Blogs > Yay For Video Games

Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quick thoughts on Pushmo, a 3DS eShop gem


After completing 100 puzzles on Pushmo, an Intelligent Systems game available on the 3DS eShop for $6.99, I will tell you I have already gotten my money's worth, and I'm not even halfway through the game.

The game involves strategically pushing and pulling stacks of blocks on a grid to work your way to the top and save poor little children squished inside them. As crazy as that sounds, it's so much fun. The controls are simple and tight. The graphics aren't flashy or anything, but they don't really need to be. It's a colorful game that's easy on the eyes.

The 3D effect is subtle and works well given the circumstances. It's easier to see where to push and pull the blocks. But if you want some extra battery life, the game is completely playable without the 3D on.

The beginning levels are very easy, as they introduce you the gameplay. But once you progress through the game, the difficulty ramps up. Levels consist of murals like a little chick, and random Tetris-like blocks of different colors. Having only completed the first 100 puzzles, there was plenty of variety. I look forward to the rest of the game.



Also, there's the level creator mode to make your own kinds of puzzles and share them around the world. I haven't messed with this option yet, but looking around the Internet, there's plenty of creativity going on.

Check out my full review soon on theoaklandpress.com.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Sunday, December 25, 2011

More people with too much time on their hands: Angry Birds Christmas Light Game



With the holiday season comes extravagant Christmas light decorations.

So why not an Angry Birds Christmas theme? Well these people did, turning their house into an Angry Birds game, with all the sound effects and music from the game included.

According to the video info, it runs on two computers and 10 Light-o-rama 16 channel controllers. More than 20,000 lights are used, and it apparently only costs one cent of electricity per game. The controller is long enough for people to play in the streets.

With three buttons, the left shoots to the left, center to center, and right to right, and the longer you hold the button, the higher the shot goes. So this definitely took some time and effort to put together.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Justin Verlander on cover of 2K Sports' MLB 2K12, tweets it out to followers


Finally! A Detroit sports star on the cover of a sports video game.

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander tweeted out to his followers what the cover of 2K Sports' MLB 2K12, featuring himself, looked like. It's pretty awesome.

So what future Detroit stars could we see on video game covers? How about Calvin Johnson on Madden? (And the cries of "Noooo the curse" come out) What about Nicklas Lidstrom for EA's NHL franchise? He more than deserves it.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Do you want to play Myst again? Now you can on the 3DS in March


Remember Myst? That PC game that took the world by storm back in 1993? It's been re-released numerous times on various gaming platforms, and now it's coming back again on the Nintendo 3DS.

According to reports, the classic adventure game will arrive March 27, 2012. The 3DS version will include six areas for players to solve various puzzles in, including the RIME Age that was not in the original PC release. As expected, the game will be presented in 3D fashion.

I've played Myst to completion back in the day, but only dabbled in the newer releases over time. If the 3D effects are good, I wouldn't mind exploring that mysterious island once again.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sony releases PS Vita launch info for U.S., including game and memory card prices

The PS Vita launched in Japan recently and U.S. gamers have been waiting anxiously for what's in store here.

Well on Sony's blog, most of the details have finally been released, including what games will be available and memory card prices.

25 games will be available on launch day with prices ranging from $9.99 to a whopping $49.99 for premium titles. Games will be available at retailers and on the PlayStation Network, which would explain the cheap $9.99 price. But $50 for a handheld game? Are we ready for that?

Sony's launch titles will be:
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Little Deviants
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
wipEout 2048
On PSN only will be Escape Plan, Hustle Kings, and Super StarDust Delta.
The launch window titles, presumably available sometime after launch day, are Gravity Rush, MLB 12 The Show, Reality Fighters, and Unit 13.

Third party launch day games are:
Army Corps of Hell
Asphalt Injection
Ben10 Galactic Racing
Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend
Dungeon Hunter Alliance
Dynasty Warriors Next
F1 2011
EA Sports FIFA Soccer
Lumines Electronic Symphony
Michael Jackson The Experience
Plants vs. Zombies (PSN only)
Rayman Origins
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen
Tales of Space: Mutant Blobs (PSN only)
Touch My Katamari
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition
Launch window games include LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, Disgaea 3: Absense of Detention, Ninja Gaiden Plus, Ridge Racer, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted.

