Blogs > Yay For Video Games

Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Angry Birds creator to release Amazing Alex in July. Can Rovio strike gold again?

Without a doubt, Angry Birds is a gold mine for Rovio, not just because of the game itself but all the T-shirts, hats, toys and whatever else you can think of that has those colorful birds stamped on them. For the full 2011 calendar year, Rovio posted total revenue at $106.3 million. Merchandising and licensing income represented about 30 percent of that.

While the Angry Birds era won't be going away any time soon, it was time for Rovio to start doing something different. At risk of becoming a one-trick pony, they have their eyes set on their newest game, Amazing Alex, set for release on iOS and Android devices in July. A new physics game, Amazing Alex will have players focus on creating chain reactions using a variety of objects to achieve a goal.

The game will feature 100 levels with multiple ways to finish them. On Rovio's blog, they mention a level creator will be available to make puzzles involving 35 different objects, which can be shared with friends and around the world. Rovio also is promising free updates, like with Angry Birds. A Windows version will be available after launch.

Can Rovio strike gold again? Amazing Alex has all the makings to be a financial success at least from a game standpoint. With lots of levels, free updates, and Rovio's name attached to it, it should have no problem reaching the top of the charts. There's no price announced yet, but I can't see Rovio straying away from the cheap, and sometimes free, route they've taken so far.

As for Amazing Alex merchandise? That remains to be seen, but I don't see it having a huge impact like Angry Birds, which was perfect since the birds were just too darn cute to pass up. I'm having a hard time picturing Amazing Alex figurines or plushies flying off the shelves and children wearing clothes with some generic looking, blonde-haired kid on it. It'll be a tougher sell, but if Rovio does go heavy on merchandise they got to make a Mouse Trap-like board game. That game ruled.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pokemon Black 2, White 2 releasing Oct. 7 in North America

Nintendo has announced the Pokemon craze will hit North America once again starting Oct. 7 with the release of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2, which has already taken Japan by storm.

These sequels to the very successful Pokemon Black and White games will once again release for the Nintendo DS, which makes the most sense since more people own the system than the newer 3DS. But I'm sure a proper Pokemon 3DS game is already in the works.

But the 3DS isn't getting totally shunned; Pokemon Dream Radar will be released on the 3DS eShop on Oct. 7 as well, which will allow 3DS owners to catch their favorite Pokemon using the 3DS' camera, motion control and AR technology. These caught Pokemon can then be transferred into Pokemon Black 2 and White 2.

Maybe to take advantage of these 3DS features, could Nintendo release a 3DS bundle with the new Pokemon games?

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Xbox Live Arcade Kinect game Haunt free for a limited time

Kinect Central, a new dashboard feature for the Xbox 360, launched today in the United States, and to celebrate it the XBLA Kinect game Haunt will be available for free through July 2.

Normally costing 800 Microsoft points ($10), the game takes place in Benjy's Mansion, a haunted house filled with ghosts and mysterious secrets. The game released January 2012.

The only way to get this game is through the new Kinect Central homepage on the dashboard. If you have a Kinect, why not download it? Free is always good.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose will be on the cover of NBA 2K13

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't win the NBA Finals this year, but he did get the honor of sharing the cover for NBA 2K13 with Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin and Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose.

2K Sports announced the cover athletes, which represent the "New Dynasty" of NBA Legends.

“There are many young superstars in today’s NBA, but we’ve selected three incredible athletes for the cover of NBA 2K13 that represent the NBA well,” said Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports. “It’s clear to us that Blake, Derrick and Kevin are the most deserving guys to inherit the NBA 2K cover from Jordan, Magic and Bird.”

NBA 2K13 will be released Oct. 2 in North America and Oct. 5 internationally for the Xbox 360 and PS3. A Wii U version will be available during the holiday season.

And since we are on the subject of cover athletes, which Detroit Piston would you like to see on a cover? Brandon Knight? Greg Monroe? Whoever they draft this week?

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS is all about the coins...lots and lots of coins

In normal Super Mario Bros. games, getting 100 gold coins usually means an extra life and not much else. But in New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS, that changes...big time.

Nintendo showed off gameplay late Thursday night during their Nintendo Direct presentation where gold coins were everywhere. Not only from hundreds of ?-blocks but a ring that turns enemies into gold and a gold block that will spew coins from Mario's head. Mario can even shoot gold fireballs at wooden blocks to turn them into coins. The gold standard is alive and well in the Mushroom Kingdom. Ron Paul would be proud.

