Thursday, February 23, 2006

Internet Revolution

So apparently the Nintendo Revolution will have internet browsing capabilities (take that XBox!) At first this sounds kind of stupid. Who would want to use the internet on a gaming console?

But wait! This isn't any old gaming console. This is the Revolution. And what's so great about it? The controller.

In case you have forgotten (I haven't), the Revolution has an awesome point-and-click controller; it senses its own movements and it knows where it's pointing when you click the buttons. This means you can use it as a mouse; the built-in wi-fi capabilities of the Revolution make web browsers a natural extension of the console.

What about text entry? This question (so far) hasn't been answered. Some possible solutions are an on-screen keyboard (the easy way) or a plug-in keyboard (the controller has an expansion slot, remember?) Using the expansion slot would be a good solution, but even better (if Nintendo can pull it off) would be to plug in a microphone with speech-recognition technology built in. This would be the best solution, but it would be difficult and expensive to manufacture, so a keyboard would probably be better.

The Nintendo spokesman who made the announcement went on to say that people wouldn't buy the console primarily for its web capabilities. Hogwash and humbug! I'll buy it even if it doesn't do anything but surf the web! With the point-and-click plus forward-backward and scroll button controller I can't think of a better way to surf.

Personally, I can't wait for the Revolution to be released. Neither the XBox or the PS3 have any web capabilities at all (at least not yet); apparently Nintendo is the only one blazing trails, the only one expanding the medium. Go Nintendo!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

To the Web and beyond

Nintendo and Opera have joined forces to bring us nintendo fanboys the greatest thing we can desire on our beautiful Nintendo DS!!

A web browser!

Check it out here.

Great Minds Think Alike

Check it out: someone stole my article name! Must've been a good idea!

Check out the original article.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Star Fox 64

well, this is more of a personal story than a game review...

The other night, i went over to my dad's house to visit for a while, and i come across my old N64, ahh, the good 'ol days right? right. well, Star Fox 64 was still inside the N64, so i figured, "why not" so i plug it up, and play a few courses, and it brought back so many memories! It amamzed me at how easy the game seemed today though... just 6 years ago, when it first came out... it was freakin hard! but anyways, even though we have been exposed to Gamecubes, and XBoxes, and PS2's, one still cant help but marvel at how wonderfully colored and detailed games such as Star Fox were back on the N64 days...

I hope the DS comes out with a Port for Star Fox... that would be incredibly cool. one of the greatest games out there: Returns.

yeah, well thats my little walk down memory lane.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

So Where's the PSP Micro?

Last week Nintendo announced its plans for the DS Lite: a 20% lighter and 1/3 smaller version of its immensely popular dual-screen handheld gaming system. Release dates for Japan are set for May, but no dates for when it will be available in the good ol' USA have been announced. The question is, when will Sony release plans for its new (and innovative!) PSP Micro?

Actually, that isn't the focal point of this article. Numerous times before I have commented on Sony's unexplainable ability to copy their competitors products, but what I want to point out here is what Nintendo is doing by creating new versions.

Some might say (including my friend Hansel, who directed my attention to this topic) that Nintendo is just trying to squeeze more money out of existing products, a lame tactic to say the least. This is nonsense. Instead, they are expanding their target market by creating different versions in the hope that at least one design will fit any given potential customer.

We've already seen this happening with the GameBoy Micro, which was mildly successful (the reason it wasn't a huge success was because most of the target market already had a DS by the time it was released). Still, the idea was good, and Nintendo managed to make some more money and please some more customers.

Now they are doing it again, this time in a more timely manner; people who didn't buy the DS (or the PSP) and didn't plan on doing so may well take advantage of the smaller, more portable version. What Nintendo is doing is excellent; instead of expecting their customers to adapt to the use of their product, they are making their product adapt to the specific needs, desires, and tastes of the user.

This is a lesson Sony needs to learn. Nintendo has also incorporated this genius bit of knowledge into the development of the Revolution, which features a pointing device not unlike the guns used on arcade machines. Anyone can point at a spot on the TV, but not everyone can push buttons with lightning speed, which is exactly why Nintendo's decision was such a good one.

The same thing applies to the DS Lite. Instead of relying on a small faction of gamers to whom the bulk and weight of the current DS appeals, they have created a new version so more people can appreciate the product. This is incredibly good sense.

Kudos to Nintendo!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Things are People Too!

The video game entertainment medium has many flaws. Focus is one of the most prominent, as many game designers try to designs games to sell instead of games to play. I have often touched on this point in past articles, but this time I want to consider another flaw of video games: the unbearable and inhuman focus on things instead of people.

What do you do in games? You shoot things, collect things, upgrade things, run over things, drive things and kick things. Things things things! Where's the people?

You might argue that games do include people; Mario is one of the most recognized game characters in the world. But this argument has a problem as well: these people don't act like people, they act like things. Sure, people an jump, punch, and kick (and shoot!), but that isn't what's missing. What's missing is human nature.

People have feelings; things don't. This is where the two categories separate. In all other aspects they coincide; people move, things move, people shoot, things shoot. But things can't feel; things can't have emotions. They can't get upset, can't have opinions, friends, or favorites. In short, things can't be, well, people.

Often game designers overlook this bit of common sense. "If it sells," they rationalize, "do it!" They figure (and unfortunately, are often right) that if one game succeeds, another just like it will as well. Just look at the amazing success of Microsoft's Halo series. Nothing is original, no ideas in the series are new or innovative. But all the ideas and concepts are better implemented than the original games they first starred in.

What the designers don't realize is that the reason innovative and mold-breaking games don't make big bucks isn't because they aren't wanted; it's because they aren't made. Most innovative games would be big hits if the designs could just get past marketing departments. To add insult to injury, another problem is that the more bloody gory shootups the gaming industry makes, the farther and farther away they drive the vast majority of Americans. Most of the civilized world isn't interested in slitting throats or blasting zombies; when the duplicated games fail designers ask, "what's missing?"

What's missing is people. Here is a list of games that could be huge hits if they were only produced. All these designs reflect true aspects of real human character (by publishing these ideas, I hereby declare them public domain):
Gossip: People gossip about each other, creating social circles that compete for superiority. The player has to try to be liked by everybody.
Popularity Contest: The player must become friends with popular people in order to enter social circles. People who like others you are friends with will be influenced to like you as well. More popular people are harder to win over and are less influenced by others, but have lots of influence and so are good investments of your time. You must try to gain as much influence in the social arena as possible.
Happiness: You must try to become friends with someone by giving them gifts, going to movies and other events, etc. The problem is you don't know what they like, and you must try to find the best attitude to approach them with in order to make them happy and want to be your friend. This isn't as easy as you might think; the persons likes and dislikes are constantly changing, and what you do for them has an influence on these changes.

These are all excellent ideas that could be well developed and marketed if someone would give them a chance. They all portray human character, instinct, and nature in ways that are tangible and fun.

Now it's your turn. Can you think of any more ideas for games that accurately depict human traits in a way that is fun to interact with and you believe would be successful in the marketplace? Click the "comments so far" link below and let us (and the world) know!