Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gamer Speak: Game Systems

This article is a brief overview of the six current major game systems. The information provided is based on fact, but is indeed my opinion. I don't know much about all the technical workings of the machinery. What I do know is that I have seen games played on each of these systems, and sometimes I have seen the same game played on different systems. With the exception of the PSP and XBox 260, I have played games on the other four systems.

This isn't meant to be the end all be all of system reviews. Like all Gamer Speak articles, this is intended to give a little bit of insight into the world of the gamer. Hopefully, this helps some non-gamers out there to understand these systems a little bit better.

The six major game systems right now are the Wii, the Playstation 3, the XBox 360, the DS/DSi, the Playstation Portable, and Personal Computers.


Created by Nintendo and originally released in 2006
My favorite Wii game: Mario Party
My Gamer's favorite game: Wii Sports Resort

The Wii has a host of family-friendly and casual games. The system can also play Gamecube games and you can download several older Nintendo games for the virtual console. The Wii also excels in the new craze of fitness games. Nintendo's reputation for being easy to use right of the box is still seen with the Wii. The unique control system allows for people of all ages and skill levels to be able to play, and they offer a classic style controller for playing the virtual console games.

The Wii has mostly casual games, therefore the serious gamer may have difficultly finding games that would interest them. You will need to find an appropriate place for the Sensor Bar and the controls do take some getting used to at first. Also, there have been several instances of people letting go of the Wii-mote and it flying into their television and causing damage. Also, the Wii can only play games. It cannot double as a cd, dvd, or blu-ray player.

Playstation 3 (PS3):

Created by Sony, originally released in 2006.
My favorite game: inFAMOUS
My Gamer's favorite: Metal Gear Solid 4

Sony is known for creating high quality electronics and the PS3 is one of them. The PS3 can also double as a Blu-ray player and is one of the cheapest blu-ray players on the market. PS3 games come in the Blu-ray format. The PS3 can also play PS2 and PS1 games. The Playstation 3 also has far superior graphics. There are also opportunities for online play.

The PS3 is expensive. While the PS3 can play older games, not all of the older accessories will work and memory cards will need to be converted. Sony has released accessories that will compensate for these downfalls, but they must be purchased separately.

XBox 360:

Created by Microsoft, released in 2005.
My favorite game: Fallout 3
My Gamer's favorite: Left 4 Dead

This system is cheaper than the Playstation 3 and plays DVDs. The system can also be set up to receive movies from Netflix. The Xbox 360's greatest advantage is the amount of opportunities brought about through the internet connection. Online play is very popular with 360 owners as is XBox Live. 360 games also tend to receive more downloadable content and the 360 does have some exclusive games such as Halo.

The fail rate is enough to make most people reconsider buying another system. Depending upon who you ask there is between a 30-80% fail rate. Microsoft does offer a warranty, but once the system shows the red-ring-of-death, game play usually must be halted until the system can be repaired. And here is where we enter the realm of my opinion... The 360's graphics are obviously worse than those of the PS3. The experts would disagree with me and say that it's a matter of priorities, but I have watched the same game (Fallout 3) on both the 360 and the PS3 and there is an obvious difference. Some may prefer the 360's look, but the PS3 has a sharper and more realistic image.


Created by Nintendo, the original DS was released in 2003, the Lite in 2005, and the DSi was released in 2009.
My Favorite game: My Chinese Coach
My Gamer's Favorite: (tie) Trauma Center or The World Ends With You

The DS/DS Lite can play Gameboy Advanced games. There are also a slew of family- and kid-friendly games available. Many of the DS games are very unique, as is the Pictochat feature. The DS line is the only line of handhelds that currently has a touchscreen and some games are equipped with voice recognition software. The DSi also has a camera and internet capabilities. Like the Wii, the DS line also holds to the Nintendo ease of use.

While serious games do exist for the DS, they are often drowned out by all of the children's games. The DSi does not play any Gameboy games, and none of the DS's can play Gameboy Color games. The touch screen needs to be properly protected or it will scratch and many people have trouble with loosing the stylus.