Coin Rush mode will have gamers play three random courses with the goal of collecting as many gold coins as possible in the shortest amount of time. StreetPass comes into play as you can save your records and share it with others, who can try and beat it. This mode will also come with paid downloadable content in the future.

Every collected coin is tallied, and the video below asks if we have what it takes to collect 1 million coins. I would have to assume collecting all these coins is used to progress the story, and possibly unlock bonus levels. Hopefully getting 1 million will mean something unique.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 will release Aug. 19.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nintendo 3DS XL coming to North America on Aug. 19 for $200

Ever since the 3DS was released, the joke around the Internet was "So, I'll just wait for the revision to buy one."

Well, that wait will finally be over soon for those holding out on Nintendo's latest handheld, and the announcement came as a big surprise to many. During a Nintendo Direct online presentation, Nintendo announced details for a bigger 3DS that will be released on July 28 in Japan and Aug. 19 in North America. It will cost $200 and come in a variety of colors. It will feature larger screens and better battery life.

One important thing to note is the lack of a second slider pad on the right side, an element Nintendo was criticized for. But I think it's the smart move to not include one since it would alienate the 17 million or so people that already own the system, and it would have been a major hassle to have developers potentially make games utilizing the touchscreen and extra slider pad at the same time. Plus, I think it was the minority that complained about wanting it. Sorry, can't please everybody.

This newest iteration should be a big hit in Japan, where handhelds are king and current 3DS sales look great. Sales are currently OK in North America and Europe, and this should give the handheld a short-term boost of confidence.

But no matter the change, what sells a 3DS is games, and Nintendo gave plenty of info during the presentation. Animal Crossing 3DS made an appearance, although a U.S. release date is unknown. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask will release in November. Fire Emblem: Awakening will release in 2013. New Super Mario Bros. 2 will have downloadable stages. A Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance demo is available in the eShop.

Nintendo also talked about the next Super Smash Bros, where Namco Bandai will work with Project Sora.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Quick thoughts on Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles

The Avengers table

Zen Studios released the latest Marvel Pinball pack this week for the Pinball FX 2 platform, this time focusing on The Avengers. Here are my thoughts on the game so far.

Fear Itself table

Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles brings pinball fans four new tables. Just when you think Zen Studios might be running out of ideas, they continue to find new ways to amaze. The Avengers, World War Hulk, The Infinity Gauntlet, and Fear Itself offer up more colorful and flashy pinball representations of the Marvel world.

The Infinity Gauntlet table

Those playing on Xbox Live Arcade will be shocked to see there's only one achievement per table, unlike the usual three from past tables. It took me little time to unlock the World War Hulk and Infinity Gauntlet achievements. Those playing on the PS3 will be able to unlock three trophies per table, so I wonder what made Microsoft's version so different.

World War Hulk table

The Avengers table is based on events from the recent box office smash movie that continues to rake in the dough. It was really cool to see a customized ball for each Avenger that had different abilities on the table. However, I did notice a tiny bit of ball movement slowdown during some spots while playing. Maybe there was a little too much going on for the table to handle?

The Infinity Gauntlet table had some crazy effects like slow-mo gameplay and turning the table upside down. World War Hulk had a fun mini-playfield, and Fear Itself's use of magnetic energy puts a twist on things.

Check back at for my full review.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quick thoughts on Pokemon Conquest for the Nintendo DS

I spent some of my weekend playing Pokemon Conquest for the Nintendo DS, which is now out in stores. Here are my thoughts on the game so far.

This is not your traditional Pokemon game where you go on a journey to collect badges and become the greatest trainer of all time. The goal of Pokemon Conquest is to conquer various kingdoms throughout the land, with the goal of revealing a mysterious Pokemon once you've taken over all of them. The main story took me just under 10 hours to complete, but more content is unlocked afterward where you play through stories of other characters in the game.

Battles take place on a grid-like field where you strategically move Pokemon around and attack enemies. There's a lot more strategy involved than your traditional game. To keep things fresh each playing field has some sort of gimmick, like teleports and hidden tunnels. So it's not as simple as moving right up to an enemy and attacking.

