Category Archives: video

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV – Liberty Call

Sailors understand the phrase, “liberty call.” It means you are finally touching land and you have a few hours, a few days to spend all your money on souvenirs, salads and antiquing … at least that’s what it says on the official Navy website.

The Grand Theft Auto IV game is completely different. You get to be the you you want to be if you had no inhibitions or deal with that stupid law & order thing they keeping talking about … Unfortunately, I am stuck in Club Penguin and wonder if the grass is indeed …um, the kind of greener grass you mow …

So, JackDaddy spent just a few hours/days playing the game to let us know. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to worry about alloting time to find CARS in any retail stores (inside joke) so he can devote all his time to properly being a gangsta gangster in Liberty City … take it away JackDaddy … (a perfect character name by the way).
LIBERTY CITY – HAVE YOU BEEN THERE YET?

For those who don’t know and for those who think they don’t/shouldn’t care, April 29th was a big, big day for home entertainment.

At 1 minute past zero in the morning, retailers and onlinepurchasing systems around the planet went into overdrive.

After 2 years of hype, advertising and some text bookmarketing stops and starts, Rockstar North realised a life time ambition.

(MET: I realized the UK still hates the letter Z … “realized.” 🙂 )

I am of course referring to Grand Theft Auto 4 – Liberty City.

So what’s the big deal?

Grand Theft Auto 4 – Liberty City (GTA4) is estimated to have cost $100 million to produce, market and release, a fact alone worth taking notice of! Incredibly it is now officially the fastest and biggest selling home entertainment retail item of all time!

GTA4 sold approximately 3.6 million units on its opening day with a retail value of approximately $310 million globally.

It sold 6 million units globally with an estimated retail value of more than $500 million in the first week.

No VINYL, AUDIO CASSETTE, VIDEO CASSETTE, DVD, CD or GAME has ever sold anything like that before!

That’s the Beatles, Star Wars, Super Mario, and others, smashed off the charts!

The figures are still rising, with most retailers reporting that strong sales are continuing and some even running out of product!

Sony refuse to admit it, but retailers are also saying thatthey have sold more Playstation 3’s in this quarter than they did in the PS3 launch month quarter and if sales continue, possibly more than they did for Christmas! This would more than confirm the belief that most gamers have delayed their PS3purchase until the release of GTA4! Only Nintendo and Mario have sold a console like this before, but the figures were peanuts compared to this.

But that surely could just be a result of hype and clever advertising?

Is it really that special?

The simple answer is – ABSO ’BLOODY’ LUTELY!

I have essentially spent a whole week in Liberty City, so before I tell you all why, let me tell you what is wrong with it. I assure you all I will not give too much away.

Despite the release of Vice City stories on XBOX & PS2 afew years ago, GTA4 has essentially had to follow up what many describe as the greatest video game of all time, Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas. This was a revolutionary game and arguably was the main player game wise that helped to bridge the gap between geeks/teenagers and the adult market with free time at home. For those who played it, you will know what made it great. I have caned the life out of both GTA San Andreas and GTA4 in my spare time, but am somehow left fonder of GTA San Andreas in many ways.

(MET: I have no idea what the last sentence meant in American English but I believe he likes virtual macking, jacking and hoin’ … 🙂 of course, hey, who doesn’t?)

It is hard to say why, but I suppose it is probably has to be a combination of factors. GTA San Andreas was so innovative and groundbreaking at the time, every turn had a new never before in a video game surprise. The sheer exploratory side of the game was incredible. The humour was at times genius and missions (overall) were a joy. Playing it was like eating a slice of deprived 90s urban America, and getting the runs as a result, with references to all our favourite black gangsta movies, rappers and personalities from recent times. It was naughty, nostalgic and a massive virtual playing field where you could just do whatever you wanted without consequence. Customisation of your character and Car also made your copy of the game unique.

(MET: In Club Penguin, I planted a tulip on my ice floe).

GTA San Andreas was warm, a friend even!

So GTA4 isn’t then?

It’s an entirely different game, part of a new era!

The down side of this? In GTA4, you can’t………………

1 – Fly a plane.

2 – Gang fight like in San Andreas

(You could literally fill up a van with your homeys and go round to you enemies and take them out.)

