Tuesday, August 02, 2005

ESRB Note: Game experience may change whilst drunken.

"Hang down your head Tom 'SaMbO' Dooley.. hang down your head, and cry.."

I must admit, not even I saw this one coming. No, not the 'hang my head in shame' bit (I've got enough fodder to keep my chin down for many a year to come) but had you spoken to me before the weekend I could've told you about how proud I am being a PS2 luddite.
For as many years as I can remember, I've bought every game console of the moment. SNES, Megadrive, N64, Playstation1, Dreamcast (hell I even BOUGHT a Saturn and a 3DO!).. you name it and I probably own it, up to and including the GameCube and Xbox (my fav).
My glaring omission however, has always proudly been the PS2. I hate it.
Or so I thought..

I always batted for the underdogs. Especially Sega (post Megadrive) with their Saturn and Dreamcast. Whilst THEY need to hang their head in shame for the woeful 32X and SegaCD (Night Trap anyone?) these two planetary consoles were years ahead of their time. Dreamcast had a VMU, multi-button analog controller, and online gaming built-in.
And indeed, these consoles have provided me with my most golden moments of gaming outside of the first time I laid my eyes upon Doom on PC:
- Swimming in 'Super Mario 64' (N64)
- Battling over Hoth in 'Shadows Of The Empire' (N64)
- Singleplayer addiction and multiplayer brilliance in 'GoldenEye' (N64)
- Multiplayer ecstasy in 'Super Mario Kart' (SNES)
- Puzzling through 'Ecco The Dolphin' and 'Another World' (Megadrive)
- Squeezing the best lap times out of 'Wipeout' (PS1)
- Tagging in 'Jet Set Radio' (Dreamcast)
- 4-way fighting in 'Power Stone 2' (Dreamcast)
- Gasping in awe at 'Soul Calibur' (Dreamcast)

But it is for this very reason that I avoided PS2 like the plague. In the Good Old Days of PS1, Sony were emergent and hip of the times. Designers Republic dominated the look and feel of all things PlayStation and Sony relied upon enigmatism and trickle-down to fuel their cause. And of course at the time, they were leaps and bounds ahead of every other console both technologically and in terms of style. For moi, PS1 was the epitome of cool.

Then something happened.

'Commercialised' perhaps isn't the right word, but 'commoditised' sums it up perfectly. In an ironic twist, the outright success of Sony's marketing muscle demanded that every parent knew what would shut up their 12 yr old son - the Magic Kid Quietner aka PlayStation.
Suddenly every man and his dog were (cos they COULD) developing 'games' (and I use the term loosely) for PS1. The amount of available titles skyrocketed whilst the quality of them disappeared into a black hole. Suddenly the market was deluged with titles from publishers eager to jump on board Sony's money-printing play machine, and what resulted was an array of (oft spectacular) CGI cutscene compilations loosely threaded together by a series of nonsensical or outright brain-numbing bore fests.

I became uneasy, and it was about then that the Dreamcast hit the shelves in NZ.
Cya Sony.

Meanwhile, the PS2 had been released. Aside from the latest versions of GranTurismo, Tekken, and RidgeRacer, there wasn't any apparent sign of originality to be seen (IMHO). Sony were reiterating to me that they had become commoditised, trite, and extremely mediocre. The graphics of the day were none more spectacular than what I was enjoying on my Dreamcast, and I had major issues with their DualShock analog controller (thumb cramp for free). I remember thinking of how the mighty had fallen - from hip underground chic to outright bullish commercialism and midstream pandering. Despite keeping a close eye on the proceedings at the time, I casually wandered past the PS2 section of every game store watching title after title of 'me too' abominations getting released as if almost the life blood of the planet depended upon expanding the catalog..

And of course to really shove it up them, I bought an Xbox. And oh the joy as I would set up an Xbox beside a friend's PS2 and rapturously scoff at the differences between the two on screen. Whereby the track textures made a dirt road in GT4 look like a mosaic tapestry, Rallisport Challenge and Project Gotham Racing 2 had you wanting to reach into the screen and pick up a stone off the road. It was really that good. As was 'giving it one' to the PS2. Every time this happened, I felt better knowing that I was defiant in the face of brute force (pardon the ironic pun) marketing muscle on behalf of Sony.
"They'll never take (my money) alive"!