The "collecting" part that makes the Pokemon franchise popular is still here, but with a twist. If you defeat enemy warriors in certain ways, you can recruit them. You're only allowed up to six per kingdom, but you can automatically have them train in kingdoms you control, making life much easier.

Check out my full review soon at

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day gifts for the gamer dad

Father's Day is quickly approaching, and so comes the tough decision on what to get the proud papa.

There are plenty of options out there from power tools to clothing accessories. But what do you get the dad who loves to game? Skip the tie and check out these recent releases. Prices may range from $40-$60 at various retailers.

Diablo III - PC
The third in the popular Blizzard franchise, Diablo III takes gamers back to the world of Sanctuary in a journey against the devil himself. This action role-playing game features plenty of hack-and-slash battles and lots and lots of loot. For the real daring, Hardcore mode allows players to create characters that cannot be resurrected if killed. An auction house is available to buy and sell virtual items with real-world money. Word of warning: The game is addicting and it might be hard to pry dad off the computer. 

Max Payne 3 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Another third game in a franchise, players once again assume the role of the gritty Max Payne in this third-person shooter developed by Rockstar Studios. Years after leaving the NYPD and developing a very unhealthy addiction to alcohol and painkillers, Payne is thrust into a shady Brazilian society filled with crime and mayhem. The franchise's popular bullet-time sequences are back in all their gruesome glory. Online multiplayer allows players to join crews and complete tasks to gain experience points.

Mario Party 9 - Wii
If you're looking for a fun game to get the whole family involved, Mario Party 9 is right down your alley. While it may sound like more of the same, this ninth addition to Nintendo consoles adds a few twists to keep it fresh. This time, all the familiar Nintendo characters like Mario, Yoshi and Princess Peach travel together in a vehicle, instead of separately, across the board-game worlds, which helps speed up the game. Eighty mini-games can be played, which include new boss battles. Mini-games can also be played individually in a separate mode.

MLB 12: The Show - PS3, PS Vita
Plenty of fathers will be treated to a day at the ballpark Sunday, and Sony's The Show continues to be the dominant choice for baseball video games. Everything from the animations to the graphics are impressive in MLB 12: The Show. Pitching and batting elements are improved. A new addition to this year's game is Diamond Dynasty mode, where the player can create a customized team through in-game trading card packs. The hardcore fans who own both the PS3 and PS Vita versions will be able to transfer saves from the console to play on the go with the handheld.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 - Xbox 360, PS3
If they're not at the ballpark, maybe a bunch of dads will be on the golf course. EA's annual Tiger Woods game is always a hot seller. In the 2013 version, the Legacy Challenge game mode will allow players to control Tiger Woods at various points of his life (insert predictable Tiger Woods joke here), from his toddler years to the future. An Online Country Club allows friends to compare stats with each other and compete in tournaments.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski advances in NASCAR The Game cover contest

Brad Keselowski

16 NASCAR drivers moved on recently in the NASCAR The Game: Inside Line "Drive for the Cover" Facebook campaign to be on the cover of the upcoming video game, including Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski is currently facing off against Ryan Newman to get the most votes in the head-to-head match-up. Other match-ups in the second round of voting includes:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Busch vs. Danica Patrick
Tony Stewart vs. Carl Edwards
Denny Hamlin vs. Marcos Ambrose
Greg Biffle vs. Mark Martin
Kasey Kahne vs. Kevin Harvick
Jeff Gordon vs. Matt Kenseth

Second round voting ends June 17. Click here to vote.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Watch_Dogs, Pikmin 3, Assassin's Creed 3 and more from E3 that I got my eye on

E3 has come and gone. Sadly, I could not make it out to Los Angeles, stuck at home watching press conferences and game demos online. There were plenty of games announced and on display. Here are just a few I'm looking forward to.

In an E3 filled with sequels and familiar-looking games, Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs is a breath of fresh air for many. This graphically impressive, new IP reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto introduced us to a protagonist being able to hack into various devices. But in a cliffhanger at the press conference, another person showed up on stage to hack the main player, teasing possible online capabilities. There's a lot of hype and expectations for Watch_Dogs, so the pressure's on to live up to it.

Pikmin 3 wasn't that big of a shocker, but it was nice to see some gameplay at the Nintendo press conference. The follow-up to the lovable franchise will expand to the Wii U GamePad, as hordes of plant-like Pikmin await to be controlled. It's a launch window game, so hopefully we don't have to wait too long for it.