3 – Parachute jump

4 – Jet pack around

5 – Play as many in game games like the casino/with characters/danceoffs

6 – Make money as easily

7 – Get a hair cut/tattoo

8 – Buy as many clothes

9 – Customise your Car

10 – Buy property

11 – Go into a nightclub

(even though one of the radio DJs is house music legend François K)

Due to the above, its ground breaking innovation and the fact that GTA San Andreas has such a brilliant story and setting, I will always be very fond of it, maybe more so than GTA4. GTA San Andreas had many, many flaws/glitches and bad points, having me throwing my controller across the room! Remember the ‘learn to fly Carl’ missions anyone? Oh my god!

Fondness is fondness, I am fond of ex girlfriends, but they are not better than others!

GTA4 is a darker, grittier experience. You can tell that the franchise has grown up a lot, and is taking its self much more seriously as mainstream medium. The silliness is gone, the next gen engines have been explored and it reeks of real life. It’s a virtual realm, but a believable one!

Rockstar are clearly saying – “hello adults, don’t watch that DVD, play this!”

So is GTA4 over rated then? NO!

If anything, recent reviews and exposure leave it looking somewhat under rated. This is probably deliberate; maybe because Rockstar know what they have got and are letting their consumers do the talking for them (look what I am doing?)

I have now completed it twice as a story and have nearly went through all the mini missions within the game. For those who do not know, that’s a hell of a lot of game play, basically everyday for long periods of time during the last two weeks

In total, the games main story mode contains 87 missions, some very brief, a few very long with most others around the 5 – 10 minutemark. In addition, the game also contains –

9 x Assassin missions

10 x drug run missions

40 x car steal missions

9 x races

50 x police car missions

36 x other random missions involving characters

200 pigeons to shoot (replacing the ridiculous clams from San Andreas)*

50 stunt jumps to perform.

(MET: *Yes, clams is correct – not a typo).

Its retail price? £44.99 or $29.99!

(MET: If you were paid in £’s and then flew to the US but here in the US, it’s $59.99 … and of course, ours is the NTSC version).

This is undoubtedly the bargain of gaming history. GTA4 contains the equivalent of at least 4 – 6 games if you consider the length andcontent of games already released and available for PS3 and XBOX360.

IT’S MASSIVE!

In fact, in my opinion, you would be getting value for money if you bought a PS3 and a copy of GTA4, just to be able to play GTA4. You would get a blue ray DVD player for free and an online compatible gaming console too?!

The game is just wild!

Rockstar have made the playing field more condensed, but San Andreas did have huge waste lands of space with nothing to do.

Liberty City doesn’t.

For those who don’t know, it’s based on New York.

You play an illegal immigrant and experience his struggles as he arrives off the boat from Eastern Europe and moves in with his cousin in Brooker.

(MET: Location: Liberty City, broken up into five areas: Brooklyn is Broker; Manhattan is Algonquin; Queens is Dukes; The Bronx is Bohan & New Jersey is Alderney)


The story mode prompts you from there and 87 missions later reaches conclusion.

There is an alternative ending scenario, but is not much different.

The graphics, architecture and physics are exciting, dazzling and true media innovation.

Detail has obviously figured to be paramount in planning and it is staggering just how much there is.

Simply driving around is breath taking, with every Car having different handling, acceleration, braking and cornering features. All the vehicles are beautiful, with well over 400 to drive/ride/fly/steer.

When Rockstar released the less popular but mildly superior videogame version of the 1970s classic gangland movie ‘The Warriors’ not long after GTA San Andreas a few years ago, it left players begging the question, “why can’t GTA be like this?” Rockstar seemed to have learnt from that and have almost injected the GTA franchise with the Warriors strengths, most noticeable when your character is running, jumping, fighting and climbing.

One of the focal points of GTA4 is its new cover and targeting system, this is essentially up there with the best of games now, where as San Andreas had terrible targeting and weapons accuracy, it was a poor part of the game and looked as though they had to do it rather than wanted to. GTA4 pulls this off perfectly, with all objects in game becoming usable ascover which you can duck up and down from or blind fire from while avoiding incoming bullets. The weapons are slightly limited, but are all awesome. Enemies are much more intelligent, they too will duck and cover and try to kill you more assertively, whereas in previous GTA instalments, they stood still and were easily avoided.

There is just so much you can do in this game, with shootouts, chases, races, and missions to make your eyes pop out in astonishment.

(MET: Penguins?)

