Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

As I sat down on the couch tonight I was taken by the mood to spend some quality time with my Xbox 360. After inserting my Bioshock disc I was surprised to see that the console was unable to read the disc and displayed an error message stating so, which is what alerted me to the problem.  I tried a number of different games, movies, CD’s, etc, none of which where readable by my 360’s CD reader.  I did a quick search online to find that the “unplayable disc” error is nearly as common as the Red Rings of Death.  With that knowledge in hand I proceeded to contact Xbox Customer Support.  The first Representative I spoke with had an accent so thick it literally took me five minutes to realize and understand that he was asking for my zip code.  At that point my frustration and blood pressure had risen to a point that i felt was unhealthy so I asked this gentleman if there was someone with an American or British accent that I could speak with and explained that I simply could not understand him well enough to resolve my issue.  At this point he became upset with me and asked me to remain professional.  Additionally he stated “you’ll have to disconnect and call back if you want to speak with someone else.”  Now mind you other Xbox Support Reps have transferred me to another rep or back into the queue when I have requested they do so but this gentlemen became belligerent to the point where I lost my temper and told him “I am being professional but you’re acting like a true Fuck Face.  Don’t lie to me I know I can be transferred”  He tried to accuse me of some form of racism as if being unable to understand ones English and kindly asking to speak with someone else makes one racist. At any rate I ended up speaking with a Supervisor.  Needless to say the call did not end well and though the Supervisor was professional and polite I was infuriated by calls end.  Getting to the point I ended up filling a second complaint against Microsoft because they refuse to repair my Xbox 360 free of charge and are asking I pay one hundred dollars for the repair.  The details of the call and issue are below in my email to the Better Business Bureau.  While I expect Microsoft to shun both of the requests I made in my complaint to the BBB I felt filing a complaint against them was the right thing to do.

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My Claim

I am the owner of an Xbox 360 who purchased his console in November 2005. The console performed as it was meant to until the spring of 2008. At that time my Xbox 360 experienced a hardware failure which resulted in the “Red Rings of Death”. I contacted Xbox customer support and was offered free repairs as my console was under the extended warranty that Microsoft had given to owners of 360’s. The repair went smoothly and when my console was returned to me all seemed to work as it should. As of this evening September 10th, 2008 my Xbox 360 experienced a second hardware failure.

In this latest instance the failure deals with the CD drive. I followed all of Microsoft’s troubleshooting tips though none of them helped to alleviate the problem. I then called Xbox support and spoke with a Supervisor named Kim. I explained that my consoles CD reader was no longer reading any type of disc and that I needed further assistance.

Kim explained that I would need to send my Xbox 360 in for repairs for the second time in just under six months. While I had no objections to sending my console back to Microsoft for repairs she indicated that the repair would cost $100.00 which would cover the shipping to and from their headquarters, the actual repair, and would give me an additional years warranty.

I asked Kim if there was anyone with whom I might speak who possessed the authority to waive that fee as by Microsoft’s own admission, a certain percentage of Xbox 360’s left the factory defective and the hardware malfunction was no fault of mine. Kim explained that she understood how I felt but that she had no supervisor to whom I could speak and that no one above her would hear my argument.

Proposed Resolution

As Microsoft has admitted to the many problems plaguing their latest console I believe my Xbox 360 as well as all others should be repaired free of charge through the entire life cycle of the console. As I have sent it to them for repairs once already, this further proves that the malfunction is occurring due to poor manufacturing and rushed production. One only needs to do a quick Google search to see just how many Xbox 360 owners are having the same problems that I am mired by. It is my firm belief that warranty or no, a company should be required to repair any product that malfunctions due to their own hurried or inept production. I believe this to be even truer when the company has admitted to the problems. Aside from my Xbox 360 I have never owned a console that has needed any repair, even those that I still use 20 years later.

I would ask that Microsoft repair my console free of charge as its malfunction has occurred due to their faulty hardware. This console is only one month outside of its extended warranty and is less than three years old (half way through its life cycle). I paid over $400.00 for my Xbox 360 and now the manufacturer, who has acknowledged the problem, is going to ask a faithful customer to pay another $100.00 to fix something that they are responsible for? If Microsoft will not repair my console free of charge I would ask that a Microsoft Executive contact me via telephone to explain the ethics and morals of such fees and business practices.

