Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Francis Hates Everything...

...well, he hates everything but vests.

This goofy little Left 4 Dead dance song gave me a chuckle. Somebody strung together all the clips of Francis talking about the things he hates and compiled this catchy little tribute to the man and his intolerance.

B13 and Scott and other fellow Left 4 Dead players might get a kick out of this, but to everyone else it's just not gonna make any sense.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Zombie Love

This is a hoot: The fun-lovin' folks at Valve Software have conjured up some Left 4 Dead themed Valentine cards just in time to print and share with your true love.

You can choose from four cards featuring the hunter, the witch, the smoker or the boomer.

Wonder why they left out the tank? The big guy is custom-built for giving unforgettable hugs.

Update: Correction, the tank was included after all, and so were all four survivors. The complete set of cards is available in one handy link right here.

Another update: Boy, I jumped the gun and screwed this post up completely. The cards did not come from Valve, they've been turned out by a fan and an artist. Fine, whatever, the cards are still fun and funny.

Oh, and get this: some people are already talking about a Left 4 Dead movie. Man, what an AWFUL idea. Left 4 Dead is already a movie. In fact, it's already four movies. It's four fun little interactive b-movies that you "act in" on your PC or Xbox. Four b-movies that change each time you run through 'em. There's no need to make a movie out of the game, it's a superfluous and silly idea.

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Monday, February 02, 2009


Splinter Cell Out? Velvet Assassin In.

I'm a hardcore Splinter Cell fan, it's the one game franchise I'm totally hooked on. I love the game-play, the story, the characters, everything.

Here's how hooked I am on Splinter Cell: If they ever do make the long-rumored Splinter Cell movie, I'll see it in the theater. I know up front that it's gonna suck, but I'll still see it. Even if Paul W.S. Anderson or Uwe Boll direct it, I'll see it. I'm that hooked.

Like may hardcore Splinter Cell fans, I've started to believe that the next installment of the game series, called Conviction, is never going to actually be released. I've waited and waited and waited, I've been patient and I've been loyal, but almost two years of rescheduling and delaying is a long time, brother.

I've recently heard about Velvet Assassin, and my hopes are high that this game is going to fill the void left by the MIA Sam Fisher:



So, basically, you're Sam Fisher, except you're a chick. And instead of tracking down terrorists, dictators and hackers you're stalking Nazis.

Cool. I can do that.

Now let's hope that this game actually does get released.

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Monday, January 19, 2009


A Zombie We Can Believe In

Just having a little fun courtesy of Obama Icon Me.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


Xbox Live

Our family is made up of five enthusiastic but casual video game players. We just play for fun. It's a lot of fun to play over Xbox Live with other casual gamers, and we enjoy "meeting" other gamers who enjoy the same games we like to play.

Toward that end, I've set up a separate page at that ties into our Xbox Live gamer tag. If you have X-Box live and you enjoy any of the same games we enjoy ... but, most importantly, you enjoy them as casually as we do (no hardcore gamers, please) ... check out our Xbox Live page.

If you're on Xbox Live and happen to view our profile, you'll see a reference to this new family Xbox Live page. Maybe it'll help us meet other casual gamers.

See if you have some of the same games we enjoy, and maybe we can meet up on Xbox Live and have some fun.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Left 4 Dead

I have had a busy week, things are winding down a bit now. But I probably still won't blog much for a while because the kids got me an AWESOME video game for Christmas. Left 4 Dead positions you as one of four human survivors in the middle of a zombie holocaust. Your goal: Stick together as a group and be alive at the end of the game. Simple as that. And simplicity is the beauty of the game. Like the best games, it takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. This game is AMAZINGLY addictive. It's the Tetris of First-Person-Shooters.

That's all you need to know. Either that sounds like your kind of thing or it doesn't. It's my kind of thing for sure, and it's a real rush to play on Xbox Live as one of four real life people (other Xbox Live players) trying to fend off the zombie horde and make it across the city in hopes of finding salvation in the form of the army, a chopper, a plane.

I'd say this is the best game engineered around teamwork and survival I've ever played. There's a real sense of group accomplishment if all four of you manage to stay alive until the cavalry gets there. I've heard total strangers say "I love you, man!" while playing this game. It's an absolute blast.

