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Siren's Song
November 22, 2006

Matt Demers - 18:15 EST

UH-OH. We should have known that some problem would hit Nintendo's new system, and it appears that a bunch of people are encountering fairly serious errors after downloading some firmware update, requiring them to send in their systems. Ouch. This probably isn't how Nintendo wanted to start things off, but on the other hand, I've heard they're being great about fixing/replacing at no cost and no shipping fees. Hopefully none of you currently reading this column have been affected by this nasty glitch!

In any case, this would serve as a good reason not to invest in any new system within the first few days of its release. There are bound to be unforseen things that have gone wrong here and there. Apparently, the X360 had very similar difficulties upon its release all those months ago, too. Hopefully, the PS3 doesn't encounter the same errors.

Anyway, regardless of which consoles you might be rooting for, hopefully all of them have a long and exciting future! On that note, let's get this party started, for the two-hundred-and-some-oddth time.




LETTERS
The Sony puzzle, and online thieves


Dear QnA host of the moment,

I was watching my beloved Kentucky Wildcats play DePaul on Monday night on ESPN2. One thing I noticed was an unusual number of video game commercials. Saw the new World of Warcraft Office Space spot and a commercial for FFXII (my addiction to the first has left the second collecting dust on my shelf… but I digress). Anyways, the commercial that really put a "huh?" into my mind was for the PS3. What genius at Sony marketing decided this? They knew there were not going to be enough machines to cover launch demand. They knew that the majority of the machines were destined for eBay. Heck, they even knew that the PS3 likely won't be available to the casual consumer until the 2nd Quarter of 2007. Honestly. Does anyone really think there was a single person watching ESPN2 that night that said, "Hmph. You know, when March gets here and I can find a PS3 on a shelf, I'm going to buy one." In my opinion, Sony would be much better off saving all the thousands of marketing dollars they have spent for advertising in the months of Nov, Dec, and Jan and just lump them together to buy one Super Bowl commercial. That would reach more of the audience of potential casual buyers at a time when the machine might actually be available. Just my ..02 dollars.

Matt

It's true, isn't it? I was actually talking with my mom about this, sort of, last night. Let's think about it: Sony is losing more than $200 with every console sold right now (actually, more than $300 for the 20GB version). Anyway, if they manage to sell a million PS3s before Christmas, Sony will suffer additional losses of in excess of two hundred million dollars!

So why would they advertise, even though they aren't producing very many systems in the first place? Well, does it really seem so peculiar that they'd scale down and produce such a small number of systems at the outset now? Of course they'll want to lessen the damage, after what has already been a very damaging year. What was there? A recall with those blazing laptops, and then that problem that surfaced a few months ago with the flawed PS3 chips- or was it Blu-Ray lasers? Well, whatever it was, it's been an expensive year for Sony already. Perhaps scaling back will save them some money and buy them some time, because the price to produce these things is going to decrease over time. Anyway, in theory, doing that advertising during this whole shortage should only make people drool over the damn thing, increasing hype, and driving up eventual sales. Of course, though, they forget that first, you need games to drool over, which is where this theory fails miserably. Sony is claiming to be the king of power so far, but that "power" doesn't seem to be evident in any of the screens or footage I've seen so far; I personally can't tell the difference between PS3 graphics and X360 graphics in any of the games released to date. Yes, yes, I'm just dumb. And perhaps there will be some phenomenal titles released sometime in the next six to twelve months. Right now, though, I really don't see the point.

Phew. Can I be done now? I didn't mean to rant on for so long there...

On the subject of the PS3 and eBay availability... just who the heck is buying these things anyways? I know that all the people interviewed around here that stood in line were going to sell it on eBay. So if everyone is buying it to resell... then who in the world is buying it to use it?