One of the great RPG's of all time!With rumors about about a possible Skies of Arcadia sequel appearing on the Wii and possibly the Playstation 3 I wanted to take a moment to talk about it. If you’ve never played Skies of Arcadia I recommend doing so! Though the title is eight years old it’s one of the best RPG’s ever produced. The Dreamcast version is excellent but if you can find Skies of Arcadia Legends for the GameCube you’ll have a superior version of the game.

At any rate if the rumors turn out to be true this would be great news right? I don’t know about any of the other fans but for me I have to honestly say that I’m disappointed. The game is rumored to be headed to the Wii and there’s a possibility of a Playstation 3 port. The Wii? Are you kidding? Perhaps Sega is making SOA 2 for the Wii because of the success of Legends on the GameCube. Perhaps they just want to make use of a “unique” control scheme. This is what scares me. Skies of Arcadia is a hardcore RPG. Though it’s a bit lighthearted in nature, the game isn’t easy nor did it ever appeal to a casual audience. So even with the success of the original game on the Cube why would Sega create a hardcore game for a console that the hardcore have all but ignored or abandoned? The Wii certainly has it’s high points and sells very well but the majority of core gamers don’t make the Wii their first choice when considering a console.

If I had to take a stab in the dark here I’d say that two things are happening with SOA 2. First and foremost, the game is being designed to cater to a broader (Wii) audience which would also mean that it will be far less engaging and challenging when compared to the original SOA. Secondly Sega wants to take advantage of the Wii’s remote. Well with the exception of Metroid Prime 3, i have been disappointed with the Wii’s control schemes and feel that most of them simply replace pushing a button and don’t add much of anything to games. This makes me believe that a Skies sequel will be less about engaging characters and stories and more about some gimmicky control scheme. It’s likely too that this will be the selling point when the game is finally unveiled, which would be a true shame. As the game is rumored to be coming to the Playstation 3 as well as the Wii this all but confirms that the game is going to be focused on control schemes rather than the things an RPG should be focused on.

What I really don’t understand either is that there’s been no mention of an Xbox 360 version of this game. The 360 has a larger install base than the PS3 does and it continues to outsell the Playstation 3 as well. So I must ask Sega, why there has been no mention of SOA for the 360? If you want your games to reach the largest number of people why would you opt to leave out the one console that has the largest install base of hardcore gamers, gamers who would be interested in a game like SOA 2? I’ll tell you why, because I’d be willing to bet that the game is going fundamentally different from the first game.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ll be if this game is built around the Wii’s horse power. Even if it comes to the PS 3 or 360 it’ll be last generation graphics and sound with clunky controls in high definition. I was hoping for years that a sequel to SOA would arrive in HD with state of the art graphics, sound and deep, complex gameplay. I enjoy my Wii to some extent but it’s an extremely limited console by today’s technical standards and I would hate to see a Skies of Arcadia sequel take a hit technically just so we can fly our ships or slash our swords with the Wii remote.

It is rumored that the game will be unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show in October of this year and I could be proven wrong and have my fears laid to rest. Let’s hope that I am indeed wrong in my assumptions. This kind of game should retain its focus on gameplay, story, and characters. I’m also hoping that turn based random battles make a return in the sequel…lets not be trendy and go action RPG! A good sequel improves or expands on the formula and elements that made its predecessor great. A bad sequel disregards the things that made the original great and attempts to introduce unrelated new elements of game play. We hope for sequels to our games because we want more of what we got before, albeit in a refined and improved fashion. So let’s have it Sega!

My Wii Friends Code: 1000 5103 9700 5621 
(please add me to your console…need Smash friends)   

I enjoy playing many different types of games online through many different consoles and have been doing so since the days where my Dreamcast was proudly displayed in my living room.  Flash forward to 2008 and I now play online with both my Wii and my Xbox 360.  While the Xbox 360 has always required a fee to play games online the Wii up until recent announcements stating otherwise, has offered online play at no additional cost.  The Wii has a very miniscule library of games that support robust online game play and generally speaking the online experience through a Wii pales in comparison to what you get through Xbox Live.  I have spent some time reading up on the “Pay to Play” service that was introduced by Nintendo not long ago.

Now mind you, I have no problem paying a fee to play a game online when I get to play with anyone I want and have the ability to speak with other players, whether I know them or not, through a headset.  Additional downloadable content is also something I expect when I’m asked to pay an additional cost to play a game I’ve already paid for, online.  To sum things up, I expect a complete and full-bodied online experience if when I’m asked to pay for the privilege of playing online and I expect this experience to incorporate current and unrestrictive technology.

