Musings of a Gamer XII
1. PS Vita & Jumping the Gun
As we have already established, I'm rather confused about the PlayStation Vita. It strikes me as a console destined for a niche market, with a customer base of core gamers who are excited by things like dual analogue sticks, three-axis gyroscopes and a new Uncharted (basically people like you and I). However, Sony seems to think that the Vita is a do-it-all device that will appeal to a far broader audience than the PSP. This misjudgement may prove costly, which is a crying shame as it is clearly an impressive piece of kit with an equally impressive line-up of software.
I'm still unsure of when exactly I'll buy one, though it is definitely a question of when and not if. I'm unlikely to adopt at launch, but I'd be surprised if I made it twelve months without taking the plunge. Despite this uncertainty, I have already managed to pre-order two games; you know you have a problem when you are ordering games for a system that you have no immediate plans to buy! In a glorious cock-up, one that has since been rectified, Amazon UK was last night listing half a dozen second-tier launch titles for around £5.90 ($9.11) each. I couldn't resist picking up Rayman Origins and Lumines: Electronic Symphony at that price, as even if I do wait twelve months to go Vita they will remain an absolute bargain. I don't yet know if my pre-order will stand or if Amazon will renege on a price that was clearly a mistake, though I’ll keep my fingers crossed. If only they would make a similar blunder on the price of the console.
While I'm on the topic of the Vita, word comes from Japan that Sony's portable may have a new Monster Hunter to call its own by years end. As far as I know, neither Capcom or Sony have denied nor confirmed this rumour, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true. A new Monster Hunter would greatly improve Vita's fortunes in Japan, and would be another big seller for Capcom. It would also be interesting to see which platform the MH hardcore would flock to, if the 3DS and Vita end up with competing MH spin-offs.
2. Skyrim: When is Enough Enough?
It was only a few days ago that I was convinced that my time with Skyrim was drawing to an end. I was tiring of the repetitious cycle of one hour of adventuring, thirty minutes of inventory management and found myself itching to play something new and more linear. However, a handful of fresh missions that encouraged me to explore unfamiliar parts of the map gave it new life, and provided an excuse to further my (one way) relationship with housecarl Lydia, as we prance around in matching armour, picking wild flowers.
A month removed from first embarking upon a quest to slay dragons and drink mead and I'm still going strong. However, I don’t want it it to outstay its welcome. I want to be able to look back at Skyrim as a game that I enjoyed to the very end, not an RPG that began to drag whilst claiming a dozen or so hours that, in retrospect, I’d have rather spent playing something else. Hopefully I can get the timing right and Skyrim can ride off into the sunset as a highlight of 2011/12.
|Picture taken ten minutes before a thirty car pile-up that caused multiple casualties and destroyed at least one Hi-Navi|
3. A Dashboard Confessional
The Hi-Navi is the holy grail of Saturn collecting. A Hitachi variant of Sega's doomed console, it was a Japan only release back in December 1995, where it retailed for ¥150,000 (£1260/$1950). Flatter and thinner than a vanilla Saturn, it featured a karaoke system, TV antenna socket, GPS (it was designed for car installation) and was compatible with a well-ahead-of-its-time LCD screen that cost an extra ¥45,000 (£380/$585). Hitachi churned out two thousand Hi-Navi's a month, though it is thought that production only ran for thirty days, after which I can only presume that Hitachi concluded that it was a huge and costly waste of time. On top of the batch of two thousand consoles, only one thousand LCD screens were ever produced, making it one of the most sought after and expensive systems out there.
I bring the Hi-Navi to your attention now as one turned up on EBAY over the weekend. The bidding bottomed out at $1035, which wasn't enough to meet the seller’s reserve price, despite the fact that it wasn’t in the best of conditions and was without the LCD screen. This was a rare sighting indeed. An exciting event for us Saturn die-hards, it was a chance for everyone else to shrug their shoulders and wonder why on earth anyone would want a Saturn resting on their dashboard. I don’t have the answer, but I’d be a very happy man if I ever got the chance to velcro one to my gear stick.
4. Odds & Ends
3DS: It looks the part and I love the limited edition design, but I am already finding myself losing interest in my 3DS. The 3D effects are nice, but not so enticing as to pull my attention away from a big screen. I enjoy Ocarina of Time each time I give it a go, but so far it hasn’t really drawn me in, though this may come with time. My discovery of the Nintendo Mail Box and the unlimited opportunities it offers to send my friends badly drawn pictures of phalluses and Nord warriors has assured that I probably won’t completely abandon it, and hopefully Resident Evil Revelations can keep me playing well into next month.
House of the Dead 3 & 4: Sega have announced that these two arcade staples will be coming to PSN with full Move support - part 3 has appeared on consoles before, but I believe this will be a first appearance for HotD 4. I have always enjoyed the series, but I would much rather see the Virtua Cop franchise land on PSN. I would almost certainly buy a Move controller if it gave me the chance to re-live my days of polygon super-justice, by way of a blue gun. HotD has given me hope that I may yet play VC in HD and return to the gun-slinging days of my youth.
SOPA: I have just about got my head around the ins-and-outs and possible ramifications of this controversial act. Chances are you already know all about it, and if you don’t then I’d urge you to give it a Google. I’m not going to spend time here going into all the gory details, but I feel I’d be amiss not to at least mention it. I must say I’m pretty confused by the position of the ESA – an industry body to which many major, video game publishers belong – who have put their weight behind SOPA on behalf of its membership, despite a number of high profile members going on record as being opposed to SOPA. The ESA either does or doesn’t represent the interests of publishers, so I struggle to comprehend how such different messages can be coming from different parties, all of whom are supposed to be sharing a common goal.
|It doesn't exactly shout "buy me!", does it?|
5. Binary Domain is Fucked
Words cannot do justice to the European cover art for Toshihiro Nagoshi's Binary Domain. SEGA have channelled the awfulness of the ICO US box art and produced the kind of thing I'd probably draw, if I had any artistic talent whatsoever. Let us hope that the game inside is better than the travesty that houses it.