Friday, July 23, 2004

A console by any other colour

I was thinking about this on the way to work the other day. It's not really overly interesting or intriguing, but it made me think non the less. With consumer trends as they are at the moment, what colour are we going to see the Next Gen consoles in? I would say silver, to match the many similar coloured TV's, DVD Players and other various home theatre equipment.

When you look at the current consoles, the PS2 is black, the Xbox is black and the Gamecube is purple (yes, I don't know either). However each manufacturer has produced other colours of their console. Though in the Western World non can claim as many colours as Microsoft. It seems that they have to produce a new colour of their beloved Xbox with each promotion they do. Now this isn't a bad thing. So far I think I've seen, Green, Clear Green, Crystal and Silver, so you have a few choices and I'm sure I have missed some others. I don't mind black, it goes with all my other gear and looks fine. The thing is these other colours are only around for a limited time, and though you might not want a clear green Xbox, a silver one would be quite nice. Also in Japan Microsoft have produced a large range of colours for the Xbox that I can only assume is to try and gain more interest in their product.

Now with Sony, they have currently released a phenomenal  range of colours for the PS2 in Japan. This isn't anything new in Japan though, as the Gamecube enjoys as many variations to it's colour scheme also. There are so many variation to the colour of the PS2 in Japan it just makes the mind boggle. The strange thing is the only other main stream colour I can rammer being released in Australia is Silver. I'm pretty sure the US may of had other colour as well, I kind of recall something similar to the picture above.

The only company to offer a multitude of colours in their console at launch is Nintendo, with their Purple, Black and Orange Gamecube. Though these days I rarely see anything other than the Purple one. Also in Australia I'm fairly sure we didn't get the Silver model.

I don't think I have ever seem so many variation to a product, ever. Either way I digress.

Back to my original thought regarding new console colours, I would have to go with something that's sleek and sexy, probably silver. Something like the current Sony PSX (their hybrid PS2/DVD Recorder).  I'm sure we will still enjoy a myriad of colours from attention starved console manufacturers. However, I can only assume that companies like Sony and Microsoft who are trying to make their Next Gen consoles more Home Theatre integrated and become more of a main feature in the Home Entertainment realm with want the console to match all the current displays people are buying. This being things like plasma screens, the new LCD TV ranges that are appearing, silver coloured TVs and also a lot of other silver coloured appliances.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

No more black boarders?

With SquareEnix's recent announcement regarding their expansion into Europe, I'm still left wondering about the quality of their up and coming releases. Now SquareSoft/SquareEnix, have made some really great games and some not so great, but for the most part they are up on top.
Now I'm not really talking about the games themselves, because games like Final Fantasy XII are just destined to be great, it's their thing, it's what they do. No I'm talking about the PAL conversion, ahh yes. My main concern being the black boarders that Square, nay the companies that are responsible for the conversions love to lump on us PAL users with.
Now I don't pretend to know what goes into the process when converting a game from NTSC to PAL, I have a basic understanding of what's involved, but I would say for the most part it could be fairly complex. However, it's always amused and shocked me that such large ranking games like the recent Final Fantasy X-2, have an immence amount of black. This was expectable with the PSX, but it's really not with the PS2 and especially this far into it's life and development cycle.
Now I know many people have complained about this time and time again. Especially with Final Fantasy X and X-2. But this isn't a rant about those games, that's in the past and nothing can be done about it. What I hope SquareEnix will do now that they are focusing more on the European market (that includes Australia) is that they really try hard to make the conversions of up and coming games the best they can.
It obviously can be done well, as the recent release of Disgaea is a great conversion with no boarders at all. I just hope SquareEnix have learnt from passed experiences/releases and really do improve on future PAL releases.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Next Gen