I hadn’t given to much thought on Nintendo’s “Pay to Play” announcement until I listened to an IGN Wii podcast today.  In this podcast Wii channel editors, Bozon and Matt state very clearly that they are under embargo and are unable to talk about Mario Kart Wii’s online mode in any capacity.  It suddenly and alarmingly became clear to me at least, that Nintendo doesn’t want anyone talking about Mario Kart’s online mode because Nintendo is planning on charging us to race online.  To further push my belief in that direction, Bozon clearly states that Mario Kart Wii does not include an offline multiplayer Grand Prix mode.  Sure playing Mario Kart alone is fun but the real meat and potatoes of the series has always been its multiplayer modes and more specifically the ability to race against a friend.  How convenient is it that we will no longer have the ability to race against a friend offline?

I am having a really hard time with this for a few reasons…

1.  If I remember correctly the “Pay to Play” announcement came at GDC back in February of this year. Mario Kart’s street date is April 27th 2008.  I think the majority of Mario Kart fans assumed that the game would support a free online mode much like Smash Bros. Brawl does.  With only two months or so between the announcement and the games release, Nintendo is curiously quiet about Kart’s online mode and are forbidding insiders to speak about it.  I’m getting a sinking feeling that Mario Kart will serve as Nintendo’s Trojan Horse sneaking in an online fee that will surprise many gamers, like yours truly who just preordered the game.  If this turns out to be true I’ll be exchanging the game for something else, I’m not supporting a limited and overly restrictive online experience.

2.   In the era where Nintendo referred to the Wii as The Revolution the company stated that while 3rd party games may carry an online fee Nintendo made games would remain free to play online.  This is perhaps the most irritating aspect surrounding Nintendo’s Pay to Play.  Though the companies focus is a casual crowd the company should have had the foresight to see that people would want things like voice chat, and downloadable content.  They should have charged for online play from the beginning though the fees should have been minimal as the Wii can not offer anything close to an Xbox Live experience.  Many gamers are upset over this announcement and I’m guessing that should Mario Kart carry online fees, there’s going to be a large group of disenchanted Wii supporters.

3.  I don’t know how many 360 owners also own a Wii, but the online gaming crowd is primarily composed of hardcore gamers and I’m not sure that anyone who’s been on Live will pay to play something through their Wii.  No voice chat, friends codes, etc.  Fairly weak in my opinion.

My hope is that nobody pays to play anything through their Wii.  To do so supports Nintendo’s incomplete and abysmal online model and tells them what they’re doing is profitable.  Like everything else that’s bad on the Wii though, it’ll probably be highly profitable and games with fees will sell millions of copies.

Today started on an interesting note.  The boxes Microsoft sent me for repair on my Xbox 360 finally showed up via UPS.  As I was preparing to take the console apart and pack it up for shipping I figured what the hell, and tried to boot the console up.  To my suprise and dismay it booted up properly and went right to the dashboard.  I turned it off after a moment and realized that my hard drive was still disconnected.  I put the drive back on the 360 and wahlaa…the red rings of death returned.

At this point I tried a reboot without the hard drive attached and found again that the console was working just fine.  After a quick internet search I found that I was not the only one who’s had this problem and it’s almost as frequent as other types of hardware failures the 360’s are expiriencing.  So I called Xbox support next which is absolutley outsourced and horrible!  Not only where the reps difficult to understand, they also went off of scripts.  You’d think that a company as big as Microsoft could afford and would be willing to pay for a good in house support staff.  I then remembered that the bigger a company is and the more money they make, the tighter thier pocket books are.  When you become as big as Microsoft you don’t really have anything to worry about as there’s no alternative out there to take business from you so who cares about cusotmer satisfaction right?

Anyway, long story short, I ended up calling Microsoft twice to try and get things resolved and my hard drive repaired.  I filed a complaint with the Better Business Beauru because it’s the right thing to do though I have accepted the fact Microsoft isn’t going to offer any kind of fair solution regarding the replacement of my hard drive.  I have included below my letter to the BBB stating my problem, and the letter in which I state what I’d like to see Microsoft do.  Thinking of buying an Xbox 360?  Don’t, go buy a Playstation 3 instead…that thing could survive a supernova.

My Complaint To The BBB

I am the owner of an Xbox 360.  About a week ago while trying to boot up my console I received three red rings which indicates a hardware failure on the Xbox 360.  I followed Microsoft’s online instructions and unplugged my console, let it “cool down” and then reconnected everything and tried again.