My favourite level in story mode was the Bank Robbery. Without giving too much away, this is very much like the bank robbery scene from the film Heat with De Niro and Pacino. It took me 40 minutes to get through this level.

The Assassin missions were another joy. Merely answering the phone and then going to take people out was almost like a game all to itself.** There are hundreds of similar things to do like this, like vigilante mode or most wanted mode in a cop car. You can also just go for a drive and cause mayhem with whomever you choose. My Brother particularly finds joy in causing endless road blocks which he then explodes. I had fun while on top of abuilding merely phoning the cops and shooting them.

**(MET: remind me never to call JackDaddy 😉 )

YES, YOU CAN PHONE PEOPLE!

The biggest change from San Andreas is the Multimedia capability in GTA4.

You can use the in-game internet and your mobile phone, which becomes part of your progress success. You can also access the Police computers from any police vehicle and use their information to your gain.

While online, you can read blogs, email certain people, arrange dates and even send a job application! Virtual reality with a sick sense of humour!

Your phone is equipped with a camera; you can send/receive text messages and can phone certain characters. You can also phone random numbers dotted around the game, some of which are very amusing!

You can go out with friends/dates an do a variety of activities, like bowling, pool, darts, food etc.

The Music is excellent, with loads of different radio stations to listen to, some hosted by very some very famous people indeed.

The humour is there but it’s not as slapstick as San Andreas, which is a little sad, and there are lots of liberal agenda antiestablishment skits and references. GTA4 gives you a panoramic look at the not so different world of our own in your living room. It’s ironic, sarcastic, brutally honest and always down right vicious!

(MET: Welcome to Brooklyn!)



All in all it is an incredible gaming experience, and is the ultimate time killer.

There isn’t a two player option which is a little disappointing, but there is a 16 player online mode you can play via the network. My Brother and I happily exchanged the controller throughout missions and mini games though.

In closing, I would say that the franchise is gearing up for Expansion packs, maybe like the Sims, where every 6 – 12 months they release something new to accompany the game. This would be welcomed in Liberty City, where many of the buildings look empty and dormant, almost demanding to become involved. More clothing and activity outlets/venues would have been better; you can’t really customise your character that well or do a lot with in game characters. My Brother and I are salivating at the prospect of playing GTA San Andreas revisited!

Who knows?

One thing we all know or will know is that Rockstar Games have changed history as we know it with Grand Theft Auto 4 Liberty City.

If you haven’t already – BUY IT!

(PS3 & Xbox360)

Need a PS3 or XBox360?

BTW, there are five non-violent things you can do in GTA4 😉

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Should I Buy a Blu-Ray DVD Player Now? … Okay, How About Now?

We have moved to TakeFiveADay.com – we have moved this post over.

just click on the logo to be taken to this archive post.

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Mattel Disney Pixar Cars: Online World Coming …

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I had this bookmarked, mis-filed it and just found it again – this is the original quote alluded to in the Toy Fair press release:

HIGHLIGHTING in BOLD my additions …

“Disney Eyes More Online Investment

The Walt Disney Co. will invest more in online games and virtual worlds following the success of sites with themes based on Disney Fairies and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

In 2008, the company will launch an online game site based on the Disney/Pixar film “Cars,” Disney President and CEO Robert Iger said Nov. 29 during the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Long View Conference.

In August, Disney acquired Club Penguin, a virtual world site with more than 700,000 paid subscribers.

Disney is going to invest “substantially” in these types of sites over the next few years because of their potential and fitting in with the rise of the home computer as an entertainment medium, Iger said.

The sites are also helpful in growing and maintaining interest in Disney film franchises, Iger said.

For instance in the absence of a sequel for “Cars” or while waiting for a sequel, the new virtual world site based on the film will continue to make the characters and setting relevant and in front of millions of people around the world, Iger said.

“You can live with and act with Lightning McQueen for years to come,” Iger added.

I call Mac iCar!

Who will you be?

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From the San Fernanado Business Journal (registration required so I clipped the entire article BTW).

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Amazon Mp3 Will Affect Amazon Revenue More Than Apple’s iPod or iTunes

It’s pretty amazing the number of journalists who don’t look at a situation before just plowing ahead and writing words and “a conclusion.” They either choose to ignore the real world or they simply don’t understand it. Either way, it’s appalling.

