Random thoughts that are almost always about video games

Friday, June 15, 2007

Exciting News!


...To tell you that I'm leaving this blog for all eternity.


Please do visit. You can find it here: http://cslate.wordpress.com/

At the new blog, I'm working hard to put up more interesting content -- insider stuff that I've been been a part of during my 18 years covering the video game biz. Also, I comment on current hot gaming topics (especially Nintendo stuff). My goal is to pepper in as much insider info as possible, so that I won't be just another fan ranting and raving without adding anything interesting to the conversation.


So long for now; check out my new site and I'll see you again soon!


Monday, March 06, 2006

Officially "Going Dark"...

...As opposed to the "unofficial" darkness this blog has been in over the past month :/ Sorry for the disappearing act. As those of you who keep a close watch on PSM should know, we've been working hard at a new design for the magazine that will debut with the June issue. Well, not just a new look, visually, but we're also adding a ton of great new editorial ideas that we think people will really enjoy.

So, that's where I've been instead of here on this blog -- slaving away on PSM business. Until we put the finishing touches on that June book (still a couple months away at the time of this posting), I likely won't be updating this blog. I'll be back after the "new" PSM hits, or, very likely, I'll be blogging at a new site with my fellow PSM staffers. The plan is to work together to create something special that will get more attention from all of us, more often. But, I get ahead of myself...

So, until we talk again: look for some big PS3 coverage in the next few issues, don't forget that the new Harry Potter flick hits DVD tomorrow (March 7th), and give Super Princess Peach on DS a try -- no, really!


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Funny Stuff

Check this stuff out for a good laugh:

The Lonely Island

Not all of it is fantastic, but there's some real gold in there. Highlights include "Just Two Guys" and the opening to "Awesometown."

The spirit of getting famous on the internet lives on!!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

And now for something different...

Not really game related, but the Japanese TV drama "Densha Otoko" ROCKS. Seriously. Its Adidas blow through concert doors.

(Well, I should clarify that the *first three* episodes rock -- I can't, at this time, vouch for the rockitude of episodes 4 - 10.)

I figured that some of you gamers out there (especially the ones that are into all things Japanese) would dig this show because much of it takes place in or around Akihabara, Tokyo's famous videogame store paradise. The story is about this anime otaku (geek) that ends up saving a beautiful woman on a train. As they come to know each other, our otaku hero tries his best to become the type of man that a woman like that could love. It's kind of sweet, but hilariously funny. And, get this...

It's based on a true story!

See, the otaku dude would constantly ask people in an online chat room for advice, and would then post updates as to how things were going with the woman. Nobody knows who the otaku really was, only that he went by the screen name "Densha Otoko" ("Train Man). His posts, and those of the other posters, were collected into a book that became a bestseller in Japan. All of this gets you really curious about each episode, because -- while I'm sure the TV folks took some creative license -- you really don't know where the story will go. It's based on real life, so it could go anywhere. And you really find yourself rooting for the poor, helplessly in over his head otaku. Will he somehow -- impossibly -- get the girl?

As far as I know the show isn't available commercially outside of Japan, but English-subtitled versions are floating around the 'net. The series was a big deal recently in Japan, so anyone interested in sampling a bit of recent Japanese pop culture -- or those just looking for a funny, charming, uplifting show -- should check it out!


Monday, January 02, 2006

Crazy, Crazy, Crazy

The Holidays have blown by, leaving my head spinning while I dazily look forward to a new year of gaming goodness. Top of the list for me is the new Zelda, the full E3 unveiling of the PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Revolution, and a better look at the second wave of big Xbox 360 games that (from what people in the know have told me) look jaw-droppingly better than the launch titles. Keep an eye out for the next showing of Gears of War, especially.

Not long before the break I found out that I'm going to be a dad! My lovely wife and I had hoped to have a kid sometime next summer, so it's worked out great. Now the only question is whether I'll have a little boy or girl sitting next to me on the couch, laying down cover fire while I storm enemy territory :)

I got to spend a lot of time playing the 360 lately, especially Ridge Racer 6. Out of a launch lineup that I think is pretty darn solid, this game has surprised me by sticking out as my favorite. While it isn't the most ambitious 360 game, it's a hell of a lot of fun at the faster speed classes. And racing online is totally addictive. Nothing against PGR3 fans -- your game is certainly nicer looking -- but I'd rather play a faster-paced racing game where I'm not crashing into every corner (I suck at realistic racers).

I also had time to play through Prince of Persia 3. Great game -- probably the most polished PoP to date -- but for me, it had a real sense of "been there, done that." Hopefully, if there's ever a part 4, they'll make some drastic changes to freshen the series up. Tomb Raider Legend, by the way, is looking very nice. I got to try it out right before the break and it's coming along fine. Still some rough spots to iron out, but it's got a long way to go.

Next up: I'm finally going to tackle Kameo (it looks fantastic, two chapters in).


PS: As always, I'll try to put up better (and more timely) posts soon, but my work schedule often tends to get in the way. Thanks for checking back, even when there's not much new to see :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Next" Gen is now "Current" Gen!

The entire week of Thanksgiving, I spent most of my time zombie-eyed in front of my TV with the sweet, sweet wireless 360 controller in hand. I had nine different games to play, and popping one out for the other every ten minutes took me back to my first days with the Super Famicom. While the 360 titles haven't had the same impact on me as Super Mario World, Pilotwings and F-Zero did way back when, they are still addictive enough to turn my brain into mush.

So yeah, overall, I love my shiny new 360. It's got a very solid initial game library, it's a fairly handsome piece of hardware, and the Xbox Live features continue to wow me. I've encountered a few rough spots (a hardware crash; trouble downloading things from Xbox Live Marketplace; a 360 headset that causes my voice to echo; a Ridge Racer 6 disc that inexplicably stopped working) -- but hey, no new console launch is flawless.

It really is amazing to think that the 360 comes from a company that's still a rookie in the games business. Microsoft has done an admirable job. (Well, except for the ridiculously low hardware shipments -- maybe a worldwide launch wasn't such a great idea after all?)

The only major thing missing is that one paradigm-shifting game that says "with this system, gaming just got better in ways you never dreamed of." Perfect Dark Zero, whether you think it's the second coming of Halo or not, is at least a fun, solid shooter, but it's obviously not a turning point for gaming. What you get with 360 is just what you'd expect: more of the same, only prettier, and with more online features. This isn't a bad thing, per se, especially so early in the system's lifespan. Hopefully, though, creative developers will soon find more creative ways to flex the system's extra muscle.

Switching over to PlayStation 3, I'm becoming more and more convinced that Sony will finally offer some sort of Xbox Live-type service. Kaz Hirai, President of Sony Computer Entertainment America, says as much in an interview we're running in the January PSM (shameless plug). I'll be very curious to see how they'll try to outdo Live.

BTW, for those who may not have been keeping a close watch on things, the general feeling amongst most in the industry these days is that PS3 will launch in Japan sometime next Spring or (more likely) Summer, with a U.S. launch in the fall/Holiday timeframe. That would give 360 almost a year's head start over here, which would just be huge for them. Better make the most of it, guys!

The only system I've been playing other than 360 is Nintendo's DS. How did this little "stop-gap" system rebound so strongly from a wishy-washy first few months? It took 360 to make me put Mario Kart DS down for even a second, and I'll be picking up the new Mario and Luigi DS title today. Plus, Animal Crossing is out in just a couple weeks, eventually followed by the New Super Mario Bros., Brain Training, Super Princess Peach and many more next year. Wowsers. (And for those who don't know, Nintendo's Osu! Tatake! Ouendan! and Jump Super Stars are absolute must-have Japanese imports.)

What an exciting time to be a gamer -- 360 ushering in the next generation, DS offering up fun innovation, and we still have PS3 and Revolution to look forward to :)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I'm still here... (really!)

Just a quick note to say that I'm still here, and still plan on updating this blog. Between work and Mario Kart DS, I haven't left much time for myself to write new posts. (Plus, nothing really super-duper exciting has happened that I feel I simply *must* comment on... well, other than Mario Kart. Damn, that game is *amazing*!)

I'm giddy with excitement over the Xbox 360 launch; here's what I've got stashed up:

- My special edition E3 faceplate
- Extra wireless controller
- Play & charge kit with two battery packs
- Memory Unit
- Xbox Live points card
- Call of Duty 2
- Condemned
- Ridge Racer 6
- Kameo
- Project Gotham Racing 3
- Gun
- NBA 2K6

Now all I need is Perfect Dark Zero and the 360 itself, and my wife won't see me all next week! (Sorry, honey!)

(Whew, looking at that list, it's a good thing that I was lucky enough to get some of them sent to me by friends in the industry, or I'd be beyond broke. It says a lot about this launch that there are so many games I want to play on day one :)

Of course, EB is making me stand in line at midnight Tuesday morning to pick my 360 up... even though I pre-ordered last May... and have paid in full already. If I'm not in the midnight line, then presto -- my 360 disappears. My biggest fear about the launch is that the massive shortages everyone has been fearing will break a lot of hearts. Well, actually that's my *second* biggest fear -- my first is that my 360 will be defective somehow and there won't be any others to replace it with for months. Gah! Knock on wood!!!

Well, time to hit the sack. Once again, Mario Kart DS (and this quick blog update, I suppose) have kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. See ya soon!