August 25, 2009
I can’t believe I now belong to the current generation of gaming, and it’s more fun than I thought it would be. Pursuant to last week’s announcement that Sony would drop the price of their PlayStation 3 to US$300 immediately, I finally sprung for the console, a Blu-Ray remote, one game and one Blu-Ray movie. (Yeah, I could wait until the PS3 Slim drops in a few weeks. But it’s rumored that it won’t support the “Other OS” option and I still have some remote interest in being able to program this thing.)
The game I purchased along with the console is Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Always thinking of MobyGames, I was sure to choose the Greatest Hits edition so that I could have something to contribute to the database (cover art, in this case). I’m not sure about the screenshot aspect yet. The PS3 makes it very difficult to capture anything from the console. This is the best I can do for now, which probably won’t cut it for MobyGames posterity:
I’m cheerful that my high end NEC LCD monitor does, in fact, support HDCP so that I can play at full 1080p resolution (for the record, the NEC 24″ MultiSync LCD 2490WUXi). For audio, I have a Creative brand 5.1 system that can accept 5.1 Dolby and DTS via optical. Setting up all the speakers is a bit unwieldy, so I just went with the headphones tonight. It’s good to know that I have all the right equipment; I just don’t have a good environment in which to set it all up.
Sigma is great, though, at least for what I have played so far (not much). I have read that the modern incarnation of the Ninja Gaiden games are insanely difficult action games. I always figured that this squares with the original 8-bit NES series which had a reputation of being some of the most maddeningly challenging action games produced at the time (particularly the first). I completed all 3 back in the day but I wonder if I have what it takes to push through this thing.
I feel helpless without screenshot capability. I get twitchy when I boot up a game for the first time and am not compulsively capturing screenshots of anything halfway interesting or useful for documentation purposes. Indeed, it’s difficult for me to just sit back and enjoy a game these days without obsessively thinking about documenting it. I have read that version 2.5 of the PS3 firmware (due last October) introduced the ability to capture screenshots and view them in the PS3′s photo gallery, a feature that was supposed to be opt-in for individual games. I can’t figure out if that ever came to pass, how to activate the feature, or if Sigma allows it.
The PS3 unit is quite amazing. Blu-Ray playback is more seamless than DVD playback ever was. I have played DVDs on a variety of DVD-ROM drives and standalone units and it has always been a clunky and somewhat unresponsive experience when navigating menus. Blu-Ray feels much slicker, at least for this one movie I have (last year’s Tropic Thunder).
Of course the unit came with a bunch of cables. The bizarre thing was that I packed them all right back in the box, unopened, because they’re all quite standard and I already have spares laying about– a standard PC-style power cable, a mini-USB connector for the controller, and for video, I already have the appropriate HDMI/DVI cable for my monitor.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under PlayStation 3 Games | Comments (1)
August 23, 2009
I was struggling to find some halfway decent game to play today, especially after the Outpost bust. Given the kind of games I collect, I wasn’t very hopeful. I turned my attention back to my iPod Touch. I have a whole bunch of iPhone/iPod Touch games but I haven’t been terribly motivated because few of them are at all special. But then I finally decided to try a pair of games that were on sale some months ago — Sally’s Salon and Sally’s Spa. These games have reminded me of the importance of giving a new game a fair shake no matter how inane it might sound from the instructions.
Chronologically, the Salon game comes first (not that it matters much). Sally has a dream about starting a successful salon and you’re going to help her. The reason the game sounds so trifling — and I have this problem with a lot of iPhone games — is that the physical unit does not allow the player to do very much. Customers come in and wait while they have little pictorial balloons over their heads indicating what services they would like to purchase. To grant these services, tap on the customer, which causes them to march over to the correct beauty shop station. Tap on the customer to walk over and service their head. Certain things, like haircuts and colorings, require customer feedback as you iterate through possibilities and read the customer’s smile or frown as to whether they want that style.
As I read the instructions and marched through the tutorial, I could feel myself dozing off and my finger creeping toward the home button of my iTouch. But I stuck with it for a full round and decided I quite enjoyed it. So after playing through enough levels, I was eager to jump into Sally’s Spa.
Strangely, the instructions here nearly put me off as well, but for a different reason– while I was expecting pretty much the exact same game, I instead got one that was pretty similar but had a few more things to keep track of. Essentially, I was afraid the first game would be too brainless and that the second would be too mentally taxing. There’s just no pleasing me.
In Spa, Sally is taking a vacation to a beach resort after being wildly successful in creating a salon franchise when her friend informs her of a void in the local spa market. Our entrepreneur can’t pass up the opportunity.
The spa has more stations for customer satisfaction. Your friend also sells you items to sell through your spa (skin cremes, hair conditioners, etc.) which you can stock based on the weather.
In both games, Sally can purchase upgrades for the salon or spa. These might be waiting area amenities (more comfortable chairs, coffee machines, or outrageously expensive magazine subscriptions), more facilities and facility upgrades (like a spa that helps customers relax twice as fast), or the hiring of assistants, such as the spa jet operator here:
I can tell you that the spa jet operator has to be the most worthless hire in the game. When moving customers to the spa, sometimes, they just want the bubbles, and this monkey can push the button to make that happen. But the customers nearly always want some colored bath bomb which only I can administer for some reason.
These games both fall into a category called time management games, simple and addictive. It should also be noted that these are also available for the Nintendo DS and Windows, and that they are published by Real, the people behind the RealPlayer. Did you even know they still exist?
- The Good — I like both of these games enough that they’re going right on my “good” list
- Crazy Burger — another time management game
At the Apple App Store:
Posted by Multimedia Mike under iPhone Games,Simulation Games | Comments (0)
August 23, 2009
I watched a hard science fiction movie recently by the name of Moon in which Sam Rockwell is the lone human operator at a lunar mining operation that harvests energy to meet earth’s energy needs. The movie reminded me heavily of a game from Sierra that I had always wanted to try named Outpost.
So I tracked down the game on eBay (along with a few other fluffy titles that will show up on this blog eventually). The game is already in MobyGames, but not with very many screenshots. Unfortunately, I could not make the game run in Windows XP. I was able to capture the above screenshot using a separate movie player — the game uses many FLIC animations, one of the oldest of the old school animation formats.
Popping the CD-ROM in the tray produces the following dialog:
Clearly, this is a later revision of the game, ideally with some bugfixes. But afterwards, it launches the setup.exe program which is clearly indicated in the task bar:
But does not do anything else, aside from playing a sound. It should be noted that the usual Windows compatibility hacks were fruitless. So, all in all, a disappointment… or was it? The game comes with a 120-page manual in PDF format. While interesting and well-written, it’s also very long. Playing this game would have been a significant time investment, not unlike attending a class on a subject that won’t be particularly useful throughout your life. At the risk of sounding elitist, the more I read through the manual, the more I felt that I should be putting my vast intellectual resources to better use (there are at least 1/2 dozen unentered Barbie games, for example; or maybe even something completely unrelated to gaming).
According to the MobyGames trivia entry, this game was once awarded “Most Brutal Customer Stultification in 1994″ by a gaming magazine.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under DOS Games,Simulation Games,Windows Games | Comments (4)