Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 3DS is in Trouble 2: Price Drop Boogaloo

So apparently those 3DS sales are troubling Nintendo more than I originally thought, because they just dropped the system's price by $80.

This also includes 20 free games (10 NES, 5 Virtual Console, and 5 Game Boy Advance) for those who bought the system before August 12th (price cut takes effect then), so early adopters don't feel quite so ripped off. Though they still should, since this shows Nintendo was gouging those most loyal to the company (and thus bought the system when it launched).

So the question is: why? Well, a couple of reasons...

Obviously, sales are not what Nintendo wanted to see. They were hoping by now to see the 3DS setting the world on fire, while the actual results are a little more lukewarm. This price drop, coupled with November and December releases for Super Mario 3DS, Mario Kart 7, and Kid Icarus, could give Nintendo the sales boost they're looking for.

Secondly, the PS Vita is coming out this holiday season, (then) matching the 3DS' price at $250 and offering a PS3-like experience on the go. Nintendo's move means their system is cheaper than Sony's, and we all know how that worked out last time.

Thirdly, the drop off of third-party support the 3DS has suddenly been seeing (see my last blog) means Nintendo needs to not only revitalize interest from a consumer perspective, but give other companies reason to want their software on the 3DS. A possible sales surge could do just that, as some developers could be jumping ship because of the current size of the customer base.

I don't know if it'll work out, but they certainly got my attention (I'll be getting the 20 free games since I bought this bloody thing at launch), and they've gotten the attention of a lot of other people. Only time will tell if the house that Mario built can continue the success they've had in the handheld market since the first Game Boy, or if the 3DS will become the next Virtual Boy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The 3DS is in Trouble

OK, let's look at a few things:

1) Most expensive handheld Nintendo's ever released? Check.
2) A launch described as "lukewarm" at best and "botched" at ... well not worst, but on average? Check.
3) A series of big-name games suddenly being cancelled? Check, Check, and Check.

So... just what's happening to the Nintendo 3DS? The little handheld system with the guts of a Gamecube that all those game makers were gaga over just a half-year ago? True, systems go through low spots all the time, but this is rivaling what happened to the PSP: developers are excited about it, then promptly forget about it once they realize making games for handhelds aren't as easy as they originally thought it'd be. What's left behind were a relatively small collection of great games, and a mountain of crap. The PSP was supposed to beat the DS.

Looking at the 3DS, I think the PS Vita has a legitimate shot, unless Nintendo turns the tides quickly. Public opinion is the machine's too expensive, many people (including my insurance agent) confuse the 3DS for just another DS (it's not. It's at least twice as powerful), and most people just aren't compelled by the software available and coming up (except for Zelda, Starfox, and Super Mario, two of which are remakes).

Do I regret my 3DS purchase? No. Mostly because it also plays DS games... but I'm hoping the strong third-party support that WAS promised actually shows up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Geek Cave Episode 10: New Sound, DC Relaunch, and Green Lantern

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The new Geek Cave podcast is up. Hey! Listen!!

Download links:


iTunes (may not be immediately available, but you can subscribe to the rest while you wait!)

THIS is How to Get Nintendo's Attention


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Netflix's Gain, Your Loss

Go read this post.

Done? OK then. Let me explain why this is a bad thing, no matter how Netflix justifies it.

I get that companies need to make money. Fine. It's called capitalism, it's something that's a part of doing good business.

I also understand that sometimes costs go up for businesses. Again, fine.

I don't get, however, how a company that has been able to provide such services, with few changes and massive profits, can decide to suddenly slap existing customers in the face by not grandfathering in their most popular plans and instead forcing people to pay more for the exact same service as before.

Would I be this upset if I weren't already a customer? Probably not. But then, if I weren't already a customer, this would influence my decision on what plans to get.

Can't I just change my current plan? Based on my tastes, no. A lot of stuff I like isn't available to stream.

Based on my internet situation, also no. I do enjoy me some streaming. However, I now have a bandwidth cap of 50gb per month, which would be obliterated quickly if I went to streaming-only.

It's bad enough my utility company continues to do outrageous things (like raising electric rates right after a devastating tornado. And thinking about doing it again.)

It's bad enough that cable and satellite TV just cost too damned much.for little payoff (I'd maybe watch four, five channels. So $50 or more per month for my area, for just basic service, is a little nuts.)