This next attempt brought about the same results, three red rings around the consoles power button.  I immediately returned to the Microsoft website and followed instructions for repair.  Microsoft’s website indicated that my consoles repair would be free as it fell under their extended warranty.  I filled out the online form and on 3-5-08 I received the box I was to put my console into and ship back to Microsoft for repairs. Before packing my console up I tested it one more time, this time without the hard drive attached.  The results where quite different this time as the console started up fine and I was taken to the consoles dashboard.  I then turned the console off and reconnected my hard drive to the machine.  Once more I received three red rings indicating a hardware problem.

At this point I contacted Xbox 360 support via telephone to communicate my findings. The first gentlemen I spoke with named Mike advised me to once again remove the consoles hard drive and take it into a retail store to test it on another console to determine if the problem was indeed my console or if the problem was actually with the hard drive..  He also advised I test it on a friends console.  I was appalled by this request as it should be Microsoft’s responsibility to determine the problem with their faulty hardware, not mine.  In order to keep things moving smoothly however I called my local Gamestop, Wal-Mart, and Target to ask if I could bring my hard drive in and test it on their Xbox 360’s.  All of them refused and stated that they would not allow such a thing to happen.

I was then forced to contact Xbox support again and as I explained my situation to Frances he stated that I would need to find another Xbox 360 to run further tests. After a short and heated debate Frances finally told me that he’d cancel my original console repair order and create one for my hard drive.  He then stated that I would be responsible for shipping the hard drive to them for inspection and repair.  As I was telling him that this was fine he interrupted me and told me that they could not repair my hard drive as it is considered an “accessory” to the Xbox 360 (though the console is almost functionless without it) and was out of warranty.  At this point I ended the call with Frances out of anger and frustration as there was going to be no resolution to this problem via telephone.

Why is Microsoft allowed to extend the warranty of faulty hardware and offer free repairs to their Xbox 360 but not the consoles hard drives?  This failure is a result of rushed planning and manufacturing and not one of misuse or overuse.  I understand that Microsoft is trying avoid a big lawsuit by offering to repair consoles for free, even ones that have fallen out of warranty, but why should they not have to replace my hard drive for free when it would be cheaper than replacing or repairing a malfunctioning console?  Does Microsoft consider the hard drive an “accessory” to the Xbox 360 because they want to tempt you into buying a larger drive when they become available or do they list it as such so that they turn the other check on another piece of faulty hardware and refuse repair?  Though the company considers the Xbox 360 hard drive an “optional” componet, it’s not.  For a gamer like me who plays primarily online games, and downloads arcade games to his hard drive the drive is anything but optional or an accessory as they like to call it.

My Proposed Resolution To The BBB

I would like Microsoft to extend their Xbox 360 warranty to include replacement of faulty hard drives, and/or offer some type of voucher for a new hard drive. I would like my hard drive replaced at no cost seeing as how it’s just over two years old, and the cause of malfunction is clearly Microsoft, not mine.  I can not play any of my downloaded arcade games without a working hard drive and can not enjoy any of the MMO’s I enjoy without such a drive either.  Microsoft should stand behind their products, faulty or not and provide their customers fair resolutions.

I’ve been a super fan of Sega’s Phantasy Star series for over twenty years and I’ve played every single game that’s been made available here in the United States.  In 2001 Sega took Phantasy Star into the online world with the release of Phantasy Star Online.  As much as I had hoped for a new game set in the traditional Algol solar system I was pleasantly suprised at how fun the game was.  I played it first on my Dreamcast and then on my GameCube.  I stopped playing PSO in 2005 and was waiting patiently for the next game in the series, Phantasy Star Universe.  The game was finally released near the end of 2006 and now that I’ve been playing it for over a year I want to do what I did a year into PSO, which is to make a wish list of things I’d like to see either added to Phantasy Star Universe through an expansion or to a completely new game.  Many of the things I wished for back when I was playing PSO came to fruition in PSU and while I don’t believe Sonic Team read my blog way back when, many people must have had the same complaints and wishes I did.  Alright here we go….these are in no particular order by the way.