Matt

I find the eBay re-sellers to be a slimy folk. At least, I think that buying and re-selling at a ridiculous price is a slimy way to make a load of cash; it's hardly an honest buck. I'd go into a tirade about how my dad works thirty hours a day on the farm at home and takes home next to nothing, but none of you want to hear it. But yeah, it irritates me.

And who ARE the people that are that desperate to buy one? I certainly don't know any of them. I mean, I might be able to understand if some ridiculously incredible long-awaited game was being released on the system, but we don't even have that in the case of the PS3. Honestly, I just think that some people have insane mental complexes and no lives; these people only find purpose in being able to say "I OWNED ONE FIRST HAHA." Losers. Yeah, I know I risk offending a couple of people who are reading this column right here and now, but too bad. If you DID buy from eBay for over a thousand bucks, I want to hear your reasons why. If you have a dying nephew or something, then I understand, maybe.

And lastly, I saw Matt's comments on his eBay purchase phobia. Let me tell you that it is well placed. My first ever eBay purchase was a PS2 back in early 2001. (After the initial rush... so I actually only paid $25 more than retail at a time when you still couldn't buy one off the shelves.) After sending out my purchase order (this was before the mass acceptance of PayPal), I received a tracking number from the seller. I tracked and tracked and tracked it. The day of arrival came, and when I got home from school around 2:30, I asked my girlfriend where it was... nothing. I figured that Mr. UPS was probably just running late. As the day creeped closer to five, I checked again and saw the online status said "Recipient called to request hold for pick-up." I knew that wasn't the case, so I called the number and when I was transferred to the local hub I found out that apparently someone had called and identified themselves as me, gave the tracking number, and requested that the package be shipped to their sister in Florida. Long story short, I am convinced that it was the seller who was trying to hi-jack the package. I have since bought other things off eBay without any negative consequences, but never anything as expensive or significant.

Anyways, the column is looking good these days. Keep up the good work.

Michael

Matt

Thanks! I do my best.

And about the intarweb of evil; I think that incidents like those are isolated, of course, and most of the time, people have good online shopping experiences, even with sites like eBay. That said, I just feel like going to a "real-life" store and knowing you have the game in your hands right from the time you purchase it just makes me (and most everybody, I imagine) feel far more comfortable. Thus, yes; I'll use eBay if I have to, but only if I have to!

I appreciate your letter! Write again sometime. :)



What in blazes do they make tires out of in Australia, anyway? Plastic?


Damn me, i'm so excited Matt, about the fact that I will be guarenteed a Wii at launch that I could just cry. I'll have to remember to preorder LOZ: TP too, though I don't think there will be a HUGE RUSH in Colac (Home to Movie Videogames and copy after copy of The Sims for PS2).

Nothing else to say in the game department so have a nice day/night.

Bainick got a flat tyre yesterday, and the stick was as thick as my thumb.

Matt

Exciting! You Australians get to dig in on... hmm, it looks like December 7, according to the sources I've seen. From what I've heard, Twilight Princess is nothing short of phenomenal, so I think you have a whole lot to look forward to. I can't wait, myself... I swear that even with just thirty-three days until Christmas, I'm going to die holding out.

Best of luck securing your copies of both game and system!



Wondering is what Wonderslimes do best!


hey there,

wondering if you could answer a question for me...

i've been a casual fan of RPGs for about ten years... not a hard-core gamer at all, mostly into final fantasy and that sort of thing. i get motion sickness pretty quickly when playing anything with a 3D camera, and i'm sad to see the new final fantasy using this type of camera, after so many years of not doing so.

what other top-notch console RPGs are out there which use 3D graphics but not a 1st person camera? i'd love to find some more great games to play, but this has proven to be a hard topic to research. currently i'm just playing games on the Nintendo DS... but i wonder if there are any great games i may have missed.

any thoughts?

many thanks,
brad

Matt

Ohhh... this is NOT an easy question to answer, Brad. Final Fantasy XII actually took me a bit of getting used to as well, and not necessarily just because of the camera itself, but because of the way the background blurs to rotate when you change the camera angle. Yeah, the background doesn't really BLUR, per se, I guess, but it gave me a headache after a couple of hours on the first day or two of playing.