Playstation Portable (PSP):

Created by Sony, the original PSP was released in the USA in 2003.
My favorite game: UMD movies
My Gamer's favorite: Crisis Core

The PSP has much better graphics than the DS line. The PSP also has more of a serious gamer set of games and can receive downloadable content. The PSP can also play UMD movies and if the owner chooses the void their warranty, the system and can be modified to perform other tasks and play older games.

Some people have experienced slow loading times and there aren't a lot of UMD movies available. The PSP only has one screen compared the the two found on the DS.

Personal Computer:

Created by various companies and originally released sometime in the 1980's.
My favorite game: Spore
My Gamer's favorite: World of Warcraft

Personal computers can perform a variety of tasks and there are computers in every style and price range. Many PCs are now portable and some PC games can be accessed by any PC, not just one. Online play is a very big selling point, and many PC games receive regular, or semi-regular, downloadable content. Also, some games from older systems can be accessed.

Some games will require large amounts of memory. In order to play a game, you must have the system requirements and this is not guaranteed as it is with other systems. For Mac users, many games are not Mac-compatible, but the newer Macs can run Windows and games can be played that way.

Each system has its merits and its downfalls. While I can say which systems I like the best, not every gaming need will be met with any single system. There is no consensus about which system is better than the others and there never will be. The best thing to do is to evaluate the system based on the gamer's priorities and go from there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Article: Top Ten Starter Games

The Top Ten Starter Games are games that I suggest for the gamer-girlfriend who is thinking, "Hmm... That looks like a lot of fun. Maybe I should try it out."

Now, to be honest, some games are just plain frustrating if you weren't raised with a N64 controller in your hand. Other games just don't really appeal to the casual gamer, mostly due to the crazy amount of strategy involved. There have been games (for example, Bully) that I have tried, and tried with the strategy guide, and I was so frustrated and did so horribly that I only accomplished about an hour's worth of gameplay (even though it took me several days).

So, if you are thinking about picking up a game, or are brave enough to ask your guy to borrow one, here's my list of recommendations that will hopefully save you some frustration and fist-fulls of hair.

I will present one game a week (if all goes according to plan) starting with number 10 and working my way to the top.

Afternoon Quickie: Wii Sports Resort

Wii Sports Resort is another mini-activity game from Nintendo designed to show you how awesome the new controls are. Sports Resort gives several new games and more opportunity for interaction with other players than the previous, Wii Play and the original Wii Sports.

The new Wii Motion Plus is really quite simple to use. When you go to play the game the first time, you will have to watch a three minute long video of how to attach/detach the motion plus piece. You cannot skip the video. Mute the TV and get a snack. The motion plus plugs into the bottom of the remote. The nun-chuck plugs into the bottom of the motion plus. The motion plus has a lock to secure it on the back. That's all you need to know. By the way, you don't need to use the "jacket" for it to work, and unless you have really sweaty palms, you don't really need it at all.

Oops, almost forgot about the games. (That three minute instructional video was just so entertaining!) Bowling, table tennis and golf reappear. You can now also sword-fight, throw a frisbee to a cute little dog, and shoot arrows. There are also wake-boarding and jet skiing activities. The games are a lot of fun. The motion plus does give you more control than the wii-mote alone does. This can be downfall if you are used to wii-mote, but after a little while, you get used to it.

In between games you might have to re-calibrate the motion plus. This is really simple. Place it face-down on something solid and straight.

Apparently Nintendo's grand scheme of releasing a set of basic games in hopes of showing off new technology has worked as I spent most of my time talking about the controls. However, this isn't the best game to watch. It's fun and entertaining for a while, but it is much better to play. Not a gamer yourself? Don't worry, anyone can play this game and it doesn't take much skill. (In fact, my husband did better when bowling with his eyes closed than he did when he was concentrating on the screen, but I didn't tell you that.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Article: Gaming for Charity! The Week's End!

