into obscurity; it's their pride before the fall.

Other observations:

Again, the Xbox 360, relative to other next-generation game consoles, continues its utter dominance in software sales, taking 5 spots on the top 10 NPD sales, more than the Playstation 3 (with one game) and the Nintendo Wii (with only two games).

Call of Duty 4 continues its never-ending reign in the United States, taking the top spot. I think a lot of people are buying Xbox 360s to play this game in particular. It just goes to show how great a game it is. I recently got to try it (bought it from a discount store, scratched; it worked for a few levels but eventually the disc was unreadable) and it really does deserve all the positive praise that it has been getting. I already ordered a brand new copy; the only reason why I haven't been able to get it is because the game is always out of stock!

I'm surprised Rock Band isn't any higher on that list. Actually I would have bought the game; it's already available here in the Philippines, but it's REGION-LOCKED. Since my console is Asian I can't play the US version that's being sold in stores here. That said, it's probably a factor why Rock Band isn't selling better than it should be; then again, it's probably difficult to produce all the instruments that come with each set. The demand's likely high, it's just that EA isn't able to fulfill it. (EA should just use the money that they were supposed to use to buy Take-Two Interactive to improve their supply for Rock Band....I guess that's never going to happen...)


Sakaguchi must be real happy about this news!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost Odyssey Fandom Growing: AMVs

I found this really, really awesome AMV for Lost Odyssey on Youtube.



To find more AMVs, type "Lost Odyssey AMV" in the search box in Youtube.

The fandom for this game, it grows day by day.

FanFiction.Net Lost Odyssey Section

I spotted that FanFiction.Net now has a Lost Odyssey section! Check it out below:

http://www.fanfiction.net/game/Lost_Odyssey/

Right now it's still relatively new so there's only one story there....but I'm sure that this game's fanbase is rising by the day, and there will be more stories posted there soon.

I wonder if anyone will be able to pen a tale that can rival those in "A Thousand Years of Dreams"? Or if anyone can write something about what happens after the game's end? The game's story really opens up a lot of ideas for writing; it really has that much in terms of content for other story ideas. The inclusion of the game on FanFiction.Net is quite fitting, in my opinion.

Here's an idea (anyone out there from Microsoft? Hehehe....). There should be a writing contest for Lost Odyssey. If someone can write a story as good (or better) than the stories in "A Thousand Years of Dreams", they should win a prize of some sort (Autographed copy of the game, artbook/artwork etc....). Now that would be cool :D

UPDATE: I found out that the person who posted the very first story for the Lost Odyssey Fan Fiction section was also the person who managed to convince the site to start a category in the first place. The credit for starting the Lost Odyssey section in FanFiction.Net goes to Byakko :D By the way, this is the first story that was posted there:

Just Words by Byakko


For the other Lost Odyssey fans out there, why not start writing some stories? Who knows who could be reading....maybe they'll make it to Lost Odyssey 2, who knows? Get to it!!! :D

War on NEOGAF

Microsoft releases this little announcement about Xbox 360 not having Blu-ray for the foreseeable future, and then it causes this utter flame war on Neogaf. The thread title gets changed from this:

"Microsoft Says No Blu-Ray for X360"

To this:

"Microsoft Says No Blu-Ray for X360 - choice doesn't live here any more :("

That and the allowance of the excessive trolling from Sony fanboys in the thread makes me question what kind of moderators control that forum. I'll just be blunt---it's obvious the NEOGAF moderators are strongly rooting for Sony and are deeply against having Microsoft in the console business. Having threads like these, with sensationalist title changes, and having them run rampant with excessive Sony trolling clearly reveals their bias against Microsoft and their desire to have the company fail from a public relations standpoint.

Here's my take on this news, as a gamer.

1. Blu ray doesn't matter to me. Perhaps it will matter for the technologically illiterate who are easily sold on longer feature lists with more bullet points, sure. But for me, I really don't see how this should affect me. I can still play games on the Xbox 360 and that's what matters to me. I think there's a lot of pressure outside of the gaming world to get Blu-ray support on the Xbox 360 but should Microsoft buckle down and give in? I don't think so. Installing a blu-ray drive on a 360 would just split the userbase and that would make Microsoft's existing customers very angry (because they have to invest in another system just to get the benefit that newer users will have by paying only once). Granted it might make their potential customers pleased, but that never guarantees that they're going to buy the damn thing.

Furthermore, why should I care about blu-ray? Do I really want to obsolete my large, existing collection of DVDs in one fell swoop? I don't have a home entertainment system with a display larger than 32". I won't really see any benefits by investing in blu-ray at all. From what I've heard, you need an HDTV that's more than 46" to really see the benefits of the new HD video formats. Until those displays lower in price to something that I can afford, higher quality video is of no value to me as a consumer. DVD is simply good enough.

Besides, I like how Microsoft is focused on GAMES a lot more than Sony. There's a lot more effort to get quality games out as quickly as possible; it's clear from most developer interviews how Microsoft's tools always get cited as very helpful and efficient for their development needs. I haven't seen that kind of response for Sony's game development tools. And the proof is in the multi-platform ports. If the PS3 is really better than the Xbox 360, it should be getting better ports; it should manage getting better games out without a sweat. Clearly that still isn't the case; pound for pound, Xbox 360 versions are sharper, more colorful, and have better framerates than their PS3 counterparts. All without the help of the blu-ray format.