Each PS Vita system will come with six AR Play Cards and a voucher to download augmented reality minigames.

Memory card prices for the PS Vita have been a hot-button issue, with many taking their frustrations online about how expensive they were rumored to be. The official retailed prices are as follows: $19.99 for a 4GB card, $29.99 for 8GB, $59.99 for 16GB and $99.99 for 32GB. They are slightly lower than rumored prices, but are still expensive, especially when you pretty much need them to play games. A whole range of other accessories are priced, too.

The PS Vita releases Feb. 22 with a WiFi model at $249 and 3G version at $299. The system itself is a deal, but once you add on a memory card and a few games, you could be investing $400-$500 at launch.

Dedicated gaming handhelds are getting a bad rap these days thanks to the media's love for smartphones. But Nintendo has bounced back greatly from their early struggles with the 3DS. I really hope the PS Vita turns into a successful system. Competition is always a good thing.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Get tricky in EA Sports' SSX, coming Feb. 28 to Xbox 360 and PS3

EA Sports has released a little tease to those familiar with their arcade-style racing SSX series. The first look gameplay trailer for SSX shows off snowboarders speeding down snowy mountains and performing death-defying tricks. Don't try this at home, especially the bouncing off the helicopter parts.
It will be available Feb. 28 for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Pinball FX 2's Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue review is up


Click here to read my review of Zen Studios' latest Pinball FX 2 release of Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue.

Meet the characters of Final Fantasy XIII-2 in new trailer

Here are the characters to keep an eye on in Square-Enix's upcoming game Final Fantasy XIII-2. Snow's hair looks...interesting. And where's Sazh at?

video

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reports: Sony's new handheld, the PS Vita, sells 321,000 units in first two days in Japan


According to reports, Sony's new gaming handheld, the PS Vita, sold 321,000 units in its first two days in Japan. Now is this a good number or bad number? Well, we don't really know yet. There are many factors in play here.

Sony shipped 500,000 units between the two versions available for the Japanese launch: The more expensive 3G version and the regular WiFi unit. So launch day wasn't a total sellout, but we don't really know how many of each version were available and what they sold. There were claims that Sony shipped an additional 200,000 units to meet demand. Probably not true, but if so, that wouldn't bode well.

For comparison's sake the 3DS launched in February in Japan, and the first two days sales were slightly more at 371,000 units. But notice the time comparison. February is a slow time of year. PS Vita is shipping right smack in the holiday season and couldn't beat it. And that's with a much more favorable launch lineup than the 3DS had.

Nintendo also gave the PS Vita some tough competition recently, too. Japan loves, loves, loves the Monster Hunter series, and the new 3DS game, Monster Hunter 3G, sold more than 500,000 units between Dec. 5-11, according to Media Create. This boosted 3DS hardware sales to more than 350,000 that week alone. Don't forget about Mario Kart 7 or Super Mario 3D Land either. If the 3DS manages to top the PS Vita launch sales, Sony really won't be happy about that.

Of course, that's comparing a full week of 3DS to just two days of PS Vita sales, but the bigger the launch day sales, the bigger the demand is. Selling 321,000 units in a couple days is a healthy launch for the PS Vita, however I expected somewhere closer to the 400,000 range, since it is the holiday season and Sony's first gaming handheld, the PSP, was a hot item in Japan.

In the end, it's way early to determine the fate of the PS Vita. With any system, it's always what happens after the launch that gives you an idea on how successful a system is. The 3DS struggled mightily after a successful launch, but has since rebounded greatly. The hardcore techies will buy anything right away; it's how you get a hold of the stragglers that's real important.

The PS Vita launches Feb. 22 in Europe and the United States.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Rayman Origins sells 50,000 in November, and that's a shame


Ubisoft's critically acclaimed 2D platformer Rayman Origins, which released on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii in November, only sold 50,000 units that month, according to a report from Eurogamer.

Having bought and played the game, I'll tell you this: It deserves a lot more than that. It's just that fun. The art style for this game is amazing. The levels are filled with crisp colors, the backgrounds are begging to be noticed, character animations are fluid, and the music and gameplay are top notch.