Yes, Amazon’s entry into the “unlocked” DRM free Mp3 market will affect Apple & the iPod but its *affect* is DIFFERENT than you think.

If the iPod did NOT play the mp3 format, it would clearly have a major affect – just as when Sony’s players did not play Mp3’s directly (it would convert to ATRA mp3), when the iPod entered the market, people quickly choose the iPod over the Sony for the simple reason it played mp3’s very easily and transparently. Yes, the iPod looked nice and it was easy to use but if it did not play Mp3’s – there might be a few million out there versus 150 million.

There is no discussion. Mp3 is the preferred format for LEGAL and ILLEGAL downloads. Yes, there are others that hold some interest: mp4, FLAC, APE and even WMA but I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the preferred format OVERWHELMINGLY is not mp3 … sure, audiophiles can argue there are better formats but that’s not the issue.

It’s mp3.

You can do the math. 150 million iPods sold, 5 billion music tracks. That works out to about 34 tracks per iPod. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate as the bulk of iTunes sales are only in a few countries but even presuming double the number in the US per iPod user … and if iTunes music sales drops to ZERO for some reason?

How much is Apple losing in iTunes music store purchases per every iPod if that were true?

@$13.60

Apple is presumed to make $.20 per iTunes music track – not counting the cost of running the iTunes store and credit card fees … so actual profit is maybe $.07 a track but that’s presuming iTunes stores sales drops to zero which is unlikely … if Apple were to lose $7 per iPod in lost sales, I think there are dozens of ways Apple could make up that revenue including shaving $7 in costs from the iPod itself … but the bottom line is that the iTunes music sales are NOT the main reason people buy iPods.

Clearly, even people with iPod Shuffles have more than 34 or 68 tracks on their iPod. Whether it’s 100% legal converted from their own CD collection or LEGAL tracks downloaded from musician sites or other sites like iLike.com or ILLEGAL tracks, people know how to load tracks (1,000+ tracks) on a Nano (or up to 20,000+ tracks) on the Classic iPods. The iTunes store is a small part of the reason they buy an iPod.

So, what does that mean for Apple?

How about this ad from Amazon.com?

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That’s right. It might even help Apple sell MORE iPods, NOT less.

Because for all the people who hated the iTunes store for its DRM, now they have a reason to buy an iPod. Sure, it might help sell a few more SanDisks and Zunes but it’s clear that 7 out of every 10 mp3/DAP buyers are iPod buyers AND now that mp3 player sales overall are slowing, it’s rapidly becoming inefficient to stay in the marketplace if you’re 10th or even 5th in marketshare … leaving consumers with fewer choices down the line and we know what’s still the first choice with or without iTunes store purchases.

AMAZON?

If anything, this territory might be scary for Amazon than Apple.

Why?

Amazon sells about 6% of the 500 million CD’s sold in the U.S. or about 30 million CD’s. If we presume the average selling price is around $13 – that’s about $400 million in revenue for Amazon. Now, if you have the choice to buy 4 tracks of a CD for $.99 a piece (some tracks are less on Amazon, some more but let’s say an average of $.99) as an mp3 download or the full CD for $13, what’s your choice? That’s hard to say, of course but that’s precisely what Amazon has to deal with. Is that previous $13 purchase staying the same in revenue? Are you going to buy 13 tracks from 3 artists or are you going to stop at 4? In other words, is Amazon trading a $13 CD for $13 in downloads or are they trading $13 in revenue for $4 in revenue?

It’s impossible to say but the bottom line is that is the choice consumers have to make – sure, maybe instead of buying a $13 CD, that consumer can buy $25 in downloads … but what was holding back consumers before?

DRM?

If we know the average iPod user was spending @$34 at the iTunes music store, what held them back from spending more?

DRM? Really?

Are you that convinced it’s all about the DRM – that without DRM, sales would be up 50%, 100? 1000 percent?

Digital sales are increasing 50% a year anyway but for people WILLING to buy LEGAL tracks online were not doing so because they said DRM was the major hinderance?

I’m not saying the Amazon store won’t sell a lot of tracks but is Amazon trading CD sales for fewer downloads? What is the age breakdown of CD buyers? Is the music industry losing the bottom end of 12-24’s who are downloading free LEGAL tracks from their favorite bands from the musician’s MySpace page/iLike page and of course, clearly, they know how to download illegal tracks to fill their iPods?

