Affordable Wii Alternative!?!?!???

So I was out and about and stumbled across this in a popular drug store….

generic_wii

Zone??

It’s called the ZONE.  Sounds kind of lame but what can you say for an ‘0ff-brand’ version of the Wii.  Lets face it folks in this economy, no idea is purely original.  First it was the Playstation Move and Xbox360 Kinect and now ZONE!  This is indeed a poor mans Wii and it comes equipped with 32 games ( for the small version: seen at the top of the photo)   and then a whopping 60 games for the larger system.  I didn’t capture the price for the  small system but the larger one is only 39.99…. but wait is that a sale sign for 29.99??????  😀    I somehow doubt this system is competitive for holiday sales against the Move and Kinect systems but hey at least they have bang for your buck right?  ….. right???

Well take a look at the large box, it even has ACCESSORIES included. These are the peripherals some folks spent big bucks on for the Wii from both Nintendo and a host of other third party manufacturers.  It looks like it comes with a tennis racquet, golf club and baseball bat and TWO “motion controllers”

I can’t say I was shocked to see this Wii imitation but I can say that they didn’t do much to mask the fact that this was purely an attempt to grab some of the holiday cash for those less informed consumers who believe that one thing is equal to another.  It is somewhat irritating to know that some kid wanting a Wii will open one of these up on Christmas morning to be sorely disappointed.  It reminds me of the people who ran and got a Samsung Instinct saying ” It’s just like the iPhone” *SMH*

I can safely say  DigitalDpad lists this one as a DON’T BUY!

Call of Duty Black Ops Review and Launch Event

Coverage from the midnight release in Buckhead, GA  ( Atlanta if you didn’t know 🙂 )  Like most places around the nation the GameStop event started at 9pm EST, an hour earlier than my compadres in Saint Louis.

It was a smaller launch than you’ve probably seen around the web but still a good time with gamers and COD lovers alike. They provided the most unhealthy food ever, considering we were all going to rush home and sit on the couch for hours and play Black Ops….    HOT DOGS!!!!!   Basically anything you needed to keep yourself jacked up all night (Mountain Dew, Candy, Chips etc)  I did not partake in the hotdogs but I did have enough chips and candy to be ashamed of.

I was 3rd in line!  Most folks didn’t show up until the 10 o’clock hour and you could see that the immediately regretted it. The line grew to the entire length of the strip mall within an hour or so…

I must say I was pleased to see all types of people there.  It really proves that “there is a soldier in of all of us”.

Everyone, young, old, military, martial arts experts were there in anticipation of this much awaited title. My wife wouldn’t have been a fan of standning outside in the not so warm weather so KUDOS to the wives I saw out there pretending to be interested enough to endure.

There were raffles and give aways. One couple won a COD wallet and then with the same ticket  won a Gears of War wallet…… not sure why they didn’t remove you once you’ve won.   Hrmmmm.

 

This guy won a Call of Duty: Black Ops T-Shirt!

There was an  “I love Zombies” T-shirt as well.  Good times good times.

My first impressions of Call of Duty: Black Ops was a bit jarring… I had stopped playing Modern Warfare 2 for Halo Reach so I was a bit rusty on the side of fast paced realistic shooters…. plasma rifle anyone??   So I’ll admit, I got my @#%^ handed to me for he first couple of matches… but the maps were gorgeous!   So I hoped out of the multiplayer and warmed up in the all new ‘Combat Training’ mode.  This was an excellent way to get used to the maps and get the lay of the land.   The only drawback to combat training is that it requires a network connection since it is found in the XBOX LIVE section of the menus.   Speaking of menus the opening menus is just….. its just… well awesome.. buy the game and you’ll see.  Anyway, I digress.

After warming up I felt like I was at home again, and eventually earned enough COD credits to buy a red dot sight and really start pwning.   I love the currency system!! No more do you get rewarded for using a gun  for 10 hours. Instead, you can earn enough credits with the gun you love and simply purchase the upgrade for the new gun you want to try.  This gives the player a much better feeling of ownership with their classes.  Your set up is truly yours based on what you’ve decided to buy rather than just what level you are at the given moment.  There is a prestige mode so prepare to have this fun over and over again, for those of you who like that sort of thing.