And by the way, these are Boyle zombies, not Romero zombies. They DO. NOT. SLOW. DOWN. Plus, the addition of five kinds of mutated boss zombies adds to the fun.

If you're an Xbox Live player, get the game and look for me on line. This is really, really, really fun.


Monday, December 01, 2008


Half Life: Black Mesa

Most of you won't care about this. I do, though. The original Half Life (one of the most influential FPS games ever) has been rebuilt by some amazing people to run on Half Life 2 (one of my favorite games ever). If you've played either game you'll love this and you'll surely look forward to playing Black Mesa.

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Monday, October 20, 2008


The Usual: News And Rants

Just stuff...

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Thursday, August 21, 2008


New Old Games

I'm the worst kind of gamer. I'm not sure what kind of nickname the hardcore gamers have for guys like me, but it's probably something like "lame old fart."

For starters, I prefer to play games on consoles, not PCs. I do play a few PC games, but I'm a product of the Atari generation and I believe deep down that if I'm not holding a controller in my hand, I'm not playing a game. Keyboards and Mouses (Mice? Mices?) are for work. Hand-held controllers are for gaming.

Probably my biggest sin as a pseudo gamer is that I'm stingy. I can't justify buying games for fifty and sixty bucks. It just seems like an outrageous price to me. So I wait for the prices to go down and by the time I get games, they're old.

And what's worse, by the time I spend five or eight bucks on an old game I typically put it in the console once for ten minutes and then take it out and never play it again.

And I'm really only loyal to a couple of franchises. I love the Halo games and I love the Splinter Cell games. But I love both of them for their stellar single-player games, not for the popular online multiplayer. See, I'm too cheap to spend the fifty bucks to get Xbox360 Live. So I've only ever played Halo 2 on line once and I've never played my favorite franchise, Splinter Cell, on line at all.

Splinter Cell, by the way, is the greatest video game series of all time.

But, yeah, I do see used copies of well-reviewed games for a couple of bucks on clearance now and then. And I've bought a couple of them. And this summer, thanks to two immobile months spent recovering from bladder cancer, I did have time to play a few of those untouched "classic" games that had been gathering dust on a shelf here. Thankfully, they were backward-compatible and would run on our 360 ... and, thankfully, the were still as good as their long-ago raving reviews indicated.

XIII (pronounced "Thirteen") is a first person shooter that's based on a comic book and it actually incorporates comic book style story-boarding and graphics into it's action and story. It's a first-person shooter with a little more than the basic "run and gun" repetition that makes games like Doom get old quickly. Some of the challenges are the usual kind, shoot the bad guys, protect the innocent, keep alive til the end of the game. But other elements of the game reminded me of Half Life in that you sometimes had to solve puzzles and gather information before you could advance.

The story of XIII is good enough that it kept me genuinely interested in which pieces of the puzzle would be revealed and what new twists would take place in each new level. The conceit is that you're a Jason Bourne type secret agent. You have amnesia, but pieces of your memory come back to you with each level you complete. So the story's forward motion and the character's backstory develop at the same time. And the game boasts some surprising big names in the voice-over rolls. Actors like David Duchovny, Adam West and rapper/actress Eve.

The games visuals are very steeped in comic book tradition, and if you don't like comics, you might find the game annoying. Panels pop up to show action, words are conveyed in speech balloons, and there are even visual representations of sound effects: THWK! Wham! TAP TAP Tap tap... I enjoyed XII. As of now I'm at about the half-way point and will probably go back to see the story through.

One complaint is that when I play XIII on our 360, I can't load my saved games from the saved games menu. Every time I try it takes me back to the beginning of the level. It's a pain in the butt, especially if in your saved game you'd made a lot of progress. I think this is a 360 glitch with this specific game, but I haven't found anything on the Interworld Wide Web-nets.

By the way, XIII has been turned into a TV miniseries with Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer, and it'll hit the tube some time next year.

Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time provides a next-gen update of the original Prince Of Persia from the late '80's. This is a third person game that requires that you control the main character with some stealth, ingenuity and creativity. As a Splinter Cell fan, there was a lot here to appeal to me.

