Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Late thoughts on Steve Rogers' return

I know I'm a week and a half late, but I told you I would weigh in on "Captain America #600" and the return of Steve Rogers, so here I am.

I have two very different thoughts regarding this issue:

1) It's just too early to bring Steve Rogers back from the dead. Whether Marvel predicted it or not, Bucky Barnes has turned into a dynamite character, and a very different but almost equal Captain America as Steve Rogers was. That's not to say Steve shouldn't reclaim his mantle down the line, but for now, Bucky is just finding his footing. Unfortunately, that footing is still very closely tied into Steve's shadow. To suddenly bring Steve back into the fold is going to stop Bucky from blossoming into his own man and his own character. Given another six months to a year, after we get a few Bucky-as-Cap stories, then the character would be more ready to move onto his own Solo title, or, better yet, a title co-starring with Black Widow.

But the problem runs deeper than simply my affection for Bucky's very human Captain America — Marvel is too darned ADD for my taste lately. Ever since Wanda Maximoff went insane, Marvel has been burning through ideas like dry wood in a wildfire without ever giving us time to breathe and actually live in the new status quo these events produce. This is just another example of this. We're set up with a new direction, a new idea, a new world to live in — and yes, the sales numbers are there — and yet Marvel would rather jam another "This Changes Everything!" event down or throats than actually letting an event run its course. And guess what? Word is, "Captain America: Reborn" is going to serve as the beginning of the end of "Dark Reign," another event Marvel is looking to completely do away with way too quickly.

2) As a newspaper man, I am disgusted with Joe Quesada's use of the mainstream media and disgusted with some of my colleagues for not seeing him for the used car salesman he is. When Peter Parker unmasked, Joey Q just had to make it the biggest thing in the world, even though he was already planning "One More Day," which Quesada once again went to the media and convinced the big city papers to give a damn. I'm sure when Peter and Mary Jane are back together again, we'll read about it in the Daily News before Wednesday arrives.

With Cap, Steve Rogers died, but Ed Brubaker was always saying his death was part of a bigger story. Heck, Quesada himself just said Rogers was actually supposed to come back sooner. So why was the horn blowing so loudly to get CNN involved back then? And why did we need another news flash when Rogers came back last week, when it was so obvious that he always was going to be back?

And for God's sake fellow newspaper people — At least this time around, how in the world could you treat Steve Rogers' resurrection as actual news?!? It was only three years ago that Rogers "died" — can't you see yet that all this is just slimy money-hungry publicity whoring?

I don't even want to picture what the comic-reading world would have been like if Marvel was always so eager for mainstream attention. A four-page spread in the New York Times when Jean Grey died? A series of features in the fashion section when Spider-man put on the Black Suit? Black is very slimming, after all.

These are comic books, people! There will be deaths, there will be resurrections, NONE OF IT IS NEWS! It's times like these that I applaud Dan Didio for his handling of Bruce Wayne's "death."

Oh well, it could be worse. We could have President Obama show up to be saved by Spider-man again and get another nine printings of the issue.

Two Reviews

Remember when I told you I wasn't blogging because I was finishing up playing two games for reviews that week? Well, they both ran in the Journal this week. Here are the links:

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10

EA Active: Personal Trainer

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This week's comic book expectations

Hey! Long time no see. I know, I know, I have a a habit of falling off the face of the Earth, but this time I have a good excuse! I've been working on reviewing a couple of new games, both of which I hope to have the reviews of for you all to read this week.

I'll give you a hint ... I just chipped out of the rough 24 yards away for a birdie... and boy are my arms tired...

Anyway, before I disappear again, I'll take a look at this week's comic books. And no, I have no ignored Cap's return on Monday, I'll have a LOT to say about that in this week's Buy Pile Report. HERE'S the full list of this week's offerings.

Now, you all know about Captain America #600, right? Good, we'll cover that in a day or two.

Past that, though, there isn't all that much out there worth heading to the shop for, especially in Marvel's case.

As you can see, there are more than enough books under the "Dark Reign" banner (Dark Reign Fantastic Four #4 of 5, Dark Reign Hawkeye #3 of 5, Dark Reign Mister Negative, #1 of 3, Dark Reign Young Avengers #2 of 5), but I am hoping you all realize by now that these ancillary titles are even more irrelevant than those "World War Hulk" ones were.

Personally, I am excited for Cable #15, the penultimate chapter of the "Messiah War" crossover with "X-Force." We haven't seen nearly as many twists in the story so far, but the biggest one is happening in this issue, the emergence of Apocalypse to throw a monkey wrench into everyone's plans. And despite advance solicitations spoiling certain things (though I won't spoil it for you), I'm still pretty clueless as to where this story will end and where Cable's new direction will lead. All in all, add near-zombie Deadpool into the mix and you have strong chances for a good read.