Many will say Call of Duty Black Ops doesn’t “feel” like Modern Warfare 2.  My response to that is…. should it???  I mean i expected it to be different, and I for one think its better. I find my self less frustrated.  Shots seem to kill the person rather than giving me a hit marker just to see my enemy sprint away.  This could be due to the fact that the juggernaut perk is no where to be found in Black Ops.  HOOORAY!!!! no more getting cheated out of a kill because your enemy has a magical floating plus sign!  There is a “Hardened” perk which increases your bullet penetration but it says nothing about increasing bullet damage.  Treyarch’s decision to remove these “damage modifiers” really gives the game a balanced feel.  This welcomes newcomers as it doesn’t promote that feeling of  “WTF!?  I shot him first!” on your first match. Sniper rifles actually kill people….. hmmmmmm imagine that.   No more shooting a guy in the chest with a 50 cal sniper rifle and watching him live to tell the tale.   I’m not sure if the 50 cal is included in Black Ops but if it is prepare to see people taking dirt naps.

I’m excited about the new modes  Wager Match, and some of the new playlists including Bare Bones, which includes a mode called PURE  ( no perks, no attachments, no special equipment, no kill streaks)  giving you that good old feeling we got back in the Call of Duty 2 Days.   Many of the playlists are unlocked as you level up. This is good as it prevents noobs from playing more challenging game types like Hardcore until they have played the game enough to be ready.

There are more things to look forward to like having a custom reticle  (eg. a scull instead of a red dot)   Or posting my clan tag on my gun so everyone knows the final kill was us!

I could talk all day about this game look into some of the new modes on callofduty.com

Overall  Call of Duty Black Ops is a solid addition to the franchise and will keep COD lovers playing until the next one!  See you on my next kill streak!

Jason Thompson | TheImpetuousOne

 

Mario 64 on iPhone 4!

We have seen Mario 64 running smoothly on jailbroken iOS4! If you don’t know what jailbreaking is, google it. 🙂 We’ve all seen gaming on mobile phones but this was exciting to see. Just think… these games once needed a console and a cartridge an it is now I’m the palm of your hand! Mario 64 seems to be the smoothest running N64 game I’ve seen on the device. Check it out:

Now, where the iPhone lacks is the absence of a keyboard… While this was the coolest feature back in 2007 when the iPhone launched, it is limiting when gaming on the mobile device. You either end up with buttons over your image or only using half the screen like you see above.

I was excited to see that the save feature worked also. And I’m not talking about save states but actually in game saves! The gyroscope and accelerometer are also used for camera adjustment controls.

Awesome stuff. The lack of an analog stick was missed when trying to run in a full circle but HEY playing Mario 64 on a phone is cool enough!

The mobile gaming industry ( The PSP, DS etc) has already been threatened by mobile phone devices. As far as graphics and processing speed, this is proof that they can hang with the best!

Kinect 6 feet minimum distance!?!

I know I posted about this in my lengthy review but I had  to reiterate this one.  Take a look at the back of the box for Your Shape | Fitness Evolved….

More like 6 inches...

I can’t help but feel a little duped by this.. I can’t imagine a response from Microsoft or the folks who designed this cover for the game… but it would probably be something like  “Move to a bigger room…”

What’s up with the Xbox360 Sound?

Has anyone noticed the sound of their game fading in and out while in a party chat?  It seems that the new audio codec has some special features.  jmicheal88 noticed this first, he thought something was wrong with his HDMI cable.  On the contrary.  This morning in party chat, I noticed that every time voice came over loudly in the chat… the game volume decreased!  Wow,… looks like  they took some tips from the mobile phone industry on this one.  The effect is very similar to when you receive an email on your iPhone or Android phone while listening to music….

Kudos to Microsoft for this. The phasing up and down of volume can be a bit jarring if your Xbox Live Party conversation is choppy.  Now I’m headed back to the dashboard to see if you can toggle this in the settings anywhere….

UPDATE:  Found it… The dashboard update includes the option to control voice volume and game volume. If you want this to stop, just go increase your game volume setting in the dashboard.  Take a look @ what’s on Xbox.com’s support site:

 

Kinect Review – TV mount not included? no Netflix??

Anything missing from this picture?

Well folks,  its been a little over 18 hours since Kinect was release on the east coast and I still need to catch up on some sleep.  I spent the early morning hours setting up Kinect and marveling at all the things we’ve drooled over watching demonstrations.   Now that the “honeymoon” phase is over  I can get down to reviewing the product.

I like it.  Simply said. But there are things that I’m not happy with. So I’ll start with the cons and then talk about how much I enjoyed it.  😀

The first surprise was to find that the mount attachment for placing Kinect on top of your flat panel TV is NOT INCLUDED….. YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY NOT INCLUDED.   This was a disappointment  especially after seeing video after video and demonstration after demonstration where the Kinect was featured mounted above the television.  Would it have really been so hard to put this little piece of plastic in the box Microsoft?   Imagine my dismay when I saw this….

