Thursday, February 26, 2009

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Review


 

 

A fantastic game that allows you to be creative with making your own vehicles.

Young and old alike can find aspects of this game that are appealing.

 

This is without a doubt, one of the most unique games I have ever played. Previous Banjo-Kazooie games stuck with the old Super Mario 64 play style. But here, with Nuts & Bolts, Rare has take that style of game and added a twist. That twist is vehicle creation.

The vehicle creator tools are quite intuitive. And after a little while, you'll find it's not hard to create a car, plane, helicopter or boat. A lot of it comes down to common sense. For instance, if you want a vehicle to fly, it's going to need wings or propellers, and they need to be balanced on the vehicle.

What's the point of vehicle creation? To complete tasks that are given you to earn music notes, jiggies and T.T. trophies. There are a good variety of challenges. And while some may say they get repetitive, I do not mind this because they may be similar to other challenges, but then they put some variation into them. To complete challenges with good scores, this game really encourages outside of the box thinking. It's not always the most obvious vehicle type that will yield the best results.


                                  I think I can see my house from here!

 

The graphics in this game are top notch. Rare never ceases to throw imaginitive artistic values into their games. They are the Pixar of the video game world. Through all the levels, you'll find huge areas to explore with wonderfully detailed design. I just can't say enough about what they have done visually with the game.

The sound in the game is great too. The sound effects are very cartoonish, and add to the feel of the game. The music really shines through giving the feeling of fun to be had by the player.

Overall this is a great game for kids and adults. While it has vehicle creation, younger ones may have a tough time with that. As a result, the ability to buy vehicle blueprints is in the game. I know this has been very helpful for my 5 year old son, since understanding the basics of making a vehicle isn't easy for him. But over time, I have also noticed him trying to build things as he gets an understanding of the physics and what is needed to make a vehicle do a specific task.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who wants a good time with a game that allows you to shape what you get out of it. It encourages creativity and rewards you in spades for doing so. And at the cheap price it is selling for on Amazon, I would think this is a no brainer.

 

5 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'R' Rated Movies Linked to Smoking?

I found any interesting article on CommonSenseMedia.org. Apparently a study was conducted that showed that children whose parents allow them to watch 'R' rated movies have a greater likelihood of smoking. I personally don't watch 'R' rated films, for the main reason that the subject matter would more often than not be offensive to me.

 

And given what can be found in those films, I don't find the results of that study to be surprising. While people can claim that TV, movies or games doesn't have an impact on how a child develops, I think it does. Even if it isn't readily apparent, it can have negative effects that are more subtle. Maybe a child isn't a violent person, but on the other hand they are desentized to violent images or actions of others. So they may never grow up and act out what they've see or played, but at the same time they may be indifferent or not disapproving of what they are used to seeing.

 

The study does say that it may also be a factor of the parents, which I feel really is a huge part. Because if parents are allowing this, they may be allowing other permissive things to be done by their child. And in all likelihood, the parents may be the biggest reason children take wayward courses that can hurt them when they grow up.

 

It really helps you to appreciate how important a role a person plays as a parent, because your parenting style usually has a lasting affect on a child as they reach adulthood and beyond.

 

Friday, February 13, 2009

January 2009 NPD Video Game Sales

The January 2009 NPD video game sales data was released yesterday. Basically, NPD tracks the sales of many products and among them are video games and video game hardware. While these numbers are not exact, they do represent a pretty accurate count of total sales. Certain companies are not a part of the NPD count, like Wal-Mart, so NPD estimates the number of sales of those companies based on sales of those that do report to them.

 

Here are the sales for January 2009 video game consoles (this does not count PC video game sales or handheld consoles):

 


TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - JANUARY 2009
Wii: 679,200
Xbox 360: 309,000
PlayStation 3: 203,200

Clearly, Nintendo has a stranglehold on the market. With the DS and Wii they have been able to broaden the market of those who play video games. Some die hard video game players resent this fact, as they feel the games released on Nintendo's systems, do not sometimes really qualify as games. However, there is no denying they have opened this market up. And that really is a good thing.

Imagine die hard movie fans being upset because their favored style of movie wasn't the only one showing in theaters. No one thinks twice about that. Some like action movies, some like romantic comedies and so on. A field that has mass appeal comes in many varieties. This is now happening with the video game industry. And we have Nintendo to thank for it.

Xbox 360 hardware sales were also good and 33% higher than January 2008. They have recently tried to capture some of the audience that has gravitated to the Wii. And they have had some minor success with games like Scene It? Box Office Smash and Lips. I personally feel that Netflix streaming support is currently the killer app for the Xbox 360 and it will continue to help the console sell well. Which is ironic when you consider that games may not be the sole motivating factor that is contributing right now to the Xbox 360's success.

Playstation 3 hardware sales were okay and ultimately lower than January 2008 by 25%. Things currently don't look too good for the sales of the PS3. This mostly can be contributed to its high price tag, and no differentiating perception from the Xbox 360. Both these consoles are very similar and so when given the choice, especially in hard economic times, most people who decide to buy a console are going to buy the cheapest one they can find. I think that once the PS3 gets a reduction in price, you will see a good jump in its sales.

Now here is the sales data for the top ten selling video games for January 2009 (this does not include PC video game sales):

TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE - JANUARY 2009
Title / Publisher / Units*
1) Wii Fit w/ Balance Board (Wi) / Nintendo / 777,000
2) Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii) / Nintendo / 415,000
3) Mario Kart Wii w/ Wheel (Wii) / Nintendo / 292,000
4) Left 4 Dead (360) / Electronic Arts / 243,000
5) Call of Duty: World at War (360) / Activision Blizzard / 235,000
6) Skate 2 (360) / Electronic Arts / 199,000
7) Guitar Hero World Tour (Wii) / Activision Blizzard / 155,000
8) New Super Mario Bros. (DS) / Nintendo / 135,000
9) Mario Kart DS (DS) / Nintendo / 132,000
10) Lord of the Rings: Conquest (360) / Electronic Arts / 113,000

There's really only one thing that can be taken from this, and it's the apparentness of an expanding market.  Except for Skate 2 & Lord of the Rings: Conquest, all those games have been out for a 2-8 months, or in the case of Wii Play, Mario KartDS, & New Super Mario Bros.,3-4 years. That tells me that new buyers are coming into the market and buying up old games they know are good. It's really quite amazing that after all this time, some of these games can still sell so well.

So those are the numbers and that is my take on it. Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I have a story to tell...

Over the past, oh I don't know, 3-5 years, I've had a story kicking around in my head that I have always wanted to write. I actually, at one time, sat down and started writing it. About 5 paragraphs later, I never went back to it.

 

Now why would I do that? Simply because I was trying to be too ambitious and I overwhelmed myself with the task of writing a trilogy. There were three acts to my story, but at the same time each story could stand on its own. Now I've never written a book before, and here I was setting out to write not one but THREE books. A little over the top. And as such, I never went back to it.

 

But still, I continued in my mind to think of the specifics of the story. How it could be told, and how it could be written so as to be enjoyable for others to read. Of course, you would think, if I was going to do this I would do it with the purpose in mind of being published and making some money on it. But that's not it. I don't feel this would be a widely purchased book or popular. My story has been told before in other ways by those who know how to write and tell a story. For me, it's just a story I have and want to tell. It's more of a hobby idea that never came about than anything else.

 

I'd rather sit down in intervals when I have the chance, and write it on my blog. The story will still have three acts. But they will be much shorter. Each act will consist of three parts. So each of those parts will be so tiny and insignificant, that writing them should be a breeze. One would think that anyway.

 

So if and when I start to write this story, be on the look out for it. You'll find it right in here this space of my blog. I may talk more about my goal of the story before I write or I may just start writing it. Only time will tell.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lost Theories II

This past week's episode of Lost: The Little Prince, got me thinking about a few things. This season is really opening up and explaining the mystery of previous seasons. I've seen hints and clues of what's to come. Here are more of my predictions about the show. We'll see what ends up coming true and what is just me overthinking the story.


  1. Evidence has been given that Charlotte & Miles have both been on the island previously. They both started getting the nose bleeds. It appears that the longer you are on the island, the quicker the effect of time travel has on your health. So Charlotte has spent more time on the island than anyone else. Miles is next to have been on the island longes and then Juliet, since they all had the symptons come in that order. Which leads me to my next conclusion...
  2. Charlotte was born on the island. Not only that, but her mother, unlike other pregnant women, didn't die while giving birth on the island. A true mystery. I believe her mother is the woman who led Faraday out to disable the bomb, which is the same woman who we saw sickly and in bed that Desmond had visited. We found out that Widmore was helping to take care of her, and hints were given that she had the time travelling consciousness sickness that Desmond went through last season. So the final conclusion is that Charlotte is Charles Widmore's daughter as that woman and Widmore had a relationship on the island.
  3. Miles previous time on the island isn't given in detail but is hinted at. I believe he too has a variation of the time travelling sickness. The difference is he has slight control over it. Do you wonder how he seems to know when and where people have died? It's because he can control his time travelling conciousness and as a result he knows what has happened and how.
  4. Finally, and this one may be out there, I believe Jacob is really Jack from the future. The island keeps trying to bring Jack back. It's interesting when you note that Jack was bringing his dead father back in a coffin when the plane crashed. And now, Jack is going to go back to the island with a dead John Locke in a coffin. I believe this means that Christian Shepherd was on the island previously, just like Locke, and had to go off the island to "die", just like Locke and get Jack to bring him back. This is why Christian is alive now. Once back on the island, those dead off of the island are "resurrected" on their as a result of time having no relevance, so things can be "rewound" so to speak. This explains why Locke, who used to be crippled, can now walk and why Rose, who had cancer, had it disappear. All because they ended up on the island.

Next week, I'll go into why I believe that Jacob and Jack are the same person. And any other new theories I have after next week's episode "This Place Is Death".