Finally from Marvel, and for those who follow the Ultimate Universe (are there any of you left anymore?), Ultimatum Spider-Man Requiem #1 of 2 will put a cap on the first chapter of Ultimate Spider-man's existence. I would say his life, but then that's in question, isn't it? These "Requiem" titles will supposedly serve dual purposes of recapping the first nearly decade of Ultimate comics and give a glimpse of what's to come. The only real question is, after Marvel went and rebooted the universe like this (similar to the regular Spidey reboot in "One More Day"), will anyone really care about the Ultimate universe ever again?

Also worth noting from Marvel is a "War of Kings" tie-in (War of Kings: Ascension #3 of 4), a new Thor mini (Thor: The Trial of Thor #1), and a new direction for a strong X-Men series in X-Men: Legacy #225.

From DC we have a couple of strong choices from the Super family of books, the first being Action Comics Annual #12 (but first in a while), which promises to tell the secret origin of how Nightwing and Flamebird -ahem- hooked up. It's a story we Super fans have been waiting a while before, as it will hopefully reveal both how the chief security officer for Kandor decided to kidnap General Zod's son, and how Chris Kent is aging faster than Dwayne Wade.

Also, in Supergirl #42, we deal with a little bit of the fallout from the surprisingly strong "Who is Superwoman?" storyline. Kara Zor-El has really matured in the hands of writer Sterling Gates, so I am eager to see how he handles her emotional side here, both in having to break the news of Lois' sister's death and in how she handles things talking with her wacky but lovable mother.

Finally, this week sees the debut of yet another new Batman book, Batman: Streets of Gotham #1. Veteran Bat-writer Paul Dini is handling this book, which will be focused on the Gotham P.D. and more of the ground-level aspects of the Bat-verse. Remember, the last time DC tried this we got a fantastic series from Greg Rucka called "Gotham Central." Will Dini be able to work the same magic here?

That's about it for me, back to the coal mines... er... video games. I know, woe is me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Today Only — $50 Price Cut on 80-gig PS3!

Check out THIS LINK to Amazon for your chance — one day only, until Sony drops the price itself — to buy an 80-gig PS3 for only $349.99.

I just want to see the numbers on how many took advantage of this deal when the day is done. I've been as vocal a critic of the PS3 as you can find, and yet, following Sony's great showing at E3 last week, even I'm thinking this is one deal to jump on.

Need more proof? CLICK THIS LINK for a look at the best PS3 Exclusives due out in the next calendar year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reflections on "Ninja Blade"

FromSoftware's X-Box exclusive "Ninja Blade" has been out for a while, so even though I just got around to playing it and beating it a few days ago, I'm going to skip the full review. Instead, I'm just going to throw some fairly unorganized thoughts at you.

First off, I'm sure what most of you want to hear from guys like me is a final grade. "Ninja Blade" is very middle of the road. It's not bad per se, just struggling from an identity crisis. I want to call it a hack-and-slash, but there are far too few villains to really fit it into that category. It's not an RPG, either, but there is a storyline (told through cinematics in-between levels) and you do get to choose which of your weapons to spend points on for upgrades. There are very slight platforming elements, like the eventual wall to run across or a bar to swing on, and it is also fairly linear.

The best game to compare "Ninja Blade" to would be "God of War," mainly due to a mix of action and Quick-Time Events. The only problem is, to call "Ninja Blade" a poor man's "God of War" would be giving "Ninja Blade" too much credit.

That said, all of these elements combine to make "Ninja Blade" very middle of the road. It's certainly not a bad gaming experience, but it's neither difficult nor memorable. It's also not very long at all (I took my time and still clocked in at only 8 hours), so it's definitely a rental not a purchase at a $59.99 retail price.

And speaking of middle of the road, the story line. To make a short story shorter, At some point before 2015 (when the game takes place), evil sentient worms began invading people's and animals' bodies, taking them over and turning them grotesque. Your job, as Ken Ogawa (not to be confused with failed New York Yankee Kei Igawa), who has magically worm-resistant blood, is to kill every last worm in Tokyo before world leaders just nuke the area. What results is essentially a game of running around killing zombies and monsters that look like animals.

There are nine levels total, but the last two are one giant ongoing boss battle against — you guessed it — Ken's Dad, who let himself get taken over by worms in order to turn Ken into the cold killer he would need to be. It would be heart-wrenching if it made any sense, or if the game showed any emotional attachment between the two characters before turning Daddy evil.

Each of the first seven levels follow a similar pattern: Kill zombies — often from a vehicle, mini-boss, kill zombies, mini-boss, kill zombies, main boss. And in each of those boss battles there are two or three Quick Time Events, which are, believe it or not, the game's biggest downfall. For one, there's just too darn many of them, including a lengthy one for delivering the final blow to each boss. For two, there's no consequence for getting the buttons wrong, other than rewinding and starting again. Sure, most of the time it's easy enough to get it right the first try, but all you really have to do is remember your mistakes and get it right the second time around. There's no threat of physical pain or reviving the boss if you fail. Consequently, boss battles (which really only require you to take your biggest sword and hack away in the first place) have no rhythm and slow the game down.

