Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lumines Live’s Ludicrous Pricing Structure Announced

I can’t say that everyone has the same mindset as me, but I’m sure the vast majority of you assume that when you’re buying a product you get all the expected features in one purchase and not to have to shell out more cash for bits and pieces of it. However, this is simply not the case for Lumines Live, an Xbox 360 Arcade-exclusive update of the PSP’s most well-received puzzler, in which there are multiple purchases required to received the entire experience.

So what’s the total cost of this trippy-looking puzzler? You will have to spend a staggering 1900 Microsoft Points to receive the game in it’s entirety. Yup, that’s right – nearly $25 for a title that you can’t bring to your friend’s house, re-sell when you’re bored and weary of the product, or even return to the store if you’re not very found of the game itself.

How does this all break down? Well, to even start playing Lumines Live, you have to pay an initial fee of 1200 Microsoft points (which equates to $14.99), and that is strictly for online multiplayer. Not fair, you say? Want to practice against the computer A.I. before testing out your Lumines skills online against real living, breathing opponents? Well, you can, but once you start digging real deep into the game play of this mode your progress will eventually be blocked by a message that says the ‘CPU Mission Pack is required to progress further’. You’ll then have to shell out another 300 Microsoft Points to receive this feature – which translates to another $3.75 in the hole. Finally, once you start getting into Mission Mode – the mode that many people would consider is the main meat of the game – you will be required to fork over yet even more dough. A transaction of 400 Microsoft points (or $5.00) will be an essential payment to play the Puzzle/Mission mode.

If Lumines Live is successful on Xbox Live Arcade, then we can only expect more of this feature-milking from Microsoft. I wouldn’t be astounded to see this nickel-diming to become more common in future game releases, either. Oblivion’s horse armor prices are ridiculously inflated, the Lord of the Rings: the Battle for Middle Earth II had three multiplayer maps ready for purchase out of the gate (when they should have been included in the actual product itself), and Call of Duty 2 has maps that are only available by purchase yet they are free of charge in the PC version.

How can we put an end to these absurd Xbox Live Arcade purchase set-up before it becomes more rampantly found in Xbox 360 releases? Vote with your wallets – or in this case, Microsoft Points- and don’t mindlessly shell out cash for each new game feature or map that should have already been included in the full product itself.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Five Reasons Not to Upgrade to a Next-Gen Console

Sure, you can shell out the big bucks to purchase (or pre-purchase) a next-generation game system. But really, is there a drastic need to do that? The current-generation is still alive and kicking (unless you’re playing on an Xbox, which Microsoft completely abandoned in favor of supporting their new fangled 360, though their original ugly black box does have a superb back catalog). Here are five reasons – five terrific looking games- that prove that you don’t need to run out and purchase a pricey next-gen console to get your current gaming fix.

5. Bully (PS2)

5. Rockstar Game’s next controversial release, Bully, has caught a lot of heat lately from misguided boneheads, one-sided newscasts, loony politicians, and irresponsible parents. Despite all the controversy and over exaggerated claims surrounding this title (“It’ll increase bullying in our public schools!” is one, despite the fact that no kid should be playing what will most likely be an M rated title), it looks to be one of Rockstar’s more intriguing projects this generation. Once scheduled for a simultaneous release on both PS2 and Xbox, the latter version has been canned most likely due to Microsoft’s own lack of support for the system. You play as a student in a boarding school who must face all types of other student personalities (jocks, nerds, and yes, bullies) and to defend himself, which is a bit of a step down from the details that Rockstar originally announced about it (you originally played as the antagonist, the bully, instead of a troubled student who gets bullied). Anyway it’s released, though, I’m sure Rockstar will keep its current track record of putting out great software based on rather risky subject matter.

4. Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA (PS2)

4. Fresh from the arcades and into your home this fall comes Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA, the fifth game in the popular dancing series to make its way to the Playstation 2. Loaded with a massive collection of over 70 songs (though rather small compared to the song list of over 300 appearing in the arcade release, it is still above any of the other home DDR versions), SuperNOVA will also contain the series’ expected online play and an all new Battle Mode.

3. Okami (PS2)

3. Okami, the next release from Clover Studio (the same skilled team that brought you the top-notch Viewtiful Joe games) is a Zelda-esque action-adventure game filled with thrilling dungeons (many of which are believed to be nearly up to the level of Zelda’s superb dungeons in terms of quality), mind-bending puzzles, and a striking art-style. The Japanese release, which found its way in stores this past April, has been extremely well-received from critics and gamers alike, both applauding its imaginative game play, incredibly unique art style and superb game design overall. Now if only Capcom would give this game some adequate marketing, as Clover’s other games, despite their fantastic quality, flopped sales-wise.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC)

2. Ah, the Legend of Zelda series. One of the most respected, cherished, and popular game series of all times, Twlight Princess looks to be one behemoth of a game. While Nintendo’s next amazing-looking entry in the series won’t find its way onto store shelves until next year, it’s for a good reason as the developers are currently fine-tuning the game play and puzzles to make sure it’ll keep the massive swarm of Zelda fans happy. Sure, the Gamecube is nearly dead, but if you’re going to go out, you might as well go out with a bang, right? Twilight Princess could quite possibly the greatest swan song for a game console ever.

1. Super Paper Mario (GC)

1. It’s a Mario, and he’s-a-back! While the original Paper Mario RPG’s were fantastic titles in their own right, this fresh, unique game may end up one-upping them. Super Paper Mario will be taking a dramatic turn from previous series entries with its more platform-oriented game play (rather than strictly being an RPG), though it will contain some subtle RPG elements thrown in for good measure. Super Paper Mario is set out to be one of the holiday’s largest and most significant game releases – current gen or otherwise.

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