First Madden ’10 screen is shown

On Peter Moore’s official blog, the first Madden ’10 screen has been released. It’s really hard to tell much from a single screen, but it looks pretty nice to me. Peter talks a bit about the game on the blog, so check out the post, here: http://itsinthegame.ea.com/archive/2009/03/23/fight-for-every-yard.aspx

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It will be nice when we can get some in-depth details of all of the gameplay tweaks and improvements that are going into this year’s version of the game. The last few years have been pretty disappointing for me, and I’m usually left wondering just how much work goes into the title year to year. At some point, however, EA is going to have to start matching the quality of the releases that we saw during the past generation of consoles, when Madden was really in its prime as a series.

Pearl Jam’s Ten hits Rock Band next week

Of all the complete albums that have been released on Rock Band so far, this is by far my most anticipated release. On Tuesday for Xbox 360 owners and Thursday for PS3 owners, Pearl Jam’s Ten will be available for download. For those youngsters that don’t know how great of an album Ten was, hit up your torr–er, uh, Amazon.mp3 and get the album and give it a listen. Nirvana who? Here are the tracks that will be made available either as a whole or individually:

  • Once
  • Even Flow
  • Why Go
  • Black
  • Jeremy
  • Oceans
  • Porch
  • Garden
  • Deep
  • Release
  • Master/Slave 
So yeah, download it and enjoy one of the best albums of the ’90s. Just don’t send me the bill when you kick over your subwoofer during the guitar solo in Even Flow. 

Publishers urging Sony to drop PS3 price

In a recent article over at Bloomberg, several publishers were quoted while giving their thoughts of the PS3 price point, the Wii’s development atmosphere, and what their plans are going forward. Many developers and publishers are hoping that a PS3 price drop can give PS3 sales a lift, which would have a ripple effect on game sales. It’s no secret that the 360 and Wii have been dominant in software sales, with the PS3 lagging pretty far behind. A lot of this is due to the PS3 pricing structure, as many gamers are still within the mindset that the PS3 is just too expensive to pick up at this point.

I think there’s more to the issue than just a simple price point. The 360 got out of the gates early and got their fan base hooked on silly little things like Achievements. I’m not saying that Achievements are bad, but these little buggers are basically causing multiplatform owners to shun PS3 releases if the game is also available on the 360. I hear it all the time: “I’m going to get the 360 version, as I want the Achievement points.” Sony’s answer with the trophy system wasn’t quite enough, and it’s come far too late in the game. Maybe a price drop would help, but it seems like Microsoft has won over the loyalty of their console owners in the multiplatform arena.

The Wii is a different challenge altogether for the PS3. Publishers are now saying that they’ll be forced to cut PS3 budgets to give a bit more attention to the Wii, simply because they get better results on Nintendo’s platform for a cheaper investment. The article stated that Activision generated 32% of their revenue from the Wii last year, compared to 19% from the PS3. Those numbers are telling, but what is the bigger issue is how much money was devoted to the Wii versus the PS3. A typical Wii project is going to cost 1/3 (or less) than what it costs to put out something on the PS3 or 360, so the return on investment is essentially 2-3 times higher. It’s not favoritism for publishers like Activision to shift assets to the Wii from PS3, it’s good business.

I personally hope that the PS3 can rally a bit and catch up to the 360 and Wii over time. I feel that a healthy Sony is good for the gaming industry, and it will continue to force Microsoft and Nintendo to innovate while still keeping their prices down. Should Sony continue to struggle and fade, it’s really not going to be a good thing for anybody; Sony haters included.

The original article can be found at Bloomberg, here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aHTaK6Q9IUFo

The Stupid Gamer Street Fighter IV Guide

At times I try to convince myself that I’m actually pretty good at Street Fighter. I mean, I probably gave local gas stations and arcades every quarter I owned from the moment Street Fighter II hit the US up until the late ’90s.  As Street Fighter IV has caused a lot of hype and attention, I have noticed that many popular message boards are filling up with newcomers asking why the series is so difficult. There are also quite a few old-timers that walked away from the game around the time that Capcom started focusing in on the Alpha series.  Well, I’m hoping that our Street Fighter IV guide will be useful to both of those groups, as well as the longtime casual player that’s never really been able to delve into the deeper bits of the battle system.

You can find the guide here: http://stupidgamer.com/street-fighter-iv-guide/

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A link to the guide is also available just below the site header. Please feel free to email me anything that you think would improve the guide at jar155 [at] gmail.com. I also welcome any and all criticism about my strategies or conclusions about the game. Thanks for reading!

