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Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 4 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Detroit Lions lost a heartbreaker to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, while their Madden counterparts held off a Titans rally to get the victory. Up next are the Minnesota Vikings. The following is a simulation of Sunday's matchup.

The Lions started off the game with a big 37-yard reception by Mikel Leshoure, but were forced to punt a short time later. After quickly stopping the Vikings, the Lions moved down the field and scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run by Leshoure. The Vikings would later kick a field goal to make it 7-3 after the first quarter.

The second quarter started badly for Matthew Stafford in the form of a 41-yard pick-six to give the Vikings a 10-7 lead. Jason Hanson would hit a 46-yard field goal to tie the game, but the Vikings would add a pair of their own to take a 16-10 lead at halftime.

Other than a missed field goal by the Vikings, the third quarter was a bore-fest.

Luckily the fourth quarter made up for it. Another Hanson field goal cut the Vikings' lead to 16-13, and the Lions' defense stopped a Vikings threat led by Adrian Peterson with over eight minutes remaining. With a mix of running and short passes, the Lions were able to get deep into Vikings territory at the 2-minute warning. Failing to score a TD, Hanson kicked a gimme to tie the game 16-16.

With time left, the Vikings threatened to end the game, but Christian Ponder tossed an interception to Erik Coleman, giving the Lions hope. However, Stafford threw his second interception of the game, and Ponder would again throw another one to Coleman. This game would be settled in overtime.

Lions would win the coin toss and receive the ball first, but punted after a 3 and out. The Vikings had no luck either, and Stefan Logan had a big punt return to midfield. Leshoure would then power his way past the Vikings' defense, resulting in the game-winning 37-yard field goal by Hanson.

Stafford went 18/35 with 263 yards and two interceptions. Leshoure ran 127 yards on 31 carries to go along with his TD, and Titus Young caught five passes for 93 yards. For the Vikings, Ponder went 17/26 with 131 yards and two interceptions, and Peterson ran big for 150 yards on 32 carries.

Madden record: 3-1
Real record: 1-2

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nintendo Wii U launch titles feature a little bit of everything with Mario, dancing, and zombie games

Nintendo has announced their launch-day lineup of 23 games for the Wii U console, which hits store shelves Nov. 18 in North America. They are:
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Skylanders Giants
Transformers Prime
Wipeout 3
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
FIFA Soccer 13
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
New Super Mario Bros. U
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
Sing Party
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
Darksiders II
Assassin's Creed III
ESPN Sports Connection
Just Dance 4
Rabbids Land
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
Scribblenauts Unlimited
Game Party Champions
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition

The flagship title is no doubt New Super Mario Bros. U, followed by NintendoLand, which is bundled in the deluxe edition of the console, and ZombiU. Skylanders Giants could be a hit with the kids, and Just Dance 4 should see success as well. It'll be interesting to see how well Assassin's Creed III and Call of Duty: Black Ops II do since these sell big on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

An additional 29 launch window games, to be released between Nov. 18 and the end of March, include the much-anticipated Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends, Wii Fit U, LEGO City: Undercover, TANK! TANK! TANK!, The Wonderful 101, and Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth. Fears of another 3DS-like launch should be set aside, and with preorders maxing out, Nintendo should see profitability again very soon.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Angry Birds Trilogy retails for $30 on Nintendo 3DS, $40 on PS3 and Xbox 360. But why buy it when it's cheap or free elsewhere?

Angry Birds Trilogy has released in physical form for the Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360 and PS3. It features the first three games of the popular franchise: Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio. There are 19 episodes featuring new levels and HD cut scenes. Overall, the game is jam-packed with plenty of hours of pig-smashing gameplay.

There's only one problem: the price. The handheld version retails for $29.99 while the console versions go for $39.99. Normally this would be an OK price tag for a game of this nature, but Angry Birds is known for being a very cheap and easy-to-pick-up game. There are plenty of versions of this franchise that cost a few dollars to even free (if you don't mind the ads) for smartphones and tablets. So why pay $30-$40 for a packaged title when you can buy the games separately and still come out way ahead? The incentive of extra levels isn't that big of a deal since Rovio is known for releasing free updates all the time.

I don't expect Angry Birds Trilogy to fly off the shelves, at least not the console versions. The 3DS version might sell a few copies since it's cheaper and portable, but in the end who's really going to buy this? The cheap factor is the biggest reason this franchise became a massive success, and Rovio can get away with it since merchandise sales bring in millions of dollars. Charging so much more for a game already played by millions and costing so much less makes no sense at all.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 3 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. Tennessee Titans

The Detroit Lions are looking to bounce back from a tough loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Up next are the Tennessee Titans and the season debut of running back Mikel Leshoure. In this week's Madden simulation, Leshoure got the start.

It was a quiet first quarter for both teams. The Lions' defense forced a 3 and out to start the game, and the offense moved down the field afterward, resulting in a Jason Hanson field goal to make it 3-0. That would be all the scoring in the first 15 minutes.

The defense would continue to do its job forcing Titan punts, and the offense would reward their efforts with points. After another Hanson field goal, Leshoure would get his first touchdown on a 4-yard run to make it 13-0 with under a minute to go in the half.

In the third, the Lions extended their lead to 21-0 after Matthew Stafford connected to a wide open Titus Young on a monstrous 70-yard reception, and then Calvin Johnson hauled in the 2-point conversion.
The lead wouldn't last long as the Titans trumped that TD catch with a 72 yarder, courtesy of quarterback Jake Locker to a wide open Jared Cook. The Titans added a field goal to make it 21-10 Lions after three quarters.

Stafford found Young again for his second TD reception to extend the Lions lead to 28-10 in the fourth quarter. No lead is safe though, and the Titans once again answered quickly with an 88-yard TD reception by Nate Washington. They added another field goal to make it 28-20.
The Lions' defense forced a key punt, and after converting a 3rd and long to keep the drive going, Hanson was able to knock in another field goal to make it 31-20 with under two minutes left, in theory sealing the game.

But no lead is safe as Locker led the Titans down the field, a quick drive capped off by a Chris Johnson rushing touchdown. A 2-point conversion cut the Lions lead to a field goal, 31-28. With 18 ticks on the clock, the Titans recovered the onside kick, threatening to deliver another Music City Miracle. The Lions' defense didn't let that happen, and the team left Tennessee with a 31-28 victory.

Stafford went 29/40 for 367 yards with two TDs and one interception. Leshoure ran for 61 yards in his debut to go with his TD, and Young hauled in 137 yards on four catches, two of those being TDs.

Madden record: 2-1
Real record: 1-1

Jeff Hoard writes about video games for The Oakland Press. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffHoard921. His blog is

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Capcom releases new screenshots for Street Fighter X Tekken, Okami HD, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, DmC: Devil May Cry

The Tokyo Game Show is under way, and Capcom has released a bunch of new screenshots for upcoming games. Here are several games along with release dates.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be making its way to Europe and North America in March 2013 for the Wii U and 3DS. Here are some screenshots from the 3DS version.

DmC: Devil May Cry will hit the PS3 and Xbox 360 on Jan. 15, 2013.

Okami HD will release on Oct. 30 for the PlayStation Network. Needless to say I'm a big fan of the art style.

Street Fighter X Tekken will come out on Oct. 26 for the PS Vita.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nintendo's new Wii U console makes Toys R Us' hot toy list for the 2012 holiday season

Launching a new video game console during the holidays is always a guarantee for massive sales, and Toys R Us knows this. They have revealed their top 15 hot toys for the 2012 holiday season and to no one's surprise, Nintendo's new Wii U console made the list.

Other toys that made the list include:
— Doc McStuffins "Time for Your Checkup" doll
— Fisher-Price Jake and the Never Lane Pirates-Jake's Musical Pirate Ship Bucky
— Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Star Doll - Harmony B. Sharp
— Furby
— Gelarti Designer Studio
— LeapPad2 Explorer
— Micro Chargers Time Track
— Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair Playset
— Yvolution YFliker F1 Flow Series Scooter
— Hot Wheels R/C Terrain Twister
— LEGO Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle
— 1D Collector dolls
— Skylanders Giants Starter Pack
— Tabeo (a 7-inch kids tablet)

If you're looking to get a Wii U on the Nov. 18 launch date, you better get your preorder in now. GameStop, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other retailers are reporting preorders have been maxed out for the basic and deluxe editions of the console.

One other thing, how is Furby still a hot item?

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 2 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers

While the Madden version of the Detroit Lions had no problem disposing of the St. Louis Rams in Week 1, the real-life version needed some heroics from quarterback Matthew Stafford. How will the Lions fare against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2? Here is a simulation of Sunday's matchup.

Defense ruled the day in the first quarter. The Lions and 49ers' running games were going nowhere until after midway through the quarter, running back Kevin Smith scampered into the end zone from 11 yards out to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.

However, the troubles began in the second quarter. Deep in their own territory, an under-pressure Stafford couldn't get a pass away and fumbled the ball inside the 5-yard line, and a 49ers defender scooped it up and walked into the end zone to tie the game 7-7. On the next drive, the Lions' offense stalled just past midfield, and coach Jim Schwartz decided a fake punt would do the trick. The 49ers sniffed it out and stopped them just short of the first-down marker, forcing a turnover on downs. With great starting field position, the 49ers kicked a field goal to take a 10-7 lead at halftime.

The woes continued for the Lions as Stafford tossed an interception on the first play in the third quarter. The 49ers capitalized with a 1-yard TD rush by Frank Gore, whose running game picked up greatly in the second half.

The Lions were able to march down the field twice in this 15-minute frame, but could only chip away at the lead with two Jason Hanson field goals. Heading into the 4th quarter, the 49ers led the Lions 17-13.

After forcing a punt early, the Lions had plenty of time to move down the field and take the lead. It was looking great until Stafford threw a bomb to Calvin Johnson deep in 49ers territory, which was picked off. With a powerful rushing attack led by Gore, the 49ers' offense moved with ease and quarterback Alex Smith connected with Michael Crabtree on a 6-yard TD pass.

With under 6 minutes to go, the Lions refused to give in. After turning the ball over on downs and forcing a 49ers punt, Johnson hauled in a 13-yard pass from Stafford for a much-needed score. Titus Young caught the 2-point conversion to pull the Lions within 3 points, 24-21. But with under a minute remaining, the Lions couldn't recover the onside kick, and the 49ers ran out the clock to secure the victory.

The handshake went smoothly.

Madden record: 1-1

Real record: 1-0

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nintendo to kick off a much-needed new generation of consoles with the Wii U on Nov. 18 in the U.S.

We finally know the price and launch date for the Wii U, Nintendo's new console coming this holiday.

Two versions of the system will launch on Nov. 18 in the United States. The basic version will cost $299 for the system, GamePad controller, AC adapter, HDMI cable, sensor bar and 8 GB of memory. The deluxe version will cost $349 and also includes a GamePad charging cable and cradle, 32 GB of memory, a copy of NintendoLand and access to premium bonuses on Nintendo Direct.

What and how many games will be available for launch is still unknown, but we know that New Super Mario Bros. U will be a flagship title, which pretty much guarantees a successful launch coupled with releasing the system prior to Black Friday. The $299 and $349 price tags may seem a little on the pricey side, but new consoles generally ship in this range and even more. If you're thinking about buying one, get the deluxe version for NintendoLand and extra memory.

We all know the troubles Nintendo had with the 3DS at launch, but you can't really compare that situation here since handhelds generally don't sell well at $250. Plus, the Wii U is shaping up to have much better games at launch this time around. Launch window games (November through March) other than NSMBU and NintendoLand include Wii Fit U, Pikmin 3, Skylanders Giants, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Darksiders II, Assassin's Creed III, ZombiU, Rayman Legends, LEGO City Undercover, The Wonderful 101 (originally codenamed Project P-100), Just Dance 4, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and much more. That blows the 3DS' launch window games out of the water. Bayonetta 2 was also announced to be a Wii U exclusive.

During Nintendo's Wii U presentation this morning, much focus was on a new feature called Nintendo TVii, which brings together content services like Amazon and Hulu Plus and allows users to search, purchase and play content on the GamePad and TV.

The Wii U will be one of the hottest items this holiday season. The video game industry needs a kick in the butt, and Nintendo will deliver a much-needed boost. Now we await Microsoft and Sony's turn.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Capcom reveals post-launch DLC for Resident Evil 6

No surprise, Resident Evil 6 will be receiving downloadable content some time after its Oct. 2 launch for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Capcom hasn't said the cost and when the DLC will become available.

Three new modes will expand multiplayer gameplay. In Survivors Mode you will respawn as an enemy character if you're killed. Defeating two human characters will allow you to resurrect in human form, and the last man or team standing wins the match.

