Coffee Talk #220: Classic Gaming Conventions That Don’t Fly in 2010

As some of you know, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light to review for another site. I’m mostly enjoying the game. It’s an old-school RPG with a job system — I love both of those things. Having said that, there are several aspects of the game that are acceptable to me as a longtime RPG player, but would probably irk the hell out of newer gamers.

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the wonderful meats at M-Grill, the excellent Lodi Vineyards Rapture Cabernet P Andy shared with me, or if you’re going to see The Social Network, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

As some of you know, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light to review for another site. I’m mostly enjoying the game. It’s an old-school RPG with a job system — I love both of those things. Having said that, there are several aspects of the game that are acceptable to me as a longtime RPG player, but would probably irk the hell out of newer gamers.

For example, there are several dungeons that are a cakewalk until the boss fight. If you don’t have the right armor and/or weapons equipped then the boss fights are super challenging at best and irritatingly impossible at worst. You can teleport back to the nearest village to get the right gear, but then you have to slog through the entire dungeon again. With all the hand holding and linearity in today’s games, I think a lot of players will find this unacceptable. Stuff like this was fine in 1993, but I don’t think it works in 2010.

Have you had any similar experiences recently? Are there any games you’ve played in the last year that use mechanics that should have been left in the ’90s? Have you played anything that’s crossed the line between classic and antiquated? Now’s the time to whine about old-school videogame conventions!

Latest iTunes Update Improves Ping

The latest version of iTunes includes some big improvements to the Ping social networking feature. Previously, Ping only worked with music that was purchased through iTunes. Now it works with your entire music library…if the music is available on iTunes. While it’s not the improvement everyone is clamoring for — Facebook integration — it’s a pretty big step that makes the service much more interesting.

I’ve updated my Ping account with a variety of music (that makes it look like I enjoy bands other than Nelson). If you’re interested, please follow me. I’m “Raymond Padilla”. If you download the update, please check out the new Ping and let me know what you think.

Mega Man Universe Trailer

Capcom might have something really cool and really unique with Mega Man Universe. Headed for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, the game blends the gameplay of Mega Man 2 with a level creator. Millions of gamers are familiar with the gameplay mechanics of Mega Man, so creating levels should be fairly intuitive. If the tools are tight then I expect to see some amazing fan-made designs.

Check out the trailer above and let me know what you think (please)! Any of you down to create Mega Man Universe levels?

Today’s Poll: Will Streaming HD Video Kill Blu-ray?

As most of you know, Blockbuster filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. Most experts chalk this up to a combination of streaming video and Netflix killing brick-and-mortar rental stores. Now that Blockbuster is pretty much dead, who will be the next victim? Will it be the Blu-ray format? Microsoft UK Xbox & Entertainment director Stephen McGill believes so (though he’s obviously biased). He told Xbox 360 Achievements:

Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?

What do you think? Will the convenience and immediacy of streaming video kill Blu-ray? Or are Blu-ray’s fantastic picture quality and uncompressed audio enough to keep the format going? Kindly vote in today’s poll and state your case in the comments section.

[poll id=”72″]

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Coffee Talk #219: Will Games Get Cheaper (with Expensive DLC)?

THQ CEO Brian Farrell told CVG that games will likely be cheaper in the future, but with more downloadable content. He believes that the initial version of the game will cost between $29 to $39, but more and more features will be downloadable add-ons. He told CVG:

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Lindsay Lohan heading to the slammer (again), United Nations delegates walking out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Katy Perry’s boobs being too saucy for Sesame Street, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

THQ CEO Brian Farrell told CVG that games will likely be cheaper in the future, but with more downloadable content. He believes that the initial version of the game will cost between $29 to $39, but more and more features will be downloadable add-ons. He told CVG:

I’m a big believer in monetising under the curve, so we capture that $29 to $39 user no matter what, and a person that wants to spend $100 on the product can do so as well. I think that’s the future of gaming — whether it’s this model or a take on the free-to-play model. It’s where our industry is going.

I’m not sure if this is where the industry is going, but I can see publishers experimenting with it in certain genres. I also see enthusiast gamers getting extremely angry about this practice…and doing nothing about it.

What do you think of this business model? Would you mind getting a stripped down version of a game for less money? Do you care that more features would have to be purchased online? Is this smart business? Or is it Kotickian?