Vehicles– In the original Phantasy Star Quadrilogy the party was granted access to new areas and given powerful weaponry through the use of vehicles.  The Landrover, Ice Digger, Jet Scooter, and even the sub and aero parts for Wren took us to cool places in games that we could only see in the far off distance and even to places we had no idea where there.   I’d like to see a future incarnation of Phantasy Star re-incorporate this type of thing into the saga.  Currently in PSU you drive a type of Jet Scooter but it’s function is limited and you only ride the scooter to pick up yellow orbs in one specific quest.  Finding and using these vehicles should be a big deal and grant us access to extraordinary places and things.

Combination Spells– Phantasy Star IV incorporated combination spells by where if two or more party members cast the proper spells, or performed the correct attack, the two would combine to create a new effect usually dealing out hefty damage.  This was one of the best additions to that game and one that I remember a lot of fans speaking positively about.  Why combo spells are not part of PSU I’ll never know.  I’d like to see these come back though.  Sandstorm, Black Hole, Grand Cross, etc.  With today’s technology there could be a large number of possible combinations for Forces (and fighters!) to make use of.  I can’t see this being difficult to pull off since there’s voice chat in the game and it might only require good timing and the caster’s to be in reasonable proximity of each other.

The Algo Solar System– The Algo Solar System is the setting for the first four Phantasy Star games and by far the most interesting locale of the saga.  Both PSO and to a lesser extent PSU remain vague about where they are exactly in space and even in time.  Both online ventures have their own solar systems and planets and never make mention of Algol.  My question is this?  Why if the stories are in no way connected does Sega call this Phantasy Star?  Aside from some names, and ambiguous references there is very little that ties either of the two online games to the original Quadrilogy.  I’d like to see the next Phantasy Star online game be set in the original universe (if it isn’t already) complete with the ability to choose Motavian’s Dezorian’s, Palman’s, and Musk Cat’s as your characters.  PSU does this to some degree but has replaced Dezorians with Newman’s, Palman’s with Humans and Motavian’s with Beasts.  Though I really like the choices PSU brings to the table I’m itching for a return to the saga’s roots.  I have been wondering however, especially as of late if both PSU and PSO might tie together and then tie into the original four games.  If that’s to be that’s great however Sega has and is taking its sweet ass time getting us to that point.

Level Caps– I’ve never been a fan of level capping especially with the ability for programmers to go in and make your adversaries stronger and even introduce newer stronger monsters for the highest level characters.  Currently in Phantasy Star Universe the level cap raises by ten every so often, which is usually once a month.  Now that Sega has really opened up the game in terms of experience and money earned (an excellent move) during your missions one can level his or her character up relatively quick and with little effort.  This means that many players max out their character’s levels which drives many players away from the game and while I’m not the type of player to stop playing because I cap out most MMO players are.  The structuring of PSU is pretty simple and I don’t see nor do I understand Sega capping our characters.  Why doesnt Sonic Team simply make the level cap 999 and let us grind away?  Great rewards or big stat boosts could be given to players who reach certain milestones and with the cap set at 999 players would theoretically never reach that point.  Currently the most difficult and rewarding missions anyone can access are “S2” missions.  I’m hoping that a much more liberal level cap would allow Sonic Team to periodically introduce “S3”, “S4”, “S5”, etc to entice placers to keep playing.  There also needs to be drops that can only be found in specific mission difficulties and as they do now, restrict mission difficulties to specific character levels.  The majority of players on PSU have maxed out more than one character and therefore no longer play or play sporadically.  I also wouldn’t mind lengthier times between leveling up, but if you’re going to increase the required amount of experience for leveling up the rewards for such an achievement must also increase.

More Planets/Locales– I know that PSU was originally intended and programmed to be a Playstation 2 game.  Looking at it even in HD it’s obvious that the game was not tailor made for the Xbox 360.  That said I can understand some of the limitations this game currently has however with online updates, expansions and the like all possible I’d really like to see more planets, cities on each planet, more missions, varied environments, and the list goes on and on.  I think this part of my wish list might be best relegated to a game on a much larger medium like Blu-Ray since the game could be 50 Gigabytes instead of a max of 4-8 Gigabytes though I’m sure it might be possible to pull this off without a disc or simply a new disc or download.  Currently there are three planets and while the missions on each planet vary by map the layouts are often similar and there isn’t much difference in the locales and details in the surrounding enviornments.  They’ve done a fine job up to this point but I’d really like to see Sonic Team ramp things up and let us explore exotic indoor and outdoor locations.  More detail would be awesome.  I’d also like to see additional planets pop up in the game at some point though I don’t think it will happen.  Ryucross or Rykros as it’s known here is simply a green version of a Hive  which I think is sad in this day and age.