Each level has so much depth to it, where collecting as many Lums as you can helps go toward many unlockables. It's not a drag to collect these as you learn a variety of moves throughout the game, and the levels complement these additions to your arsenal. Hidden areas in each level will keep you coming back for more. While it's not too challenging in the beginning, the later worlds put your skills to the test.

And let's not forget about the thrills of chasing down a treasure chest in secret levels filled with tight spaces, wall jumps, long jumps, moving walls and much more. Kind of like the bosses in Super Meat Boy, a ridiculously harder 2D platformer, it's a nonstop obstacle course. Don't fall behind or you're done for. You'll start over a lot, get frustrated, but the reward for completing these is worth it.


Rayman Origins is the type of 2D platformer I would like to see New Super Mario Bros by Nintendo become. I want to see longer Mario levels with all kinds of platforming obstacles. They like to make us collect the three Star Coins in each level but there could be more. How about collecting as many regular coins as you can (kind of like the Lums), which can be used to unlock new levels and worlds? The difficulty of these games can be ramped up. Wouldn't it be fun to chase down the Koopa Kids in one of those nonstop obstacle courses, with Goombas, Thwomps, Koopa Troopas, Boos, and other classic enemies getting in your way?

There are different ways to look at why Rayman Origins only sold 50,000. When it's all said and done, it's still a 2D platformer, and some will wonder if spending $50-$60 on this type of game, which is generally shorter in replayability, is worth the money. I don't follow that notion. Nintendo offers a lot of fun in their New Super Mario Bros games that are worth the full price, as does the Little Big Planet series with its unique gameplay. Even Donkey Kong Country Returns brought back the good ol' days of the popular SNES platformer.

This brings up name recognition. Introduced in 1995 on the PlayStation, the Rayman character kind of fell out of the spotlight in the mid-2000s, being replaced by the Raving Rabbids characters in a bunch of party-type games. Rayman doesn't have that special bond with people like Mario or Donkey Kong.


But the biggest thing of all is this game got completely overshadowed by an onslaught of new releases. The holidays are a time where the big guns come out. You had Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which shattered records. Battlefield 3 wasn't far behind and now has a massive following. Other titles were Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Assassins Creed: Revelations, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land, and Saints Row: The Third among others. So many games, so little time. Would Rayman have fared better if it released after all this?

Maybe December will be better for Rayman Origins. It's been a long time since we got a proper Rayman game, and it would be a shame to see it buried in the bargain bin so soon. If you're eying a last-minute holiday gift, take a look at this one. You can't go wrong with it.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quick thoughts on newest Pinball FX 2 tables: Marvel Vengeance and Virtue

So after playing the newest set of Pinball FX 2 tables, Marvel: Vengeance and Virtue, here is how I rank them.


1. Thor: I love this table the most. The fire and ice theme that splits the table is beautiful. There's a lot going on visually like a giant serpent along the left side, and Thor will hop around the table fighting enemies during various missions. There are lots of ramps that aren't hard to shoot at.

2. Moon Knight: I'm not too familiar with this Marvel character, but the table is also visually stunning with a slick silver color dominating the table. Like Thor, there are other baddies that will come out during missions you'll have to conquer, adding to the visuals. Shooting the ball into the moon is also satisfying, as it starts a fun minigame.




3. Ghost Rider: Of the four, this is the most radical. It's a small table and everything is packed together. The devil will taunt you a lot, and executing shots is more difficult here and requires precise timing. Oh yeah, you can shoot the pinball out of a shotgun at targets. That's fun stuff.

4. X-Men: Compared to other Marvel tables, it's the most plain-looking of them. You got Magneto in the middle and Professor X in the bottom left, but visually it's just bright colors and a lot of ramps. Magneto will occasionally stop your ball with his powers and whip it away. Ramp shots activate pretty much everything, and you'll see your favorite characters in the dot matrix display.

Check out my full review next week on theoaklandpress.com.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nintendo releases 10 free Gameboy Advance games to 3DS Ambassadors

The wait is finally over. Nintendo has released the final 10 games for 3DS Ambassadors as a way of saying "Oops, sorry about that massive price drop after you bought the system for $250."