Verizon CEO Crushes CDMA iPhone 4 Dreams

Remember those three-million CDMA iPhones that are (supposedly) being made in December? They’re not for Verizon. Unless the company is pulling a swerve, it’s forgoing a CDMA iPhone in favor of one that takes advantage of its upcoming high-speed LTE network. Here’s the word from The Apple Blog:

Despite supplier rumors that seemed to indicate we’d see a Verizon iPhone early on in the new year, recent comments by Verizon’s own CEO have put a damper on those hopes. CEO Ivan Seidenberg said at the Goldman Sachs Investor conference that Apple’s device won’t appear on his company’s network until it’s ready for the long-term evolution (LTE) network Verizon is so fervent about.

While this news will surely disappoint users that are anxious for a Verizon iPhone, I think it’s the right move. Verizon’s CDMA network is considered the most reliable in the country, but it’s hardly the fastest. With LTE, the company would have a differentiator that combines blazing speeds and rock-solid reliability.

Do you think it’s the right move for Verizon? Or are you crying that there isn’t a Verizon CDMA iPhone in your future?

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What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I’ve beaten the main game in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, but I haven’t saved it yet. I want to go back and beat the four optional towers. In addition to 100 floors of randomness, they’re filled with excellent treasure and new jobs. Two of the towers are down — giving me the ninja and sage jobs — and I hope to beat one more this weekend.

How about you? What’s on your weekend playlist?

Michael Pachter Predicts Nintendo Wii Price Cut in Early 2011

With Wii sales down from the scorching sales Nintendo has posted in the console’s first three years, a lot of people are expecting a price cut. Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is not one of those people. Gaming’s loudest analyst believes that Nintendo will maintain the Wii’s price for the 2010 holiday season and slash it in early 2011. He told Industry Gamers:

I don’t think that Nintendo has the resolve to cut the price of the Wii heading into the holidays. Recent sales levels have been weak by Nintendo standards, with monthly Wii unit sales averaging just over 300,000 per month in the U.S. However, that’s still on par with Xbox 360 sales, and until Microsoft or Sony cuts price further, the Wii should be able to hold its own. With all that said, I think we’ll see Nintendo maintain price until early next year, and I think we’ll see Walmart implement a similar promotion to last year’s $50 gift card with the purchase of a Wii. That suggests that sales will pick up dramatically, as the effective price for a console, two pieces of software and Wii Motion Plus will be $149.99.

Do think a Wii price cut will happen in 2010 or early 2011? Would you buy a Wii for $150? Or do you still not care about the Wii?

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Counterfeit PlayStation 3 Controllers Might Blow Up in Your Face

Sony Computer Entertainment has issued a consumer alert warning gamers about counterfeit PlayStation 3 Wireless Controllers. The company claims that counterfeit controllers could “ignite” or “explode”. Here’s a clip from the alert:

Counterfeit PlayStation 3 Wireless Controllers, which are practically identical in appearance to genuine PlayStation 3 Wireless Controllers, have been discovered in the market. SCEA advises consumers to be cautious when buying PlayStation 3 Wireless Controllers from uncertain sources as the quality, reliability and safety of counterfeit products is uncertain, and in some cases, may be dangerous. It is possible that some counterfeit product may ignite or explode, resulting in injury or damage to the user, your PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, or other property. Moreover, SCEA does not support continued functionality of counterfeit or unlicensed controllers in system software updates and these devices may cease to function in the future because of system software updates.

What’s probably going to happen is that a PS3 controller will explode on someone’s face, scarring half of it. The person will be traumatized by the experience and embark on a life of crime. In a twist, the victim will be caught up in what’s “fair”, deciding his or her actions by flipping a half-burned PS3 controller. That’s my theory anyway….

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HTC HD7 (Windows Phone 7) Specs Revealed, Headed for T-Mobile

The fine sleuths at WMPoweruser have come across a spec sheet for the upcoming HTC HD7, a Windows Phone 7 handset. While the specs are inline with a high-end superphones smartphones, it might surprise you that the HD7 uses T-Mobile’s AWS 3G frequencies. Other specs include:

  • 1GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 processor
  • 4.3-inch WVGA TFT display at 480 x 800
  • 576 MB of RAM
  • 5 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash
  • Kickstand

I frickin’ loved the kickstand on the HTC Evo 4G and am glad to see it popping up in other phones. Kickstands rule!!!

Seriously, what do you think of the HD7’s specs? Any of you interested in this phone?

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