Now what was one of the best values for entertainment is about to get a little less awesome. I highly doubt their bottom line will suffer much, but I know there are many already considering canceling.

I wish I could afford to be one of them.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Joplin Tornado, Us, and You

[The following blog was written by both Darrin and Lori, and originally appeared on Darrin's facebook page. Darrin's thoughts are in blue, while Lori's are in red. When we're both speaking, it's in plain text.]

What a difference a month makes, right?

Never in our lives would we have thought we'd be a part of one of the biggest national stories of the year. And truly, though 158 now have died from the deadliest US storm in 60 years, the aftermath has been nothing short of inspiring. If it's not a story about a miraculous survival, or thousands of people (representing 24 states!) showing up to adopt the hundreds of animals that were left homeless (and they all found new homes, way to go, people!) it's an offer of help, an offer of prayer, an offer of comfort, whether it be from a stranger or a friend. Here we are over a month after a devastating EF-5 tornado that changed everything for a lot of people, including us.

The night of the storm, we were on our way home from seeing our friends Mel, Justin, Chad, and Elizabeth at Mel and Justin's home in Jefferson City, MO. We were about an hour away from Joplin when we turned on the radio, expecting to hear some of the typical programming, and instead heard News Director (and all-around good guy) Josh Marsh talking about catastrophic damage caused by a tornado. Naturally, we listened more intently.

Then he mentioned Joplin. We got worried.

Then he mentioned the intersection where we lived, and how it had been wiped out. THAT hit us. Imagine being kicked in the gut, then forced to run a mile uphill. We sped the whole way home, forced to take a 15-mile detour that cut through some police barricades, avoided others, until we got about two blocks from home and were forced to walk the rest of the way due to the sheer destruction all over. We parked by the School District's offices, which were standing but severely damaged.

Once we got out of the car, all remaining breath was taken away.

It was like a bomb had gone off. The sky was red, and angry. Fires smoldered in the distance, and a landscape that just three hours earlier had been filled with beautiful homes, businesses, and landscaping was now leveled. Nothing left. No stone stood upon another. 

We trudged up Connecticut Street, moving through what was left of people's homes, over downed power lines, past the odor of gas escaping into the air. When we reached our apartment building, we broke down. It was all gone; the brick base still holding, but two floors above having been torn to shreds and collapsing onto our floor. We knew our home was a total loss, but we had a bigger priority: our cat was still inside.

After frantically calling for her, searching each side of the building, finding that one corner of the apartment had completely caved in upon itself, Darrin dove headfirst through a shattered window into what was left of our bedroom and somehow made it into the living room, where Kairi was hiding behind a chair, in a soft "cube" we had gotten her. She was dirty, terrified, and completely unharmed. 

Darrin shouted to me "I've got her!" I was shocked and managed to yell "You've GOT her?!?" and began to sob as I ran around to the busted out kitchen window. Darrin handed Kairi out the window to me and made his way out. We hugged and had a good cry. Our family was still whole. Darrin soon went straight to work at KZRG, getting information out to those who were in more need than us, doing whatever possible to help, not stopping for a moment to contemplate all that had happened until much later. 

That's when the help arrived. 

Mel, Justin, Elizabeth and Chad offered to come down to Joplin instantly... the night of the storm, once hearing we were OK, they had bags packed and were ready to come. They hit town the next day, flanked by Justin's amazing dad J.D. With their help, we were able to save a few items from our home, got temporary shelter for Lori and Kairi, and had the first assurances that it would be OK. They even had a care package prepared for me, with comic books and Superman DVDs (the essentials, of course). 

Co-workers I had barely known before were now united, standing side-by-side with me, offering whatever they had to spare. 

News organizations from across the world - from NYC to England, from New Zealand to Canada - reached out to me as well as several others on our staff. Yes, they wanted the story, but they also wanted to know two things: 1) "Are you OK?" and 2) "How can I help?"

There is no easy answer for the destruction and lives that were lost. We don't always understand why God allows terrible things to happen. But when asked where God is we can answer that God is here and His hand can be seen through the many miraculous stories of survival, sacrifice, help, and love that is being shown to us and numerous others who were impacted by the tornado. Seeing God's hand when we experience good times is easy. When faced with loss and destruction it takes faith to keep seeing Him.