By the way, there are spoilers ahead, so be warned...

Really, there is only one difficult fight in the whole game, which encompasses all of the eighth mission, facing the still-human form of your father. The final battle — mission nine — is again fighting your father, only this time he's not your father. You see, all of the worms decided the best course of action would be to gather together in one place and condense themselves into one giant monster, and they decided to take the form of Ken's Daddy.

So yes, this game featuring body-snatching, zombiefying worms ends with a giant monster destroying Tokyo. No word on whether Daddy became Facebook friends with Godzilla.

So, if you really love games mixing action and QTEs, or if you really love killing zombies, then "Ninja Blade" is a game for you to fill up an afternoon or two. Otherwise, stick to "Rampage" for your giant monster quota this week.

This week's comic book expectations

Sorry folk, it's been a long day and at 3 a.m. it's got to end soon. So I won't be able to tell you what the best of THIS FULL LIST of comic book releases is, like Red Robin #1, Flash: Rebirth #3, or X-Men Forever #1.

I'll make it up to you with detailed thoughts on the game I just finished -- "Ninja Blade" -- as soon as I wake up.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

This week's video game releases

"Prototype." "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10." "Grand Slam Tennis." Heckofa week coming up!

Check out the full release list at THIS LINK.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NO Online Support for "New Super Mario Bros. Wii"

Check out THIS LINK to Kotaku for the most depressing news of the week — "New Super Mario Bros. Wii," a game which I was just as excited about as any at E3 — will NOT support Online play.

Keep in mind, this side-scrolling Mario game focuses on a mix of teamwork and competition. Four players can be on the screen for each level, and you both need each other to achieve certain tasks but are in competition with each other to get the most points.

This co-op heavy game will not have online support. Meaning, you're actually going to have to be in the same room with three other friends everything you want to get the most out of this game.

Speaking as someone who has a full-time job and gamerfriends who live as far as an hour and 45 minutes away, this is some horrible news.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E3: Sony press conference

Welcome back to ... well ... for an explanation of why I'm not in Los Angeles, scroll down, I'm tired of explaining it. The point is, I'm at home watching from G4's glorious commercial-free coverage, providing you whatever updates you need.

G4 just shifted its coverage from Nintendo's event (again, scroll down) to Sony's, and this time we have a pair of top-flight hosts, Kevin Perreira and Adam Sessler. The big expected story here is "God of War III," which our hosts are discussing now, but the big question is what will Sony unveil? Microsoft had "Project Natal," and Nintendo didn't have much more than a couple of games and a heart monitor. So what does Sony have in store? A new PSP?

Steve Wiebe, by the way, tapped out at 923,400 points, over 120,000 shy of Billy Mitchell's record. His second attempt has still yet to start.

1:57 p.m.: We're still 24 minutes away from the start of Sony's show, so hit tight. Of course you know the drill by now, we're watching G4 recap Sony's past 12 months. At least this year we don't have to see more previews of "Home."

2:00: The first mention of the rumored "PSP: Go," Which will apparently NOT include a disc drive. Rather, the system is rumored to download the games straight to the system. Stay tuned...

Wiebe just died after only 13,000 points, so he's intentionally killing off the rest of his men. That's just good strategy.

2:09: Sony's press conference starting, early.

The company opens with a montage of game clips, none of which seem to be anything newer than "Infamous."

OK, I was wrong, there are definitely a lot of games to be seen here, including the new DC Universe MMO, which I'm now hopeful to see more of.

2:14: Jack Tretton takes the stage. I think he's the least likable of all the presenters, even less than Cabbie this morning. But that's just me.

2:16: Uh-oh, Jack is promoting Sony as the "only player with three successful consoles at once." You're still promoting the PS2? Really?

2:17: Jack runs off a list of six big games coming out, only two being exclusives.

2:18: Jack opens with ... the PS2. Yes, the PS2. Sony really knows how to open big.

"We're committed to this system as long as people see value in it."

Jack says PS2 will feature 100 new titles this year and a load of screen shots hit the screen behind him ... TWO of which were "Lego Batman."

2:20: We're just hearing lots of corporate numbers. Remember last year when Sackboy and "LittleBigPlanet" so skillfully showed off the Sony graphs? Not the case this year, boys.

2:21: The first game mentioned? "Infamous" ... which is already out.

2:22: "Unchartered 2: Among Thieves" hits the screens. Here's a good PS3 exclusive, 20 minutes into the show.

The beta of multiplayer is available midnight tonight.

A hands-on demo of the upcoming game begins, and we find our hero Drake in what appears to be South America, running around rooftops. Pretty stuff. Much nicer than the latest "Tomb Raider" games.

The demo also shows off the game's third-person shooter aspects, as Drake and friend comes under Helicopter fire. Again, just real pretty and smooth gameplay.

2:28: "MAG," a 256-possible-player game which debuted a year ago at E3, finally has in-game footage for us to see, footage that includes, year, 256 players at once.

