Look, here’s the deal. Gaming is a hobby of ours, and so is writing and maintaining this site. We all have jobs that don’t relate to the industry we love, and we all have family and friends who we like to spend time with. Sometimes, this results in us “ghosting”, or disappearing from the site for periods of time.

I’m speaking for myself here, but I’ll ghost from the site from time to time, usually because life is happening. And I think that’s OK – I have a healthy respect for video games (more so than when I was in my youth), and that means that I’m not always thinking about them, and I’m not sacrificing time with other important aspects in my life to play or write about them. In the long run, I hope that respect increases my enjoyment of them: I have be selective about what I play because time is limited, and the act of playing becomes more of a special occasion since it’s unique.

Oh yeah, I guess Call of Duty: Ghosts comes out this week too. Related? Sure, why not.

Friday, 8:08 am – Ricky

We’re one week away from the PS4 release and yeah, we’re getting excited. Whether you’re getting a new PS4, an Xbox One, or nothing at all, console launches are always a fun event to observe and be a part of.

We’ll be recording our first podcast in over 3 months this weekend! It’s been a while, but we promise to keep it short and sweet. Should be ready for Monday next week!

Speaking of being ready, Amazon is ready for next Friday 🙂

amazon_greatness

Thursday, 3:19 pm – Gavin

I have never heard of Fighter Within until this very moment.  TIL – thanks, IGN!

Looks like there’s something there for everyone on Day 1.  None of those titles are desperately jumping out at me, but I respect that I’m no longer really in the majority in my gaming tastes.  Ryse has been getting mediocre reviews, with some describing it as “about as much fun as dialing phone numbers“, something that we worried about when we saw the previews at E3.  I was tepid about Dead Rising 2 and that USELESS POINTLESS GAME-RUINING TIMER, so I don’t trust Dead Rising 3 as far as I can throw it.

There’s actually very little on either list that appeals to me in terms of “OH GOD GOTTA HAVE IT”.  NFS: Rivals I suppose would be my biggest of the day-one titles, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more about Knack.  PS4 wins with the digital launch (window) titles purely by volume, but lots of those games, I could go play right now as they’re already available on at least one platform.

I can’t call it a mediocre launch because there’s lots there, but perhaps I need to remember that the Wii U has been out for almost a year, and before that, the last launch was seven years ago.

Thursday, 3:06 pm – Ricky

Looks like Sony took the concept of an “unboxing” video just a weeeee bit far.

I’M SO EXCITED!

Thursday, 10:27 am – Ricky

Great graphic by IGN showing the launch day and launch window games for both Xbox One and PS4. Both systems are getting some great titles out of the gate, but with Resogun and Contrast free to PS+, Warframe and DC Universe Online free-to-play, and cross-gen-cross-buy titles like Flower and Sound Shapes, I’ll have 6 games to start my PS4 experience without dropping any additional ducats.

matt and I were discussing what games we’re interested in, and Need For Speed Rivals is leading the pack at the moment. Couple that with this article from Polygon breaking down why the next-gen version of FIFA 14 is the best yet, and I think I’ll be all set come January!

Wednesday, 8:52 am – Ricky

And everything that was old is new again. Looks like Infinity Ward liked the ending to Modern Warfare 2 so much, they used it again.

(MW2 on the left, Ghost on the right)

Tuesday, 4:49 pm – Gavin

The RedWii, or WeeWii, or whatever we’re calling it, was simply a product designed for Nintendo to dump off its excess parts from the Wii manufacturing line.  It’s been out in Canada for ages and sold like garbage while the regular Wii still sold fine.  Product placement for the WeeWii has been at the back of the store, on the highest possible shelf, away from consumer eyes and hands.  It cost them almost nothing to build and ship out with the regular hardware, so they might as well – any dollars are good dollars for those parts.  Simply put, at this point, if there’s confusion amongst the two, you blame the retailer.

Of course, that doesn’t absolve Nintendo of its marketing-related sins.  They still need to do better.

Tuesday, 1:36 pm – matt

I think were all sort of on the same page here, I think Nintendo is doing as good a job they can pre-launch of the next generation, reducing the price of the system and creating multi-game bundles that always tempt consumers sitting on the fence. its the release of the RedWii that I have an issue with, they are having a hard time selling Wii-U’s so I don’t understand why they would release a possible competitor for the casual gaming market. I know the true gaming population that was looking specifically for a Wii-U wont buy a RedWii, but the everyday person (lets face it, the divorced dad looking for something “cool” for his kids to play when they visit) might just go for the RedWii.

“I can afford the PS4, but a Wii-U with two games seems a bit better, hey whats this Red Wii? wow its only $99?! Why not just get this for the amount of time I actually play games? They look exactly the same, just this one comes with a Nintendo tablet, well I have my own tablet so im sure I could play the Wii-U games on the cheaper RedWii and save money by using my own tablet” (confusion in the marketplace, and for someone who worked in an electronic store, this does happen. a lot.)

The Wii-U will probably have an excellent Holiday season, with the bundles and shortage of Ps4 and Xbone will drive consumers their way, why not drive them exclusively to the console you’re having trouble selling? Do they just want to add to their “Record number of Wii’s sold”!?

Tuesday, 12:06 pm – Ricky

I have to agree with Gavin – the Wii U lineup for this month is as strong as it can be to compete with Sony and Microsoft. If you’re hesitating on either console, the Wii U is a great deal right now: $100 cheaper than PS4 and a catalog of hits already available, with more coming in the next 2-3 months. They’re doing their best to get in the hands of gamers! Though admittedly, with backwards compatibility in the Wii U, I’m not sure why they’re still pushing the Wii Mini so hard.

Here’s something nice and pretty for the next gen: Killzone Shadow Fall released a “lightly compressed” video of the upcoming game that you can download right here. This 541 MB download will loop you in on 1 minute of 1080p 60 FPS gameplay. It. Looks. Glorious.

Tuesday, 10:12 am – Gavin

To be fair matt, what exactly do you expect Nintendo to do with respect to the PS4 launch?  They’ve got their major releases coming out on November 22nd – Super Mario 3D World and Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, with the Zelda-themed 3DS coming out that day as well – all timed to go up against Microsoft.  Their hardware is out and they’ve already released some of their heavy hitters, so there’s not much more they could do with respect to Sony.  And the Wii Mini is just Nintendo ditching old parts – it basically cost them nothing extra to produce.  The Wii Mini would have actually been a fine product for me, considering I really only wanted to do one thing with the Wii – play Wii games.  I never employed the use of the internet functionality beyond Netflix, and I have several devices that play Netflix.

I’m excited to see the new hardware launches.  Microsoft has finally hitched a ride on the advertising train!  They’ve plastered a few subway stations here in Toronto.  I know that everyone thinks that Sony won the early battle against Microsoft, but I’m still excited to see what happens with it.  I’d like to turn my Wii U into a media streaming centre, and so with the inevitable success that Microsoft will have with this feature, I’d like to see Nintendo perhaps take a few cues.  I’m currently using PlayOn lite, which connects my Wii U directly to my laptop and lets me stream video and audio.  It’s pretty solid, but I’d prefer not to use a third party service if I could avoid it.

Live streaming games is a feature of the PS4 that would be great for me.  Basically, I could commission someone to create a Let’s Play for me, without the heinous commentary that inevitably follows.  That said, most of my gaming friends live in the same city as me, so I could reasonably just go over to their houses to see the game played in person.

I played games this weekend!  Actual real PC games!  My immediate pile of shame was The Walking Dead, Mirror’s Edge, and Splinter Cell: Conviction.  So, what the heck, I played all of them.  I’m just in chapter 1 of TWD, but I can already tell why it’s as well-received as it is.  Fortunately, I listened to many Idle Thumbs podcasts prior to playing this, and Sean Vanaman, the lead designer for the game, said that the best way to play it isn’t to really think about your dialogue choices or decisions.  These are snap decisions, and you should live with them.  Play the game only once because that’s your experience – don’t go back just to explore other dialogue options.  I’ve been going with that as best as I could, like my conversation with Hershel Greene, or deciding who to save – Duck or Shawn.  Some decisions just don’t work well, and that’s perfect, because that’s how real life works.  The game ramped up the stress at the right time, like when you first escape the crashed car at the beginning, and you have to defend yourself against the first zombie.  You don’t know if you’re going to be playing as Lee the entire time (I still don’t), so you have no idea if you’re actually going to succeed or not – it’s perfect tension.

I got into Mirror’s Edge as well, and I have to say, this game is phenomenally well-designed – that is, design and systemic choices really fit into the narrative that they’re pushing.  I’d like to talk more about this one during the next podcast, so I won’t get too far into this one.  It’s possible that some of the subtle details I think I’m picking up on are actually just the product of laziness by DICE, but I’m not so sure.  Anyway, I’m having a blast with it, even if it makes me incredible motion sick at times.

Finally, I got into Splinter Cell: Conviction.  I had a few problems with this at the outset because after Double Agent, I decided that I really wanted to play every SC game from now on with a controller.  I picked up a hard-wired off-brand Xbox 360 controller, but soon found that the PC port of Conviction was such that the buttons are all mapped incorrectly for the 360 controller.  It’s a common problem (search for “PC Splinter Cell Conviction Xbox 360 controller problem” and you’ll see what I mean) but I can’t seem to fix it.  So alas, I’ll have to M&K this one.  Initial impressions after about an hour of game play?  It’s very slick and very pretty, but much faster-paced than DA, or the gold standard for stealth games, Chaos Theory.  I’m getting used to some design decisions, like the entire screen going black and white when you are not visible to enemies due to darkness, but I do acknowledge that I need to give this game more of a chance.  I’m not blown away, like I immediately was with Chaos Theory, but I can’t set the bar that high for every game.  I do hate the fact that the story is premised on the notion that I killed Lambert at the end of Double Agent (come on, it’s been 7 years.  It’s not a spoiler); I deliberately went out of my way to save Lambert – it was a very difficult section of the game but dammit I did it, and this game just craps on that now.  So, I’ll have to deal with that frustration going forward.

But I will get through it regardless, because I picked up Blacklist on Sunday – 55% off at Future Shop!  It was complete luck that I checked the Future Shop sale, nabbed it for the Wii U.  I’m really excited to explore the game pad functionality for that game, as it’s a return to the stealthier elements of SC.  Can’t wait, but I do have to get through the other games first!

Tuesday, 8:06 am – Ricky

Yes, there were Pacman ghosts here before – I replaced them with Call of Duty: Ghosts’ spokesdog. It’s funnier.

I’m getting REALLY excited for the PS4. It’s finally dawned on me that the next generation of Sony’s console is almost here, and that I’m getting one thanks to some amazingly generous friends. I couldn’t be happier, and can’t wait to head to Montreal in a few weeks to have our inaugural PS4 gaming session.

I’m not just happy about the graphical improvements in this new generation of systems. There will be systems that I’m excited about, too. The PS Vita just got firmware update 3.0 and can now remote play with the PS4 as well as use game chat with PS4 users. I can’t wait to use my Vita on the couch while my PS4 humms along in the other room.

Hey, maybe I’ll do that with MLB 14 – I haven’t purchased a baseball game since the Triple Play series sometime in the early 2000s.

DAT HAIR!

Monday, 4:26 pm –matt

weren’t there Pacman ghosts here before?

Start the Party is an incredibly underappreciated PS Move game, it is a total blast to play and pretty light on the wallet, two of the main reasons I bought it for ricky 🙂

For those that don’t have the Move (i.e everyone but Ricky and I) Start the Party is a series of mini irreverent mini games fit for the whole family, and when you throw in enough alcohol, anything becomes a family affair! points are accumulated for the final stage which becomes a timed event, so even the worst player has a chance to win it all in the end (not likely, but possible). Ricky and I are life long gamers and this is one title where we will get regularly owned by my girlfriend.

in other news, 11 days until the PS4 launches, Nintendo plans of competing against this massive day by releasing the weird Wii mini that was only available in Canada.

Because everyone knows the best way to pick up sales on a struggling product is to release a worse version of the previous generation…

Monday, 8:37 am – Ricky

I played some games this weekend, but not the kind of stuff I usually do. We had some guests in town, so we broke out the “party” and “casual” games on PS3 and the Wii I’m borrowing from Gavin. We played a bunch of Playstation Move, including games of bocce ball and frisbee golf in Sports Champions and a really, really, really long game of Start the Party. We also broke out You Don’t Know Jack for some trivia rounds and capped it off with a Sunday morning of Mario Kart.

I know I don’t touch these kinds of games very often, but I love that I have them for times like this, where people are over and we want something social and accessible to do together in our (pretty small) living room. I’ll also admit that playing Mario Kart made me want a Wii U so I can get my kart on in Mario Kart 8 next year. That system sure is building an enticing library…

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