They are the following:
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island
Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Metroid Fusion
Wario Land 4
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames

I can't wait to dig into these games. Some I have played before like Minish Cap, Yoshi's Island and Mario Kart, but it's been so long it'll be fun all over again.

The games are available if you logged into the eShop prior to the price drop. Here is how you get them:

1. Log into the eShop
2. Go all the way over to the left and click on Settings/Other
3. Click on Your Downloads
4. If you're an Ambassador, you'll see the list of games available which you'll be able to redownload.

It's kind of funky to "redownload" the game you haven't before, but that's the way to do it.

Enjoy these free games. It's pretty rare for a company to treat their customers like this.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GBA Ambassador games for Nintendo 3DS revealed for Japan, UK

When the big 3DS price drop occurred, Nintendo promised the early adopters 20 free games for paying $250 for the system when it launched. We already got the 10 NES games a while ago and those gamers like me have been waiting...and waiting...and waiting some more on when the 10 Gameboy Advance games would be coming.

Well, now reports are coming out that 3DS owners in Japan and UK are receiving SpotPass notices that the games will be available on Friday, Dec. 16. Those who visited the eShop before the price drop will be able to download these games for free, just like the NES ones.

The 10 games available in these territories are:
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island
Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Metroid Fusion
Wario Land 4
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames

There's no confirmation for North America yet, but it is very likely this list will stick. And if so, it is quite a package. A Zelda game, Mario Kart, F-Zero, Kirby, Metroid, this is an impressive variety of quality games. And they're all free, for those of us that paid the extra $80 anyway.

While the GBA list is much more impressive than the NES one, Nintendo didn't have to do any of this. Those who buy new tech items know the risks they take. You're going to pay big in the beginning, and price drops will happen. Even though the 3DS went down in price a lot more quickly than anticipated, Nintendo didn't owe us anything. But giving away not 5, not 10, but 20 free games, it shows you they do care about their customers, especially the loyal Nintendo fans that jumped on the 3DS train from the start.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sony shows off PS Vita game trailers

While the PS Vita releases Dec. 17 in Japan, it won't be hitting the U.S. or Europe until Feb. 22. But here are some game trailers Sony has released to tide you over.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss


Escape Plan


Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational


LittleBigPlanet


Little Deviants


Wipeout 2048


Hustle Kings


Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Monday, December 12, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hits $1 billion mark in 16 days, beating Avatar record

Activision announced Monday, Dec. 12, that their really, really, really, really big smash hit, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, has surpassed the $1 billion mark in just 16 days after its release on Nov. 8. In a press release, they stated this has broken the $1 billion milestone one day quicker than James Cameron's blockbuster movie Avatar.

Now comparing video games, which typically cost $50 to $60 a piece, to movie tickets, which can range from $5 to $20 depending on where you go, is debatable in the grand scheme of things, but Activision pulled the "entertainment" card here, so bragging rights go to them. It also helps to release a game at the beginning of the holiday season, too, when video game sales skyrocket.

So will the next Call of Duty game break this record? Who knows? The bar has been set really high now. The franchise has been repetitive for the past few games now. However that hasn't stopped people from buying them.

So all you Call of Duty haters out there, you might as well deal with it. This game's gonna sell no matter what. But don't get angry. Just think of it as Activision boosting the economy. We need it these days.

 Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What we've learned from November U.S. video game sales

The holiday season is the biggest time of year for video game sales. With the month of November come and gone, here are few things to take notice of.

Hardware down, software up: According to NPD Group, hardware revenues were down 9 percent to $982.4 million, while software sales were up 15 percent to $1.67 billion. Hardware revenue shouldn't be too surprising, since the consoles are in their late stages of life when price drops generally occur. Software sales got a huge bump from big releases like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Xbox 360 is the new Wii: Xbox 360 sold a whopping 1.7 million units in November, reaching heights the Wii used to be making a few years ago. It's also the best November ever for the system. It's 6 years old, which is normally the end of a console's lifespan. But here it is breaking records. Microsoft has been pushing it to become an all-in-one media center, and it looks to be working. Oh yeah, the Kinect is a hot ticket, too.