Basically, in Prince of Persia you spend half of your time fighting off hordes of badguys (sand monsters) and the other half of your time solving puzzles wherein you figure out how to navigate a room full of traps, perils and blind corners. The puzzle solving part of the game was what really hooked me. The battles, on the other hand, eventually began to feel repetitive. If it weren't for the fact that succeeding in battle is one way to level up, I'd have seen the battles as as an annoyance.

Another complaint I had with ...Sands Of Time is that the camera control is buggy. If you've played Splinter Cell, you probably know that a Splinter Cell addict like me is used to having total control of the game camera. I twirl the right thumbstick to where I want it and I see what I want to see and the view never changes on it's own, no matter what I do with the character. That's not the case in ...Sands of Time. Sometimes the camera movies to certain preset positions whether you want it to or not. This can really screw up your ability to execute the intricate button/joystick combos that are necessary to make certain moves and reach certain areas.

But then again, this is 2003 game with at least two sequels ... and I bet that camera control is better in the later titles. Just like XIII, it turns out that Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time is being adapted for the screen. It features Ben Kingsley and Donnie Darko and should hit theaters in May of 2010.

Armed And Dangerous is one of those games that tries to combine run and gun gameplay with humorous dialogue, madcap characters and silly situations. That's usually a bad idea. Games like that usually get old quick, the jokes wear out through repetition and the game play is usually bland enough to indicate that game design took a backseat to the writing of the jokes.

I'm happy to say, though, that Armed And Dangerous gets it right. The gameplay is engrossing and challenging, with enough variety and creativity to keep you wondering what the next level will hold. And the silly characters and funny story are, for the most part, actually funny.

Most of the humor comes across in cut-scenes, and if you're like me, most of the time you're only willing to sit through so much of a cut-scene before you're jabbing the A button, ready to move on. Nonetheless, I found the cut-scenes in Armed And Dangerous to be funny and interesting enough to actually watch. There's a heavy Monty Python influence on the creative team behind the story, and it shows. Some of their Pythonesque gags are actually fairly fresh and funny.

And some of the gameplay is funny, too. Weapons like the Shark Bazooka add a great twist to combat. What could be more fun than launching a shark into the earth, watching it's dorsal fin break the surface as it makes a b-line for the bad guy, finally to launch up Jaws-style and devour your nemesis?? Forgetaboutit. It's a riot.

Unlike XIII and Prince of Persia, Armed and Dangerous is not currently being adapted for the screen. And it's just as well. Any such adaptation would live forever in the shadow of John Candy's masterpiece.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, long have you ruled. I've never played a better game. So with the next chapter in the Splinter Cell franchise pushed back until the second quarter of 2009 at the soonest, I decided to replay the game that I've enjoyed more than any other.

It might have been a mistake. I didn't enjoy Chaos Theory near as much the second time through as I did when I first played it a few years ago. Part of the problem was that I kept surprising myself with how much I remembered. I'd find myself thinking "Oh, yeah, that door is gonna burst open and five bad guys are gonna fly out ... let me get back here in the shadows and roll a grenade that way." On one hand it's kinda cool to have one up on the badguys that way, but on the other hand it totally lacks the surprise and excitement from the first runthrough.

I remember thinking the first time I played Chaos Theory that the Seoul level was extremely hard. This time it was just pure fun and I went through it twice on the harder settings. And I remember thinking after my first Chaos Theory trip that the final level had been far easier than I'd expected. This time, beating the last barrage of badguys was like shooting fish in a barrel. One smoke-grenade and it's a whole new world.

By the way there is still the prospect of a Splinter Cell movie, but it's in development hell and will probably never happen.

And that's just as well. What's the point in turning good video games into bad movies? Some "art" should be left in the medium it was created in. Reinterpretation in another medium is just unnecessary.

Still, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory remains my favorite game. Only time will tell if the next iteration in the Splinter Cell series will claim the crown. And, unfortunately, that length of time just seems to keep getting longer.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008



I don't do an extreme amount of bitching here at the blog, but I do get a good whine on from time to time.