Voice Acting– I expected my RPG’s to include voice acting back in 2002 and in some cases a little earlier than that.  Why then is there no voice acting for online story modes?  The voice acting in the offline story mode in PSU really brought the characters to life and just makes the game all the more enjoyable.  To put it blatantly, it really sucks to go from playing a story with voice acting offline to a bland, flat 1998-ish online story world.  I don’t care if voice acting would have increased the size of the expansion download or cost a few more dollars, it would have just been nice to have it present.

Longer Offline Quest– RPG’s have enjoyed a long running standard of 40 hours of gameplay per game.  While some good games and some bad games boast both shorter and longer quests, I would like to see Sega go balls to the wall with its next Phantasy Star incarnation and give us an offline quest that boasts at least 100 hours of gameplay.  In truth I’ve been wanting to see RPG’s like Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy, etc give us something that takes months to complete, not days.  Even with two jobs, kids and a wife to devote time to, I can beat most RPG’s within 4 days of bringing them home, and beat them thoroughly with no help I might add.  Over time it has become and continues to become increasingly more frustrating to wait 2-5 years for a game and then complete it so quickly.  Lets go deeper into characters, environments, stories, etc.  It’s 2008 and PRG’s have evolved in almost all other aspects, why not this one?  How about multiple story lines similar to PS III that push players to replay the offline quest numerous times with the payoff being key story revelations and different endings?

More Races and Classes– PSU has done a really good job with it’s job classes and I do enjoy the races available per character choice however I’d really like to see Sega up the ante in this area and give us a huge handful of races to choose from not just 4 and then only allow specific races to take on specific jobs.  I would like to see them continue to allow players the opportunity to play as and master several different classes, but some races should be restricted to certain job types or should be dealt heavy penalties to character stats should they choose one of these “forbidden” classes.  This would make things really challenging for those individuals brave enough to select such a job and encourage players to use more than one character.  Perhaps someone like me who prefers close quarters hand to hand combat would be willing to create and use a Force if there was a good reason to do so.  I’d also like to see some missions require players to be of a certain race, class, and job type!  In essence, I’d like Sega to stay on the path they are on with races and classes, just tighten things up a bit and make it more streamlined and rewarding.

Dark Falz– If Dark Falz is going to remain the ultimate villain and evil in Phantasy Star games Sega could at least make him resemble something Phantasy Star fans recognize.  I’ll give Sonic Team credit for the Dark Falz in PSO.  It was a fairly original monster and we know that it evolves from scenes in PS IV but watching Dark Falz on YouTube being fought by Japanese players in PSU was fairly disappointing.  This time around we don’t even get an original monster, it’s just De Rol Le palette swapped out and given the dark element instead of ice.   This sucks!  I would love to see at least the original face of Dark Falz remain while the body should remain free to evolve, but for gods sake, no more palette swapping!

The Profound Darkness– TPD as I like to call it/her was not just a huge surprise in PS IV but was a cool creature and a tough battle to boot.  Dark Falz is simply a small part of the TPD that it sends through to terrorize people every millennia so there can be many Dark Falz’s but where the hell is The Profound Darkness?  It hasn’t been seen since 1994 and what a time to make a comeback!  Since Sonic Team incorporates some elements of the original saga (mainly names and some enemies) into PSU why not TPD?  I want to see this happen badly, though I would rather see it never happen if it means that TPD is simply going to be a palette swap of something else.  Was anyone else extremely underwhelmed when Mother Brain turned out to be Dulk Fakis with a new skin?

Music– I love the music in PSU and enjoyed the music of PSO as well but how about bringing back or composing some new Phantasy Star-ish music?  I don’t mind remixes of old PS tunes but generally speaking these remixes have been average at best.  Why not just update some of the older material (midi to orchestrated) and inject it into the game?  I’d also like to have the ability to select which tunes play on certain planets, missions, and cities, much like we do now in our rooms.