Anyway, what other RPGs are out there? For consoles? Without a swivelly camera?

Well, I can only recommend Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria to you! Why? Because half the game happens in two dimensions, like a platformer. When you go into battles, you're placed into a three-dimensional arena of sorts to combat your opponents, but I don't think that camera-sickness would come into play. Other than that, I'm not sure what to say; I will, however, encourage you to at least rent a few newer games to see, because all camera programs are not built the same, depending on the game. Despite everything, at least with your DS, you'll be able to play all sorts of great RPGs. I hope you've grabbed FFIII and FFV, both of which are awesome and swivel-camera-free!

Sorry I can't be any greater help, but I wish you well on your quest to not vomit and game concurrently.



QUICKIES

HEY, I'M DAWN...I DONT KNOW IF YOU CAN HELP ME, BUT HERES MY QUESTION. HOW DO YOU CHANGE A SHORTCUT FOR MAGIC? THE BOOK DOESN'T SAY, I DON'T THINK. I KNOW ITS UNDER CUSTOMIZE...THATS ALL IT TELLS ME. PLEASE HELP!!!!

Matt
SELECT "CUSTOMIZE" AS YOU CONJECTURE, FROM THE MAIN MENU, AND YOU CAN ASSIGN SPELLS TO SHORTCUT BUTTONS THERE. OF COURSE, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY *HAVE* MAGIC BEFORE YOU CAN ASSIGN SHORTCUTS, BUT YOU KNEW THAT, RIGHT? THEN AGAIN, YOU HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT THAT IT ISN'T VERY NICE TO TALK IN MAJUSCULE, SO I JUST DON'T KNOW...


MOGNET MAIL



You can send me Mognet Mail, now! If you have Final Fantasy III DS, send me your friend code, and I'll add yours! My code is 515 480 192 117. The moogles will be waiting, kupo!

Dear Matt, With FF3 reviews criticizing the game for being "too oldschool," do you think that the appeal of the classic RPG is fading? Can Wii VC games help?

Matt
Number one: I don't give all of those critics much weight. The fact is, many reviewers out there aren't hardcore RPGamers in the first place, and secondly, websites seem to cater more towards the hot and new, rather than the remade classics. But honestly... could you imagine what the game would feel like if anything about its battle system or storyline was changed in order to stay "all cool and modern?" To me, there have been enough tweaks and new additions to make this an awesome update without destroying the original game, which is EXACTLY what a remake should do, to me. Taking the "old-school" out of FFIII would be like remaking the original Tetris into some horrible 3-D version. That's just not right. Now you make me want to write my own review to help counter this evil!



IN CLOSING

Short column? Well, it's all your fault. Nah, I know; it's a hectic time of year. Q&A is only as good as the mail it gets, though, so if you want to see something bigger and better, then it's time to put your fingers to the keyboard and get writing!

That being said, it just occurred to me that tomorrow is Thanksgiving for you American-folk. Have a happy holiday! Spend some time relaxing; curl up with a game if you don't find yourself whisked away into the wonderful land of extended family and too much food.

The question popped up today, and I'm curious to know if it has affected anyone else. Are you sensitive to a 3-D camera, too? Do you get headaches after playing games like Final Fantasy XII or Dragon Quest VIII for short periods of time? It's a bit of a mundane question, sure, but it's a good one nonetheless. Write in and tell me your thoughts on that, or anything else, and I'll get back to you sometime soon!



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Matt wants to vegetate!


... but that seems unlikely. At least, for awhile yet.

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What I Want to Play:

1. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Yoshi's Island DS

5. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl



What I'm Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Final Fantasy III DS

3. Final Fantasy V Advance



Uhhh...

This space seems awfully, terribly empty, doesn't it? :(



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