Are these the same people who know how to convert tracks to a CD-R?

Sure, there’s a lot of blog talk about hatin’ DRM (and I certainly am NOT for it) but it’s sort like arguing against burning down the Amazon rain forrest, right? Who outside of 300 Brazilians arsonists are for it? But what are people really doing about it?

BOTTOM LINE

My prediction is that sure, Amazon will grab some market share from iTunes music store but as Amazon’s ads say – BUY an IPOD to add Amazon tracks … Apple merely shifts revenue from iTunes to iPods – not exactly a tragedy and if Apple convinces you to buy a few tracks, rent some movies, buy a music video – there are pretty much back to $34 in iTunes revenue AND they’ve sold you another iPod.

The people who really hate Apple and think they should hate the iPod are not going to swayed by this anyway. They are buying SanDisks and Creatives as it is now – this won’t change anything.

The 75% who own iPods might switch and buy some tracks from Amazon but for less savvy users who like being able to preview, buy and sync with one click don’t care about DRM – nothing will change.

And in 6 months or a year, the record labels will be forced to sell DRM free on iTunes … a) because they can’t ignore the place where 70% of the digital music online market is and b) they’ll be sued for restraint of trade by not selling the same thing to everyone – will the iPod marketshare drop to some small percentage? No. Will there as good of a user tie-in as iTunes to the iPod as SanDisk’s, Creative’s or even MS for their software to their hardware? Unlikely.

Now that Apple has added movie rentals and more movie choices, the only real scenario is that the iPod will maintain its market share or more likely, grow slightly. Apple is still the leader in every aspect except the bottom end. There is no small player with the screen, movie rentals & audiobooks to match the Nano, for those who want 160GB, there is no competitor at the same price and of course, the iPod Touch trumps them all and has the highest margins/pricetag – so another 6 months of clear sailing for Apple and the iPod.

Sure, the iTunes store might drop a few percentage in market share to the Amazon mp3 store but the Amazon store has no movie rentals or TV shows (the Unbox has both but no portable player).

The Amazon mp3 store affects Apple just as if you were to open a Best Buy across the street from an Apple store. The revenues would shift around a little but at the end of the day, Apple actually comes out ahead because all you’ve done is given the consumer another reason to buy an iPod.

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Hello From MacWorld 2008

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Not actually blogging from here since we’re only #72,000 on Technorati 🙂 … there are only about 15 seats … maybe next year.

Other than the keynote, there’s not much to see that’s new – I don’t think Adobe is even here. The nicest booth by far is Belkin’s

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If this were in Venice, it’d be about $900,000.

The coolest booth is Crumpler (they make messenger and brief bags). It’s a castle made up of interlocking cardboard or some sort of polymer board.

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Only thing I bought From XtremeMac:

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I took a photo of the MacBook Air but not only were there way too many people crowded around it, there is no way a photo can do it justice in how thin it is. If you have a pad of yellow legal pads … yea, that’s your MacBook Air. It’s pretty amaazing and of course, me wantee. Apple website. Ad for Air. Guided Tour – multiple resolutions + downloads.

The updated AppleTV looks very nice – also with a Guided Tour. In case you missed it, the big news is Movie Rentals from all the movie studios and even in HD!

And linked with Leopard’s “Time Machine” backup feature, Time Capsule with allows you to back up wirelessly.

So, nothing as startling as last year’s iPhone but honestly, how many iPhone-like cottage industries can you pull out year afer year 🙂

Not sure why some people were so sure about a 3G iPhone … the 3G iPhone is ready to go when AT&T is ready and when Apple needs the sales boost.

The Tablet Mac? Pleezeee … Outside of 5,000 people and apparently 900 squeaky-wheel bloggers and analysts, hardly anyone cares or actually wants one – how are those WIN tablet sales? EGGXACTLY!

Everything released was nice, interesting and useful – it’s nothing revolutionary but that’s fine. Not every keynote can be revolutionary. Making food into pellets is revolutionary but sometimes you just want a juicy burger, eh?

Speaking of food, of course, just one block away – a dozen Beard Papa’s fresh giant cream puffs …

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The best food surrounding a convention center in America … unless of course, you enjoy $8 pizza made in 2005 and reheated … oh, and it’s sunny and 65 degrees here in SF so come on by!

(PS – Of course for those that keep track of such things – Best Booth Babes – Skull Candy and best DJ!)