The end of the Wii is coming: Nintendo reported Wii sales at more than 860,000. Don't get me wrong, those are decent numbers, but the Wii was topping well over a million units in previous Novembers. The release of the much-anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword helped give it a boost, with sales over 600,000 in its first week. But a severe games shortage has struck the Wii, especially from third parties, which are hurting sales. Nintendo can only do so much on their end with games like Zelda and Donkey Kong Country Returns. It's not the juggernaut it once was, as Xbox 360 is taking the spotlight. Also, Nintendo's new console, the Wii U, is on the horizon, maybe even coming out next year. Once released, it'll be time to put the Wii to bed for good.

3DS proving critics wrong: Nintendo's new handheld has been criticized greatly about how it just can't compete with smartphones. Why pay more for games when you can get all the fun for 99 cents? After sluggish sales after launch, Nintendo slashed the 3DS price to a more reasonable $170. Since then, sales have picked up. The 3DS sold 795,000 units in November, which brings its total past the 2.37 million units the DS originally sold in its first year in the U.S., according to Nintendo. And this is just eight months in and a big December still to go. Why the big sales? Well, the system is finally delivering on games. Super Mario 3D Land sold more than 625,000 units, making it the fastest selling portable Mario game in U.S. history. And Mario Kart 7 just released earlier this month. It's simple: Games sell systems.

Call of Duty is king of the world: Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 topped the software charts (no shocker). It sold 7 percent more than Call of Duty: Black Ops did in its first month last year, which puts it around 9 million copies across all platforms. For all the complaints about how Call of Duty is the same old shooter, people do not care at all. Battlefield 3 from EA was third on the list, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was sandwiched between the shooters in 2nd.

PS Vita in trouble?: Sony reported a 70 percent increase from November 2010 in PS3 sales, which would put it around 900,000 units. Not bad, but compared to Xbox 360, they can't be too happy. PSP sales? Who cares? It's all about their new handheld, the PS Vita. Wait, it actually hasn't released yet. It will in Japan on Dec. 17, but won't in the U.S. until late February. OK, I get there's limitations on how much they can produce at once. Releasing worldwide requires lots of units up front and a lot of time and effort. Japan going through an earthquake probably didn't help the production of things. But man, missing the holidays has got to be a killer. November and December are the two most important months of the year. Sure, the 3DS didn't release until March in the U.S., but it didn't have any competition either. The PS Vita will be going up against two monster titles in Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Other games for the 3DS like Resident Evil: Revelations will be out, too. Don't forget about those dreaded smartphones either. The Vita looks to have a quality launch lineup, but it's also $250, which is a great price for what's in the handheld, but will people pay that when the 3DS is so much cheaper with quality games, too?

 Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto not leaving Nintendo yet, but don't panic when that day comes


I like to write my blogs really late at night. So when I heard the "news" that Nintendo great Shigeru Miyamoto was stepping down from his lead design position at Nintendo to focus on developing smaller games, I thought yeah, that's kind of a big deal. He is one of those most influential video game designers out there, and the father of Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong and many other franchises that have captivated millions around the world.

So I wrote a little blog on my thoughts about Miyamoto and the future of Nintendo. I normally publish the next day where I can tweet it out when more people are usually up. And it's a good thing I waited.

After Wired broke the news in an exclusive interview on their website, Nintendo shot back, saying it was all a big misunderstanding. He's not leaving his position, they said. Miyamoto wants the younger designers to start taking more responsibility and things like that.

Regardless at what the full story really is, Miyamoto isn't really leaving Nintendo at all. From reading the Wired piece, he really wants to focus on developing smaller games for the company. He's spent a lot of time mentoring his younger designers so that when that official retirement or stepping back day actually comes, the panic mode button won't be pressed at Nintendo. He's been kind of an overseer of game production as of late, so I'm sure there's plenty of up-and-comers there who have been taking good notes to make sure the Miyamoto legacy lives on.

And if Miyamoto was to focus on smaller game projects, he'll have more time to think up of all kinds ways to keep us entertained. And since he wants to have a bigger part in game development, kind of like back in the day with his NES successes, I'm not gonna complain about that.