Miscellaneous– Alright, here’s where the real geek in me steps out.  Currently in Phantasy Star Universe many of the coolest looking and rarest weapons in the game are useless outside of looking cool.  Even when grinded either the attack power, or accuracy of such weapons suffers a death blow at the hands of Sonic Team.  I’m one of those people that believes once a fictional universe has been created, all future projects that take place within that universe should observe the rules and guidelines that have previously been established.  Case and point…the Psycho Wand and Nei Claw are far from being the most powerful weapons in this game.  In other Phantasy Star games these weapons where the ultimate or close to the ultimate selections and finds for your characters.  If PSU and PSO don’t take place in the same universe as the original four games did, why does Sega include these weapons in the game?  I know there’s a certain level of fan service going on in this game and that’s fine, but things like this don’t make sense to me.  Thus far the only weapon I’ve seen carry moderate to good stats is the Chainsaw weapon which was carried over from PSO.  In future games I’d like to see S rank weapons, or any weapon that’s unique be worth more than “Oh man, what weapon is that…it looks coooool”.

I have enjoyed PSO and to a much greater extent PSU and believe them both to be great games for their respective generations.  I would however just like to see Sega bring more…a lot more to the table the next time around.  If these games are going to remain Phantasy Star games, then make them look and feel like a Phantasy Star game, if not create something new as I’m sure the new game will be great as well. Oh yea, will someone please make Phantasy Star V with traditional turn based combat?  I’d love to see this happen and Sega make use of the battle style found in Skies of Arcadia!  I’ll be back online once my Xbox is repaired by Microsoft.

Well after I finished my work this evening I went to do what I normally do which is fire up my 360 and play some Phantasy Star Universe for an hour or so.  My gaming dreams where crushed this evening by the Red Rings of Death, which indicates an Xbox 360 has had a hardware failure.  Upon booting up my console the power button began flashing red and I watched as my night of gaming was taken out of my hands, thrown onto the floor and stomped on by Microsoft.

I’ve purchased my 360 two days after it launched and it’s by far my preferred console this generation.  It goes without saying that 90% of my gaming hours are logged on my 360 so this is a huge bummer.  Luckily for me I’m not the only one with this problem as the 360 has experienced a whirlwind of hardware failures since it’s release and Microsoft in a bid to avoid a big lawsuit extended it’s warranty a bit so that those of use who’ve had our consoles for quite a while can still get repairs at no cost.

Microsoft is sending me pre-paid envelopes and boxes as well as free shipping so that I can send them my 360 to have it repaired but my console will be gone and out of my home for four weeks.  The gamer in me is furious that my console is dead and that it is going to take four weeks for them to get it back to me in working order.  The sensible side of me tells me to settle down and be thankful that they’re repairing it for free but god damn it, they should be.  Though Microsoft isn’t fixing all the discombobulated Xbox’s because they care about their customers I do feel some sort of quasi vindication as a big corporation is being forced to fix my console for free because of their fuck up.  No Phantasy Star for me…………I guess I can always re-play Metroid Prime 3 or Zelda on my Wii.  Man what a pisser.

I’ve been a Wii owner for just over a year now and have enjoyed titles like Metroid Prime 3, and am looking forward to Smash Bros. Brawl, and Mario Kart and have downloaded a number of games from Nintendo’s Virtual Console which is of course the place to buy retro games. Though the Virtual Console thus far hasn’t been to shabby in terms of the games being offered, I feel there are many big games Nintendo may never release during the life cycle of its Wii. I was also hoping we’d get all the classic games with at least updated graphic but that’s not the case, but I digress. I know there are many factors that go into deciding whether or not a game will become available through the Virtual Console and though I’m not a business man I’m sure there are some cross company issues keeping some of the bigger games off the system. So far the Virtual Console has generated $33 million for Nintendo and has had 7.8 million downloads completed by its customers. I want to buy more games but the ones I’ve been hoping for are no where to be found. I don’t hear to much complaining about the lack of big retro titles available but at least from my view the Virtual Console is a little light. Furthermore some of the games being offered make me scratch my head and go “huh? What the hell is this”. These are games I don’t remember being popular as neither myself nor any of my friends had any of them when the NES, and SNES eras where running their course. So which games am I waiting for? Here’s a wish list in no particular order.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Chrono Trigger
Final Fantasy II (FF IV)
Final Fantasy III (FF VI)
Earthbound
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Nintnedo Entertainment System (NES)
   
3D World Runner
Section Z
Rygar
Trojan
Stinger
Clash At Demonhead
Ultima III Exodus
Deadly Towers
The Adventures of Bayou Billy
Blaster Master
Bionic Commando
Bomberman
Blaster Master
Robowarrior
Crystalis
Faxanadu
Dragon Warrior I-IV
Legacy of the Wizard
Final Fantasy I-III
The Goonies
Kid Niki
Gunsmoke
Ikari Warriors
Wizards and Warriors I-II
Adventures of Lolo I & II
R.C. Pro-am
Rad Racer
Renegade
Double Dragon
Super Dodgeball
Skate Or Die
Shadowgate
Super Punchout!!
Ring King

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    Nintendo 64

Earthbound (Mother 3)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Beetle Adventure Racing!
Star Fox 64

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In addition to Nintendo home console efforts there are a host of arcade games published by Nintendo that I’d like to see hit the Virtual Console. As to why they are not included now or why they’d offer inferior home console versions of these games…who knows.