2. The expected lower hardware sales for the Xbox 360 for February 2008 - March 2008. I have a theory why this is happening. I think Microsoft is trying to improve their hardware. They're probably (again, just my theory) trying to offload the existing batches of (hardware-failure prone) consoles that are already in stores so that they can get more of the 3RL-safe batches (the Falcons) on store shelves. To do this, they probably had no choice but to produce less consoles and just ship what they already have. Probably, their newer lines for Xbox 360s are being prepared for the massive launch of Grand Theft Auto IV. In the press release it is mentioned that by April, their supply lines will improve---hmm, I wonder why that is? Obviously it's to coincide with GTA4. More supplies also improves Microsoft's ability to go in for the kill with a price drop for the North American market.

While there are still 360s that get 3RL'ed, I've read on other sites that the Falcons don't fail as often as the older ones. Usually you'll notice that the ones reporting 3RL have had their console for a year or more than 6 months ago (which is about the point before the Falcon got released). I haven't seen that many posts from people who bought their system a week ago or two weeks ago and had their machine break on them (again, this is clearly anecdotal, I'm just saying what I've seen personally). That said, the improved Xbox 360 hardware is good news but it never gets reported because it simply isn't newsworthy (not sensational, controversial, or negative).

So it's likely in Microsoft's best interest to decrease their supply now because this helps them clear out the 'bad' inventory that's in the marketplace. It's a little harsh to call some machines as 'bad' inventory, but 3RL is a pretty serious issue. I'd prefer they lose the spotlight for a few months as a top selling hardware maker and get more reliable hardware out the door, rather than have them continue their reign as the top seller of hardware and worsen their reputation with consumers.

3. Software-wise, Microsoft will rule this February NPD. And that's because of one game. No! I'm not saying it's because of Lost Odyssey [It's a success on its own for different reasons, and that's for a different post].

I'm saying it's because of DEVIL MAY CRY 4.

Devil May Cry 4....the once-thought Sony-exclusive game. With Microsoft getting its own version, I take it as a sign from Capcom that Microsoft has earned their respect and they're now recognized as a real player in the new console era.

Devil May Cry 4....the third-person hack and slash action title with a very Japanese-styled art direction and game design. It's been said before, time and again, by crazed Sony fans that games like these "DO NOT BELONG ON THE XBOX 360." But here it is. And it will make money on the Xbox 360 platform to prove them wrong.

Devil May Cry 4....the game that shocked the world when it was announced as no longer exclusive to the Playstation 3. What happened? Capcom simply wanted more money. They can't be blamed, that's what they're in business for. PROFIT. And with the immense success of Dead Rising and Lost Planet, DMC4 was a shoe-in for the Xbox 360 because Capcom knew it was the right thing to do for their company. They don't make games for the fans. They make games to make money. I can't blame them for thinking this way. Games are a million-dollar business that need millions-of-dollars in investment...you just have to go for the option that's most profitable for you when you make a game. You don't shoot for just the fanbase when you make a game. You shoot for gamers.

And Capcom definitely shot in the right direction.

Devil May Cry 4's success for the Xbox 360 in the upcoming NPD proves two things: Xbox 360 gamers can play games outside of the usual first-person shooters with military grunts, and it proves that making a game on the Xbox 360, when marketed and sold in the right way (and released in a timely fashion) can be immensely profitable for any developer (be it Japanese, American, European---the style of game doesn't matter. A good game will sell if it's marketed right). Xbox 360 gamers "eat games for breakfast"---that's a metaphor for the incredible attach rate for Xbox 360 software for the hardware. Capcom simply capitalized on this already-well-known-fact.

For February NPD, the worst case for Microsoft is that DMC4 on their console will just have sales nearly equal to the Playstation 3 version. Even in that scenario, Sony should get worried because that only means their competition stole over half of their potential sales. That should be enough to sway developers in Microsoft's favor and continue to release games simultaneously on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. That isn't good news for Sony because there's less and less reason for gamers to invest in a PS3 if they can get the same game for a cheaper price on the 360. If DMC4 on the 360 outsells the PS3 version by a wide margin, I think by that point it would be safe to declare the Playstation 3 as the Sega Saturn of this console generation. And it would foreshadow the upcoming scenario where Grand Theft Auto IV on the Xbox 360 will outsell the Playstation 3 version by an incredible margin, simply because its more inexpensive to play the game on the 360 than it is to play it on the PS3.

That's why the upcoming February NPD is very important. And in any scenario, Microsoft still wins.

In conclusion, all this blu-ray bruhaha is nonsense for gamers but great fodder for messageboard flame wars. It's a short term spark in a long term tug-of-war battle known as the console war for North America. Blu-ray has always been an issue since the consoles were announced, and despite that, Microsoft succeeded against its well established, strongly branded rival Sony Computer Entertainment. Microsoft buried Sony in 2007, and it's hard to imagine that Sony will manage to dig themselves out of the rut that they're in now. The only time when Sony can bounce back at their rival is in the generation after this one. I think it's clear that they've lost the opportunity to catch up. I just hope they learn from their mistakes in this generation, and in the next one, I also hope that they focus less on movies and more on games.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mistwalker Site Updated, Artwork for Next Game Revealed

The official website for Mistwalker Corporation has been updated with new artwork and some articles (in Japanese). What was known previously was that their next project was titled 'Cry On'; however, these new pictures don't indicate that title. They do feel somewhat related to the older artworks released for that game. In line with Lost Odyssey, the theme for this game seems more mature compared to other JRPGs.