Cue to last weekend:
Wandering around JB's in the city, it's difficult to walk out of there empty handed. I always seem to think I 'need' stuff when I'm in there (swiftly followed by "what the fuck?" as I walk out the door juggling bright yellow bags). And so, thanks in main to the displays set up at the time, I approach my most darkest moment in the history of SaMbO Gaming.

Allow me to say at this point, that in fact it is not a PS2 per say that I am lining myself up to purchase, but rather a particular suite of applications that run upon it. (Although either way, I am still holding my head in a rather downward position).
Disclaimed with the statement "Alcohol must be consumed prior to playing this game" I hereby announce to the world that I now hold in my possession a copy of Sony's "Swingstar Party" and "Swingstar Pop", replete with two microphones and a large amount of fortitude. The buggers had a special pack where you get everything needed for $275. Damnit.

Oh come on - surely you can refrain your hysterics for just a moment - I mean, with a large group of friends and an equally large amount of alcohol.. well.. you get the picture.
Go have a look at it: SingStar
This is what you end up seeing on the telly.

The newest pack (Pop) has a new rap component.. I can tell you that's a hilarious one to see attempted.

The new model PS2 is teeeeeeeeeeeeeeny, so of course I had to also purchase the official carry bag (which handily has room for the mics as well) which now means I have a 'party in a small bag'. What could be more fun than embarrassing drunken people screaming at the top of their lungs (this occurs naturally so I'm merely fanning the flames and managing the situation.. hehe).

But, in direct conflict to my moralistic approach to Sony mentioned earlier, it would have been 'ok' had I stopped there.
Oh no.. not moi. Hmm.. the juices of curiosity began to flow and I found myself hovering around the PS2 games shelf and accessories cabinet in JB...

  • BANG! Vertical Stand
    (must admit it looks rather sexy in my lounge up on it's end)
  • BANG! Memory Card
    (okay THIS still shits me - having to fork out another $49 JUST to save games? puuuuurlease!)
  • BANG! Transformers game
    ("oooh this didn't come out on Xbox.. must get it.." think I)
  • BANG! Official Playstation Magazine
    (Doh! Good one - now I have this propaganda telling me to buy more games..)

..and you get the picture. I know - shame.

Shame on me for breaking my PS2 dearth. And although I would originally have argued that the machine itself was an unnecessary evil required in order to play Singstar with my mates, I can feel myself already being sucked into the vortex of all the PS2-only games that are so 'new' for me.

And whilst I still wholeheartedly maintain that the Xbox is technically superior and graphically more polished than the PS2, there appears to be a certain breed/style of game unique to the platform (much akin to the 'Nintendo feel' I often experience playing GameCube or N64) that is justifyingly satisfying. I will finally be able to play Tekken 5, Final Fantasy X, Ico, Devil May Cry 3, Solid Snake 3, etc, but take the other title I purchased yesterday: KILLZONE.

Omg - I didn't think I'd ever see myself write this down, but Killzone is absolutely brilliant. Sure, the textures aren't up to Xbox chop, but they (like others who utilise the PS2 'feel') appear to capitalise on this and give the game a sort of 'greyed out' look. Gotta say it stands up. And, the movement in game is easily the most realistic and fun feeling I've experienced for some time. PLUS the game is now only $27. Do yourself a favour and get a PS2 for $235 and this game, and I guarantee enjoyment.

Check it out yourself (gotta see it moving tho): Killzone Site

Oh - this new model PS2 now has ethernet built in - free online gaming. Waiting for my Network Access pack to arrive in the mail, then I'll be doing the online Killzone thang...

So there you have it. An era of unique SaMbO-ness has drawn to an almighty close, and with my PSP already prepaid at EB, I guess I'm heading even further down the Sony hole, once more.

I wonder if they knew that all along.. ?

Oh and Decay, was this and this the game you reckon is da bomb?


At 5:25 pm, August 02, 2005, Anonymous Decay said...

Yes they are indeed the games... We Love Katamari is the sequel


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