SOLD SEPERATELY!?!?!

How much could they possibly sell this for? Anything above 5 bucks would just be robbery.  Look Gates, we’re already buying a NEW version of the Xbox360  and a NEW peripheral, you could at least give us a mount to put it on our LCD/Plasma/LED/….  for $150 bucks I should be able to mount it on my HEAD!

Moving on…

“XBOX PLAY…………NETFLIX PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!………………….XBOX STOP……….um NETFLIX STOP??……………….uh  HELLO??????????????????????

So after a little two sided tape and a WOOOO-SAH, I jumped into the dashboard to find another disappointment. Remember the product vision,  all the families having a great time watching Netflix together?  Yeah? Me too, well it turns out that the Netflix application is not yet “Kinect Ready”  I was unable to find anyway to control the Netflix application with the Kinect sensor.  Furthermore don’t get excited about navigating ANY of the regular menus with Kinect.  As far as the dashboard goes  you have to enter the ‘Kinect Hub’ somewhat of a sub menu to the actual dashboard.   I wonder why this was  still needed after the huge overhaul the dashboard took for the fall update???  Personally I would prefer to be able to control any and every part of the 360 dashboard with the Kinect Sensor… but that’s just me I guess.   *SHRUG*

One other tidbit on the CONs side is the distance requirement.  The Kinect expects that you be at least 6 feet away from  the Kinect sensor.   Is that average? Go check out your living room now and measure the space between the TV and the couch.. I’ll wait

……..

………..

……………

Is your living room tall enough to go on this ride???  Chances are, it isn’t.  Kinect Adventures actually suggests that you move furniture if you can.  While I can get over this and calibrate the sensor to adjust for the small play space, this isn’t something their telling you before you buy.  Mom’s and Dads beware,  before your kids turn your family room into a gymnasium.  😀

Don’t misread me guys, I don’t HATE the Kinect, I think like many I was pulled into the hype and expected a perfect product. Lets hope some software patches fix some things ( ahem.. Netflix) and we can all move forward amicably.

Now for the good stuff.  Kinect does live up to its reputation in many other ways. Its really fun moving around in the ‘Minority Report’ style we all have been waiting for.  The responsiveness is extremely smooth and surprisingly accurate. People will want to call this a ‘Wii Killer’ but its simply a new animal, completely set aside from the Wii. It has some of the same quirks we saw with the Wii launched and the same basic functionality games at launch.   We’ve all seen how the Wii has continued to give developers a chance to be creative, so I’m excited about future titles for Kinect.  ‘The Micheal Jackson Experience anyone????’   Pardon the nerd moment but I think we’ve all danced like the King of Pop in our living room at some point, now we’ll have an excuse.  Sources say it wont be released until March of 2011.  I think its worth the wait.

Somewhere between being able to navigate the Zune and ESPN apps with a wave of my hand or  Telling the XBOX to pause when the phone is ringing and a video is playing, I was impressed!!!   The sensor does a great job of recognizing your voice, unlike many of the other voice recognition technologies that mistake  “Play Next Track” for “Disable Bluetooth”   😐

The games are fun, it ties in the more casual gamer, and to add a tag line that everyone seems to love nowadays,  ‘This changes everything, again’

I’ll be reviewing  ‘Your Shape: Fitness Evolved’ on my next post, stay tuned!!

Does your wife or girlfriend hate it when you game??

Hello all, I wrote this in 2007 but the facts remain the same today.

When you and the fellas get going on some Gears of War, NBA Live, Madden. . . people just need to understand, WE NEED THIS.
Ladies we love you but sometimes we need to sit back and be men… so understand we need our time.

In Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls” Gabriel Union’s character says she’s looking for “a black man with good credit, who speaks grammatical English and who doesn’t play video games.”

Ok, wow….What’s the problem? That’s like saying I’m looking for a black woman who doesn’t like shopping and/or fashion. Don’t get me wrong I know it can get bad… fellas if you want to play XBOX360, PS3 or Wii more than you want to be with your lady then you need to take a look at your life and get your priorities together. A form of affection should be higher priority than beating the Heat on your NBA Live Season. Please ladies AND men give your loved ones just a few hours to get some gamage in . . .

Yes, ladies game too.