With More Hardware Sales....

...come more hardware problems, as Sony is beginning to learn.

http://news.filefront.com/rumor-40-gb-playstation-3-has-high-failure-rate/

"Rumor: 40 GB PlayStation 3 Has High Failure Rate
Posted by Chris on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007 at 4:21 pm under Hardware, Gamer Life, Sony, Sony, Game Platforms, Game Consoles, Game Companies
Tagged: failure rate, Playstation 3, PS3, red rings of death and Sony

Gamed.nl is reporting that the new 40 GB PlayStation 3 has a failure rate of 40% – an astonishingly high number. According to the Dutch site, Belgian retailer Games Mania has stated that the new PS3 model is selling well, but 40% of the consoles sold have been returned due to hardware problems. The problems primarily relate to the system being unable to read discs, Blu-ray or otherwise.

I’ve yet to hear of anything else regarding problems with the new hardware, so I’d hesitate to say this is a new another Red Rings of Death scenario. We also can’t confirm the validity of these reports, so this could simply be malicious rumors.

We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the situation.

via Gamer.tm"

On Pinoyxbox.com, a few multi-console owners are reporting that this is indeed true. I just hope that eventually, someone in the Philippines will be willing to repair the "BDL" issue. For more information on BDL, google the error 80010514 and 80029906. Already there are people who repair broken Xbox 360s here in the Philippines. Surely a bit later there will be others who can fix PS3's later on.

That's the reality when you've got no official support from Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft. Console gaming is a tough hobby to pursue when you're in an unsupported region.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Campaigning for Lost Odyssey 2 - Game Still Doing Well in Europe

File this under "I'm doing this for a worthy cause!", Lost Odyssey is still doing quite well in Europe. It's the 10th best selling game in the UK (previously 5th), 19th in Ireland, 8th in the Netherlands, and 3rd in Spain! Also it's the 4th best selling game in Sweden!

For a JRPG that isn't Final Fantasy to be on the charts in Europe, this is spectacular sales. Normally an unknown JRPG franchise drops off the chart by this point. I'm surprised it's still hanging on. It could be gone by next week, but to stay for that long for two weeks already....Mistwalker, where's my Lost Odyssey 2?? I'm only doing this because I want to see the sequel! :D

For the full charts, check these links.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=10140358&postcount=1

http://next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9471&Itemid=2

And by the way, VGChartz "edited" their Lost Odyssey figures for Europe to 57,166 for Week 1. It said on the previous week that it was about 40,000+. So the figures are still quite positive...I recall dealing with some Debbie Downers on other forums claiming that the sales for LO were, and I quote, "dropping like a rock". I guess I have the last laugh :D

Xbox 360 Price Drop for Europe Confirmed

http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archive/2008/03/10/emeaannouncedrop.aspx

"Everyone's Invited to Experience Xbox 360 as Microsoft Lowers Estimated Retail Price in Europe

With Estimated Retail Price Starting At €199.99/£159.99, Even More European Consumers Can Enjoy The Definitive High-Definition Gaming and Entertainment Experience

LONDON - Monday 10th March, 2008- Microsoft today announced it is lowering the estimated retail price (ERP) for its Xbox 360™ family of consoles in Europe. Now with an entry-level ERP of €199.99/£159.99, Xbox 360 is a mass market entertainment proposition with something to offer for every interest and budget.

From Friday, 14th March, Xbox 360, which includes a 20GB hard drive and one wireless controller, will have an ERP of €269.99/£199.99 – a saving of €80/£50 on the current ERP. The Xbox 360 Elite, which comes with a massive 120GB hard drive enabling consumers to store huge quantities of content downloaded from Xbox LIVE™ Marketplace as well as their own music, will have an ERP of €369.99/£259.99 – a saving of €80/£40. The Xbox 360 Arcade console, perfect for those wishing to make their first foray into the gaming and entertainment world of Xbox, will have an ERP of €199.99/£159.99 – a saving of €80/£20.

Xbox 360 is the number one next-gen console in EMEA, owning 42% of the market in terms of life-to-date revenue. Xbox 360 continues to enjoy the highest software attach rate of any game console in Europe with more than 7.0 games sold per console (PS3: 3.8; Wii 3.5) after 26 months on the market .

The new ERPs are part of Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to open up the ultimate in high-definition gaming and entertainment to an even wider audience, with an offering for everyone:

Best Choice for Families:
Xbox 360 grows as your family does, offering games and entertainment for every member of the family – from movies to games to music videos.

With over 150 3+ rated games and unparalleled parental controls, parents can feel good about their kids playing Xbox 360

Most Diverse Entertainment:
Xbox 360 offers great choice in high-definition entertainment

Xbox Live Video Store offers a wide variety of movies to download, both in HD and SD, enabling great entertainment in the living room at the press of a button

It’s easy to view and enjoy video and photos on Xbox 360 as well as connect wirelessly to share content with a Windows Media Center PC

The Best Games:
There will be over 1,000 games available on Xbox 360 by the end of the year, with something for every skill level, interest and taste.