We have received generous gifts from friends, former co-workers, and complete strangers. We have felt the power of tons of people praying for us. A nationally syndicated radio show that our group of stations carries personally sent each staffer who had lost a home cash. They didn't know us; yet they showed us love anyway. Friends organized efforts to donate to Joplin rebuilding, as well as our personal replacement of all we had lost. Chad's church collected a LOT of stuff to donate, and I know many of you also did the same. They - YOU - didn't have to help, yet did anyway.

This is the definition of hope. This is the definition of love. This is the definition of humanity. When tragedy strikes, we prove that deep down, it's not about politics. It's not about who has more and who has less. It's about us. It's about helping one another. Loving your neighbor. Doing unto them as you would have done unto you.

It's love. It's hope.

And it's all because of you.

From the bottom of our hearts, you have done more for us than we ever thought possible. More than we could ever repay. Whether you prayed, donated to the relief efforts, or gave to us personally, you are eternally in our thoughts and prayers, and we will NEVER stop being thankful for you.

You're the reason we can move on with our lives. And you're the very first thing we thank God for every day.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sometimes, Whining Works

Was gonna save this for a Geek Cave recording this weekend, but can't help myself... I HAVE to go into more detail here.

As you were probably aware, the PlayStation Network was taken down by hackers a while back. Once Sony restored everything, they threw out some free perks for customers that were (rightfully so) miffed over the loss of online play for around a month. Those free perks included a free month of PlayStation Plus and your choice of up to 4 free games (two for PS3, two for PSP).

The only catch? You had to claim these within 30 days. Heck, they even reiterated the date. Surely, that was enough time, right? Who'd be stupid enough to wait until after the deadline passed to claim so much free stuff?

Oh. Right.

So after gamers who were paying NOTHING to play online complained about their OWN failure to download FREE content, Sony extended the deadline, catering to those slothful, wimpering few who didn't have ten free minutes over the past 30 days to at least log in and claim the rewards (they could be officially downloaded later).

Sony, I think that was a mistake. Like a cranky two-year-old in a grocery store that finally does get that candy after making a scene, those gamers have received the same message that kid's parents send to it:

"Make a big enough stink, and we'll give you whatever you want so you'll shut up."

Mark my words, this will come back to bite you, Sony.

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Podcast Incoming!!

You may or may not be familiar with my podcast, The Geek Cave. If not, the latest one is here

That being said, the next episode will have an entirely different sound. With Episode 10, we'll have been doing this long enough to know how to make things sound... well, good

That's why there will be all-new music beds, all-new voicers recorded by the incomparable Kent Harris, and all-new equipment (so we don't have to worry about tricky echo sounds or messed-up settings). 

In all, it's gonna be new, it's gonna be awesome, and it's gonna be geeky.

Join us in a couple of weeks, won't you? You can subscribe via iTunes right now at THIS LINK.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nintendo: Failing North American Fans?

I know what you're thinking:

"But Nintendo just released Ocarina of Time 3D!"

"But Nintendo's WiiU will focus on the 'hardcore' gamer!"

"But... Super Mario for the 3DS this ChristmaHanukkahWanzaa!"

Yes, yes, yes... but that's for people all over the world. Look at NA, though, these past few days.

First, gamers cry out for localizations (and therefore official North America releases) of three of the biggest unreleased games for the Wii. Nintendo's response? "... nah."

Second, Nintendo announced today the Club Nintendo rewards for North American gamers. Of course, as is what's happened in years past, "Gold" members get a calendar. Which, while boring, is the usual gift. But in years past, Platinum gamers have gotten stuff that is - in a two-word definition - really cool.

Except this year, they get ... pins. Just... pins. No sweet statue. No Mario hat.


                                                         (Not pictured: NERD RAGE.)

Of course, fans have not responded well to this. The West is where Nintendo makes a lot... A LOT of their money. But while the East gets stuff like THIS (go on, just look through the catalogue) for Club Nintendo, and let's not forget about all of the exclusive titles, the West gets (seemingly) left in another castle.

I'll be watching the Wii U launch with great interest. Of course, I'll get another "Zelda Player." But I don't think I'll be too happy about it.

Oh, hey, Internet

I've been getting the writing bug lately, and with my monthly podcast The Geek Cave actually lasting longer than a couple of months, figured it was time to resurrect the ol' blog (previously found here).

So stay tuned, because in the days to come, you'll be able to find my thoughts here on the state of the Video Game, Movie, and Comic industries in easy-to-read, yet hard-to-understand posts!

It'll be fun! I think.