The average age for a video game player is about 30, a number slowly increasing as people that were kids playing the first arcade, console and home computer games continue playing now on current systems. The gender distribution of gamers is reaching equilibrium, according to a 2003 study showing that 57% of gamers are male and 43% female. (ESA report on the sales, demographics and usage data of the industry)

Wow 43 percent, that’s a lot of women. If you’re out there reading this ladies… Will You Marry Me? Haha, I’m just kidding I’m married,  but seriously its just a sign of the times… 20 years ago men got together and had poker night. Now . . . we game. It’s not just another night of the week… it is the very fabric that keeps man sane… the comraderie and competition mends all wounds of the world and act as catalysts to propell the patrons of gamage toward a better mood… a better state of mind so we can deal with the weight of life, work and relationship.

To all my gamers out there, men and women alike, keep gaming. . . Maybe I’ll see u out there on XBOX|Live

TheImpetuousOne

TheImpetuousOne tries XBOX360 Kinect

So I’m sure you all have been following the tour for Xbox360 Kinect. If you haven’t you can check it out here.  The XBOX360 team and the Kinect team were out in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA this past weekend and I got the opportunity to try out Kinect.

kinectguesspass

TheImpetuousOne w/ Guest Pass

I’ll start with the good.   First of all the controller-less action is just as new and exciting as that first strike you got playing Wii Sports bowling.  The extent of detail that Kinect tracks is amazing; not perfect but impressive. It followed my every move, if I lifted my arm slightly, the character on the screen did the same.  I was captivated just at the loading screen that prompted me to lift my hand and move a zipper from left to right (iPhone slide to unlock style) to start the game.  I think Kinect will get much more of a response than Playstation Move has received.  I mean has PS Move even launched?????  Talk about under the radar!  But lets face it Sony, Nintendo did the remote ( Wii-mote) thing already, it’s a bit too late.

My wife and I chose to play ‘River Raft,’  part of Kinect Adventures. The X360 Kinect team explained that this would be one of the games that came with Kinect out of the box.  We were able to play the game together, another advantage over Playstation Move. With no need for an extra remote we were both loaded into the game and ready to go.   I applaud any game that can get my wife to play Xbox360, so needless to say, I’m looking forward to having this in our home.
The art festival was great and all but naturally the Kinect tour was a big hit here. The lines moved fast and the demo area, once inside, was air-conditioned.  On a hot summer day in the ATL, AC was like dry land in Waterworld (  excuse the nerd moment ).

kenectdemobanner

We got there early so the lines you see here were pretty short but by midday and once others were seen walking around the park with their xbox360 guest passes around their necks the lines grew within minutes.

kinectbooths

Left: Kinect Adventures Right: Dance Central

What we didn’t get to try was “Dance Central” in the other Kinect demo room.  It was the more popular of the two, however only one person could play at a time.  Your friends were welcomed to come in as back up dancers. I’m not sure my wife would have wanted to be my back up dancer so we skipped it.

Then there are the cons.  I really like this product and its hard to find many things wrong with it. However, controller-less gameplay seems pretty cool but it does present somewhat of a limitation in game types. Can you imagine playing a shooter and having to stand the entire time pretending to hold a gun?  Or how do you control a 3D environment?  I hope Microsoft has given this some significant thought.

The other issues I can foresee include glitchy responses. We’ve all seen it with the Nintendo Wii launch title Red Steel the first time you died because the Wii-mote didn’t respond quickly enough you considered throwing your Wii out of the window. SENSE THAT MOTION NINTENDO!!!!!!   But seriously folks, the Kinect will open up a new world with Wii like (if not better) controls and HD/Next-Gen graphics.  To the casual gamer anything is acceptable but to those Halo or Gears of War players who count on split second accuracy, the Kinect will have a lot to live up to.

Another cool feature of the demo rooms was that they recorded you playing during your session.  The guest pass included a personal number to enter at  http://www.kinect.me to watch later and you’re able to leave a message to show on the guest book if you chose to do so.  I was so excited to share the video of me and my wife playing kinect here but sadly Its been 3 days and the code still does not work.  Microsoft, you lose a few cool points on this one.  Why offer something and give away guest passes that may or may not work??  Quality control anyone?? I can see if this was an isolated incident but I’ve seen on other blogs that I am not the only one to be disappointed and greeted with this screen:

kinectmeerror

FAIL

Overall I’m EXTREMELY excited about Kinect and the potential it has to take gaming to a completely new level. It’s innovation like this that makes me dream about what our grandchildren and their children will be playing in 2102. I hope you get to try Kinect in a city near you. Keep gaming and maybe I’ll see you out there on XBOX | Live!

Gamertag: TheImpetuousOne