The game's graphics are probably either on-par or a half-step down from the "Halo 3" level. And yes, there is a heck of a lot of action going on at once. This is a game that could absolutely make the PSN.

Wiebe just lost his first man just shy of 160,000 points.

Back to "M.A.G.," we're getting a good view of what air-strikes and helicopters look like as our player tries to secure areas of the map. What I do wonder about this game is, what if one or two of the 256 lag?

2:35: Kaz Hirai takes the stage. Now this is a likable guy.

We're talking changes to the PSP... Yes, the new PSP is officially introduced, the "PSP: Go"

Over 50% smaller and 40% lighter, offering 16 gigs of memory to store games, movies and photos. It also has a memory stick port.

"Media Go" is a new application replacing the media manager, and you use it to access the PS Store.

Kaz makes it clear physical games will still be sold as they are only looking to make an alternative to the PSP, not a replacement. It will be available for $250 on October first. A little pricey for a re-hashed system in my opinion.

2:42: Kaz moves on to the video delivery service. It will now be available on the PSP, which just about kills the UMD market.

2:44: "Gran Turismo" for the PSP is announced. It's creator is showing the game is running flawlessly on the PSP Go. Nice little bit of tying things together by Sony.

After a load of gabbing, we have a trailer for the game, which looks beautiful for a PSP game.

2:51: Wiebe just lost his second man, again on the board with the patrolling fireballs.

2:52: Hideo Kojima takes the stage to talk "Metal Gear Solid."

"Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" is announced, and it will include Solid Snake, 10 years after "MGS 3," in the 1970s. It is the "true sequel to the 'Metal Gear Solid' franchise."

Hideo brought a trailer to show... a decent looking game with lots of stealth elements evident as Snake tries to - it seems - free Costa Rica. There are also several scenes with four Solid Snakes at once...

3:00: Hey! Jack's back. Still waiting for any true big news, though, mostly because the PSP Go wasn't that much of a secret.

Jack is showing us a montage of PSP's upcoming games, most of which were already announced, like "LittleBigPlanet."

3:05: More numbers on why the PSNetwork is so awesome. Only, it isn't. Heck, it's free and Xbox Live stil kicks its butt.

3:07: A video showing "Home." There I was hoping we'd finally get an E3 without it.

At least Steve Wiebe is still keeping me entertained, he's over 451,000 after two deaths.

3:09: Another video, this time showing a montage of upcoming games for PS3. Doesn't Sony realize these videos don't really show us anything?

3:15: A new PS3 exclusive Rockstar Games title called "Agent." But no footage or images are shown.

3:16: Ubisoft takes the stage to showoff "Assassin's Creed 2." The footage Ubisoft showed last night was absolutely gorgeous. Hopefully we get different stuff here.

Last night we essentially saw a trailer, this time we're watching gameplay. However, it looks a whole lot like the first game, just in the Renassiance.

Apparently DiVinci specially makes you weapons and vehicles! Your hero, Eizio, can glide using a Divinci device. Man oh Man.

This game will have more assassination techniques than last time, very good news since last time the game was fantastic but it got old.

Apparently the AI can search bails of hay now also. Wow.

I'm officially PUMPED for this sequel. The game is out this holiday season.

3:23: A video from "Final Fantasy XIII."

3:26: Jack announces "Final Fantasy IV," an online title exclusively for PS3. Crazy. I thought he was kidding at first.

3:29: Jack mentions motion-controlled gaming... and a couple of very nervous guys take the stage to show a prototype for a new controller which looks like a motorized lollipop...

I wonder if this guy is so nervous because of "Project Natal?"

The PSEye picks up the sensor on the controller, and yes, the movements show up one-to-one on screen.

The technology is certainly better than the Wiimote. Still, yesterday's Microsoft product looks like the far and away better idea.

Using the controller, we're now back to painting, much more precisely than "Natal" could. And no more elephant people, I assure you.

And while I would give Microsoft the edge overall, this Sony technology could possibly be better for hardcore games, since those precision controllers could have buttons on them as well. Using "yourself" as the controller means certainly no buttons.

Now we're being shown how, using two controllers, we can fight on screen. Pretty cool.

3:40: Wiebe is out after 683,700 points.

3:41: Jack promotes Sony's motion control for the spring of 2010.

3:42: "ModNation Racers," a PS3-exclusive "Play, Create, Share" game is announced.

Apparently you will be able to make your own racers and your own cart-style cars for this game. The graphics are pretty nice, with a somewhat cartoon-style. And yes, just like other cart racing games, you can pickup weapons.

The racing doesn't look all that tight, though. And that's the main necessity in a racing game.

Now we're being shown that you can BUILD your own TRACKS. Can you imagine a "Mario Kart" game with that?

And you know what else, I sincerely doubt the Xbox 360 can so quickly and beautifully make tracks like these.

The game control still doesn't look very tight, though. Tempers my enthusiasm a bit.

No release date mentioned.

3:52: A sneak peek at "The Last Guardian," another PS3 exclusive.

