Frogger on Xbox 360

Post ImageOne of the things I like best about my Xbox 360 is the Xbox Live Arcade, and it’s about to get even better. Microsoft recently announced they will be releasing at least one new arcade-style game for the service every Wednesday:

At a trendy bar filled with gamers and video game press, Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled its lineup of retro hits like “Pac-Man,” “Galaga” and “Frogger” as part of its new Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays program.

Players will need to connect their Xboxes to an Internet connection in order to download the games, though they don’t need to stay connected to play them.

The first game is Frogger, and it was released yesterday. I downloaded the trial last night to see what it was like – it’s kinda neat! They have “enhanced” and “classic” graphics for the game, which is pretty funny. While the arcade style games don’t utilize any of the real power the 360 has, they are fun for a change every now and then. The games will cost between $5 and $10.

I can’t wait for Pac-man!

Read: CNET

Microsoft: Buy a Wii with your 360

Post ImageAh you gotta love Microsoft sometimes. They hate Sony so much that they are willing to side with another competitor, that being Nintendo. Dickson and I have long planned to buy a Nintendo Wii (used to be called Revolution) simply because we don’t expect it to cost very much. Microsoft VP Peter Moore agrees:

“Tell me why you would buy a $600 PS3?” Peter Moore, a Microsoft vice president, said in an interview. “People are going to buy two (machines.) They’re going to buy an Xbox and they’re going to buy a Wii … for the price of one PS3.”

“People will always gravitate toward a competitively priced product — like what I believe Wii will be — with innovative new designs and great intellectual property like Mario, Zelda and Metroid,” Moore told Reuters.

He makes a good point. Super Mario Galaxy looks like a pretty cool game, especially with the Wii’s very innovative controller. I hope they announce pricing for the Wii soon!

Read: Washington Post

PS3 Pricing Announced

Post ImageSony announced pricing for its upcoming PlayStation 3 gaming console yesterday, and as generally expected, the console will cost more than Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Though not nearly as much as I expected! The system comes in two options, though the only difference between the two appears to be a larger hard drive:

Sony, which unveiled the specs and pricing of its PlayStation 3 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Monday, will charge $499 and $599 for the consoles when they arrive in November.

Many people seem to think that it will all come down to Blu-ray. I am not so sure. I don’t exactly have a strong desire to own a Blu-ray device, though I admit the PS3 is by far the cheapest such device available. The $499 model comes with a 20 GB hard drive, making it more similar to the higher end Xbox 360 console. Who knows what kinds of controllers or other extras the PS3 will come with though.

Does anyone else think it’s stupid to charge an extra $100 for 40 GB of space? I can buy a 300 GB hard drive for just over $120 CDN for crying out loud! Unless there’s something extra, that $100 is a complete rip off.

Oh, and the sexy controller in the picture is not what the final controller looks like. Nope, the real one is much more mundane.

Read: CNET

PlayStation 3 delayed a year?

Post ImageLots of PlayStation 3 news lately, and most of it is not good if you’re pulling for Sony in the gaming wars. Apparently Sony is planning a Hub service to compete with Xbox Live, but confirmations have been difficult to get, leading me to believe it may just be posturing on Sony’s part. The worst news though is about extremely high prices and potential delays:

Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 3 video game console might not appear in key markets this year and could cost the company $900 per unit to produce initially, according to Merrill Lynch analysts quoted in the Financial Times on Sunday.

Merrill Lynch analysts in San Francisco have estimated that the initial bill of materials for PS3 could approach $900, falling to $320 by three years after launch, the FT said.

Keep in mind those figures are in US dollars. I said a long time ago that the PS3 would likely cost an arm and a leg, so this story is validation. You just can’t introduce so many new components and expect the price to remain the same – the cell processor, coupled with Blu-ray drives are going to drive the cost of manufacturing quite high.

I don’t think Sony has extremely deep pockets like Microsoft, so I can’t see them taking a massive loss on each console. Hopefully we’ll find out more soon.

