Arnold's Press Pause and Rewind: March 3rd
I have to say, this has been one of the better weeks in gaming for me. There was quite a bit of good news, and even a minor controversy. On the gaming side, I got MotorStorm on Thursday and it's quite the romp: very enjoyable game, but not without its faults. I'm still playing the daylights out of Virtua Fighter 5, and having Tekken: Dark Resurrection on top of that is a major plus. The other huge surprise to me was Gurumin for the PSP. I wasn't expecting anything more than a Dora the Explorer game, but seeing as how it was a Mastiff/Nihon-Falcom game, I held out some hope. It's a really splendid adventure game, and Ys fans will enjoy knowing that it stars the daughter of Adol. It feels awesome having so many great titles thrown at you; a little overwhelming - but awesome, nevertheless.
On top of Virtua Fighter 5, MotorStorm, Tekken: DR, and Gurumin, I also went out and picked up Resident Evil 4 and Shadow of the Colossus. These two came out during my year-plus departure from gaming, so I missed out. I played the first hour of Resident Evil 4 and I was extremely disappointed. Why are the controls still so clunky? Why can't I move while I aim/shoot? The off-centered third-person camera is really annoying, as is the camera panning which induces some crazy motion sickness. I got sick after playing for that hour, and had to stop -- the camera was just too much. I'll try to give it another whirl, and I'll update my thoughts next week.
On the other hand, Shadow of the Colossus is incredible. The scale of the game is absurd. Within the first 20 minutes of gameplay, I'm already facing a Colossus and I have to admit that it's breathtaking. With the progressive scan enabled, SotC looks like no other. Moreover, when you face that first Colossus and you begin to scale him...something in the brain just gets boggled. The concept is epic and downright exciting. I can't wait to play some more.
One is a Bigger Disservice Than the Other
Moving on, so how about this Sony and Kotaku controversy? In case you're not in the know, allow me to explain. A source within Sony tipped off Kotaku about a new PS3 feature that Phil Harrison will reveal at the Game Developers Conference this upcoming week. The feature is called PlayStation Home, and despite a request from the source to not publish the tip, Kotaku still went ahead with the story. Sony sent them an email requesting the removal of the story, because it was so heavily secreted. Kotaku refused to comply, and Sony said that if they didn't, they'd tarnish their relationship with them...and so that happened. Sony severed their relations with Kotaku, but then apologized and re-instated them a few hours later.
So who's right and who's wrong? Well, I can't comment on the rights or wrongs, but I do have an opinion regarding the matter. Sony's ultimatum wasn't exactly harsh considering that Kotaku haven't exactly been the most professional of publications to cover Sony's downfalls. Ben and I have reported on almost every negative tidbit relating to Sony. We don't sugarcoat it for them, but we do it with a bit more character and professionalism than some of the more stark game blogs out there with an agenda against Sony. Based on how some of these game blogs handle Sony stories, it wasn't surprising to see SCEA get so upset. If anything, SCEA should've held out, because this would've been forgotten by the next day. Likewise, hopefully it'd have also encouraged writers out there to wield a bit more diplomacy with their keystrokes.
If I were in the situation (and I have been), I'd have complied. Call it a disservice to my readers, but the bigger picture is that it'd be an even bigger disservice to my readers when all our Sony coverage suddenly disappears -- all because I didn't want to take down one article. I was in a similar situation when I made some blunt remarks about Eidos' booth and poor showing at E3 2004 (it was indeed very poor, I stand by that)...they wiped me off their list, but they were much hastier about it than Sony was with Kotaku. Oh well, such is the media industry -- PR people will get mad at you very often, but you have to go about things like this the proper way.
This Stuff is Crazier Than the Stock Market
Lastly, I'm beginning to wonder a few things about the sales of the PSP, PS3, and Wii. It seems like the X360's sales numbers have leveled (more or less), meanwhile the PSP continues to fluctuate up and down, the PS3 is right behind the X360, and the Wii is enjoying some big sales. It almost reminds me of what happened two generations ago, and how Nintendo came out very strong in sales with the N64 until Fall 1997 saw the PlayStation with an all new Final Fantasy. The main question is: will the Nintendo Wii maintain its success? Because thus far, a number of analysts have all agreed that the system will end up last in console sales, which is sort of hard to believe. Will the Wii actually experience such a radical halt in sales leaving in the distant 3rd it's predicted to be in?
It's impressive that the PS3 sold over 200k consoles in January here in the US, especially considering that January had not one PS3 game released, and December wasn't any better. In Japan, though...the PS3 isn't fairing too well at the moment. Monthly sales are just around 100k, which isn't super hot. But Japan's PS3 game list is actually weaker that ours in the States. It's important to not count out a console, especially this early in the race. The Nintendo DS wasn't exactly a powerhouse early on in its life, but some incredible games and a revised price-tag changed all of that around for Nintendo. Having said that, better game software in Japan should help the PS3 perform properly...just look at how Monster Hunter Portable 2nd helped sell 100k PSP's last week in Japan. Software really is the key.
3/3/2007 Arnold Katayev