Microsoft may still have out-shined Sony due to the motion-sensitive market, but this has been a really good Sony showing.

3:57: A look at "Gran Turismo 5"

3:59: Finally, "God of War III." Sony is about to show the first few minutes in a live demo.

4:07: Jack's wrapping up a pretty darned great presentation.

I'll be back with more soon. If any of you have been reading these live blogs, thanks for reading, it's been fun!

E3: Nintendo press conference

Welcome back to E3, where we're getting set for Nintendo's press conference ... from the comfort of my home. Yes, just as I said yesterday, I'm not in Los Angeles where the action is. But, thanks to the magic of G4, I will be watching the press events live all day, and bringing them to you on this blog.

And after yesterday's bombshells, namely Microsoft's "Project Natal," the question today is whether Nintendo or Sony has anything up their sleeves to steal the show. Frankly, I'm shocked one company was able to keep the "Project Natal" technology under wraps before E3, so I doubt anyone else was developing something similar, but we'll see.

11 a.m.: And early on us TV viewers are already disappointed -- our hosts for the Nintendo event are Chris Hardwick, Blair Herter and that editor guy. Who needs any of these guys?

Speaking of which, what was up with Ubisoft last night hiring that guy from "The Soup" to be their host? The guy's not funny. And besides that, he spent the whole show distancing himself from us geeks by making it painfully obvious he didn't know what people on stage were talking about.

11:05: Steve Wiebe and WalterDay live from the G4 Studios! I just re-watching "The King of Kong" last night in preparation for today. Am I the only one hopeful for Steve? The man is sitting down at the machine... as G4 cuts away.

11:06: G4 takes a look at Nintendo's 2008-09 since last E3. Here's it in a nutshell: Lots of people are still buying Wiis. Lots of people are still buying DS. Lots of people inexplicablly bought the DSi. And because so many people own these systems, they're selling lots of games. Done!

11:09: Our hosts point out the obvious -- Last year Nintendo's big announcement was "Wii MotionPlus" ... and we're still waiting for it!

11:13: A demo of "DJ Hero" as we wait for Nintendo to step on stage. That's got to be the goofiest looking peripheral ever made.

11:18: Meanwhile, I am having a heck of a time trying to find where to watch Wiebe's streaming world record attempt online.

11:19: Nevermind, found it. They (finally) put a link on the main home page. Thank God, this "DJ Hero" stuff is putting me to sleep.

Wiebe is already over 100,000, by the way.

11:25: You know, watching Walter Day right now, and after watching his initial comments on Billy's importance to Twin Galaxies in the movie, I wonder how much of Walter's enthusiasm right now is genuine hope for Steve and how much of it is just him being backing the popular horse?

Still waiting for Nintendo to get going.

11:36: Meanwhile, Wiebe is incredible. He's like a machine. I never thought I would be so enthralled watching, essentially, the same levels over and over. The man's about to go over 200,000.

And on the big screen (my TV not computer), we're getting a hands on preview of "Silent Hill: Shattered Memories." Speaking of which, "Alan Wake" really looked awesome yesterday, huh?

11:46: Wieve just lost his first man after 257,000 points, victim of a bunch of fireballs holding him up too long.

Noon: I get the feeling G4 was not ready for Nintendo to take SOOOOO long to get going. For the last 20 minutes all we've talked about is how bad last year is and how we need some core-gamer games this year. We get it, change the record.

I would have fallen back to sleep if not for Wiebe's streaming game. He's over 366,000 right now after dying twice.

12:04: Finally, we're starting. Nintendo opens with another of those Godawful "look how happy all these people are while using our equipment" montages that filled last year's show.

Cabbie Dunaway opens the show. Remember her? The very soccer-mom looking woman that dominated last year's show with Reggie Fils-Aime taking a backseat? Well, it seems Nintendo is pandering to the soccer mom's again, at least to open.

12:07: Cabbie is saying Nintendo will be delivering tons of innovation today. More than Microsoft?

12:08: It's a Super Mario montage. How exciting.

12:09: "New Super Mario Bros." For Wii!

A-side-scrolling game in which you pay with friends on screen as a team. You can pickup and carry other players and throw them. As people die, they come back as you go, and there is a running number of lives for each player. You can play by yourself with drones. Plus, there are all new suits to help you explore.

As a retro-gaming lover, this is my bag. The graphics look a whole lot like "New Super Mario Bros." for DS.

That is the way to start off hot. Worldwide launch THIS Holiday season!

12:15: "WiiFit plus" ... which, right now just looks like it has more exercises and 15 new mini games. This doesn't exactly measure up to last night's Ubisoft "Your Shape," if that game's Webcam works properly. Still, the new mini games might make this more of a gamer-friendly title.

it will arrive this fall, as both a bundle and a separate game.

12:18: Hey, another "look how happy all these people are while using our equipment" montage!

12:19: Reggie!

12:21: "The Next advance in game control" is ...... "Wii MotionPlus." Umm... someone call Microsoft and ask them if that's true...