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Nintendo Wii: The Bundles & Best Casual Games Reviews

Unfortunately, it looks like we are headed into the 2nd holiday season with Wii’s not readily available. There is nary a consumer electronics store you can go into that doesn’t have a giant pile of PS3’s & XBoxes – both fine systems but who’s got that much time these days – the Nintendo Wii is the perfect FAMILY & CASUAL gamer system.

PS3 & XBox players/gamers just don’t get the Wii … to them, if they can’t spend 400 hours online playing it or if the graphics rival motion pictures, to them – that is the only criteria that counts. The Wii on the other hand takes MINUTES to understand and provides hundreds of hours of FAMILY & CASUAL fun. The most time consuming process on the Wii is waiting and deciphering the start up process … and after you’ve created your Mii (your Wii caricature on screen), theh you are set to go.

That’s not to say there aren’t great time-consuming games on the Wii like Madden ’08 or Resident Evil or even the Godfather but you can read reviews those most anywhere. The problem is that most video game reviews are written for hardcore gamers who only judge a game on its long playability, being able to go online or that the graphics are processed by a supercomputer. They just don’t get why anyone would want to jump online in 2 minutes, play for 30 minutes, not save anything and move on to something else or sure, it sounds stupid to try and rope a barrel by YOURSELF but get 6 friends (drunk of otherwise) or 3 kids (um, drunk only on sugar, of course), and it’s great fun – especially because ANYONE at that party who can wave their arms can jump in and play – no having to play soft so they understand that Right AB Up is to swing or that Right BB down is to engage their weapon … Want to swing at me, raise and swing your arms – IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

If you have friends and younger kids and you want to play along with them, get a WII and check out these games. These are NOT comprehensive reviews but just a sampler for you to read more to decide if you want or to highlight the casual games out there for the Wii.

Perfect for Party/Casual/Family Gaming …

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Mario Party 8

The perfect casual game – 70 mini games – and up to 4 people can play. Nothing really new but something for everyone and kids who are 5 can compete with skilled gamers …

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Carnival Games

25 “carnival” games – games everyone knows how to play. (sold out in lots of places).

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Rayman Raving Rabbids

Now valued priced – an even better deal – weird humor and dozens of mini games.

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Playground

Not as many games as Carnival Games and maybe not as much fun for everyone at a party but still a pretty good choice – you get to relive your schoolyard days playing Dodgeball, Tetherball, Wall Ball, Kicks, Slot Car Racing, Paper Racers, Dart Shootout, and more …

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Boogie (Microphone Included)

Less game and more just singing and making your own videos so great for young teens or really, really drunk adults 🙂 (includes microphone).

A Little More Involved – Not so Much as Party Game But Fun For Kids/Family

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Backyard Football

Play the NFL as a the little kid version of real NFL stars – Brady, Manning, Tomlinson, Urlacher, Alexander, McNabb, Rothlisberger, Young, Bush, etc … Younger kids might have problems grasping what to do but older kids and probably more specifically, older boys should like it better.

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High School Musical: Sing It! with Microphone

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Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour

Both these are games that is either a MUST HAVE or a RUN FOR THE HILLS – you know if you want it or you would never want it 🙂 . It’s EXACTLY as advertised – sing along, sing as yourself, sing & dance with Hannah, etc … again – either exactly the fun you want or not so much …

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The Dance, Dance Revolution includes the mat and uses the Wii controllers to make sure you’e using your arms correctly and of course, swing the Nintendo Wii controller to send obstructions to your opponents.

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Cooking Mama: Cook Off

It certainly doesn’t sound like much but if your kids or more specifically, girls in your family enjoy “less intense” competition games like the pets games and so forth, they should enjoy this … it’s just a fun family game … as with a lot of Nintendo games … it’s like trying to describe why an squat Italian plumber is fun … this game just is for the right kids and families.

Good Family Fun/Harder for Younger Kids

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Rockstar Table Tennis

Surprisingly deep and a little more effort than expected … from easy to master and 19 different arenas, 11 different players and 4 different game modes so you definitely get your money’s worth. Easy access but value for those who want to build and sustain a character.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Great fun – only thing better is the Wii lightsaber accessory was out. Includes all 6 movies in one game for the first time.

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Excite Truck

Pretty fun truck rally game – driving & flying – not much planning or thinking ahead. Be nicer if it came with a steering wheel but works pretty well with Wii remote.

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Cars: The Game

Pretty fun – though definitely for fans of the movie and in particular, younger kids – because you can just drive around the twon and explore without it being some intense competition. Nice & cute – not great but still fun and now valued priced at $19.99, a great deal. There is a new Mater-National CARS game that is mostly racing. Just coming out so you can check it yourself.

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GT Pro Series (With Wheel)

The wheel doesn’t clamp down to a table and it feels a little weird in the beginning but eventually you forget. Not a great game but value priced and boys and guys who want a driving game without too much thinking required & is pretty fun.

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Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games

Parts are fun but it’s actually hard work and some competition is not very easy to grasp for casual/party gamers or young kids. 20 events to master with dumb unlockable stages (how about we get the entire game we paid for?). It’s okay but more complicated than it should be – we’re running as a hedgehog not Carl Lewis – why so serious about keeping score & competition? Can be a good workout but not much too hard for party/kids gaming. Disappointing.

Me’h – RENTAL is okay for the following …

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Brunswick Pro Bowling

The bowling portion of WII SPORTS (included with your Wii console) is pretty nice and too realistic (somehow, the scores are EXACTLY like my scores in real bowling! I can roll a 201 followed by a 63 with the greatest of ease!) … so you would think a full game devoted to bowling would be even better and more fun but this one is pretty dull. If it were priced like the PS2 version at $14.99, I would say – not great but worth $15 but the Wii version is priced at $39 – um, no thanks. Rental if your party is a bowling theme.

ALSO CHECK OUT

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Hooked

Haven’t played it so I can’t say either way but it does come with the fishing reel accessory.

ACCESSORIES

Controllers

Our other post covers bundles accessories & well as Wii bundles.

Wii Controller

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You can plug up to 4 “Wiimotes” into your Wii. You get 1 with the console.

Wii Nunchuck

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You can plug-link 1 Nunchuck into each Wiimote – up to 4 Wiimotes and/or 4 Nunchucks.

Wii Zapper

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The Wii Zapper is a gun peripheral that allows the user to insert a Wii Remote and Nunchuk, both sold separately, into either end and play a compatible game. The control stick on the Nunchuk controls player movement (on stages that allow player movement), while aiming the Wii Zapper moves the targeting reticule on the screen. The Zapper comes with Link’s Crossbow Training, which helps to familiarize the player with the Zapper in a shooting gallery style game. Link’s Crossbow Training contains three game styles: target shooting, defender and ranger. DOES NOT COME with Remote or Nunchuck.

Gun

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While you don’t really need a Gun for most of the casual games, if you plan on playing Resident Evil 4, Call of Duty 3, or Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – you might need a gun, this gun, or this one, or one with a target laser.

Wheel

From Core Gamer or from eforcity. The only table top wheel for a Wii so far.

Cables

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If you are connecting to an HD set or most sets, you’ll noiced the improved picture quality with component cables – either of these choices are fine:

Madcatz or Nyko.

USB Adaptor

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The Nintendo Wii has built in WiFi and its sense, search and setup process is VERY Apple like – mistake proof – once you plug in your Wii, you are set to go after a few minutes.

HOWEVER, if you do NOT have a WiFi hub/network in your house – you will need this which converts your wired internet access to an unwired version through your USB hub. You DO NOT need internet access to use your Wii, you do lose the ability to upgrade your Wii, you cannot access the oldies/classic store and stuff like the weather or sharing your Wii (the actual internet access requires an additional fee) so if you don’t want to set up a wifi hub, you can use this stick to create a wireless wifi hub. It does not work with every PC (because of your setup or firewall) but it might be better than nothing …

So again, if you have WiFi in your house, do NOT buy this.

Keyboard

The latest upgrade activated the keyboard feature so if you like, you can add a keyboard for web surfing. It’s definitely not a necessity unless you plan on spending a lot of time online with your Wii (the Wii Opera browser area is a separate paying area). While most low-end USB keyboards should work, here are two that have been tested (not be me) with claims that they work with the Wii:

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The Logitech Classic 200

& the Kensington 64370 Keyboard

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If you’re interested in the business angle of the video game console fight, here’s our take on it.

Of course, the holiday Wii buying guide.

Also – Older Nintendo Wii owners, Nintendo is offering a free Wii Remote Jacket so the remore controller isn’t quite as slippery. It’s free with free shipping. Log in with your serial number to this website.

Your serial will look something like this on the side of your Wii.

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Filed under Gadgets, Media, Retail, Toys, TV, video, Video Games

NBC-U Jeff Zucker, His iTunes Numbers Don’t Add Up

NBC-U Jeff Zucker is now mad people consider him and his Hulu venture idiotic so he is trying to talk as if he actually understands digital and the television business going forward.

He now claims that $15 million from NBC iTunes sales is not enough for him.

Nevermind that is 7.5 million impressions of NBC shows … or that 7.5 million people were willing to pay for it instead of downloading it for free … instead, Zucker’s very confused.

The bottom line is he wanted to raise prices and Apple did not – no biggie, that’s a business decision, right or wrong – that is his right as the guy NBC/GE’s board decided to hand the major decision making to – they have appointed him as the brains of the operation.

But instead, he tries to open other areas of discussion that he is clearly not qualified to discuss.

He babbles about Apple controllling distribution. At no point has anyone ever raised the issue about exclusive content – so how exactly is Apple controlling distribution when previous and going forward, NBC can sell their shows in every format including on their own website. The only distribution point Apple controls is iPod distribution … network TV, DVD retail, other internet venues, VOD, etc, etc … all NBC – what exactly is the problem with another distribution point? Most companies consider a NEW distribution a good thing (see, Zucker, how this works, if another store can sell your thing, you make more money).

He also talks about wanting to get iPod revenue because clearly we’re buying iPods to watch NBC shows … uh, sure – even if that were remotely true … shouldn’t then the auto makers pay Goodyear because cars without tires aren’t much fun? Or hey, is NBC paying us to use OUR airwaves? What is Zucker’s position on that issue?

So, he’s mad that Apple is not willing to raise prices and has only added $15 million to NBC-U coffers … so he picks a fight with Apple that he clearly doesn’t understand. What is the alternative to $15 million from Apple?

ZERO.

At what cost to sell at Apple iTunes? Practically nothing – how much is to digitize a show to load onto a jukebox that you NEVER have to reload – that requires no real maintance on your part? Apple handles EVERYTHING else?

If you sell a series on DVD, you have to project how many you can reasonable sell and that retailers will order – convert the series to DVD format, create a menu, design jewel case artwork and box, get it manufacturered, shipped and have provisions for returns and damaged discs.

Which is simpler?

So, instead of having yet another format for consumers … another $15 million (even presuming that iTunes sales do not grow) from a different non-exclusive source, he choose to walk away from that …

But that’s not enough for him – instead he thinks he can launch another YouTube.

So, it’s not just good enough to subtract $15 million from revenue but let’s spend how many hundreds of millions to launch a YouTube 1.1?

They already have 100 employees for a site months away from launch … it takes most startups years to pass 100 employees.

I don’t know YOUTUBE’s headcount now but I’m sure before the Google buyout, they were under 100 …

Zucker seems confused about how a startup works.

Of course, GE doesn’t seem to mind he still doesn’t understand anything – GE & Zucker a few years ago paid $600 million for iVillage.com, launched a TV show to promote it and have thrown in hundreds of millions of free promotional spots in order to grow the page views … so far, no real growth at iVillage with some reports that the other massive women’s site has surpassed them. The TV show flopped.

Again, it’s fine to launch new business ventures – no real problem with that but why roil the waters by trying to annoy Apple? Why give up $15 million dollars in revenue for no apparent reason? Did Apple say NBC couldn’t launch streaming on nbc.com or hulu?

No.

Zucker seems to think it’s an either or proposition?

He can’t conceive that some people might prefer to get a show commercial free? AND willing to pay for it? (nevermind the promotional value of people who actually want to watch a show?)

He can’t do a new business unless he walks away from something?

Can he multi-task?

What’s next? Because Zucker doesn’t control DVD pricing at WM or Best Buy – only sell DVD’s at NBC.com?

The bottom line is instead of a steady stream of revenue, he’d rather hire hundreds and spend hundreds of millions to launch Hulu … spending billions to make millions? That doesn’t sound like GE, sounds more like a certain company in Redmond …

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Computing, Film, Financial, Gadgets, Internet, iPhone, Marketing, Media, media companies out of shape, mobile, Music, Retail, TV, video