Assassin's Creed III will take us to the American Revolution where we'll meet historical figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson and more, all while sneaking around the countryside brutally eliminating enemies. A naval portion of the game will allow gamers to travel along the eastern seaboard, and battles with enemy ships are quite a spectacle from what I saw.

ZombieU is, yes, another zombie game. But this one does what many don't dare: One bite and you're dead. The Wii U GamePad can be used to pick up items and hack doors, but always keep an eye out for zombies on the big screen. In multiplayer, one person can fight off zombies while another uses the tablet controller to spawn them on the map to kill off his/her foe.

Nintendo is giving us a heavy dose of Mario, but can you really blame them? Mario games sell millions of copies. New Super Mario Bros. U will launch for the Wii U, which will very likely have the new system flying off the shelves this holiday season. Sure, the gameplay is familiar, but it's still fun to play. Graphics are much crisper and the backgrounds are much more detailed. Just check out that above screenshot going for the Vincent van Gogh "Starry Night" look. New Super Mario Bros 2 will launch for the 3DS on Aug. 19, and the long-awaited Paper Mario: Sticker Star will release this holiday for the handheld as well.

Sony's getting a lot of flak for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, coming to the PS3 and PS Vita. Yes, it is a rip-off of the popular Super Smash Bros. franchise by Nintendo. Big Daddy, from BioShock and not really a Sony exclusive character, will be in the game. But it still looks like fun in its own twisted way.

Yep, another Halo game, only this time developed by 343 Industries instead of Bungie. Master Chief is back for kicking some more Covenant butt, only this time a new alien enemy is in the mix. Halo 4 is intended to be the beginning of another trilogy, which shouldn't surprise anyone due to the success of the franchise.

More games to look out for include The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Resident Evil 6, Tomb Raider, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Gears of War: Judgement, Dead Space 3, Rayman Legends, God of War: Ascension and NintendoLand. My video game backlog is going to get a whole lot bigger.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Friday, June 8, 2012

NASCAR's Danica Patrick to become a character in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Photos courtesy of SEGA
At E3 this week it was announced by SEGA that Indy-turned-NASCAR driver Danica Patrick will become a playable character in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed when the game releases this holiday season. Why did SEGA seek out Danica for this opportunity? Who knows, but hey, that's a pretty awesome looking car her and Sonic are posing with.

Danica will be racing the customized No. 7 Sonic the Hedgehog Chevrolet during the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway. It will be televised on ESPN. The Nationwide Series race will mark Sonic's debut in NASCAR, and since both are all about speed, it's about time it happened.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed will be available on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U and PC.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros. U, Wii Fit U, NintendoLand highlight software-packed E3 conference

This year's Nintendo E3 press conference was packed with software titles. Here's a brief summary of what was shown off.

The heavy hitters were highlighted in the beginning, starting with the highly-anticipated Pikmin 3. Although it's funny and sad at the same time to hype HD gaming these days, Pikmin 3 looks great. The franchise is loved by many and has been a long-time coming.

No shocker at all, New Super Mario Bros. U will bring much more familiar 2D gameplay, with this game utilizing the Wii U tablet controller. It's pretty much what you would expect from this franchise, only it'll be more socially active online. Graphics look sharper, including the backgrounds.

Much attention was given to Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, which will utilize the tablet controller more. It sounds alright, but was it necessary to dedicate all that time to it? The game's already out on the Xbox 360 and PS3, so will people even care upon release? I've already played it, so I'll likely pass on this one.

Warner Bros. unveiled details of LEGO City Undercover, which looks like Grand Theft Auto done LEGO style. Players must venture throughout this block-filled world and solve crimes. Ubisoft has been a big player for the new system and showed off gameplay of ZombieU, where you can use the controller to hack through doors and shrug off zombies. Other titles mentioned include Mass Effect 3, Rayman Legends and Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Wii Fit U was unveiled, the popular series that's sold tens of millions of copies on the Wii already. No doubt Nintendo's looking to replicate that success again. The same can be said with Just Dance 4 and a karaoke game with the working title of "Sing" so far.

The 3DS got a little tease, but will mostly be discussed during a special conference Wednesday. We saw looks at Paper Mario: Sticker Star, New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. The heavily rumored bigger 3DS version was not mentioned.