How pissed do you think Nintendo was yesterday, anyway?

And hey! It's another montage! This one shows people doing active things, only instead of shooting a bow or hitting a ball with a ping-pong paddle, they're using "Wii MotionPlus." Did they use the same one last year?

12:24: "WiiSports Resort" makes its return to E3, as our Miis go SkyDiving.

We also take a look at Archery and three-point shooting (which I've never been sooo nuts about basketball games on Wii)... both look like they work pretty well, though.

It launches on July 26. Even though EA will have the technology packaged together with games in a week.

12:33: "Red Steel 2" will be playable only with Wii MotionPlus ... which is good since the first one failed so hard.

12:34: A trailer is shown (Nintendo does that?) for "Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers." Reggie also shows an all-new trailer for DS's "Kingdom Hearts" game, out soon, "Kingdom Hearts: 358/2"

12:36: "Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story" is shown, in which the plumbers are ingested by the big man for a very "Inner-space" adventure.

Game is out this fall.

12:37: "Golden Sun DS" brings the old RPG franchise back. All-in-all these three RPGs should at least satiate hand-held RPG fans.

12:40: Cabbie is promoting "James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Games of Passion" for DS. Soccer moms.

We're still waiting for more big news to pair with "New Super Mario Bros." and make this a successful presser, if you lost count.

12:41: "C.O.P.: The Recruit" is an open-world "gritty" game for the DS. Looks a whole lot like another "GTA" clone to me.

Wiebe is over 660,000 with no men to spare.

12:43: "Style Savvy" in which you run your own boutique on the DS. I know I'll be accessorizing at launch date!

I am hoping all this DS shovelware is just to throw us off the scent of the second huge Wii announcement still to come...

12:44: A DSi montage, showing what regular gamers on the street think! Surprise, surprise, they all love all the features!

12:47: "Flipnote Studio" DS animation game available this summer.

12:47: "Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again" is back, this time with the ability to create your own levels. Not too shabby. Available as a download for DSi through the online store on MONDAY.

12:49: "WarioWare DiY" for DS allows you to create "Microgames" and share them online.

12:50: Cabbie tells us you can upload DSi photos to Facebook this summer. I'm so sick of that site.

She sure is moving at a fast pace. Not really saying much, but moving fast.

12:51: "Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks" is mentioned. She says "Seeing is believing" ... Then they don't show off a new trailer or gameplay!!!

Instead, you guessed it, ANOTHER MONTAGE! What the hell Cabbie?

12:52: Satoru Iwata takes the stage. I love that guy. He should be in movies.

12:54: Iwata's long-winded introduction has my attention shifted back to Steve Wiebe, who is over 750,000.

1 p.m.: Iwata is finally getting somewhere... the "Wii Vitality Sensor."

The Wii can now take your pulse through a device you put on your finger. Yeah, this blows "Project Natal" away.

Iwata just said it's not long until there is a game to help us fall asleep. He just did that in the last 10 minutes. Man.

1:03: Cabbie's back and she's talking more Mario... ANOTHER 3D Mario Coming to Wii! And this time you can ride Yoshii!

A trailer is being shown for what seems to be "Super Mario Galaxy 2." We can only hope Wart is involved somehow.

Yup, that's the title. BANG.

1:05: Reggie seems to be wrapping things up... but its only been an hour...

Instead, Reggie is about to promote third-party games...

1:06: A trailer for Sega's "The Conduit." Looks like a fun little FPS, especially if it uses "MotionPlus."

1:07: A trailer for Capcom's "Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles."

1:08: "Dead Space Extraction" debuts a trailer. The game promises to give some answers "Exclusively on the Wii."

1:11: Nintendo is teaming with Team Ninja for a gorgeous looking new Wii game by the name of "Metroid: Other M." It will be out in 2010... which means either Holiday 2010 or pushed back to 2011, knowing Nintendo.

1:13: Reggie and company are all finished.

I've got to say, despite a couple of big games, that presentation was still a fail. "Metroid" is still a ways away, and so much time was spent on Wii MotionPlus, meaning that presentation came down to the two Mario games. I expected much more from Nintendo after such a lackluster 2008. Oh Well.

Meanwhile, Wiebe is up and over 910,000, the last 500,000 or so without dying. Check out the stream on if you haven't already, because the man is getting close. I'll be back here in a bit with the Sony press conference.

Monday, June 1, 2009

E3: Microsoft press conference

Welcome to the 2009 edition of the Gaming Geek's Microsoft E3 live blog. I'm coming to you live from ... well, live from my bedroom, since I have too many responsibilities in the Pojo Sports Department to fly off to Los Angeles. So yes, these live updates will be based off G4's live coverage of the press events.

There are upsides to having to watch the action on TV though. For one, I'm watching a great French Open match between Jelena Jankovic and some unknown teenager named Cirstea right now waiting for 1 p.m. ... it's not exactly a consolation for missing the trip to LA, but I can lie to myself, right?