Predator Mode will feature one player commanding the role of the Ustanak, a deadly B.O.W. featured in Jake Muller's campaign. Other players will face the task of defeating this enemy or surviving until the session ends.

In Siege Mode, one team is tasked with protecting a non-playable character, while the other team must kill the NPC. The human team wins by keeping the NPC alive when time expires.

All three modes will support up to six players online and can be played using maps from Mercenaries Mode. More future DLC includes additional maps for Mercenaries and other features yet to be announced.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 1 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. St. Louis Rams

The NFL season is finally here, and the Detroit Lions take on the St. Louis Rams in Week 1 action. The following is a summary of a Madden NFL 13 simulation of the matchup and what could exactly happen on Sunday (but very likely not).

Quarterback Matthew Stafford got off to the worst start possible, throwing an interception on the first play of the game deep in Lions territory. However, the Lions defense held the Rams to a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead, which would end up being all the scoring in the first 15 minutes.

The Lions offense exploded in the second quarter. After a Jason Hanson field goal tied the game at 3-3, Stafford connected with Titus Young for a 68-yard TD pass to make it 10-3. After another Hanson field goal, running back Kevin Smith got his first TD of the year on a 1-yard run to make it 20-3. Late in the quarter, the Rams added another field goal to make it 20-6 at halftime.

Smith would get his second TD of the game on a 9-yard run in the third quarter, and in the fourth, Nate Burleson would haul in a 54-yard TD pass from Stafford to make it 34-6. Adding to the Rams' misery, Hanson would add another field goal to cap a Week 1 victory for the Lions, 37-6.

The Lions racked up 480 yards of total offense. Stafford went 18/27 for 386 yards, but threw two interceptions to go along with his two TDs. Smith ran for 75 yards on 27 carries to go with his pair of scores, and Young and tight end Brandon Pettigrew both hauled in over 100 receiving yards. Calvin Johnson had a quiet day, only catching two passes for 45 yards to go with 28 yards of rushing.

On defense, rookie Bill Bentley snagged his first interception, and Cliff Avril dominated with three sacks. Rams running back Steven Jackson was held to 49 yards rushing. Sam Bradford threw 221 yards and two interceptions.

Madden record: 1-0 
Real record: 0-0

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quick thoughts on Plants vs. Zombies Pinball

I've been eliminating an infinite army of zombies with a pinball lately in Plants vs. Zombies Pinball on Xbox Live, the newest table in Zen Studios' popular Pinball FX 2 platform. Here are my thoughts on the game so far.

Plants vs. Zombies was a giant hit for PopCap, and they've teamed up with Zen Studios to create this pinball table jam-packed with elements from the original game. The pinball looks like a pea, the plunger is a corn on the cob, you can lob a watermelon at zombie targets and, of course, there are a variety of zombies to take down. As usual, there's an extraordinary amount of detail in a Zen Studios pinball table.

It's not a difficult table. Orbit shots aren't hard to master, and I found myself activating multi-ball way too many times. On the Xbox version there's only one achievement, which can be unlocked in no time at all.

Watch out for my full review at

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Now it's the pigs' turn to play. Angry Birds creator Rovio announces Bad Piggies, coming Sept. 27

Tired of slingshotting really angry birds at pigs? Well, you can soon play as the pigs as Rovio has announced Bad Piggies, coming Sept. 27 for iOS, Android and Mac. Angry Birds fans will finally be able to play as the pigs, although it won't be by a slingshot. No more details have been released yet, but Rovio is promising "all new, never-before-seen gameplay." We'll see about that.

Windows Phone, Windows 8 and PC versions will launch shortly after Sept. 27. Watch the trailer below.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Square Enix announces Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, coming in 2013

Square Enix has promoted the heck out of Final Fantasy XIII character Lightning, and love her or hate her she's getting one more game coming to the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2013. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be the final chapter in the Lightning saga, featuring a new story, world and characters with an enhanced gameplay system.

Lightning will be a playable character and Square Enix is promising fans that they will experience an "active and expansive environment like never before." To date, the Final Fantasy XIII franchise has shipped more than 9.6 million copies worldwide. I'm not the biggest Final Fantasy fanboy, but having played through XIII and XIII-2 I'll probably be playing this one, too, even though the storyline is so crazy and complex.

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