Read: CNET

No more PC gaming?

Post ImageIt used to be that if you wanted the best gaming experience, you’d need to play your games on the computer. There were many reasons for this, including the raw power of computers, the ability to hook up to the Internet, and the ability to upgrade your hardware to play the most cutting edge games. While consoles have always had the advantage of “leveling the playing field” in terms of hardware and thus game performance, many hardcore gamers stuck to the computer.

Since the launch of the Xbox 360, the buzz around the “death of gaming PCs” has gotten much louder. First, from Sottozero:

It’s safe to say the gaming consoles are no longer just gaming consoles — they’re full-blown entertainment hubs. They’ve come of age, and they’ve got an attitude. And they threaten to kick traditional gaming PCs’ collective ass.

The gaming PC upgrade cycle is a rat race, an endless effort. With living room technology coming that’s as powerful as PS3 and Xbox 360 seem to be, it makes less and less sense to hop on the gaming PC carousel, particularly from a financial standpoint.

And second, from Paul Thurrott:

What’s interesting about this to me is that I’m a PC gamer from way back. When I moved to the PC from the Amiga in the mid-1990’s, I had to adapt to keyboard-based gaming and, later, with the advent of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D, to keyboard-and-mouse gaming. I’ve dabbled in video game systems since, but have really been more comfortable with the PC stuff. With Xbox 360 that’s changing. It’s exactly like when I switched from pure keyboard PC gaming.

The Xbox 360 (and the PS3 later next year) boasts raw power far exceeding most home computers for the foreseeable future, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that the next generation of consoles will extend the lead even farther. There’s more to gaming than just power though. Imagine trying to play Team Fortress Classic on the Xbox. I think back to my TFC days and one of the big things that sticks out in my mind is “key bindings”. You basically found a way to use every key on the keyboard – hard to do with a controller that only has a dozen or so buttons. Lots of other games wouldn’t port well to a console either, like World of Warcraft.

On the other hand, I think the fact that Internet connectivity has become so central for gaming consoles opens the door so to speak. I wouldn’t be surprised if consoles do gain the ability to play games like WOW, whether it’s from different controllers (sort of like keyboards) or just unique on-screen interfaces. The fact that Xbox Live is so deeply integrated into the console will definitely make MMO games more likely.

Truth be told, I haven’t really played computer games for a long time now. I have Age of Empires II installed, but it’s been ages since I last played. Maybe Paul is right when he says “I think we’re seeing the beginning of a big transition here.”

Xbox 360 Revealed

Post ImageThe November 22nd launch of the Xbox 360 is now in plain view, so naturally more and more details are emerging. Microsoft is opening up too, as evidenced by it’s recent press event that CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman attended:

For all the talk about whether there will be enough games available when the Xbox is released on Nov. 22, few doubt that the games that will be ready will be a cut above anything available for current-generation consoles. And after seeing a handful of Xbox 360 games Monday, I can say with confidence that it’s true.

Over plates of olives, endives, red peppers and other snacks at Dogpatch Studios in this city’s somewhat rundown Dogpatch neighborhood Monday, Microsoft finally pulled back the curtains on the new Xbox for a small crowd of journalists and invited us to try our hands at 12 titles expected to be ready in time for the console launch next month.

Seems as though Daniel left the event feeling confident in the Xbox 360: “I’d tried about five or six games, and have no trouble reporting that the Xbox 360 was the best console experience I’ve ever had.” He also left wondering about the one question those in the gaming industry, and fans of games for that matter, rarely ask:

Yet in the end, I came back once again to wondering if it’s all really necessary. When it comes to enjoying a video game basketball experience, just how real does the sweat have to be?

There’s no question the new Xbox will produce the most realistic games ever. The question then becomes, do more realistic games make for better games? I’m inclined to say yes, but I suppose time will tell. I’m also willing to bet the answer will vary with each person, and each type of game.

Read: CNET