Anyway, for all of you unable to get to LA and unable to get to a TV to watch G4, let me be your eyes and ears for the next couple of hours. As soon as G4's coverage of Microsoft's press event begins at 1 p.m., start clicking that refresh button for running updates.

1 p.m.: Kevin Perreira, Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler welcome us to the coverage... and Kevin is wearing a jacket with sleeves far too short for his arms ... Cirsta just went up 6-5 on Jankovic in the third set, by the way.

1:03 p.m.: G4 just showed a graphic with a countdown to the start of Microsoft's presentation ... 21 minutes away. Guess we have a little more waiting to do than anticipated.

1:05 p.m.: The first mention of what is rumored to be Microsoft's biggest announcement of the day -- the possibility of an Xbox motion controller. Meanwhile, lots of filler material from G4.

1:10 p.m.: During a big boring look back at the growing "Halo" vs. "Gears of War" rivalry, G4 shows a graphic letting us know Steve Wiebe's "Donkey Kong" world record attempt will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. It'll be streamed live online and parts will be shown on TV.

1:15 p.m.: I have to say, from a journalistic standpoint, G4 has done a very nice job using this filler time to cover all the bases a complete newbie would need to know before watching the coming press conference ... then I remember no COMPLETE noobs would feel the need to watch this press conference, so this is just a giant waste of time to discuss how Xbox Live is popular. On with the presser already!

1:18 p.m.: As we continue to wait, Cirstea is ahead now 8-7 in the third set. Maybe it would have been more interesting to have live blogged on that match?

By the way, am I the only one who questions why G4 has an HD channel when it never uses HD cameras?

1:20 p.m.: Apparently Morgan Webb loves the Xbox Live avatars. Had to be someone out there that does.

1:22 p.m.: Cirstea just fired a forehand into the net ... oh, yeah, it's a commercial break. Meanwhile, as deuce, down 8-7 in the third set, Jankovic is starting to act injured. Biggest whiner in tennis.

1:26 p.m.: Finally, the lights come down and the curtain comes up.

1:27: Microsoft begins it's event with a look at "Rock Band: Beatles." Opening with a multi-platform game? Really?

It does look gorgeous, though.

1:29: An explanation of who the Beatles are. Really guys? What the hell?

1:31: A "live performance" of "Day-Tripper." And they're not even showing screens from the game. I'm close to flipping back to Tennis. Anyone have any rotten vegetables to throw?

1:34: More Beatles, this time showing in-game footage and some of the songs that will be available. Again boys, this is multi-platform. Show us something from MICROSOFT!

1:35: Apparently I missed the ending of the Jankovic/Cirstea match. Yes, I flipped back, this is ridiculous that Microsoft is spending so much of its hour and a half on "Rock Band: Beatles."

1:38 We're thanking people important to the making of the game. Yes, we're still on this crap.

1:39: Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison were just brought on stage. I think Microsoft missed the Yoko portion of the Beatles history when recapping earlier.

1:40: Wow -- I don't think I stand corrected, but RINGO STARR and PAUL McCARTNEY just took the stage. They say they love the game, thank the fans and make an exit. McCartney: "Thanks for having us on your game show."

As impressive as that was, was it all really necessary? Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today.

1:42: After 15 minutes, Microsoft's VP takes the stage to talk about - GASP - Microsoft!

1:43: Biggest news of the day -- Microsoft is showing NO GRAPHS during their presentation! When will G4 go to commercial?

1:44: TONY HAWK on stage to unveil a SKATEBOARD CONTROLLER for the new game "Tony Hawk: Ride." And yes, it is motion sensing.

1:45: A trailer for the game ... "If you have an interest in skateboarding but didn't want to put yourself in a position to get injured, here's your chance."

1:47: The trailer includes a look at people using the Skateboard Controller, and yes, it looks like it works. It also looks like a Wii Balance Board with curves.

1:48: A trailer for "Modern Warefare 2," followed by an on-stage demo. The section they're showing actually has some of the best looking arctic scenery I've seen in an action game.

On-stage demos of a First-person shooter are pretty boring when there are No Enemies for miles. Find someone to shoot already!

Finally, we're shooting people. And "Modern Warefare 2" is really a pretty game. The smoke from things on fire looks fantastic. Smoke is one aspect of scenery in shooters that is rarely utilized well.

1:57: Creators of "Final Fantasy XIII" take the stage. Remember a year ago when this game stole the show at the last minute?

One of them has a controller in his hand...

Yes, an on-stage demo of the battle mechanics. Pretty pretty turn-based fighting with active-time gauges. .... And we also get to see what a summons looks like, showing off Odin... and from the looks of it, the summon mechanics are much like "Final Fantasy X," with the summoned Odin taking the place of the heroes in battle.

Spring 2010 release announced. So long to wait...

2:02: From this moment on, everything shown is Xbox 360 Exclusive. This is what I'm talking about.

2:03: Cliffy B comes on stage to announce an Xbox Live exclusive from Epic Games.

