I blogged a few days ago that I’d started to get into TrackMania Nations, the online-only, community-track populated version of the regular TrackMania series. I’d often been drawn to the TrackMania games since they very much represent a small independent studio success story on the PC, and the games do look very good - the time just never seemed to come up. TrackMania Nations is a great idea because it lets you experience the quality of the title without laying out any cash.
I was in the market for a new DS game last week. I’d pretty much got to the end of the enjoyment curve with Portrait of Ruin, which whilst an excellent game, is plagued by near-vertical difficulty spikes that my patience and tenacity can only tolerate for a finite amount of time. I toyed with Brain Training again and tinkered a little with Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (which is my wife’s - she’s completed it but I’ve only ever dabbled), and I’m looking forward to picking up the excellent Elite Beat Agents sometime once a friend has finished with it, but I had a hankering for something new.
So I had my first hands-on bash at the near-legendary (for both good and bad reasons) PS3 last night, thanks to the indulgence of a friend who decided to burn the cash on one; and thought I’d post my initial impressions. This is only based on a few hours so it’s highly gut-influenced. Firstly, as a physical lounge item it’s far too attractive for its own good. You want to touch it immediately, but you know you shouldn’t.
It has struck me lately that some elements of the games industry appear to be becoming a mite pretentious and self-absorbed in recent times. It seems like some people are starting to believe their own hype about games being a bigger industry than Hollywood, and that the whole world better goddam take them seriously, right now. Presumably with a stamp of the feet. Case in point is Chris Hecker’s rant at the GDC last week.
So, enough work-related posts lately, let’s talk about games. I’m being seriously fickle with my gaming love these days. The Wii came out, I got Yoshi’s Island DS for Xmas, and I still had NWN2 and KOTOR unfinished from 2006, and now I’ve been foolish enough to pick up Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on import on a whim, since a couple of our local shops imports US games now and then.
I’m guessing that due to the cultural differences, Nintendo’s execs aren’t sitting back with a fat cigar and a glass of port, over-indulging themselves and generally generally enjoying how much goddam money they’ve managed to make last year, but you could understand it if they did. Sales figures for December 2006 are coming in, and my goodness did Nintendo rake it in. In terms of generating raw cash, everything seems to be in their favour.
Ok, so I’ve had a Wii for a week now (insert childish snigger here) and thought I’d post my initial impression. It’s difficult because due to the continuing extreme stock shortages, I’m still missing an extra controller and Zelda, but here’s my view on what I have, ie Wii Sports, Super Monkey Ball - Banana Blitz, and the online services so far. Firstly, it’s really quite incredible just how accurate and sensitive the controllers are.
I’ve never liked 3D platform games. Ok, I’ve never properly played the crowning title in this genre, Super Mario 64, so perhaps I can’t really pass judgement - although I might grab it on the Wii virtual console to see. Every 3D platformer I have tried, including the more recent Super Mario Sunshine, have always felt too imprecise, and too subject to variation caused by the positioning of the camera. As I mentioned a while back, the only thing wrong with Psychonauts, which was one of my favorite games of last year, was that it was a 3D platformer at its core.
So, it was finally my own personal Wii-E day today. When I got back from a doctors appointment this morning, the green light on my answering machine blinking excitedly at me, as if it shouting ‘guess what, guess what?’. The local specialist non-chain games shop had let me down with my original pre-order so I’d placed another one with Woolies, where a friend had pre-ordered a couple of weeks after me originally and still got one before xmas, much to my annoyance.
When it comes to game graphics, I’ve always had something of a mental dichotomy. Despite being obviously really keen on real time graphics (you might have noticed a hint or two to that end over the life of this blog), I’m also a very strong believer that in good games, graphics are far from the most important element. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to make better and better graphical subsystems, because as a graphics geek I love to do it, but at the same time I have my feet firmly on the ground as to the place of these results in the grand scheme of things when it actually comes to enjoyment.