Nintendo Aracde

Arm Wrestling
Punchout!!
Super Punchout!!
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.

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Curiously missing from the Wii’s Virtual Console are Sega Master System Games as are Sega CD games. Currently the Virtual Console offers Eternal Champions but not the far far superior Sega CD version, Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side. Here’s a short list of additional Sega Games (from all Sega Consoles) I’d like to see make their way to the Wii.

Sega Master System
   
Phantasy Star
Y’s – Vanished Omen
Alex Kidd In Miracle World
Miracle Warriors
Golvellius
Rocky
Shinobi
Time Soldiers

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Sega CD
   
Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side
Sewer Shark (clean up graphics)
Lunar: The Silver Star
Lunar: Eternal Blue

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Sega Genesis
   
Phantasy Star II, III, IV
Super Hydlide

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    Miscellaneous Sega Games  Offered Through “Wii Ware” 
   
Phantasy Star Remakes (Sega Ages)
Virtual Hydlide

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So this is more or less my short wish list. I’m sure Nintendo and the actual publishers have both good and not so good reasons for keeping these games off the Wii’s Virtual Console and while yes some of these games are only games I’ve enjoyed many were huge hits but are mysteriously absent from the console. With Nintendo only dropping two or three games a week on us through the Virtual Console it might be a long, long while before we see any of these if we do at all.

Now in addition to retro gaming, Nintendo has stated that they will be offering new original games through their Wii Ware channel, which is also part of the Virtual Console. Now mind you my list is composed of games I’d prefer to see get a retail release and push the Wii to it’s technical limits but if that’s not to be I’d settle for original Virtual Console content. I too have a small wish list for games I hope are in the works for this channel. One can only hope these original games are not far off no matter what the titles.

* Kid Icarus Sequel – After 20 years and it’s original audience (supposedly) long gone from the world of gaming, Nintendo, with the exception of a gameboy release has never given Kid Icarus a proper sequel. Yes Pit is set to appear in Smash Bros. Brawl this year but where is his true sequel? My guess is that if Nintendo hasn’t done it in 20 years they aren’t ever going to. I got this game when it was released and I was 14 years of age.  I beat it repeatedly and began waiting for a sequel….I’m still waiting. If a full blown retail version isn’t in the works the Virtual Console would be a great place to make this sequel a reality. If this is the case, hopefully we’ll see a 2.5D side and vertical scroller or a plain old fashioned side and vertical scroller with incredible, updated graphics and music. Chances we’ll see this happen: slim to none, if at all. (at this point, I’d literally settle for an 8 bit sequel)
 
* Metroid Dread/Metroid V – Near the end of Metroid Prime 3, Samus scans a Pirate log that reads something to the effect of “Project Metroid Dread is complete…..” When I saw this I wondered immediately if this was a hint at a plan to release an old school style Metroid with fancy 2D graphics through the Virtual Console. Though I love the Prime series I still prefer my Samus adventures in 2D. Here’s another opportunity to make another classic side scroller! I will also dream of Hip Tanaka scoring this game! Oh by the way, isn’t it time for Samus to hunt a new bounty? Chances well see this happen: slim to none

* Super Mario Bros. 4 – Ok sure the New Mario Bros. has only been out for the DS for just over a year or so but the Virtual Console provides Nintendo with a way to make another excellent Mario Bros. adventure that doesn’t have to be to fancy. I’m thinking of course, nice/updated 2D graphics but more than 8 worlds, lots of secrets (time to make the -worlds legitimate) but with a look similarto the original game. Chances well see this happen: Never. Mario games are just to big to not receive a retail release.

I’m hoping that all publishers not just small and independent firms release games for the Wii Ware channel. This would be a great way not just to get some fresh and original material out there, but could also provide a cheap way to breathe life into older saga’s or series. Will anything like this happen? I doubt it but I’m anxious to see how this all plays out over the next four or five years.