New community games allow gamers to sample the best of indie games, providing innovative new ways to play and enjoy

Blockbuster franchises like Grand Theft Auto IV, with exclusive downloadable episodes on Xbox LIVE, and Rock Band make Xbox 360 the place to be this Spring

Xbox 360 exclusives for 2008 include Fable 2, Gears of War 2 and Too Human, setting new standards for next-generation gaming

“Xbox 360 is now mass market in Europe,” said Chris Lewis, Vice President, Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business Europe. “We have reached and surpassed several key milestones that form part of our long term strategic plan to achieve critical mass in Europe; and our portfolio now offers the kind of mainstream entertainment experiences that secure wider appeal for Xbox 360. These factors allow us to execute on our strategy to widen the market for Xbox 360, as planned.

“We continue to offer intense, immersive gaming experiences for gamers – but now we’re priced in a way that will allow new consumers to find out for themselves why Xbox 360 is the ultimate in high-definition entertainment.” said Lewis. “History shows that €199/£159 is the price point where a console’s audience begins to expand, and with these new ERPs in place we’re ready to bring more consumers into the Xbox 360 world.”

###

About Xbox 360™
Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox LIVE online gaming network and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a catalogue of more than 160 high-definition games and is available in 37 countries. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Xbox LIVE™
Xbox Live is the first and most comprehensive unified online entertainment network seamlessly integrated throughout the entire console experience, making it easy for people to find the friends, games and entertainment they want from the moment they power on their Xbox 360 system. Xbox Live connects millions of members across 25 countries to enjoy hundreds of multiplayer games, downloadable games via Xbox Live Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos and TV shows as well as new game levels, characters and vehicles for all their favourite retail games. "

Monday, March 10, 2008

Xbox 360 Price Drop Imminent?

According to this thread on NEOGAF, a price drop for various Xbox 360 SKUs recently took effect at Amazon UK and was announced in two stores in the Netherlands.

Here's the scan from Gamed.nl of the flyer from the stores which 'announced' the price drop.


Another site has reported this, and as of this writing Amazon UK pulled their pricing change on the 360. However, in the same NEOGAF thread mentioned earlier, it was also rumored that a more official stance regarding this price drop should be revealed in a few hours. Hopefully it will also take effect in other territories, too (Asia, Japan, US etc).

The new pricing is as follows: For the UK, the Arcade pack on Amazon is now under £150, at £149.99. The retailer is selling the Premium pack for £189.99 and the Elite for £249.99. For gamers in the Philippines, that means that the cheapest Xbox 360 in the UK is about 12,391.87 PHP (converted via XE.com).

From the flyer released by the two stores in the Netherlands, the pricing is as follows:

360 Arcade - from €279,95 to €199,95
360 Premium + 2 games - from €399 to €299,95
360 Elite - from 449€ to €399,95

For gamers in the Philippines, again using XE.com the cheapest Xbox 360 for the Netherlands converts to about 12,563.99 PHP.

Now it may not seem like much of a price drop, but consider that the Xbox 360 is now officially cheaper than a Nintendo Wii in the UK. Also, game console hardware prices tend to be far more expensive in Europe (based on past console generations); taking that into consideration, these prices are substantially low, and I think they might hint at an upcoming price drop for the Xbox 360 across all territories. The reason? I'm guessing it's Grand Theft Auto IV.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Capcom's "MT Framework" Engine - Bravo! Magnificent!


Just finished Devil May Cry 4 on Devil Hunter difficulty. I enjoyed the action a lot; I found it smooth and easy to play while at times providing a fair enough challenge to keep things interesting! The story is very standard but I guess the question is, was I entertained? And the answer is yes.

Now this isn't really a full review of DMC4, I just wanted to say this: Capcom's "MT Framework" Game Engine is absolutely fantastic. I think it's even better than EPIC GAMES' UNREAL ENGINE 3. Yes, I've probably lost my mind, but that's the conclusion I've arrived at after playing three of Capcom's latest games in recent years: Dead Rising, Lost Planet, and now Devil May Cry 4.

I just want to keep this short, so I'll just say a few things about Capcom's fantastic engine:

1. The quality I'm seeing [on their Xbox 360 games] is just so consistent. Their engine barely chugs through whatever the game designers throw at it, be it snow-filled science fiction landscapes, realistic environments (like the mall in Dead Rising), or the anime-styled environments of DMC4. Fantastic!

2. Capcom's game engine handles both gameplay segments and cutscenes extremely well, and again, very consistently. Epic's UE3 seems to struggle through rendering cutscenes, as seen in games like Mass Effect and Gears of War. There are always areas where there's slowdown with the framerate or tearing. Admittedly I have seen a bit of tearing on Capcom's games but compared to UE3 games? Relatively speaking, I've seen more problems on UE3.

And, in some cases, MT Framework cutscenes look like CGI. Not only does Capcom save space on the disc, they're able to keep the immersion factor high because the player is always 'in-the-game'. It seems to me that every shot in the cutscenes is equal in quality to the graphics in actual gameplay.