I've decided to start writing up a few comment on the gaming news, instead of just writing up game impressions, simply because I don't have a new game every few days to write something up about. So basically I'll just put some news up about a game that interests me or some news that's interesting.   So to kick it off I thought I would discuss the current state of the next generation consoles.  
Now I'm sort of torn between feelings for the news of the PS3. While it's great that Sony have announced their plans to show their new console at E3 2005, I can't help but feel it was what I was expecting. As most people have been assuming a 2006 launch for the 3 next gen consoles, it makes sense that Sony would show it a year before at one of the biggest electronic based expos. I think I'll wait until E3 2005 to get excited about seeing it, it's still a year away after all.   The other thing is now though, because of all this news surrounding the PS3 that Sony have pushed onto the press, making the PS3 the most know and talked about next gen console. Microsoft have come out guns blazing making more statements that, while maybe achievable should be something they should be aiming for in the future, not second gen.  
You just have to look at what happened a few years ago in the console market. Sega and Sony were head to head with the Saturn and the PSX, Sony won it big time and had themselves a big portion of the videogame market. This allowed for some great things. Nintendo was there with the N64, but only in the background.  So for a long-time you just had the PSX doing it thing in the console market and Sony built a huge reputatition and fanbase. Now you have the console wars back again, minus Sega, but being replaced with Microsoft. I think it's great! I love a good console war, and I'm not biased either way. Microsoft like they say have come a long way, considering the competition, plus they have built the best online gaming service to date, and kicked Sony's arse doing it. Though not surprising, Western gamers have accepted online gaming faster than Japan, we have just had it a long time.
Now Microsoft want to win the next gen console wars. They want to beat Sony, who are in Japan, the country that has supported the console market for the last 8+ years. Maybe Microsoft can do it, with the right developers and a console this time that doesn't look like something a VCR just gave birth too. Microsoft really have to win over Japan this time, they will need companies like SquareSoft to make decent exclusive Xbox games. I'm talking Final Fantasy 13.
Though the console and gaming market in general is a fickle one, you can never quite tell who is going to what. Something like Microsoft buying out SquareSoft could arise. Hey, it would be a better investment that Rare.
All in all I like Microsoft and the Xbox console, I just have one final thing to say regarding XboxNext. I just hope that Microsoft learnt some very valuable lessons with their first Xbox and make the hardware for the second one goddamn well work. I don't want to be sending back a 2 month old Xbox Next because it won't read games or have problems with it later down the track. (Yes my Xbox still crashes during games, it's the only thing that disgust me)

Monday, July 12, 2004

More Hours of Darkness

After spending nearly the weekend with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, I can honestly say that it is one of the most addictive RPGs I have every played.

I think it's mainly due to a combination of things, one of them being that the game is never overly hard. This is helped by the fact that it's so easy to level up characters. You can either choose to go back and replay a mission that you have already done, which is a great help as some levels contain areas that allow for bonus EXP. Or you can choose to enter the item world. Each item in the game can has it's stats increased by travelling into the item it's self and completing 10 lvs at a time. The levels for each item are randomly generated but the best thing about it are the bonus items acquired.

The game has a bonus meter, when this is filled to the next level you receive a bonus be it an item, HL (money) or bonus EXP. The great thing is you can obtain items in the item world that would cost a fortune from the shop, or ones that are marked rare or legend items and cannon be bought.

It's not hard to pull of giant combos to gain bonuses on many of the levels in the item world, thanks to special geo markers around the levels. These markers add certain attributes to a square that you or an enemy are standing on. However if you destroy a blue marker on a yellow square, and the blue has the "change to" attribute, then all the yellow markers become blue. If another geo marker it hit during the combo, another colour combo is set off. So you can see where this is going, and believe me there is nothing like pulling off a 1000+ combo and filling that bonus meter all the way to 9!

One of the other great things about the game is the sheer amount of characters to unlock, as well as enemies that can then be created and added to your party.

At the end of it all you have a game that is just a joy to play and with it's great anime styling there is never a dull moment.

Oh and one of the best things, that is so minor but I just really love it, is that when you equip a human character with a weapon, it is actually different on screen. It's just great to see a character brandishing a new sword on the battle field.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Many Hours of Darkness

It's been a while since I last posted, and that's only because I wanted to have sometime with Disgaea before I did post anything. The problem was finding sometime to get into it, since I knew it would be a game that would consume time like some sort of magical time continuum. It of course dose.

When I first started thinking about picking up a copy of the game, I was sort of worried it wouldn't gel with me. I'm a huge RPG fan but not so much of the strategy league. But after playing it for a few hours, I now can't wait to get home and start levelling up all my new characters, earning extra HL, and of course buying new gear so they go back into battle and really show how things should be done.

The only thing I find is that I'll play the game for maybe an hour or so and find I've achieved only a few things, which isn't a bad thing, it just really surprises you.

I'm only a few hours into it at the moment, so I haven't really started kickin' it. But I'll post some more impressions as soon as I can.