Nintendo's online reputation could get a boost by that as well. Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network always gets original games that aren't on Nintendo's Wii system. Maybe these smaller games would make their way onto the Wii U and 3DS as downloadable titles. Miyamoto would be the perfect person to deliver those goods.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Alec Baldwin's airplane outrage seems a little too convienent for gaming company Zynga

Alec Baldwin reportedly got kicked off an American Airlines flight for not putting his cellphone away because he was really into a game. Oh, those crazy celebrities. Always thinking they're above the law, causing some ruckus. Mr. and Mrs. Big Shots. Yadda yadda yadda. But I had to think about it for a second. If Baldwin was partaking in a very important phone call at the time (he's a big shot celebrity, so it's possible), I can totally see him going a little berserk.

However, under these circumstances, it just doesn't add up for me. Sure, it's very likely he was killing time playing a cellphone game. Totally can see him playing a game or two. But he reportedly went off on the flight attendant when asked to put the phone away, saying how he couldn't put "Words With Friends" away. Details are sketchy on how he acted out on the plane, but it all comes back to this: He was playing "Words With Friends," which is a Scrabble-like game where you compete with other players by building words with tiles.

The "30 Rock" star even tweeted out "“flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing Words With Friends while we sat at the gate, not moving.” Even his spokesman got in on it. “He loves ‘Words With Friends’ so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it,” said Matthew Hiltzik.

Of course, all ended well for Baldwin, he is a celebrity after all. He just moved right on with life by getting another flight. No harm, no foul. Something a normal person would never get away with. If I was on a plane and heavily into a game, you know what they'd do to me if I pulled this? Police escort off the plane, interrogation, ticketed, locked away, who knows what else.

But all of this seems awfully fishy, and dare I say a publicity stunt? Baldwin was so specific, saying that "Words With Friends" was so amazing and like it's the greatest thing in the world. Celebrities love to get paid and endorse all kinds of stuff. But why endorse some random game like this?

Well, "Words With Friends" was acquired by Zynga, a browser-based gaming company. What's Zynga been up to these days? Getting ready for their initial public stock offering, where they are planning to seek up to $1 billion. According to Business Week, the company is offering 100 million shares at $8.50 to $10 a pop. And this web IPO could be the biggest since Google. Mmm money, money, money.

Hmmm, is there a little side deal going on that no one knows about? "Hey Alec, we'll pay you so-and-so if you go out there and go crazy for this game of ours. We like money." "Sweet, shouldn't be a problem. I like money, too." So Zynga gets some extra publicity for its upcoming big day, and Baldwin gets in the spotlight once again. Win-win for both.

And there's my conspiracy theory for today.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thor coming to Pinball FX2 as part of upcoming Marvel 4-table pack; trailer released

video


Zen Studios and Marvel Entertainment have announced that Thor is the final character in the upcoming Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue four-table pack, joining the "virtuous" side with X-Men. The "vengeful" characters are Moon Knight and Ghost Rider.

In the Thor table, pinball fanatics will travel throughout the Nine Realms and defend Asgard against Thor's mischievous half-brother Loki and the power of the Destroyer armor. Other evils to be seen are the fire demon Surtur, and the ruler of the Frost Giants, Ymir. Thor and his almighty hammer can be seen in the trailer, along with his special lightning attacks and animations.

Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue will be available on Dec. 13 for PSN (as DLC for Marvel Pinball) and Dec. 14 for Xbox Live Arcade (as DLC for Pinball FX2). It will cost $9.99 on PSN and 800 Microsoft Points on XBLA.

 Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick thoughts on Rayman: Origins by Ubisoft

I recently got Ubisoft's new game Rayman: Origins for the Xbox 360. Here are my quick thoughts after playing through one world of gameplay.

* Crazy and funny opening cinematic to explain story...if there is one. Rayman and his buddies seem to be snoring too loud, and this angers an old grandma who unleashes baddies all over the world. Rayman eats a lot to while sleeping. The gibberish talking really adds to the charm of this game.

* Graphics are very colorful, and there's lots of detail in the foreground. Backgrounds are gorgeous. A perfect example of 2D platformer in a 3D world.

* Saving those little pink balls with ponytails, or electoons, is crazy fun. Gotta beat up on old grandmas to save them. Awesome.