3. Colors on Capcom's engine seem more bright and vibrant. I like how it makes Capcom's games more pleasing to the eye. UE3's problem seems to be that it loves to render the color grey a whole lot. (I'm reminded of how ID Software's engines love to render the color brown, but that's a totally different discussion....). Everything in UE3 has a greyed out look that washes over all the other colors in a scene. Capcom's game engine never has this problem.

Overall, Capcom, how did you guys do this??? If anyone from Capcom is reading this, I think you guys should sell your engine as middleware to other Japanese companies and help save the gaming industry in Japan! The MT Framework game engine is just fantastic, and can clearly compete with the best the West has to offer. I really think in some cases it surpasses Unreal Engine 3, and a lot of games in various types of genres (action, adventure, RPGs, shooters etc) can really benefit from the capabilities of Capcom's game engine.

Alright enough raving for tonight. Man, I really had fun with DMC4. Unfortunately I didn't 'win' the final challenge where you have 2 minutes and no demon has to attack Kyrie. I wonder if there's a bonus for accomplishing that one?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Retrospective: Interview with Feel Plus President Ray Nakazato

An old interview I found by accident, from all the way back in May 7, 2007.

An excerpt:

"Gamasutra: What do you think it will take Microsoft to succeed in Japan, not necessarily financially, but in terms of really winning over the audience?

RN: Online. I don't know what's going to happen to PS3, so it’s (up in the air). Right now, in Japan, the Nintendo DS and the Wii are very successful, so many developers and publishers in Japan are focusing on the DS and the Wii, and very little on the PS3 and the Xbox 360. So eventually, most of the Japan-made games will be on either handhelds or the Wii.

They were ready to invest in the PS3, but the PS3 wasn't as successful as people thought, and it's expensive to develop PS3 games, so a lot of publishers now only do a couple of PS3 games, and many DS and Wii games. Then a little Xbox 360, because the 360 is successful in the United States. But its presence in Japan is small.

That was one of the reasons AQI started: to be uniquely positioned as a new publisher and developer. We invested heavily on 360, when no one else was doing that in Japan. We’re a 360-heavy company now. Back then, AQI thought the system would be more successful in Japan, but of course it wasn't actually successful. But, it turned out to be quite successful in North America, so our positioning is still OK. We make games for 360 not so much for the Japan market, but for the global market. Not many people do that.

Capcom does that, and does it successfully with titles like Dead Rising and Lost Planet. But very few companies invest in the 360 and very few do PS3 games. So what I’m saying is that you'll see a lot of Japan-made DS and Wii games in the next few years, but very few high-end games from Japan. For those high-end users, they’ll have to buy more Western games, even in Japan. I think they will start to get used to Western games more, if they want to play high-end games."

Additional information on AQI:
http://www.aqi.co.jp/en/business.html

AQ INTERACTIVE INC.

The AQI Group consists of our company, three development studios - ARTOON CO., LTD., cavia inc., and feelplus Inc. (all are consolidated subsidiaries) - and an US-based marketing services agency XSEED JKS, Inc.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lost Odyssey Cutscenes and Movies

It's been 10 years or so since I played Final Fantasy 7 and Xenogears for the Playstation 1. Those are two JRPGs that I actually bothered to replay. As I finished both games, I had the feeling of both joy and sadness. Joy for finally being able to finish the game and sadness that the journey is over. And after 10 long years those feelings are recaptured in Lost Odyssey.

This is my second time in playing Lost Odyssey. To my surprise, I am still enjoying the cutscenes and movies from the game. It's so nice to be able to view the game all over again. And we'd like to share those scenes with the gamers who has enjoyed the game the same way we did.

As for writing, I have finished recording and encoding all the scenes from Disk 1. Of course, its not perfect. There are moments where I had to switch from full screen to widescreen format. I have uploaded most of the videos on GameTrailers under my user account: 'yahoosoda'. Although I can't promise we'll finish everything quickly since our work load seemed to have caught up with us, we will try to upload all the movies until the very end of the game

I suppose that it goes without saying that all movies contain MAJOR SPOILERS from the game. We only have an SD capture card so the videos that you are seeing isn't in Hi-Def.

Just reference to this post in our blog to get the updated links. Enjoy!

My favorite scene in all of disk one is from Movie 12. The background music there is the piano version of "A Return..." which fit the whole scene perfectly. I loved the timing of the realtime cutscene in that area.

These Can't All Be Just One User Posting Again and Again, Right?

The picture says a thousand words.

VGChartz claims Lost Odyssey still has strong US sales

According to VGChartz's latest figures (some argue they're accurate, some argue they're not), Lost Odyssey sold 45,000+ units even in its third week in the US market. That's just incredible for a JRPG! Normally games in the JRPG genre only sell 50,000 units on the first week alone and then they're forgotten immediately after. Strong word of mouth is likely driving the sales of this title, coupled with other factors such as having no real rival on the market other than Devil May Cry 4, and the fact that it is an Xbox 360 Exclusive (Xbox gamers seem to want to buy something more if its 'exclusive' to their system, just my personal observation....).


