My enthusiasm for videogames outside of work is like the ebb and flow of a tropical beach. At times it is a raging monsoon, crashing over into all aspects of my free time so that I can't even sleep without seeing some kind of zombie or Tetris piece hovering beneath my eye lids. Sometimes it is just a decorative background as I sit on my cabana (my couch), sipping a mai-tai (Pabst) and watching babes in bikinis (my cat, Max) strut (chasing bugs) along the surf (window sill). But should I choose to hang back and read in the sun, or bust out the boogie board and surf until dusk, it is always there, just skimming the coast of the vacation resort that is my life.
Right now these waters are stirring. It’s not quite the storm it has been in the past, but lets just say the ol' knee is acting up again. You can smell the storm on the wind. I have a fresh can of sex wax and am greasing up the Wave Bird. A new pair of jams with the tags still on lie in anticipation on the beach patio, and I've prepared a sickeningly smooth Boston mix CD. The proverbial “Surf" is indeed, "Up”.
The next generation of consoles is on the way. Xbox 360 is already out, and the new Nintendo (Wii) and PlayStation (PS3) consoles have been announced and are looming like diamond plated gargoyles atop a golden castle made out of my own spent dollars (it’s pretty big). Currently I'm a bit out of the loop on exact details for each console, as well as specifics on which games are the star attraction for each individual dork magnet. I've remedied my ignorance with a check made out for $25. I know that sounds like an impossible galactic feat, and I bet you wish you could do the same. It's easy. Write said check, and mail it to Game Informer, and you will be privy to the new shit once a month for the next two years. For now I am still a relative ignoramus on the "next gen”, but allowing 6-8 weeks for delivery, I will soon be a goddamn pool of wisdom. Here's what I do know, which is pretty much an amalgamation of the gossip I picked up on that came back from E3...
Let us all cheer in triumph, for Nintendo has leapt from their crystalline pedestal and set up shop down here in the real world. Once the undisputed champion of console games (SNES days), they were savagely toppled in the early-mid 90's when the PlayStation took off and instead of following the new wave of cheaper, more accessible games on discs, decided to stick with cartridges on the Nintendo 64. Games were roughly around $60-$70 each, and while it had a few gems and classics, for the most part the game library was a weak stream of drool dribbling from a sleeping giant's mouth. A stream of giant drool that I, nor my parents, could afford. I was overjoyed in the late 90's when the GameCube was unleashed, and I leapt back into Nintendo's loving arms like a sleepy 5 year old after a night over at Gramma’s. Shit was like Jerry McGuire. You had me at hello. The design was perfect, the games were great, the controller fit my hand like a mitten filled with pudding, and best of all it was cheaper at release than all the other systems. Since then I have meticulously focused my gaming primarily on Nintendo, and while it hasn't shared the mass gaming appeal as Sony's armor clad stallion, or Microsoft's X-Treme hardware powerhouse, it has done nothing but relentlessly satisfy me. Alone. In my living room. Not only because it is a goddamn saint of a system, but it also signaled Nintendo's collective head being removed from it's giant corporate ass so that they may spew and spout quality gaming once again upon the Mario hungry masses.
As the next wave of systems gets closer, I have completely put my faith in the Wii, for a few reasons. First and foremost, it seems as if Nintendo has stuck with beating their competitors on the price tag, a hand-out to the working man like myself. A brand new Wii at around $200 will cost about half the amount of an XBox 360, and one third (one fucking third!) of the PlayStation 3. The dirt that Nintendo rubs in these corporate faces is a list of launch titles that is over 40 games long. We get our reasonably priced cake, and get to eat it on the fucking spot.
The other kicker about the Wii, is the completely overhauled controller. It's a wireless, motion sensitive stick with a few buttons on it. That means you're gonna swing it when you want to hit a baseball, you're gonna aim it when you want to shoot an arrow, you're gonna lift it when you wanna block a punch, and I suppose you're gonna accidentally break it on your coffee table when you're grappling with a tentacled alien. At first I was adverse to this idea. Over the years I have grown fond of the motionless droning that is accompanied with gaming. The sitting on the couch and rotting away, the dry eyes that practically peel when you blink, the aches in the knee when you shift for the first time in an hour. It's a comforting ritual that I have nurtured into a relaxing meditation, and I was initially put off at the notion that my humble "me time” was going to involve jumping around my living room like a pixie in the snow.