The game is "Shadow Complex," a gorgeous side-scrolling action platformer, a 10-hour long campaing with tons of fighting and shooting.

The game will be out this summer, and it looks like "Metroid" fans will wet their pants over it.

2:06: "Joy Ride" is announced, an XBox Live kart racing game using your avatars.

FREE TO DOWNLOAD this winter, with additional cars and tracks to buy.

2:08: A trailer for "Crackdown 2."

2:09: Apparently we're in a string of trailers. Next up is "Left 4 Dead 2," coming in November.

2:10: Next up is "Splinter Cell: Conviction." Bam, Bam, Bam. The string ends with an on-stage demo.

Are you starting to get the picture here, Microsoft has got a LOT of big games coming out in the next year, and they want us to know it.

The demo includes an ability called the "Mark and execute," which seems like as soon as you mark a guy, Sam Fisher will shoot him in the head as soon as he has a shot ... kind of makes the game seem easy, huh? The fighting mechanics look amazingly fluid, though.

"Splinter Cell: Conviction" out this fall.

2:18: An announcement: "Forza Motorsport 3."

The game is gorgeous, and I don't just mean the scenery, the in-car graphics are pretty darn good too. Plus, apparently you can customize your own cars, allowing you to paint your own designs on the cars.

The game ships in October.

2:25: Time for one of the more awaited moments of the show, "Halo 3 ODST."

News tools include sound-suppressed weapons and light-sensitive visors.

The game will include plenty of flashbacks in which you fight as different soldiers. The idea is all these flashbacks explain exactly what happened in the city you're exploring.

September 22nd is the day the game will be available.

2:31: The premier of a "top-secret" Bungie game... "Halo Reach." A beta invitation will be included in "ODST."

2:33: On-stage demo for "Alan Wake," a mystery action game with a large super-natural aspect.

The demo looks very "Resident Evil," lots of darkness, lots of slow-moving hordes of badguys looking to maim, not shoot.

Game is out in Spring 2010, and I have to say I'm liking what I saw.

2:39: "Music is coming to Xbox Live." Last FM is joining XBox Live FOR FREE to Xbox Live Gold Members.

2:40: A Change to the Netflix service. You can now browse categories and add movies to your queue without needing a computer.

2:42: Video service is changed to "Zune Video Service." With full 1080p downloads that can be watched instantly. Launching this fall.

2:44: Watch Movies, TV and music with friends with "Live Party." ... Didn't they announce that last year and it never happened?

2:45: FACEBOOK on Xbox Live. I, personally, cannot stand "Facebook," but this is pretty big.

The interface looks like Xbox Live, not like Facebook always looks. You can also link avatars and your Xbox Live profile.

Facebook Connect will enable you to post screenshots and highlight videos from games to your Facebook.

2:48: TWITTER on Xbox Live. I, personally, cannot stand "Twitter," but this is pretty big.

BOTH coming in the Fall.

2:50: BIG News coming... Senior VP of Xbox Don Mattrick comes on the stage...

"Metal Gear Solid" franchise to XBox 360.

"Metal Gear Solid: Rising" coming to Xbox exclusively.

2:53: Mattrick is still on stage... big news coming again?

"Can we go beyond the controller? ... Can we make you the controller? We can."

OH MAN. Video games entirely controlled by your own motions. They're showing fighting games, racing games and even games in which you act like a monster.

You can supposedly "scan" in your own things like Skateboards and use them in games.

This looks like the most unbelievable technology this side of fizzy lifting drinks.

"Project Natal." ... Can I be the first naysayer who says this won't work properly for years?

"We can leap into a new era of interactive entertainment without having to launch a new console."

Stephen Spielberg takes the stage to support the project.

Again, to be the first naysayer ... Do we really want this?

3:03: An early demo of "Project Natal."

The Xbox recognizes who he is and signs him in automatically.

A demo of a game called "Richocet" in which you hit balls by moving ANY part of your body and move around in 3-D space.

These people are moving constantly. There is pretty incredible. Remember all those people claiming Wii is great for fitness? This looks like it actually is.

Another demo called "Paint Party" in which you paint with hand motions. The painting is pretty sloppy and unrefined. Still pretty cool.

Back a few years at the National Basketball Hall of Fame, I played a motion sensing game in which you could play one-on-one with legendary players. This looks like a much more refined version of that.

3:11: Peter Molineuyx on stage to talk "Project Natal."

Uh-oh. Peter is drinking the Kool-Aid, calling the controller a barrier. Tell me Peter isn't making the next "Fable" use this system.

Peter made a little boy you can interact with on screen.

Isn't this how the Terminators were created? Someone call John Connor.

3:18: We're starting to wrap things up, I think. But man oh man oh man oh man. In limited doses, "Project Natal" could be the biggest and best thing in gaming since the side-scroller.

Yup, we're all finished here.

Let it be known, I made the Terminator joke before Kevin just made it on screen. Anyway, I will be back a little later with more, for now, I need a break.