Nintendo ended the conference announcing NintendoLand, a mini-game collection featuring popular Nintendo characters. Like Wii Sports, this is a multiplayer game that will focus on all the technical features of the fancy new controller. They said it would launch with the Wii U, so hopefully that means a pack-in game. Otherwise, a high price tag doesn't seem worth it.

Overall, the conference was OK, and between the Big 3 they still "won" it this year hands down. It started off strong with Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U, but ended on a whimper with NintendoLand. No price or actual release date was announced, but that was expected. But the new console will release this holiday, which should make it one of the hottest gifts out there.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sony's struggling PS Vita handheld gets swept under the rug at E3 press conference

If you're a PS Vita owner you should be angry at Sony right now. Especially since you paid $250 or $300 for the system, not including games.

Sony's newest gaming handheld has not set the world on fire sales-wise, being overshadowed in a smartphone and Nintendo-dominated market. A lack of games resulted in lower-than-expected sales for the 3DS, and Nintendo righted the ship by lowering the price and, more importantly, releasing games for the system. Since then, the 3DS continues to outpace the DS in overall sales, and has seen a steady stream of new releases to keep the momentum going.

The PS Vita is in that same boat now, struggling to gain hardware sales due to a high price tag and a lack of games to make the system worth it. Sony's E3 press conference was the perfect time to give the PS Vita a jolt of good news and restore faith in the system.

So why didn't they announce a bunch of games for it? Nintendo's going to have a full-hour conference on Wednesday dedicated to 3DS software. And here's Sony sweeping the PS Vita under the rug. Sure, we saw an Assassin's Creed spinoff, a Call of Duty title, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, but we already knew these games were coming. Heck, PlayStation All-Stars is just a port from the PS3, so how well will that sell? They're hyping the cross-play functionality with the PS3, but will gamers spend the money to do that? Where were the surprise games? PlayStation One games to be available for download is nice, but how far will that take Sony with their high cost of proprietary memory cards?

A price drop wasn't announced, and with Sony's current dire financial situation I didn't expect one. But at this point, they need one if they want hardware sales. Because if the system doesn't sell, then why would developers feel the need to make games for it?

It's a funny thing, really. Vita means life, yet, Sony seems to be placing the system on its deathbed.

UPDATE: Apparently Sony has been making PS Vita-related announcements after their conference. Need for Speed: Most Wanted will arrive, as well as a Madden 13 PS Vita bundle with a 4GB memory card included. Other games are slowly being revealed. Why these weren't mentioned during the conference I do not know. Sony's not sending the right message when thousands are watching it and the PS Vita is ignored.

Other press conference highlights

Quantic Dream, the maker of Heavy Rain, announced their new title, Beyond: Two Souls. The photo-realistic game will feature Academy Award-nominated actress Ellen Page as the character Jodie Holmes who can reach out to the "other side." It's graphically impressive, and shares the same qualities that made Heavy Rain so critically acclaimed.

Gameplay of PlayStation All-Stars was shown, featuring Sony characters beating the heck out of each other. It's a plain ripoff of Nintendo's wildly successful Super Smash Bros. franchise, and Sony doesn't seem to care about that. One of the characters is Fat Princess, a chunkier version of one Princess Peach. How desperate for characters is Sony? Big Daddy was announced as one, who is part of the BioShock franchise, which is multi-platform, a.k.a not exclusive to Sony.

Another look of Assassin's Creed III was shown, this time focusing on an action-packed naval battle. Wonderbook was officially announced, a PS Move title aimed at getting kids to have more fun reading. The first "book" will be Book of Spells, helped created by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. A live demo with painful technical hiccups was shown, waving the Move controller like a wand to create spells.

God of War: Ascension showed Kratos beating enemies to a bloody pulp. Finally, Sony showed a live demo of Last of Us, featuring more bloody beatings of bad guys that got the audience cheering.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

From Dead Space 3 to Rayman Legends, EA and Ubisoft dish out the games at E3

Dead Space 3
After Microsoft's E3 press conference Monday, the attention turned toward EA and Ubisoft. Here's a brief summary of their conferences.

EA kicked things off showing gameplay of Dead Space 3, featuring explosions, big aliens and crazy action. Sadly, the survival horror aspect of the franchise seems gone, going toward the Gears of War route. I'll miss the creepiness.