Well, The Speed Gamers have finished day seven of their Final Fantasy marathon. Not only did these guys play for seven days straight, but they also ate veggimite smoothies and created a Christmas light body suit!

This marathon has proven two things to me.

Number 1: Sleep depravation and video games lead to boys being dumb (veggimite smoothies!!)

and Number 2: Good things can sometimes come in unusual packages.

This group of veggimite-eating, video-game-playing, sleep-deprived people raised over $50,500 for ACT Today (Autism Care and Treatment).

While it was fun to laugh at their antics, and annoying to deal with a tired a husband (who stayed up watching the previously mentioned antics), I have to admit, these guys did something pretty amazing. We gamer-girlfriends might complain about our guys playing video games for hours on end, but I doubt any one can complain about the good that these guys have done.


Monday, July 20, 2009

UPDATE on the Speedgamers

These guys have been playing Final Fantasy for 62 hours now and have raised $14,000!!!

Once again, the money goes to ACT Today (Autism Care and Treatment Today) and you can donate on the website as your watch them play!

UPDATE! They are on hour 100 and have raised $31,917!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Article: Gaming for Charity!

A bunch of guys are playing Final Fantasy for seven days straight! No, this isn't just a bunch of pasty-faced white boys with nothing better to do. They are playing for ACT, Autism Care and Treatment Today.

Help the guys out! Check out the website : The Speedgamers

If you've got the extra cash... give a little, if not... check it out anyways (and tell your friends!)

The guys have reached over $12,000!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coming Soon!

Ok, so... I know I haven't been posting much lately. I've been rather busy with life, the hubby, and work. However, I wanted to give you a heads up as to what I've been working on for this blog (I have been working, just not posting).

For Gamer Speak: Gamer Culture, General Gaming Terms, and Game Types/Systems

Articles: "Top Ten Starter Games" (my recommendations for the non-gamer girlfriend who wants to try it out) "Game Storage Tips" (If you live with a gamer, you know that all the stuff can get out of control.)

Reviews: inFAMOUS, Persona 4, Spore, Street Fighter, Resident Evil 5

So... I don't know when these shall be posted (just being honest here), but this is what is on the agenda.

Review: Blaz Blue

Played On: PS3

Blaz Blue is your classic arcade-style fighter brought into your home so that you can play in your boxers without getting fined. There is a story and it's a bit different for each fighter that you can play as... but my guy wasn't too into the story; he just wanted to kick some tushy.


The backgrounds for the fights are very well done. Some of them are cute and entertaining, and others are serene and relaxing. The fighters are very colorful and some of the special moves are rather unique to watch. In story mode, there are cut scenes after every fight, but the people don't move. Well, if they are talking, their mouths will move, but that's it. As a friend commented yesterday, "It's like watching a comic book."


Blaz Blue has great background music, if you can hear it over the sounds of the two fighters. This is the downfall of all classic fighters if you ask me. Not only do we get to see the two characters fight, but every move comes with its own sound-bite, and only the special moves get their own sounds. Be ready to hear lots of "Attack!" "Counter!" "Ugh!" and "Noooo!" If the fight is well on its way and the two characters are really going at it... the background music can't even be heard. What's the point in having beautiful, amazing background music if you are going to drown it out with crappy one-word sound-bites that don't even matter?


Break out your pompoms girls! Unless you want to pick up the second control and fight your guy... there is no chance for involvement. In fact, most gamers have played so very many fighters in their lifetimes, they don't even need a cheerleader. So if you have a big assignment due tomorrow, or a ton of paperwork you need to finish, let your guy play and go do your work in the next room.


Well, I'm not a big fan of the classic fighter game. (Which you could probably tell by now.) However, I liked this one quite a bit more than Street Fighter or Punch Out. In fact, I was able to watch Blaz Blue for about 30 minutes before I started to get bored enough to want to the dishes.

I wish I had more to say about this game, but there isn't that much more to it. Your guy picks a character and then fights other characters. He might play with the non-moving cut scenes in the story mode, or he might play in the arcade and skip the story all together. Either way... I just can't get all that excited about this one.

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