* Being just a 2D platformer, the levels so far are surprisingly long. You want to collect as many lums as you can to complete each level's electoon medallion, so that will keep things busy. My one complaint about the newer 2D Mario games are the short levels. Rayman has that beat for sure.

*Controls are responsive. Not too difficult so far, but this is just the first world. I expect that to ramp up later on.

Rayman: Origins is available for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Would you pay $30 a year to play Tetris? No, seriously, would you? WHY would you?

In what should be an Onion article, and a tiny part of me hopes it still is, Gamasutra is reporting that EA Mobile and The Tetris Company have launched a new Tetris game for iOS devices like iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads with a paid subscription option.

The game itself only costs .99 cents, which is typical for an app, and features a "Marathon One Touch Mode" control scheme for iOS devices. There's also a Tetris Log, which offers various challenges, tracking line-clearing progress and assigning ranks to players.

But if you're really passionate, and I mean really passionate about Tetris, you can become a member of the T-Club. Oh yeah, that sounds awesome. Members will get exclusive downloads and content, premium Tetris Log challenges, and a booster for ranking up faster. But this will cost you $2.99 a month, or $29.99 a year. And no it's not a joke.

I can't say I'm too surprised by this. This is what's been happening to the video game industry for some time now. More content getting taken out of games and being offered as paid DLC when it used to be free. Long-time gamers like us sit in our rocking chairs, reminiscing about the good ol' days of being able to unlock extra content using actual skills instead of credit cards. Well, now that gaming is mainstream, that is no more. And we're stuck with money-grabbing ideas like this one.

But can I blame these companies? No, they're in it for money. And people are willing to pay for it. These subscription options for games are becoming more popular. Pay money upfront to get future DLC content at a minor discount. We saw it with Gears of War 3. Activision reported that after six days from launch, there were 1 million Call of Duty Elite premium subscribers. It took a year for services like Netflix and Hulu Plus to reach that.

In the end, it's people's money, so they can spend it however they want. I'll never subscribe to any of these services because I don't play one game so much for it to be worth it. That's why I never got into World of Warcraft. Plus, paying money up front and relying on the game developer to deliver their promises later? No thanks, sounds too risky to me.

Back to Tetris, why would anyone want to pay $30 a year for it? It's Tetris. There's not a lot gameplay variety going on here. Is an extra $30 a year worth it to rank up faster? Premium content you don't even know about? Instead of paying that, why not just pick up Tetris Axis for the 3DS for around the same price and get so much more with it? And no subscription fee?

Who would take Tetris serious enough to do this? Well, maybe this guy.


Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Zen Pinball now on App Store and Android Marketplace; free pinball table offered

Zen Studios announced Dec. 1 that Zen Pinball is now available on the App Store and Android Marketplace for NVIDIA Tegra-powered smartphones and tablets. On the go and crave a game or two of pinball while waiting in long lines or commuting? Well, here's your chance.
The free pinball platform download features Marvel Pinball series tables that include popular characters like Wolverine, Fantastic Four and Captain America. Original pinball designs from Zen are also available.
Zen is giving those who download the platform a free copy of the Sorcerer's Lair table. Like on consoles, future table releases can be purchased as DLC.
Game features are similar to consoles as well, which include achievements for all tables, leaderboards, a hot seat multiplayer mode and rule sheets for each table.

Get even tinier random thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921

Justin Bieber and his buddies are impressed with the 3DS in latest music video




Bieber fever has hit Nintendo.
In his latest music video, Justin Bieber teams up with Mariah Carey to spread holiday cheer in their duet of "All I Want For Christmas Is You." It shows Bieber and his friends shopping for presents, and what do they spot to fill their shopping carts with? Well, first Bieber seems to have his eye on Mariah in a provocative-looking Santa costume, but then he notices the big stack of Nintendo 3DS game systems. As you see in the video, Bieber looks really impressed with those 3D visuals. And Mariah.
But seriously, it's a clever marketing ploy on Nintendo's part. What better way to get the 3DS on kids' minds than have teen sensation Justin Bieber go crazy for it?
And another thing, isn't it kind of creepy the way Mariah and Bieber are staring at each other? Selena Gomez can't be too happy about this one...