Madden 13 made its appearance, along with special guest and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, talking about new additions like the constantly hyped Infinity engine. One interesting aspect to Madden 13 will be a "story mode" of sorts, with fake Twitter feeds talking about your player as you make your way to the Hall of Fame. It's interesting but I don't think the people that buy these games every year really care about that, and they probably weren't watching the conference to begin with.

Sim City Social will debut as a Facebook game soon, bringing addictive city-building fun to the social media world. Now you can annoy your friends on how big your city has become. Traditionalists, don't freak out too much - a proper Sim City game will debut in February 2013.

Taking a page out of the Call of Duty: Elite subscription book, Battlefield 3: Premium is a service that will cost $49.99 and include access to future expansion packs. It felt like an infomercial when they announced it, but I'm sure the hardcore fans will eat it up.

After discussing Star Wars: The Old Republic, another shooter was shown off: Medal of Honor: Warfighter. If you played Call of Duty or Battlefield before, you know what's coming. Also discussed were FIFA 13, Crysis 3 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

EA also announced a multi-year partnership with UFC, another devastating blow to the struggling THQ company. UFC President Dana White arrived on stage to talk about the game.

At Ubisoft's conference, they gave us a first look at some Wii U gameplay with Rayman Legends, utilizing the tablet controller's touchscreen. I enjoyed playing Rayman Origins last year and I can't wait to get my hands on Legends. Other Wii U games include Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth and ZombieU, an exclusive survival horror game set in England. Only the trailer was shown, which is very reminiscent of Dead Island's trailer.

After being treated to Usher earlier in the day, Flo Rida made an appearance to promote Just Dance 4. Afterward, we got a look at Far Cry 3, yes, another first-person shooter. Assassin's Creed III also shone in the spotlight.

Based on the very popular Trackmania game, Shootmania features two teams of three duking it out against each other. The twist is it's actually 1 vs. 3, where the lone gunman must defeat all three enemies or capture an area to get a point, or the team of 3 must kill the loner. It's a clever idea, but Ubisoft decided to make it a boys vs. girls affair filled with awful commentary, hurting any interest for it.

Ubisoft's conference ended on a very high note in what is a front-runner for the game of E3. Watch_Dogs is a new IP - a rarity for E3 this year - and a third-person game that looks like Grand Theft Auto with much better graphics. The live demo shows the protagonist hacking into various devices and causing mayhem, like one part where he shuts off traffic lights and causes a big crash. Gunplay is involved, and on a cliffhanger ending we're shown another gamer on stage hacking the main guy and taking control of the action. Crazy online co-op? Looks that way.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Microsoft's E3 press conference features an uncomfortable Joe Montana, Usher singing, very little surprises

I had low expectations of the Microsoft E3 press conference, so I didn't hate it that much like those who were expecting megaton bombs like an "Xbox 720" console reveal or tease. For those who follow the video game industry, it was predictable. And for those who watch E3 press conferences, it had those "Oh, please no." moments.

The big guns of Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Gears of War: Judgement got attention. But most of these were talked about beforehand, ruining any suspense and excitement. Lara Croft moaning and groaning her way through rough terrains wasn't mind-blowing, and Black Ops 2 looks more of the same. Halo 4 features an interesting new enemy type, but the core gameplay looks nothing different.

The Xbox 360 is an all-in-one media hub, and Microsoft talked about more services coming to it. NBA and NHL content will be available, and Xbox Music will stream more than 30 million songs. The Watch ESPN app will give users 24/7 coverage of the popular sports channel. Internet Explorer (chuckles) will be available to browse online.

Xbox SmartGlass was announced, and it's pretty much a Wii U knockoff, allowing users to link their Xbox Live-enabled devices. You'll be able to watch a movie on one device, pause it, and continue on another. A smartphone or tablet can also be used as a remote control for the console, and games like Madden can be controlled from them. It will be available this fall, conveniently around the time the Wii U is expected to release. But will it be a big competitor? Doubt it, since it's all completely optional and much more costly.

As expected, Kinect got a lot of love. Nike will release a fitness game that will track the user's exercises and make sure they're doing it correctly. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana made an uncomfortable guest appearance, showing off Madden 13 gameplay by yelling out plays. He said it was really neat. I'm sure everyone believed him.

Following the announcement of Dance Central 3, music superstar Usher gave a single-song performance. He probably got paid nicely for that gig as gamers around world cried in agony.

The highlight of the conference was the appearance of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker discussing South Park: The Stick of Truth, which will feature the player as the new kid in town. They poked fun at Microsoft for all the connecting abilities.

Let's get a petition started to have them host the conference next year.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nintendo shows off Miiverse, Wii U Pro Controller during pre-E3 presentation

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata gave a brief pre-E3 presentation Sunday focusing on the Wii U, Nintendo's new home console expected to be released this holiday season.

Nintendo has been criticized for years about their online efforts not matching up to Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live. Better late than never, Iwata gave details on Miiverse, which will be available on the Wii U, 3DS and PC and mobile devices. Gamers will be able to see who's online, what their friends are playing and communicate with them. They can share messages during gameplay and send hand-written notes to one another.

Some tweaks were made to the Wii U Gamepad, the main controller for the Wii U console. The big one was instead of circle pads on the original prototype last year, it will feature clickable sticks on both sides.

One shocker was the Wii U Pro Controller reveal, which looks to be another option to play games. The similarities to the Xbox 360 controller are obviously there, but this should please the traditionalists.

No games were revealed, but why would Nintendo do that now? They still got the Tuesday press conference to focus on lots of games. We saw looks of a New Super Mario Bros game that was shown off last year, so if that becomes a launch title this holiday, expect a lot of Wii U sellouts.

Can't wait for Tuesday.

Get even tinier random thoughts at

Friday, June 1, 2012

As the Wii U release inches closer, this year's E3 is Nintendo's to "lose"

Who will win E3 this year?

That's usually the question that lights up message boards around the Internet when determining who between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will have the best press conference and showing at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, which takes place next week in Los Angeles. It always brings up fun and heated debates from the Big 3 fanboys, even though "winning" or "losing" doesn't really matter in the long run.

As Christmas in June for video game fans draws closer, one thing has become decidedly clear: Nintendo should have this year's in the bag, and for one reason only: The Wii U blowout. Since Sony and Microsoft have been mum so far on their PS3 and Xbox 360 successors, respectively, being the only one showing off a new console automatically puts Nintendo well ahead of the pack. Sure, Sony and Microsoft could give a small tease of their hardware future to take away some Wii U hype, but unplayable demonstrations only go so far.

But just showing up doesn't mean Nintendo should rest easy. Last year at E3, Nintendo first revealed the Wii U and it didn't catch on like they had hoped. Much of the focus was on the tablet controller and not the system itself, which along with the name caused confusion on what the Wii U really was. It's obviously a new console, but the general public didn't seem to get that. Nintendo should make it very clear this time: Here's the system, here's the controller and here's a bunch of games to play.

I would expect a lot of Wii U games, too, especially from high-profile Nintendo franchises. On the Wii U Facebook page, Nintendo is teasing us on what some initial game releases will be when it's expected to launch this year. I hope we get a lot of info on Pikmin 3 and the New Super Mario Bros. game, along with some info on Super Smash Brothers and Zelda titles. A lack of quality third-party titles has plagued Nintendo for years, so it'll be interesting to see what other companies bring to the table.

A firm release date and actual price would be nice, too, but is not expected to be revealed.

Don't forget about the 3DS either. Although it doesn't seem to have lit the world on fire, it's still bringing in respectable sales after a rough launch last year. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is set for release in August, which should sell huge around the world, and we're still waiting for more info on much-anticipated titles like Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion 2 and Animal Crossing. Many think a 3DS revision is in the works, but I don't see that happening as the Wii U will be the main focus.

All eyes are on Nintendo this year, and if they play their cards right they'll be the talk of E3 and the video gaming world for months to come.

Can't forget about Microsoft and Sony

Oh yeah, there are these guys, too. While no one's expecting any new console shockers from Microsoft and Sony, I expect a lot of already-known games to be shown off.

Microsoft has their big exclusive Halo 4 release this year, along with notable third-party games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin's Creed III that will surely sell big. Kinect will likely get some attention, and since Microsoft has pushed the Xbox 360 as the all-in-one media hub, maybe more services will be revealed.

With PS Vita sales down in the dumps, expect a big push by Sony to get more software revealed for the struggling handheld. Will a price cut happen? Who knows? Sony's finances are dire so can they afford it? Even if they did slash it from $250 to say $200, it won't save the system. Like Nintendo learned, you need the games to sell the hardware.

Get even tinier random thoughts at