VGChartz's sales figures for Lost Odyssey in the United States:

Week 1 - 101,277
Week 2 - 50,516
Week 3 - 45,161


For the purpose of comparison, other JRPGs for Xbox 360:
Blue Dragon US Sales figures

Week 1 - 59,791
Week 2 - 23,438
Week 3 11,740


Eternal Sonata US Sales figures

Week 1 - 28,079
Week 2 - 14,377
Week 3 - 8,230

*It's interesting how Tales of Vesperia was still made Xbox 360 Exclusive in the USA even if Eternal Sonata didn't sell in the millions, isn't it? My wife says that, as an observer of JRPG sales through the years, the genre selling that much is actually within Namco's expectations....possibly it's even beyond their expectations because later on they announced Tales of Vesperia as 360 exclusive nonetheless.


Enchanted Arms (Xbox 360) US Sales Figures

Week 1 - 33,475
Week 2 - 19,383
Week 3 - 12,966

Enchanted Arms (PS3) US Sales Figures

Week 1 - 12,385
Week 2 - 5,437
Week 3 - 2,884

The highly-rated, critically acclaimed Persona 3 for the Playstation 2, US Sales Figures

Week 1 - 35,891
Week 2 - 23,150
Week 3 - 14,874

Going over 100,000 is an achievement in itself for a JRPG in the US market that isn't Final Fantasy. Having consistent sales for three weeks straight is yet another achievement milestone for this fantastic game, and hopefully this guarantees more quality work from Mistwalker Studios.

Wuffy comments:

I have been meaning to post something like this. There are several people who claim that JRPGs generally do well on the Playstation platform compared to the rest. I do not mean for this comment to be taken as console bashing. But I see no truth in the idea that JRPGs or Japanese games in particular will sell well on the Playstation platform since that's where all the fans are. That's wrong and I am a testament to that.

For a long time, I had been a 'loyal' Playstation gamer and I played Japanese games only. It's quite ironic that today, my platform of choice was the same one that I laughed at 7 years ago. In time, I have begun to realize that platform loyalty is not the reason that sells consoles. It's the games. And that has become quite evident within our last 2 years of XBOX 360 ownership.


The success of Lost Odyssey proves that there is indeed a market for JRPGs on the XBOX 360. This, coupled with the proven success of titles from Japanese developers like Capcom (Dead Rising, Lost Planet and now Devil May Cry 4) shows that there is a good percentage of XBOX 360 gamers that also enjoy Japanese games. The idea that XBOX 360 gamers only play games with bald space marines or medieval barbarians is apparently false and inaccurate, and clearly a generalization based only on the initial lineup of games that were ever released on the Xbox platform.


While I can also enjoy a good FPS played cooperatively with my husband or with my brother, I am also open to other quality games from different genres. And I feel that most XBOX 360 gamers are on the same boat as I am.

Lost Odyssey one of the best of 2007, according to Degenki Online survey

Based on this survey for Japanese gamers conducted by Degenki Online, Lost Odyssey is the only Xbox 360 game to be considered as one of the 'best games for 2007'. Also notable is the absence of any Playstation 3 games in the list. Go figure....

http://dol.dengeki.com/data/news/2008/3/5/17cb4f32b0d592ef30e5407df6f2fa6c.html

What is the best game you played during 2007?

1. Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (Sony PSP)
2. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (Sony PSP)
3. Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo Wii)
4. Dragon Quest IV (Nintendo DS)
5. Super Robot Taisen Original Generations (Sony PlayStation 2)
6. Persona 3 (Sony PlayStation2)
7. Etrian Odyssey (Nintendo DS)
8. Ar Tonelico 2 (Sony PlayStation 2)
9. Fate/stay night [Realta Nua] (Sony PlayStation2)
10. Lost Odyssey (Xbox360)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Going Multiplatform

So, my wife and I had a conversation, "Should we buy a PS3?" The reason why? No release date for the Asian Xbox 360 version of Rock Band. Sounded like a plausible argument, but then I thought, if we buy a PS3 how exactly are we supposed to find the time to play on two consoles?

Seriously, who has enough time to play on two gaming systems? I also have work and other real life concerns to consider, so there's only really room for game time on one system.

From our little conversation we concluded, it isn't fanboyism to stick to one system (as most forum goers will tell you). It's simply a matter of practicality. If you have two consoles you'll inevitably spend more time with one and leave the other one to dust (literally). I can't imagine anyone who has all the free time to play on two consoles and ensure that both are being used equally. I just think it's a waste to just 'have' another console, just for the sake of having it.

I've read on some forums online that some PS3s get this error called the BDL issue. It's where the PS3 can no longer read discs. Judging from what some PS3 owners are saying, I think it happens when you don't spend enough time using the system. Ironically it's the same story for my first 360. When me and my wife got married, we were away for quite a while so my 360 didn't see any use for more than two weeks. When I tried the system again that was probably the longest period that I didn't turn on the console. A few weeks later, 3RL struck my Japanese Xbox 360. Since there's no official support for the Xbox 360 in my country I had to resort to buying another one. I had a good library of games for the 360 and no interest in the existing PS3 games at the time.

Most of the time I see posts online of people claiming to be more 'objective' with consoles because they have all the systems. Honestly I can't imagine that kind of lifestyle. Do they have jobs? Loved ones? Chores? A dog? Stuff in real life that matters? If they start calling you a loser or a fanboy or whatever internet-fabricated nomenclature, think of it this way: by having so many game consoles they probably don't have any real life to speak of, so let them have the satisfaction of covering up for their own insecurities.