This is one of those posts, so you should stop reading it now.

Really, you'll wish you had. So stop reading it now. You have better things to do.


I am SICK TO DEATH of having tubes coming out of my body. Latex, plastic, etc, etc. Catheters, IV lines, etc, etc, etc. Ever since the first surgery for bladder cancer last month I've been hooked up to one device or another. And I'm sick of it.

I'm trying to stay positive, trying to focus on the fact that this isn't lung cancer or prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer ... one of the really ugly ones ... but it's hard to stay positive 24/7. I'm not really positive right now and haven't been for a few days. I'm sure I'll regret posting this shortly after I post it, but f%&@! it. This is what I feel like writing right now. And it won't be the first time I posted something I later regretted ... this blog is riddled with four years worth of regrettable writing.

I want a cigarette SO DAMN BAD that I think I'd KILL for one. I haven't had a cigarette since July 9, but it was a 25 or 26 year addiction, and it's going to take a while to get over it. Going back to work is going to be the real challenge. I don't smoke around the kids (as far as I know, they didn't know I smoked) and I don't smoke in the house ... but at work I have always smoked constantly. So going back to work and not lighting up is going to take a lot of focus.

Chantix, by the way, sucks. It's no better than the patches, the gums, etc. The only way to quit smoking is to just quit. I think it's like that with any addiction.

Hopefully, from now on, every time I see a cigarette I'll think about bladder cancer, and that'll be enough to keep me from smoking.

I'm sick of missing work, too. Not that my job is anybody's idea of a dream job. My job pretty much sucks. But I do miss the paycheck. (Boy, do I EVER miss the paycheck.) And I miss the regular routine. And I miss the friends I have at work.

What else to bitch about while I'm on a roll? OK, there's this: I'm sick of Barack Obama acting like he's the Second Coming of Christ and I'm sick to my stomach of his supporters swooning over him. This McCain ad says it all:

Also, I'm sick of Ubisoft CONTINUING to push back the release date for the new Splinter Cell game. Splinter Cell is the one video game series that I enjoy. I can live without the TV otherwise. I really don't like TV, I don't watch any specific shows, I don't buy or play other video games, I generally don't think any game is worth the price. Except for the Splinter Cell games. Boy, I love those games. And God only knows when the new one will actually come out.

What else? Let's see, I'm sick to death of seeing this crazy skank pop up on every news source imaginable. I think it's pretty obvious that Casey Anthony has caused the death of her daughter, either through neglect or abuse, and she's just leading everyone on a wild goose chase, trying to hold out another day before there's something solid to pin on her. Man, I hope they find something soon. It'd be great if the little girl turned up alive, but I don't see that happening, and I'm sick of every news outlet in the world passing on the lunatic mother's latest outrageous lie.

And I guess that's all I'm going to bitch about now. And that's by far enough.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008


Current Distractions

Just a quick note; I'm still alive, still waiting for my bladder to heal post-surgery, still dashing to the bathroom every seven seconds (or so it seems).

Here's a quick list of the distractions that have been preoccupying me for the last few days. Consider these the reasons I haven't been blogging much.

Hope everybody has a good 4th! I'll blog more when I have fewer distractions.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007



I'm tired of fooling myself by constantly saying that I want to do something about my sedentary lifestyle, but never actually doing anything about it. I'm gonna get a WiiFit pad. Then, I'll be able to fool myself into thinking that I really am doing something.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Sam By Day

The Splinter Cell video game series is the greatest video game series of all time. It qualifies for that honor by having met these important criteria:

Therefore, since I have enjoyed these games more than any other games ... more than most other things, in fact, including ice cream and respiration ... I am proud to name Splinter Cell the greatest video game series ever. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Now comes advance hype for the fifth game in the series, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and my heart is all aflutter.

The amazing thing about this game is that Sam is no longer in the dark. Over the course of the last few games Sam has gone from special agent to double agent, and now to fugitive from justice, hunted for crimes he didn't commit. Now, without his ubercool spy gadgets, Sam has to move by day, finding new ways to be stealth. The new Splinter Cell game will not be about finding shadows and staying hidden. Now, as Sam, players will have to hide themselves in crowds in broad daylight, create diversions and use their environment for defense and offense. Sam's access to spy tech is gone. It's all about wits now.

This video shows that some of the game will still take place in the shadows, but Sam no longer has night vision goggles, heat sensors or toys. The enemy has the same advantage and disadvantage as Sam now:

I didn't watch too much of that video, I don't want to see too much of the game yet. It's like peeking under the wrapper at the present, you know? But one thing got my attention: practically no HUD. It's all about paying attention now. Sam is really on his own.

I'm thrilled to see, though, that some of the game takes place in one of my favorite places in the world: the elaborately reproduced National Mall in DC.

I want this video game so much I can practically feel it in my hands ... but it won't be out until first quarter '08; and, besides, it's exclusively for the Xbox 360, which we do not have and can't afford.

But someday... someday... Meantime, I guess I'll have to plan a trip to the National Mall and spend a day sneaking around, playing pretend Sam Fisher, like an idiot.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007



The only word I can come up with to describe how I feel after finally finishing Splinter Cell: Double Agent is ROBBED. This is easily the weakest of the four Splinter Cell games, and I can say that with some authority because I've played and beaten them all.

The graphics look good, I have to admit. Even on the last gen Xbox, the game looks great:

And the game play is the same outstanding stealth action I've loved since the first game ... but my complaints are substantial and I'm emphatic about them.

For starters, the game is short. Nine levels, something like twelve hours of gameplay. The previous four games were all about twelve levels, plus downloadable bonus levels through Xbox live. Just nine short ones this time, however.

Then, there's the game story. I have to admit, I really enjoy the Splinter Cell pathos and I get involved in the story and the characters. This game featured the franchises weakest story ... the only story I'd genuinely describe as just plain weak.

The worst thing about the story, though, is that the whole game is really just a setup for Splinter Cell 5, an upcoming Xbox 360 exclusive.

I do not have an Xbox 360 and I don't plan to buy one, so I'm screwed.

On a one to ten scale, Splinter Cell: Double Agent is a 7 at best.

For the record, the third game in the franchise, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, is the best. The story is great, the gameplay is fantastic, great graphics, great sound, great controls, great, great, great. Chaos Theory is the one to get. It's a solid 10.

Not that you need get just one. The first game and second one, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, are both outstanding. They're nines. They'd be tens if the third game wasn't so flat-out perfect.

So I've spent most of my free time (which is precious) over the past month playing a game that I didn't find fulfilling ... and yet I'm still enough of a Splinter Cell addict that I'm looking forward to the movie.

I know. I'm pathetic.

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Monday, January 29, 2007


Can't Blog Now. Gaming.

Be back in a few days.

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Friday, December 29, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 07

Well, it was Christmas at our house this morning. The Wii was a big hit:

Hailey and I tried Wii Sports boxing a little bit ago and I'm actually tired. It's actual exercise!

I think this thing is going to be a lot of fun for our family.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 06

Look, Wii guts!

Most of this stuff was too technical for me, but I nodded and said "Mmmm-hmm," just like I understood it all.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 05

Oh, yeah... I'm sooooo sorry we went for the Wii instead of the PS3:

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Sunday, November 19, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 04

As I reported yesterday, my sinus infection got me out of Wal-Mart duty. Wendy spent the day in line at Wal-Mart, and, happily, we are now the proud owners of a Wii. Of course, we won't be able to report much about it until Christmas, since it's for the kids … and since this is our "off year" with the kids, we won't be having our Christmas until some time after December 25th. So expect more than a month before we have anything to say about how much our family actually enjoys the Wii.

Meanwhile, here's Wendy's report about the Wal-Mart wait:

So the plan was that at noon I would call down to Wal-Mart and see how many people were in line for the Wii. If people were lining up, I was to wake him. So I called at noon, and there were 7 people in line. So, I went in and told Darrell. He told me that he needed another hour of sleep. So at one, I called again. Now there were 8 people in line. I went and woke him up.