Street Fighter IV fan ads

In anticipation of big releases or to celebrate great games already out, the forum members over at NeoGAF often will come together to create fan made magazine style ads. Recently the community turned their collective attention toward Street Fighter IV, and the results were quite impressive. Check out the slideshow below for a sampling of some what they’ve come up with. You can use the options on the slideshow nav bar to switch to full screen mode.

[slideshow=1]

Buy Pearl Jam’s Ten re-release at Best Buy, get 3 free Rock Band tracks

Ugh, after swearing off Best Buy not too long ago I find myself with a good and valid reason for shopping there again. If you buy the re-release of Pearl Jam’s Ten (and you should!) from Best Buy, you’ll get a download code to use with Rock Band to get three free DLC tracks. The songs you’ll get are “State of Love and Trust”, “Brother”, and “Alive”.

If you’re a Pearl Jam fan, you’re probably going to be getting the album anyway, so you might as well bebase yourself and get it from Best Buy at the same time so you can pick up the free bonus tracks. You can get the free tracks by purchasing either the Super Deluxe Edition (I swear, it’s really called that) or the regular release.

The details are found on the Best Buy website, found here: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=pcmcat173100050006&type=category

Resident Evil 5 demo is on XBL Marketplace

Yep, as of right now the Resident Evil 5 demo is available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The demo will also be available for the PSN store, but it’s not coming out until February 2nd. So all you Xboxers, go out and download the demo for what is definitely one of 2009’s most anticipated titles.

resident-evil-5

Resident Evil 5 is releasing on Friday the 13, this March. With online co-op play, this is probably going to be one of the biggest Resident Evil games ever. If by some criminal act you skipped Resident Evil 4, playing it now would be a great idea. The Wii port is excellent, and it uses the Wii Remote controls quite well. Alternatively it’s pretty cheap on GameCube, and it holds up very well from both a graphical and gameplay standpoint.

Skate 2 demo hits tonight

I’m still upset by the EGM/1up news, but at least there is a bit of good news to report today. The Skate 2 demo will be out tonight at 12:01 PST on the XBL Marketplace. It will be available next week on the PSN. I’ve been a big fan of the game since I got a chance to go up to Vancouver and spend a day with it, so the demo will be a nice holdover until the game is out on the 21st, later this month. Here’s the offical PR from EA:

Black Box, an Electronic Arts Inc. studio (NASDAQ: ERTS) announced today that the Skate 2 demo will hit Xbox Live Marketplace on January 8th and the PlayStation Network on January 15, 2009. The demo introduces players to the city of New San Vanelona where they can skate with style and individuality via access to the enhanced character customization tools. Gamers will get a first glimpse of the deep single-player story and exciting challenges in all-new locations. The Skate 2 demo will also feature two of the game’s online Party Play modes: Thrasher’s Hall of Meat and Spot Battle.

Skate 2 ups the ante in delivering all the grit, creativity and culture of skateboarding. Equipped with double the bag of tricks, players are tasked to rebuild their career and revive the skate scene. Now with the ability to get off-board and move objects, gamers can create their own epic spots and challenges, which can then be uploaded, shared and experienced by others around the world.

Skate 2 hits retailers in North America on January 21st, and worldwide on January 23, 2009 – making it one of the first must-have games of 2009. Skate 2 is developed by Black Box, a studio of Electronic Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia and will be available on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system. The game is rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB and is rated 16+ by PEGI.

So there you have it. Give the demo a shot.

David Reeves wonders how to make it worse, does interview, succeeds

Is there anybody in the entire Sony company that is as stupid is David Reeves? I mean, I know it’s disrespectful to say that about someone, but this is the one guy that even the hardcore Sony fanboys actively work to shout down. I also hate being the near constant critic of Sony and their ways, but I think their approach to this generation of gaming warrants some backlash. In recent weeks Sony has endured some PR pain as they’ve had to announce big layoffs, bad financial losses, and terrible NPD sales performances. Now, not all of this can be attributed to their games division, but the PS3 and its money losing ways are definitely a big part of the blame. In an interview with MVC, David Reeves (president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) had a few choice things to say that reek of excuses, deflection, envy, and desperation.

Here is the interview in its entirety, but below I have a list of notable achievements by Reeves in the piece: http://www.mcvuk.com/interviews/394/Action-Station

  • He compares Sony’s $3 billion losses in the past two years to Citibank to show why it’s not so bad. Citibank compared to Sony? Really? How is that remotely relevant?
  • He states that they’re not dropping the price, but rather focusing on a “value added” strategy. WHAT?! How is the PS3 added value at this point? You can buy both a 360 and a Wii for the price of a PS3 now. If he’s talking Blu-ray, you can get a 360 and a Blu-ray player cheaper.
  • He states that their objective is to “grow the market”. How are you going to do that with an overpriced console? DROP THE PRICE!
  • “You don’t grow the market by putting out shoddy machines.” Obviously this is a slight at the 360, but the PS2 and PS1 were terribly shoddy. Many people went through several of each. It’s a pot/kettle black deal there…
  • “…as soon as we got the manufacturing price down on PSOne we lowered the price. Same with PS2. But we’re not doing that on PS3 – that’s not the model, but people are expecting it.” Ok…so the PS1 and PS2 owned the market, so you’re just going to go with a different strategy? Makes sense.

There are a few more things in there that are just fine examples of crazy talk, but I think I’ve gone far beyond what I should have on this topic. To be clear, I LIKE MY PS3, but I think the industry needs a healthy Sony. With all the poor decisions Sony makes I keep expecting that they’re going to wake up and get things rolling, but these sort of interviews have me questioning whether or not they’ve actually lost touch with the reality of the situation they’re in and the industry as a whole. Sony got punched in the face big time, but rather than coming back with their own punches, they’ve just been content to take blow after blow while making excuses why this is a better strategy. Sure, it worked for Rocky, but even Adrian new that at SOME POINT the Italian Stallion had to hit back. Do it, Sony.

Guitar Hero World Tour is a blast, but has its share of flaws

Guitar Hero World Tour came out on Sunday, but yesterday was the day that most people go their first bit of action with Activision’s music rhythm game and it seems that impressions were quite mixed. While most people were very happy with the instruments (when they worked), and most people were fired up over the nice track list, it seems that the multiplayer modes and the somewhat bare bones solo tour are the biggest points of contention. I spent a few hours with the game last night, so let me give my own impressions. And since I’m such a positive person, I’ll start with the good.

The Good

  • The Guitar Hero instruments are quite incredible. The heftiness of the guitar and drum set put the Rock Band accessories to shame. The touch pad on the guitar is a little gimmicky, but it’s fun to play with and experienced guitarists will have fun tapping and sliding through sections of the game that allow it. The more sturdy build and better drum head design makes the drum set feel more like a real drum kit and less of a plastic toy.
  • The set list on the disc is really good and varied enough that people who have a hard time justifying DLC costs will be satisfied with what they get right out of the box for quite some time. There are some nice surprises in there, like Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, that have potential to become surprise favorites.
  • The drums work quite well with Rock Band, as long as you’re on the 360 (more on that later).
  • All the Nintendo/classic game theme songs you ever wanted are available to download as custom tracks from other users. On day one I had Zelda, Mario, Punch-Out!!, as well as a few others.
  • When pausing and resuming the game, you get a 5 second countdown timer to get ready. This helps a lot for that occasional dropped drum stick or overturned drum pedal.
  • Creating your own music is a pretty neat addition to the game, but it can be quite time consuming so be patient with it.

The Bad

  • As expected, there is a bit of artificial note inflation. At times you’ll be hitting notes that aren’t reflected as sounds in the game. What is happening here is that the developer is upping the challenge level, but they’re doing so in a way that causes a disconnect between the instrument and the song.
  • Solo tour is kind of odd from a progression standpoint. You’re forced to play multiple songs at a time, which means that you can’t just kill 10 minutes and quit.
  • If one band member fails, the whole band fails. This is terrible, as it’s going to intimidate newcomers into not playing with experienced players. For this genre, this is a huge oversight.
  • The instruments feel great, but message boards are lit up today with people complaining that their drums aren’t working (I had to fix one of my cymbals out of the box) or that their guitar is registering extra note presses. In some cases, people have failed out of a song because their guitar has gone wonky on them mid-song. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed and fix early, much like Harmonix did with the original Rock Band guitar.
  • The gap isn’t as wide as it used to be, but the note charts still aren’t quite as fun or seemingly as accurate as the Rock Band songs.
  • As of right now, the drums DO NOT WORK with Rock Band 2 on the PS3.
  • The drum pedal isn’t attached to the drum kit aside from the input jack. Expect it to slide around your floor a bit.

Bottom Line

Guitar Hero World Tour is a fine, fine, game. There are some issues that people are going to have with the World Tour mode and some of its odd quirks, but the actual music playing in the game is a lot of fun and well worth the random irksome moment. In moving from Rock Band to Guitar Hero you’ll lose some of the band-focused things like earning your tour bus or worrying about gaining new fans, and you’ll notice some odd things like note inflation, but none of it proves to be a deal breaker. With such a dynamic track listing, and with superior instruments, Guitar Hero World Tour has earned the right to sit alongside Rock Band on any gamer’s shelf. If you were to only get one title, I’d still favor Rock Band in the long run, but nobody should be disappointed in the least by Guitar Hero.