The Internet and its Culture of Negativity and Cynicism

To be objective on the Internet, you have to hate everything. Everything's cliche', everything's been done before, and don't easily be impressed.

That goes with every kind of interest group online. Movies, games, it doesn't matter. You're a 'fanboy' if you're easily impressed. You've got good taste when you're not.

Its moments like this when I think back to a time when the Internet wasn't around, and it's a whole lot easier to make up your mind about what you think about anything. To me it boils down to 'I like it', or 'I don't like it'. Now there's always the pervading force of "69% do like it" while "31% don't like it", and the pressure that asks you, "What's your taste like?". Implicitly, if you defy the convention and you like something that everyone else hates, you must be insane and should be cast out with monickers like 'Fanboy!' or whatever terminologies the Internet hive-mind has fabricated. If you go along with the crowd, it's a whole lot easier. So hating everything is usually the norm, on forums online.

I guess I could easily just succumb to this and decide to just go with the flow and think exactly how everyone else thinks, but that's not me. I carve my own path and make my choices and I don't really care what other people think. This approach probably won't make me rich or successful or whatever works for most people but at least I can sleep at night knowing that I'm my own person.

This is still a blog and I can still say what I think, so call it a deviation if you wish; it's just something I was thinking as I was perusing different forums on gaming. What stands out to me is the cynicism. I guess you can see that on forums with interests on whatever other things, I just wonder if they also use the term 'Fanboy!' for car fanatics, sports fanatics or other things that preoccupy our time. Perhaps it's just insecurity when someone starts labeling someone else as a fanboy; it's more an insult than constructive criticism. It's more of a reminder that, "Hey, you CAN'T like something that much, it's just wrong..." like you've committed some grave moral error and you'll go to some hellish place when you die for liking something so much. Personally I consider a fanboy as someone who would go to extreme lengths for his hobby, like dressing up as a character or buying an entire collection of collectibles of whatever....now that's a fanboy to me. But to have your own opinion, determination or belief about something....that's a fanboy now? There's no real definition for it on the Internet. It's the retort people choose when they've run out of things to say. Just resort to insults when you've got nothing left, that's what I usually see.

Anyway, having a blog is a Godsend, because, like in that old movie 'the Lawnmower Man' where Jobe says "I am GOD here!" in his virtual reality space, this is a place where I can post what I think and not get flamed for it. (See? Turned off comments. It's that simple!) I do know nothing will change even by posting this here, I guess I'm just venting my frustration at any kind of attempt at decent communication on the Internet. That said, these are just my thoughts, and now I feel much, much better.

Lost Odyssey: Gamespot Reviewer only finished Disc 1

God bless the Xbox Live Gamercard.

More evidence of how game reviewers really shortchanged this JRPG: According to the gamercard of Gamespot's Kevin VanOrd, he only finished up to Disc 1 of Lost Odyssey before writing his review and giving it a disappointing score of 7.5.

http://www.gamespot.com/users/Kevin-V/



If you click on his gamercard and check his achievement list for Lost Odyssey, it clearly shows that he only finished up to Disc 1. That's just pathetic!

To think that gamers trust these people to give them a qualified opinion on games....when they don't even finish the games before they write their reviews. Are these game reviewers *gasp* casual gamers? Is that the new standard for gaming now, that my grandmother has to be able to stand them? That's just wrong. If that were to happen, we're in for another video game crash, because once all those casual gamers get bored and move on to the next big fad, gaming is finished.

Gamespot definitely fails right there. What, they weren't paid enough by Microsoft, or sent enough freebies? This is likely another possibility considering the recent Gerstmann-gate scandal.

Writing a review based on Disc 1 of Lost Odyssey isn't fair to the people reading the review who want a decent opinion based on the ENTIRE game, not an opinion based on biases for or against a particular genre. It would be really unfortunate if Microsoft paid attention to game reviews and stopped games like Lost Odyssey from ever being made. I've always believed in improving the diversity of Microsoft's game lineup for the Xbox 360, and Lost Odyssey is one game that's a step in the right direction. If they want to lose the stigma that their console is a "military shooter" box, they need more games like Lost Odyssey. That said, I hope the overwhelmingly positive feedback from gamers that's driving the game's sales is what is given more importance when Microsoft considers doing more games like Lost Odyssey in the future.

Here are other articles chronicling how Lost Odyssey was not reviewed fairly by the gaming press:

IGN AU couldn't beat Bogimoray, the 2nd boss of Lost Odyssey

Gamespy Reviewer for Lost Odyssey EXPOSED Part I

Gamespy Reviewer for Lost Odyssey EXPOSED Part II

IGN Hypocrisy: Lost Odyssey was their game of the month for February

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lost Odyssey selling very well in the UK

Based on the latest PAL chart posted on NEOGAF, Lost Odyssey is doing very well in the UK marketplace, debuting at #5. If I'm not mistaken the game was released on February 29, so it only had about a day to track on the chart, and it was on #5 right away. That's pretty phenomenal if you ask me. It looks like today's web-aware generation has read the user reviews for the game and are buying it because of that (and not because of the ill-informed paid critics reviews).

http://www.charttrack.co.uk/index.jsp?c=p/software/uk/latest/index_test.jsp&ct=110032

UK

TOP 40 ENTERTAINMENT SOFTWARE - INDIVIDUAL FORMATS (UNITS), WEEK ENDING 1 March 2008

01 (03) [NDS] Dr Kawashima's Brain Training (Nintendo)
02 (01) [WII] Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games (Sega)
03 (02) [NDS] Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games (Sega)
04 (__) [360] Frontlines: Fuel Of War (Thq)
05 (__) [360] Lost Odyssey (Microsoft)
06 (09) [NDS] More Brain Training From Dr Kawashima (Nintendo)
07 (__) [PC] The Sims 2: Freetime (Electronic Arts)
08 (10) [NDS] Sight Training (Nintendo)
09 (11) [NDS] Professor Kageyama's Maths Training (Nintendo)
10 (05) [WII] Game Party (Midway)
11 (__) [360] Lost: The Video Game (Ubisoft)
12 (__) [PS3] Lost: The Video Game (Ubisoft)
13 (07) [NDS] Cooking Mama 2 (505 Games)
14 (06) [PS3] Unreal Tournament III (Midway)
15 (15) [PS3] Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision)
16 (__) [PSP] Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 (Konami)
17 (24) [WII] Pdc World Championship Darts 08 (Oxygen Interactive)
18 (14) [360] Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision)
19 (20) [360] Fifa Street 3 (Electronic Arts)
20 (13) [WII] Carnival: Funfair Games (Take 2)
21 (17) [NDS] 42 All-time Classics (Nintendo)
22 (16) [NDS] New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo)
23 (27) [PS3] Fifa Street 3 (Electronic Arts)
24 (04) [WII] Wii Play (Nintendo)
25 (08 ) [360] Devil May Cry 4 (Capcom)
26 (12) [360] Turok (Disney Interactive Studios)
27 (28 ) [WII] Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree (Nintendo)
28 (30) [NDS] Big Brain Academy (Nintendo)
29 (__) [WII] Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (Sega)
30 (21) [WII] Sonic And The Secret Rings (Sega)
31 (23) [PS3] Burnout Paradise (Electronic Arts)
32 (33) [PS3] Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (Sony Computer Ent.)
33 (31) [NDS] Cooking Mama (505 Games)
34 (__) [PS3] Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (Capcom)
35 (19) [PS3] Devil May Cry 4 (Capcom)
36 (35) [PC] Football Manager 2008 (Sega)
37 (22) [WII] Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo)
38 (29) [360] Burnout Paradise (Electronic Arts)
39 (39) [NDS] Mario Kart Ds (Nintendo)
40 (26) [PS3] Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft)

DS = 11
Wii = 9
PS3 = 9
X360 = 8
PC = 2
PSP = 1
PS2 = 0


I also think it's good news for Mistwalker because they originally planned to market Lost Odyssey more for the markets outside Japan and not Japan itself. It looks like their plan is paying off! It's only a matter of time before the February NPD figures get released. For Lost Odyssey to be considered a hit, it has to sell about 100,000 copies. Any lower than that is a miss for the North American market. I don't think it has to chart on the top 10 for Feb. NPD; it just has to sell about 100K to be considered a big seller. If it sells any more than that, a sequel for LO (and franchise-status for the series) is practically guaranteed....and Square Enix will get very, very worried.

Update: I checked it myself via this site : http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/games/l/lostodyssey/ and yes, the game sold so much on the FIRST DAY that it came out! The game was released on Feb. 29. The chart is for the week of March 1 so it only had one day for the entire week to sell on the market.....then it debuts on #5. Spectacular!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Michael McGaharn, VO for Jansen, Talking to Gamers on Gamefaqs


Michael McGaharn, the voice actor for one of our favorite characters in Lost Odyssey, Jansen, is talking to gamers over on this thread on gamefaqs.com:


(Sorry, I couldn't find his real-life photo :P)

It seems real nice of him to take the time to talk to the gamers about his work :D Check it out!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

So, IGN finally got around to playing Lost Odyssey, eh?


http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/856/856154p1.html

Now this is the strangest thing....Lost Odyssey wasn't quite well received in IGN. If you read the review itself, it was quite scathing of the game, and note that they reviewed the game twice, and twice did they trash the game for what they considered 'flaws'. Surprisingly, they've chosen it as their GAME OF THE MONTH. Over Devil May Cry 4.

Craziness.

Looks like they finally got around to actually playing the game, instead of putting out a review based on their opinion on Disc 1.

It's just sad that IGN's review score and the unfair criticism that they gave for the game isn't going to change anytime soon. I don't really know why they made it game of the month....maybe because of all the backlash to the game reviews for Lost Odyssey in general. If you try to read a lot of the feedback online for Lost Odyssey, you'll see that GAMERS say that Lost Odyssey is a great game, and in some cases (like mine) the game is the best JRPG ever released in a very, very, very long time. It's simply a case of IGN trying to save face for trashing a game that was generally well-liked by the gaming populace. At the same time, this change in position regarding Lost Odyssey only serves to make IGN's reviewing standards more questionable, lowering their credibility with gamers even further.