He woke up, if you could call it that. It was more of stumbling about and moaning. It was at this point that I decided that I needed to act. I secretly always wanted to be the one to go and wait in line anyhow. So I graciously offered to go instead. He took me up on the offer. I raced down to Wal-Mart. Arriving at 1:15pm, I was number 9 in what would eventually become a line of at least 20 being that there were only 20 Wii's available at our local Wal-Mart.

Why in the name of all that's pure and good and right she actually wanted to spend the day waiting at Wal-Mart is beyond me. Masochistic tendencies, I guess.

I took my seat over in the layaway department where they had arranged a bunch of chairs for those waiting. I found out that number 1 had gotten there at 9 am. He was an older gentleman and his wife who had a young child late in life. Numbers 2 and 3 were high school seniors. They played chess and backgammon with their friend who eventually decided to become number 12 instead of spending his mother's birthday with his mom. Number 4 was a married couple who had a couple of kids at home. Number 5 was a married couple and their son who was about 10 or 11 and determined to make it to midnight. Number 6 was another married couple and their 12 year old son. Number 7 was the boy from my speech class at my last college who wrote a persuasive speech as to why people should get the Wii instead of the PS3. Well it worked because I was in line. Number 8 was the guy who was number 1 in the PS3 line a few nights earlier. And then there was me. I was guaranteed a system, and that felt really good.

Wendy told me that the guy who was in line in front of her … the one who'd waited in line for two days to buy a PS3 … just turned around and sold it on eBay. On one hand that seems crappy, but on the other hand, I hope he got enough of a profit to pay for his Wii.

So Wal-Mart had a really good system going. When you got there, you signed your name on a list, thus getting your number in line. Then at the top of each hour they would come back to layaway and check you in. They would go down they list and read off the names if you, or someone sitting in for you, wasn't there, then you would lose your spot. After each check in you could then be set free for about 59 minutes until the next check-in. You could use the bathroom, get a bite to eat, go down to the Game Stop and test out the Wii there, do some Christmas shopping, or just hang out in layaway. One guy even went to get a few beers at Applebee's. Whatever. Just as long as you were back by the top of the hour.

Oh, Wendy also told me that the guy who spent his free time tossing down beers at Applebees got so caught up in a football game while there that he almost didn't make it back for check-in time! Oh, how that would have sucked to have been him.

In the electronics department they had a PS3 set up. The graphics look amazing on that thing. However, it kept locking up. Those of us back in the Wii line found that hilarious. Stupid Sony; you spend $600 and you get a system that locks up on you. Somebody suggested getting a gun from Sporting Goods to handle the problem, and we all got a good laugh out of that.

Mwaaa ha ha ha ha! There seems to be a real clear delineation between PS3 people and Wii people. It's almost like the whole Mac Vs. PC thing. The weird thing is that I'm a Wii guy (at least I presume that I am, having not yet played the Wii and having never even touched a PS2) … anyway, I'm a Wii guy, and the Wii would be the Mac in this analogy (with the PS3 as the PC) … but when it comes to computers, I'm a total PC guy and I have no use for a Mac.

It's all about the interface with the Wii. We might have tried to save money and get a PS3, and this time last year we were actually expecting to try to get a PS3 as the big gift for the kids this year, but once we started seeing Wii promotions on the 'net back in the summer, we were sold on the interface. We showed those promos and videos to the kids, and they were totally psyched, too. We're a Wii family all the way. This really seems like the family console. Let the gangstas have their PS3s.

The Wii crowd was really friendly. I knew a bunch of them from college. And the ones I didn't know at the beginning of the day, I knew by the end of the night. From what people said, the PS3 crowd was kinda sketchy, and number 8 should know since he was there too.

Wendy said that the PS3 crowd from a night or two before, by contrast, had to wait out in the open air in the gated lawn-n-garden section. I suppose they wanted the PS3ers outside in case somebody just had to "buss a cap up in heah." You know how those PS3ers can get. ;)

When I started the day out I had no clue what games to get for the Wii because in all honesty, all the games I want to get don't come out until the spring. However, by the end of the night I was pretty much convinced that I could not survive unless I had The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I just hope my kids will feel the same way about it.

The funniest thing is that since we were placed back in layaway, people who didn't know that we were waiting for the Wii thought that we were the layaway line since today is the last day you can add anything to layaway at Wal-Mart, ever. So, they would be walking towards layaway with a cart full of stuff, see us all sitting there, their jaws would drop, they'd walk away, and we'd say "I guess we scared off another one." But those brave souls that got close enough would ask "Is this the line for layaway?" And we'd reassure them that it was not. And the look of relief on their faces was priceless.

Once 10 pm rolled around we were handed our tickets and put into a line. Now we weren't allowed to leave the area. And check-ins were every half-hour. We were in the home stretch.

So when midnight rolled around we stood up and one by one we were able to buy our Wii's back in layaway. Then we could head back to electronics and pick up any additional games and/or controllers that we needed. So I was able to get what we needed.

So number 8, who looked like
Steven Page from Barenaked Ladies, and exited Wal-Mart at the same time. That way I wouldn't be walking through the empty parking lot alone. He wished me good luck in school, and I wished him good luck playing video games.

From what Wendy's told me, if I had ended up doing the waiting at Wal-Mart myself, talking to this guy would have been the most fun part.

Overall, this was one of those experiences that you never forget. I had a lot of fun. Granted it was very boring. I wish I had been better prepared with something to do like a book to read or a Gameboy to play or my iPod or something, but I did buy a magazine and they did provide us with donuts. Darrell brought me dinner, too, which was nice. And who would have thought that sitting around for 11 hours could be so exhausting, but it really is. But it was a great group of people. A bunch of them that I knew, and I could talk to them and joke around with them. Darrell would have been miserable. Absolutely miserable. He's not good at waiting. Especially when he's sick and tired. Now I just have to wait for the next new system or something. Well then there's always Black Friday coming up this week.

Yes, I would have been miserable. As it was, I pretty much spent the whole day asleep. The most exciting part of my day was pulling out the first tooth that Liam has lost so far.

Anyway, we have a Wii. Yippee.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 03

At the moment, my head is one big sinus, and it's infected. Therefore, the judgment call was made, by my wife, that I'm too sick to go stand in line to pick up the Wii at our local Wal-Mart.

Therefore, my wife is currently in line at our local Wal-Mart.

Yep, Wendy Wal-Martyred herself for me so that I wouldn't have to drip snot all over the other video game fans lined up at Wal-Mart.

The good news is, she's ninth in line and virtually guaranteed a Wii. The Local Wal-Mart is really regimented about it, with a designated wait area, roll-call times, etc.

Wendy told me by phone that the people in the waiting area are friendly and that she's actually having fun. This is a totally different experience than the PS3 launch was in some areas:

In one example, police fired pepper pellets Friday morning to subdue a crowd of about 200 people outside a Circuit City store in McLean, Va. Afterward, one person was taken to a hospital complaining of shortness of breath, authorities said. Connecticut authorities said two men tried to rob a line of people outside a Wal-Mart and shot a man who refused to give up his money.

Of course, some of the people who worked so hard to get a PS3 are hoping to turn a profit. And some of them are just psychotic Spin Doctors wannabes.

By contrast, Wendy's wait has been pleasant ... and the kids should have a very merry Christmas this year.

I'll ask Wendy to write something tomorrow to post about her Wii wait experience.

Wii Journal, Entry 02

Wii Journal, Entry 01

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Monday, November 13, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 02

Today, while Christmas shopping for the kids, I’m pretty sure I saw some PlayStation 3s. I bought a pile of video games at Toys-R-Us on clearance, paying five bucks a pop for games that I’m sure the kids will play to death; Crash Bandicoot titles, Donkey Kong, etc.

Anyway, the way that do it at the local Toys-R-Us (and, I assume, at every Toys-R-Us) is, you don’t actually carry the game itself to the counter. You carry paper tickets with barcodes on them, and the sales clerk scans the tickets. Then, you take your tickets and receipt to the stock desk where a bored, bubblegum chewing stock clerk goes into the stock room and gets your games. When this particular stock clerk opened the door of the stock room I saw a shelf full of black boxes with a big sign that said "DO NOT MOVE BEFORE NOVEMBER 17!" I was able to clearly see that the boxes said PlaySta... something-or-other, but it was kind of a blur as the door opened and closed. I’m assuming that they were PS3s since the November 17th release date was so prominent.

We've never bought a new console before. Our Gamecube was bought three years after that system debuted, and our Xbox was bought two years after that system came out. Or, was it the other way around? Either way, we've never bought a new next-generation system before. We've promised the kids, though, that Santa is all about the Nintendo Wii this year, so I guess that means that I'll be spending about twelve or fourteen hours at the local Wal-Mart this Saturday so that we can see this under the tree on Christmas morning:

According to the Wii Seeker (which, oddly enough, is a free service of a PS3 site), our local Wal-Mart is getting 53 Wii consoles. We'll see. I hope it's really that many.

I know that a lot of smart gamers (including Rey) are PS3 enthusiasts... but we've decided on the Wii for sure for our family. We think it's just a better match for a family and a mix of casual gamers.

A big part of the reason we've decided on the Wii over the PS3 is price. The PS3 is the kind of system that you have to buy on mortgage. It's available in two versions; one with a sixty gig hard drive (it costs an arm and a leg) and one with a twenty gig hard drive (that one only costs a leg). The Wii, on the other hand, is a comparatively mild $250. Where Nintendo is going to make the big bucks on this system is in the controllers, which come in two parts, each of which is sold separately, and each of which costs ... well, a toe or two.

I know that the PS3 will play blu ray DVDs, but I don't really care. We're not buying a console to watch movies on, we're buying one for video games. Besides, the Wii will be playing DVDs as well by 2007. And, honestly, I don't care about that, either. Video game consoles are for video games, not movies. As someone pointed out at a bulletin board, nobody ever lamented that the N64 didn't play VHS tapes, or that the NES didn't play 8-Tracks.

As far as non-game capabilities, the Wii does do a few things. It has a messaging system, for one thing ... which is ... well ... kinda dumb. If you want to leave a message for someone in your home, you can either jot it on a piece of paper and leave it on the table ... or, if you're a Wii owner, you can fire up your Wii, use the remote to type out a message, save it, and then hope that the person you've written the message to will actually turn on the Wii and read it. As pointed out, it would be easier simply to write the message right on the side of the Wii than to use the console's message system:

The Wii will have a few multimedia capabilities out of the box. It will be able to read JPGs on memory sticks, which we'll never need to do, either, since we have one of them thar new-fangled Personal Com-Peuder thingies. Oh, the Wii can also play Quicktime movie files. Yay. One more device that will play the one video format that PC users despise most. If they could just get it to run AutoCAD, that would bring the Wii's list of things we'll never use it for up to three.

The advantages of the Wii are all in the interface.

For one thing, the hype indicates that this is apparently is a video game system that might involve some actual exercise. I hope I'm up to that. I'm typically a "Halo 2 and a bowl of Fritos balanced on my chest" kind of gamer. I hope I can hang with the kids as they jump around swinging the Wii remote playing video tennis, baseball, Metroid, etc. This seems to be a popular Wii selling feature with non-gamers. Even the old farts at Forbes have enjoyed jumping around with those odd looking little Wii controllers.

Another neat thing about the Wii is that it logs your cumulative play time for all of your games. That way, when you're trying to figure out if the sequel to Game X is a good investment, you don't have to wrack your brain trying to remember if the kids actually played the original version of Game X very often or not. You can just turn on the Wii and learn for sure, for once and for all, that, for instance, the kids have only spent a total of two hours playing that fifty dollar Shadow The Hedgehog game that they just had to have last Christmas ... meanwhile, that Kirby game that grandma bought them for $4 at a yard-sale has been played every day for sixteen months.

Just hypothetically, that is.

(They might as well play with the damn box.)

Wii Journal, Entry 01

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 01

We're getting our kids the Wii for Christmas this year... or, at least, we hope that we are. The pre-sales have all sold out everywhere, and we anticipate a long night in line at Wal-Mart on November 18th.

Even if we hadn't decided on the Wii, though, this commercial alone would be enough to convince us to not even consider the PlayStation 3:

The PS3 is clearly a tool of the devil.

The Wii, on the other hand...

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