However, reports from E3 say nothing but incredible things about the handling, likening setting down the wand and walking away to being an infant torn from the teat mid-suckle. Aside from that, it will function just like a normal controller as well, and will even have attachments (for a little extra $krill of course) to give it button functionality similar to what we're used to in the current state of console gaming. See? Old man Nintendo isn't as senile as we thought. It completely changes the current method of controlling for those who want a fresh breeze (me!), but makes the tried and true an available option for those that want it (me too!). I'm not up to par on the launch titles, but I have seen video of people playing the new Zelda game, swinging the wand like a sword as Link engages his enemies. Talk about geek dreams come true. I just want to know where the blowjob hole is, because that's the only thing it's missing. Well, it is missing Resident Evil 5, but I have a feeling Capcom will come around. They originally announced the Resident Evil series as exclusive to Nintendo, but you can get part 4 on PS2 now, and any exclusivity pretty much went out the window when it got pimped to Hollywood as the latest excuse to see Milla Jovovich naked. I died a little when I saw Nemesis tromping around like some kind of Stay Puff Marshmallow Zombie, but that's a different post for a different day.
And OK, the name of the system is pretty lame. "Wii". As in "Wii I'm having fun!" Or "Can you pull over, I need to Wii on that guy's lawn.” Or "Darby O' Gill had many Wii friends." A catastrophic marketing decision at best. But hey, I'm talking about it...
I have forgiven them on the name, and it's purely because I'm so excited for what it entails. If someone were to serve me a medium rare rib eye smothered in A-1 on a naked Japanese girl, and tell me it's called "Turd-pentine”, the inadequate title of such a dish would be immediately forgiven at first bite, nay, as soon as the salivating began. A name is just a name, and it isn't going to make actually throwing fireballs in the next Mario game any less awesome. Troof!
I like to think of the original PlayStation as being very similar to the queen bitch in John Cameron's Aliens. It kind of just arrived on the scene, and was met with shock and surprise when we saw the first few games. Twisted Metal and Toshinden Battle Arena just kind of lurked out of the ceiling and devoured our space marine faces, caught the attention of the public (which would be Burke, played by Paul Reiser) and pretty much lured us in to the den of a gigantic beast dropping gooey eggs into our living rooms from a seemingly endlessly throbbing thorax. Or is it abdomen... Whatever. But all of a sudden it wasn't just Nintendo anymore being followed around by his annoying little brother, Sega. PlayStation pretty much killed Nintendo as far as consoles go, the only thing that kept the grandfather of games intact was the namesake of the various franchises, and an iron gauntlet grip on the handheld gaming market. I for one supported it at the time. I didn't like the duplo lego feel of the N64 controller, and the price tag on the games seemed inconceivably expensive. The PlayStation looked just as good, had a much more intuitive and comfortable (although slightly intimidating) controller, and had a shit load more games at a better price. It was a giant, game producing monster that took over with the systematic efficiency of an insect colony.
Sony's big trump card was the release of the PS2, where they beat Microsoft and Nintendo to the punch by releasing their next system months ahead of their competitors, a move that Sega attempted as well and ultimately was crushed under Sony's massive thumb. They also managed to secure all the franchises and 3rd party titles that we were all craving. It was an obvious choice to own a PS2. Still is. The machine still holds up as a fantastic, affordable console. I have one, almost never play it because it would be sin to ignore the cute lil' GameCube, but I would still rather let acid spitting ants devour my body from the feet up than let it go.
So the PlayStation name has a certain reliability to it. There will be lots of games. Lots of good games. We will get our Metal Gears, our Resident Evils, our God of War, our Medal of Honor. The graphics look awesome, the games are shaping up nicely. Not a huge list of launch titles, but that's not unusual. I was all about the PlayStation 3, until I heard how much it was going to cost. $600. And it's not a joke. Or maybe it is a joke, on us. Maybe the top floor of the Sony building in Japan is like some kind of fucked up room in Willy Wonka's factory where Japanese game publishers are taking our money and using giant Dr. Seuss machines to turn it into candy versions of us toiling away at our jobs, and then eating us, and then drinking sake' and laughing at the candy versions of us, and then politely throwing us up into their napkins because they've eaten so much money they're sick. This is probably definitely true. It's the only logical explanation for asking that much money. The worst part is that they've been called out numerous times by the press at the outrageous price, and every official statement has been something along the lines of:
"It doesn't matter how much we're asking. You will want to buy this machine. You will want it so bad you will probably break it trying to figure out how to have sex with it."
I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that a price tag that high, combined with the rampant arrogance of Sony's top execs (borderline insanity, actually) puts the PS3 into the category of Ferraris, first class plane tickets, 1000 channel cable packages, and whipped cream cheese. It's an unnecessary luxury that is too expensive in the face of other shit that will work just fine. I officially don't give a fuck about the PS3. No wait, I do. I want it to fail. Hard. I want that thing to fall flat on it's $600 nose and be trampled under the crowd of people in line to buy Nintendo shit. I want Sony to go down as a martyr, spreading the message that this elite pricing is a recipe for disaster. I want Sony to realize the only way to save their position amongst the console war is by dropping the price to undersell Nintendo. I want those Japanese execs in the Sony building to start digging through their own shit to find the scraps of our money that they turned into candy. Yes. I want them to eat their own shit. XBox 360: