Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Video Games’

NCAA Football 09 Is Coming For Wii!

Posted by Fred on February 15, 2008

ncaafb09 EA has announced their first NCAA football game for the Wii. We’ve been playing a lot of Madden NFL 08 on the Wii (strangely enough, the Browns offense with Charlie Frye at QB is really good, 2007 Patriots-before-the-Super Bowl good), so a college game would be welcome.  The NCAAA games have always been a bit of a mixed bag; EA gets the atmosphere of a college game to the T, but since they can’t license player names for college athlete, you get a lot of “TD; QB #10 pass to WR #9 for 13yds” instead of Taylor Tharp to Jeremy Childs.  Also, the time I played NCAA Football (which was, granted, more than 10 years ago), the triple option offenses were essentially unstoppable.  One presumes EA has addressed that.  Hopefully they’ve also addressed Madden 08’s propensity for face mask offenses.  They say they’ve kept the Family Play mode, which is good, and Madden’s Wiimote control scheme, which is more good than bad.


mascots Unlike NCAA Football 08, which featured a cover image of Boise State QB Jared Zabransky, NCAA Football 09 will feature a college mascot, and EA is having a contest to decide which one.  The last time someone did this, the Capital One Mascot Challenge, the winner was Akron’s Zippy the Kangaroo (did you know that Zippy is a she and has been around since 1953?).  I vote for Zippy this time, too, because (a) Akron needs some glory for a program most notable for Gerry Faust and Charlie Frye and (b) who doesn’t love kangaroos?

[via CrunchGear]


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Sierra Club pitching couch potato tax

Posted by Fred on January 22, 2008

The Sierra Club has proposed a lot of dumb things, but the No Child Left Inside tax on TVs and video games is about the dumbest:

A coalition of twelve environmental organizations in New Mexico has initiated a new strategy to help get American kids back outdoors. The Environmental Alliance of New Mexico is renewing its call for a one-percent sales tax on televisions and video games to fund outdoor education programs. The tax idea, initiated by the Sierra Club, would raise an estimated $4 million a year, to fund programs aimed at giving school kids an outdoors education. “We believe it is such a nominal tax that consumers won’t feel it too much, especially if they are educated about where that money goes,” said Michael Casaus, the New Mexico youth representative of the Sierra Club.

The number of ways in which this is a dumb idea is mind-boggling, so let’s just make a list:

  • A 1% sales tax would have an effect on consumer demand indistinguishable from zero. A $600 PS3 would be $606. A $50 game would be $50.50. Even a $1000 HDTV would only go up to $1010.  I have no idea what the elasticity of demand on luxury electronics is, but it’s certainly not such that a fifty cent price increase would matter.
  • Sales taxes are an incredibly inefficient way to change consumer behavior, even if changing consumer behavior was the government’s business. Which it’s not.  The excise tax on cigarettes is very high, but that hasn’t done much to reduce smoking. Other things have, but not the tax on cigarettes. Cleveland funded its baseball stadium and arena on the backs of smokers and drinkers.  Luckily for the city, the increased taxes did almost nothing to reduce demand.
  • Game playing and exercise are not mutually exclusive.  Fat kids are fat kids because they eat junk and don’t exercise, not because they play video games. Turn off the Wii and go outside, already.
  • Even if a 1% tax would keep a parent from buying Super Mario Galaxy (which it won’t), do we really think the couch potato will go to the park instead of just playing his other games twice as much?

This sort of thing will have no impact on couch potatodom, no impact on the video game market and no impact on childhood obesity levels. It will however, accomplish the primary objective of the Sierra Club, which is to get more money for the Sierra Club.

[via Engadget]

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Were You a Wing Commander Dork?

Posted by Fred on January 10, 2008


Egad, Joel Johnson is a dork:

I used to love the Wing Commander series. I built an entire cockpit for myself out of a refrigerator box, wired up a few non-functional switches and placed the whole thing over my computer so I could play in darkness. I even taped a faux heads-up display to the clear face mask of my Photon helmet (a Laser Tag knock-off) and tore out the padding on the side to wire in headphones.


I loved Wing Commander, too. I never built my own cockpit, but I did splurge on a Thrustmaster FCS (similar to this one) just so I could play it.  That stick probably cost me about a third of what we spent on the last laptop.  But it made a huge difference (unless you had about 47 extra fingers to pound on the keyboard with).


Joel’s wrong about one thing, however.  He liked the Scimitar, but the Raptor was clearly better. It went faster, had more and better weapons and (most importantly to mediocre players like me) had thicker shields.

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Nintendo to jerk-face retailers – cut it out, already!

Posted by Fred on December 19, 2007

It’s about time. Nintendo says Wii shortages hurt planning, and is critical of retailers forcing bundles of overpriced games and accessories on customers.

Nintendo, which is striving to meet Wii demand more than a year after the machine first went on sale, was also trying to discourage the practice of bundling the consoles with extra games or accessories and selling it for a higher price.

A Wii by itself sells for $250 — cheaper than Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp’s PlayStation 3 — but some retailers have offered bundles priced for double that price.

“Retailers have already been given feedback that we are not big fans of that. We think it masks some of the price advantage we have versus our competition and, frankly, the consumer should decide what they want,” [Nintendo of America President Reggie] Fils-Aime said.

Asked if Nintendo had threatened such retailers with fewer Wii shipments, Fils-Aime said only that the company carried a lot of weight as maker of one of the most highly sought items this holiday season.

It really sucks that retailers are using the insatiable Wii demand as an excuse to gouge the customer, and it’s not just the $799 bundle I linked to above.  Gamestop does it, Walmart does it, does it. Unfortunately, as long as customers keeping buying the bundles rather than doing the legwork to get a $249 Wii (which is how Santa will be bringing a Wii to our house this year), there’s not much Nintendo can do about it.  Ultimately, if they can get and keep the shelves stocked, the market for this kind of crap will disappear.

[via CrunchGear]

Edit 12/20/07: Apparently, there’s some question about whether does it (thanks, EM). I didn’t do a lot of due diligence, and just relied on the prices listed on this Wii tracker. To be fair, however, nowhere on the page for the Holiday 2007 Bundle, which the Wii tracker says was last available on December 17 for $589.99, does it say anything about it being from a marketplace seller.  That sells the Wii at list price is commendable. That they also appear to sell bundles of games you probably don’t want is not (and if that bundle is not from itself, they need to make that clear).

Posted in Shopping, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How I Got My Hands on a Wii

Posted by Fred on November 30, 2007

Wired has a nice explanation of Why You Can’t Get Your Hands on a Wii.  Nintendo says they’re trying to keep up:

Ultimately, Wii production numbers — and the United States’ allocation of consoles — are determined by Nintendo’s home office in Kyoto, Japan. [Nintendo Senior Vice President George] Harrison says the company will continue producing 1.8 million Wiis every month until demand subsides.That should happen next spring. But with many high-profile game releases coming after Christmas, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart, Wiis could be hard to find well into 2008.

And if you want to put a Wii under the tree, without going to one of those eBay scalpers? “It’s going to take some luck,” says Harrison, who notes that retailers sometimes hold Wiis off store shelves until Sunday mornings, when the advertisements go out in the paper.

It was with much trepidation that I heard just before Thanksgiving that a Wii would be in the letter to Santa this year (although it’s probably still better than the fart machine that was also on the list for a while).   Thanksgiving morning was a bust – Kmart advertised Wiis, but the Lynchburg, VA store (where we were over the holiday weekend) only got 10, and 6 AM wasn’t nearly early enough.  I then tried an online inventory tracker for the Wii, but that was a bust, too. It reported stock at Sears a few times, but that was mostly due to Sears’ busted code. had I been awake at the right time, however, it may have let me get a Wii when Amazon infamously posted some.

We have a Wii now, and we got it the only way that seems to work – we sicked  my Mother-in-law on them.  She was also looking for a Wii for my niece, and by calling around was able to find out when stock was to arrive at Kmart (for Wii #1) and Target (for Wii #2).  So be diligent, and you’ll get your Wii.  It helps to be looking in a smaller market – the “pester the electronics manager at the big box store” strategy didn’t work nearly as well in Richmond (projected 2008 population 1,093,227) as in Lynchburg (230,651).

It’s not necessary to buy the $677 Walmart bundle or drop hundreds on Ebay (which currently has one with a Buy It Now price of $250,000 which appears to be in jest and one at $1299.99 which appears to be serious). I’m out of pocket about $300 ($249 plus an extra Wiimote and Nunchuck).  Now to make my Christmas list (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Smash Bros. BrawlGeometry Wars: Galaxies, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed).

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Happy Birthday, Pac-Man

Posted by Fred on October 10, 2007


According to Wired, on October 10, 1979, Pac-Man (nee Pack-Man) was introduced in Japan

While it wasn’t the first videogame — arcade games, including video ones, had existed for years — Pac-Man turned videogaming into a phenomenon by burning it into the collective consciousness in a way that previous games did not.

The brainchild of Toru Iwatani, a designer for Namco, a Japanese software company, Pac-Man is a model of complex simplicity. The concept — the player controls a blob with a mouth that navigates a two-dimensional maze, eating dots and ghosts while trying to avoid being eaten itself — could have been dreamed up by a 10 year old. But try racking up big points; ah, there’s the rub.

Actually, racking up big points in the original Pac-Man wasn’t all that hard if you knew the pattern to follow. My sister was good at Pac-Man for just that reason, but I found it to be boring after a while. I had a book in the early 1980s that gave tips on playing arcade games, and it included the Pac-Man pattern, as well as a bunch of tips for other games that had their own flow you could use to your advantage. The AI in most games now makes this impossible, of course, but in 1982 it was a different world.

galaga.pngjungle_king.jpgI never much cared for Pac-Man or his progeny, but I loved the arcade. I didn’t like Asteroids much either, as once you got good, it was a lot of “shoot all but one fragment, fly around and blast UFOs” and got dull. I liked Galaga and Jungle King a lot more. When is the Jungle King Ultimate 3-D Adventure coming out for XBox? Or maybe it’s more suited for the Wiimote.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »