3DS! PSP! Smartphones! Which represents the true future of mobile gaming? Plus: Our most anticipated titles of 2011, and you'll struggle to hold back tears as Richard becomes a man. (NOTE: We recorded this episode before the big PSP2/NGP announcement—you'll marvel at the semi-accuracy of our predictions!) Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "The Timely Producer" Spaeth.
Tim Spaeth: This week on the GameCritics.com podcast: 3DS and the future of mobile gaming. What role will smartphones play, and will PSP play any role at all? Plus, our most anticipated games of 2011, and one of our hosts achieves humanity's highest honor. Who is it? What is it? Find out next. The 2011 premiere of the GameCritics.com podcast starts right now.
Welcome to episode 48 of the GameCritics.com podcast. I'm Tim Spaeth; it's been so long, this almost feels like a reunion episode. So let's reunite with my beloved co-hosts. We'll find out how they spent their winter hiatus and we'll start with our long-lost founder and owner, Chi Kong Lui. Chi, it's been too long, sir.
Chi Kong Lui: Hey, Tim. How's it going, man? Yeah, I missed you guys.
Tim Spaeth: We missed you for our big finale.
Chi Kong Lui: That was a heck of a show, by the way. Good work on that, everyone.
Tim Spaeth: Thank you so much. What were you doing while we were doing that?
Chi Kong Lui: I was in the Philippines, visiting my wife's family.
Tim Spaeth: We saw many pictures that you sent back, and it all seemed to be of enormous piles of strange-looking food.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] Yeah, a lot of good eatin' there, yeah. I did manage to also meet up with our GC forum poster and moderator known as nightdreamer on Twitter.
Tim Spaeth: Our dear friend, nightdreamer. You sent a picture, and the two of you looked so friendly together. What was that experience like, meeting nightdreamer?
Chi Kong Lui: It was actually really, really cool. He's a really nice guy, very friendly, and he had some really nice gifts for my son, which really surprised. me. I don't know what to call him, because he has, like, three different names. [Laughter] I don't know if I can use his real name, which might be inappropriate, and calling him "nightdreamer" seems like such a strange&mdasah;
Brad Gallaway: I got to know, Chi, I got to know: nightdreamer has been around GameCritics forever. He's a real old-school forum poster, and he's been around since as long as I can remember, so he's definitely got some history with the site. And I really have to know.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: At any point, did you guys really just hug, really intensely?
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] No. Actually, the history between us, we've gotten into it on a few topics.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, you guys had a few exchanges over the years.
Chi Kong Lui: Our most notorious debate was over Michael Bay's Transformers. No, we did not rehash that, thankfully. Also, to some regret as well, because I'm sorry on some level. You'd think I wouldn't want to get into it, but we just didn't have the time for that. I met him at a mall, and he showed me around this mall that he wanted to take me around. They have a lot of cool toy stores, geektastic toy stores in the mall. A lot of robots and anime toys and stuff like that, so it was really cool.
Tim Spaeth: Sounds like a dream come true for you.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: A nightdream come true for you.
Everyone else: Oh!
Tim Spaeth: Thank you so much. I'll be here all week.
Mike Bracken: He's been saving that for weeks.
Tim Spaeth: Well, Chi, it's great to have you back in the States, and great to have you back on the show. Let's also say hello to Brad Gallaway. Hey, Bradley! How are you, sir?
Brad Gallaway: Hey, guys. Hello, hello. Good to be with you again.
Tim Spaeth: How did you spend your winter hiatus?
Brad Gallaway: You know, I worked a lot. I worked a lot. I freelance quite a bit; don't want to get into that too much, but the holidays are always really slow, so I always find myself working as much as I can. Otherwise I end up sitting at home on the couch, and bills don't get paid that way.
But, on the plus side, my son was here. He did a quick couple minutes on that last podcast, and so most of my free time was with my oldest son and that was really a good time. Other than that, just chilling with the family and getting frustrated with my inability to run PC games. So I think that's how I spent most of my off-time.
Tim Spaeth: We should carve out some time to talk about you versus Amnesia, because it's an interesting story, and I think it's worth telling. So we will definitely come back to that at some point. Brad, welcome back. Let's move on to [Mike Bracken.] You're not only the horror geek, Mike, but you are also America's premiere resource for Hilary Swank news and analysis.
Mike Bracken: [Laughter] Yes, I am.
Tim Spaeth: It is such an honor to have you with us, Mike Bracken. How are you?
Mike Bracken: Well, thank you. I hope I'm the next best thing to having Hilary Swank herself on the show. I'm good. I had a nice break; nice holidays with the family. And today I did something momentous—something that's been a very long time coming. I actually went out and bought a PlayStation 3.
Chi Kong Lui: What? What?
Mike Bracken: Yep. So now I finally own all three of this generation's consoles.
Brad Gallaway: Aw, our little Mikey's growing up.
Mike Bracken: I know, right? I know—I can't believe it took this long.
Chi Kong Lui: We just screwed up your New Year's resolution right off the bat. [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: I know, right? GameStop had this deal where you got a $50 gift card if you bought one, and I had a bunch of gift cards already at GameStop, so it wasn't like spending real money. I went out and picked one up. I picked up Demon's Souls, because I really wanted to play that. So I'll finally get to play that, and the first Uncharted, because I wanted to play that. Picked those up. Looking forward to GameFlying Heavy Rain at some point and some of these other exclusives. But, yeah, finally have a PS3. Pretty excited.
Tim Spaeth: Well, congratulations. And how many hours into your first firmware update are you?
Mike Bracken: [Laughter] Actually, it's really funny, because I was thinking about it when I was standing in line: How long am I going to have to set this thing up and wait before I can even play anything on it? Fortunately, it only took about 25 minutes after I hooked it up to download and install the first thing. So not as fast as I would have preferred it to be; not probably as fast as it would've been on the 360, but I guess it's all right.
Brad Gallaway: Mike, Mike, words to remember there: The first thing. First.
Mike Bracken: [Laughter] Yes.
Tim Spaeth: Your journey has only just begun.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: Well, great to have you back on, Mike. Sitting quietly in the corner, the fifth member of our little posse here: Richard Naik. Hey, Richard.
Richard Naik: Hey, Tim. What's up?
Tim Spaeth: Just doing a podcast.
Richard Naik: Oh, really?
Tim Spaeth: We're telling stories about what we did over the hiatus. Do you have one to share?
Richard Naik: Um, I sold my PS3. I no longer own one.
Tim Spaeth: Oh, interesting.
Richard Naik: I don't think I'd turned it on in at least three months. Probably even longer than that.
Mike Bracken: Oh, so it's like my Wii.
Richard Naik: Yeah. And my Wii's getting close to the chopping block, too.
Tim Spaeth: So did you exchange it for something, or are you holding on to—?
Richard Naik: I exchanged it for a few games. I picked up Red Dead Redemption with it. I actually really enjoyed that. And there were just a few other games that I can't remember off the top of my head now.
Mike Bracken: Yay, another Red Dead fan.
Richard Naik: Yep. And also, World of Warcraft happened.
Mike Bracken: Oh! [Laughter]
Tim Spaeth: World of Warcraft happened. We played a little World of Warcraft together.
Richard Naik: We did.
Tim Spaeth: Which we will not be able to do, because I cancelled my World of Warcraft account.
Richard Naik: Yes, you did.
Mike Bracken: Oh, wow! [Laughter]
Brad Gallaway: Was it because of Richard?
Tim Spaeth: I saw Richard in Azaroth and I was like: "I'm done; I am out of here."
Mike Bracken: Huge revelations on this show tonight.
Chi Kong Lui: There's so many twists and turns in this episode; it's like a Spanish telenovela right off the bat.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Where is the girl with the big boobs, though?
Tim Spaeth: Well, our sixth member is—
Richard, you got to talk World of Warcraft and Team Fortress. We still have our wager, our agreement. I need to make good on the Team Fortress part, but I want to focus on you for a second: you the person. You have been making regular appearances on this show for I don't know how long. About a year, you've been coming on regularly.
Richard Naik: Yeah, something like that.
Tim Spaeth: And I think we would all agree you've been an invaluable contributor, but we've never really addressed your status. You just kind of showed up and stuck around, but I don't think we've officially identified you. Are you a special guest? Are you a guest star? Are you just a vagabond? We've never specifically said what you are.
So to address that, the four of us—Chi, Brad, Mike, myself—we met in Tahoe over the break. We put your status to a vote, and we unanimously voted to make your status official and offer you a promotion to full co-host of this podcast. Truly, as I mentioned at the top, humanity's highest honor.
Richard Naik: Woah.
Tim Spaeth: So how does that sound to you, Richard? Would you accept this honor?
Richard Naik: I do. When you first said "humanity's highest honor," I'm like: "Who the hell earned that?"
Brad Gallaway: It couldn't have been you, for God's sakes!
Richard Naik: First, before I make this deal final, I just want to clear up a few questions that I might have. Are there increased stock options with this promotion?
Tim Spaeth: Chi, can you address that?
Chi Kong Lui: Sure. Since it's all vapor stock anyway, yeah, go nuts.
Richard Naik: And second, do I get the corner office that no one has been using for seven months?
Mike Bracken: Well, we were going to give you a parking space, but, you know. If you want the office, I guess, yeah.
Richard Naik: The parking space is expendable.
Mike Bracken: All right. I vote "yes" on the office.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, I'll let it go. We didn't need the storage, anyway.
Tim Spaeth: That's fine; very well.
Mike Bracken: Now I have to move all my porn out of there, though.
Chi Kong Lui: I was going to say: Where's Filipe going to go now?
Tim Spaeth: Not back on my lap, that's for sure.
Richard Naik: Is Filipe out of prison yet?
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is about you, Richard.
Richard Naik: Oh.
Tim Spaeth: This is about you. Now, to make this official, I would like to swear you in, and have you take an oath of office. Do you have a Bible nearby that you could [swear on]?
Richard Naik: I have a copy of Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire.
Brad Gallaway: Next best thing; next best thing.
Tim Spaeth: Here's the interesting part. I have in my pre-written joke here: "How about a Star Wars novel?
And you actually have a Star Wars novel.
Richard Naik: I do.
Tim Spaeth: There you go. So if you place your right hand on Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire and repeat after me?
Richard Naik: Okay.
Tim Spaeth: I, Richard Thelonious Naik, do solemly swear to faithfully execute the office of co-host…
Richard Naik: Shouldn't that be "faithfully execute the duties of the office"?
Brad Gallaway: Aw, man, you had to go and ruin it. We're doing something nice for you here.
Richard Naik: You don't execute an office. That doesn't make any sense.
Tim Spaeth: If it's good enough for the President, I think it's good enough for you.
Richard Naik: Okay.
Tim Spaeth: …of the GameCritics.com podcast. That I will plug Aquaria on every show.
Richard Naik: Which I don't have to do now, because you just said it.
Tim Spaeth: That I will use statistics, both to identify outliers—
—and to lower the self-esteem of MMO players. That I will maintain a thick, rich moustache like a young Tom Selleck, so say we all. Well spoken, Richard. That should just about do it. Only one thing remains. We just need for you to admit that Sonic the Hedgehog was never good, and we're all set.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Richard Naik: No, sorry. I'm walking away from this table right now.
Tim Spaeth: No. All you have to do is say it, and we're good.
Richard Naik: No. Not saying it.
Chi Kong Lui: Dealbreaker.
Tim Spaeth: You could say the reverse. You could say: "Sonic the Hedgehog was always bad" if you're more comfortable.
Richard Naik: This is a core principle that I am not going to compromise on. I'm sorry, sir, but this negotiation is over.
Tim Spaeth: [sighs] I guess we could give him probational status as co-host until we can resolve this later at a tribunal.
Mike Bracken: Sounds good.
Tim Spaeth: Very good.
Chi Kong Lui: Sounds good, yeah.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Well, Richard, we're so happy to have you, and in al seriousness: Welcome to full membership of the podcast. Now you got to bring your A game. You got to bring it hard.
Richard Naik: Aw, man. I got to bring my A game?
Mike Bracken: Yep.
Richard Naik: Damn it.
Tim Spaeth: You can bring your A game in our main topic, which we're going to transition to right now. Now, our main topic, as I mentioned: 3DS and the future of mobile gaming. Let's start by addressing this week's announcement of the 3DS release date and price: March 25 in Europe, March 27 in North America. No European price announced, but it's $249.99 here in the States. Launch lineup a little vague; we're not exactly sure what will be available day one, but it looks like Pilotwings, Nintendogs, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Kid Icarus, Street Fighter. Basically every franchise ever we will see in the launch window for this platform. We know it will have a Game Boy/Game Boy Color Virtual Console. We know any child under six who looks at it will be instantly blinded.
So given all that, guys, let's ask the simplest question: Are you going to buy one at launch? Chi, I'm going to start with you. I think you spent more time on your DS this year than anyone else. Are you in for 3DS on March 27?
Chi Kong Lui: You know, when it was initially introduced, I was unsure about it. But now that it's here and it's $250, I find myself saying yes. And then of course now you got this CNET report saying how it's a total steal and how Nintendo's going to lose money on this, which makes me feel like it's an even better bargain at $250. Like I said, I'm kind of surprised at myself that I'm actually really looking forward to it, yes, and I think I will buy it.
Tim Spaeth: Given all that, are there any titles in the lengthy list of launch titles that you would jump on first?
Chi Kong Lui: It's not even for any title in particular. It's just more that I'm a big fan of the DS, Nintendo in general, and it's an exciting new platform. I'm into the whole 3D aspect, I suppose. So it's not even any particular title.
Tim Spaeth: So you're in. You're in on 3DS. That's great. I was worried we were all just straight-up "no," so I'm glad we have at least one "yes."
Chi Kong Lui: I reserve the right to change my mind, barring some unforeseen financial difficulties, but yeah, as of right now, I'm in.
Tim Spaeth: Fantastic. Mike Bracken, I think "DS," I think "RPGs," I think of you.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: What about you? Are you in for 3DS?
Mike Bracken: I am in, but not at launch. For me, looking at the launch list, there's just nothing there that makes me feel like I have to go out and have one day one. I think I'm going to wait until some more of the games come out during 2011. Maybe if we get some RPGs or something else that really grabs my attention that I feel like I really need to play, then I would probably jump in at that point.. I fully suspect that I'll have one by the end of 2011. I just don't know that I'm going to jump in, like, day one. But I like the price; I think the price is okay. I was surprised that it was as low as it was. So yeah, I'm definitely interested. Just probably not day one.
Tim Spaeth: It is interesting how it was rumored in the couple weeks leading up to the announcement [the price would be] $299.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: And then $249 all of the sudden seems awfully low, in comparison to $299. I had predicted $199.
Mike Bracken: Didn't we predict on the E3 show what we all thought it was going to to sell for? I don't remember if this is precise or not, but I thought we all kind of figured it was going to be $300. Did we, or am I remembering that incorrectly.
Richard Naik: I don't remember.
Tim Spaeth: I don't remember.
Brad Gallaway: Don't remember.
Mike Bracken: Ah. Okay. Honestly, my thought was when they announced it, before the $249 came out, I didn't really see how they would do it for less than $300. But I'm happy that they are.
Richard Naik: It's kinda interesting, because all those rumors you were talking about of $299, and then it actually comes out as $249…Obviously, I don't know, but you kinda wonder if that was an intentional marketing tactic, to make the $249 seem less in comparison.
Mike Bracken: I agree, yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Right, right.
Tim Spaeth: It certainly worked. If that's what it was, it worked.
Mike Bracken: It did and it didn't, though. If you followed Twitter that day, some people were whining about $249 like it was just so outrageous, because it was so much more than what the DS had debuted at. But it also seems like it's a lot more handheld than the DS was, so I don't know why people thought they were going to get it for $200 or less.
Chi Kong Lui: I actually thought the DS launched at over $200 as well, and when Tim mentioned over Twitter that it was $180, that actually surprised me. I was like: "Wow. It was really that low?"
Tim Spaeth: Well, it was $149.
Mike Bracken: It was $150, yeah. I thought it was $180.
Chi Kong Lui: Wow. That's crazy. But inflation and PS3. Nintendo can thank Sony for setting that bar so freakin' high.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Brad, what about you? Are you in for 3DS at launch?
Brad Gallaway: No, not at launch, not at all. The thing that's foremost in my mind is that I've always been irritated by Nintendo's habit of releasing new versions of the hardware.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. By Christmas, there'll be a new one.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, seriously. It's like soembody pus out an unboxing video, and by the time it finishes downloading from YouTube, there's a new iteration out on the market.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, I actually think that's not going to happen, for a couple of reasons. One, the original DS, the Fatboy, came out pre-iPod, iPhone. So, yeah, that thing was just an ugly piece of machinery at the time. So when Apple redefined the aesthetics of what gadgets should be, they had to jump on board for that. Well, that's not the case now. Everyone's on the iPhone and that sort of thing.
Mike Bracken: Do you think they had to, though? They dominated the handheld market with that thing, whether it was ugly as a brick or not.
Chi Kong Lui: Well, they had to do it to counter the PSP at the time. That's the reason why they did it. The PSP came out and it was all sexy and everything, and they were like: "Boy, we'd better at least get on board with that."
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, but don't forget, Chi, they put out 85 billion versions of the Game Boy before that.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: Before there was even the iPhone. That's their mode of regular—
Mike Bracken: Yeah. That's their M.O. Even from the Color to the Micro and…
Brad Gallaway: Everything, man. There was version after version after version.
Chi Kong Lui: The [unknown] came out way, way after the original Game Boy Advance. That didn't happen very quickly. They spaced it out probably. Believe me, if they were doing it left and right, I wouldn't have bought all of them. And I've bought all of these things—not because I like throwing around money, but because I thought it was worth it.
Brad Gallaway: I think you kinda like throwing around money, Chi. I think you kind of do.
Chi Kong Lui: The other reason why I didn't think they were going to necessarily do it is I think they got their yahoos out with the DSi and the XL. So they've been experimenting around with all that, I think they've got their feature set down for this one a little bit better. I could be wrong about that.
Brad Gallaway: You're way too kind to them.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Brad Gallaway: [unknown] stock into Nintendo.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. [I don't think?] that at all.
Chi Kong Lui: Okay, fine.
Mike Bracken: There's going to be a 3DS Lite, because they'll have to figure out how to make the battery work longer and to make it more sleek, and they'll somehow fit a bigger screen into it or something. There'll be something about this one that isn't quit right, that doesn't quite work as well as it might have, and so they'll revise that.
And this is one thing I'll give Nintendo credit for. With their handhelds, they do listen to feedback, it seems, and when they do a revision, generally they fix things that were wrong in the first iteration. So I'm okay with that. It sucks if you buy a first generation or th current generation and then the next one comes out. I believe there will be a 3DS Lite at some point in the not-too-distant future. It might be a year, it might be a little longer, but yeah. There will be one, I'm sure.
Brad Gallaway: People have been talking about the limited battery life with the 3D on, and the region locking and some other features that I really wasn't too keen on. So I think that by the time they have enough games that interest me in a serious way, there's probably going to be a second version of it, which I assume would have much better battery life and maybe might change some of the other features that I wasn't too keen on.
So it just really irritated me, because I've been bitten by that before. I pony up to buy a DS or something, and then two months later they announce a much better one, and I've already spent the money. I'm going to just wait. Besides the fact that there's going to be a second version, like you guys said, probably before Christmas, none of the games are very interesting to me. I'm kind of interested in Kid Icarus.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Brad Gallaway: I've really been wanting that series to be revived for several years, but outside of that, Nintendogs? No thanks. Pilotwings? Yeah, it's okay, but it's not something that I'm really on fire to play again.
Mike Bracken: Street Fighter looks good.
Brad Gallaway: Well, whatever. I've played a billion versions of Street Fighter, and I didn't really like the last one, either.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I know. I'm just saying from a visual standpoint.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, sure. Yeah.
Mike Bracken: And honestly, I was pretty impressed…I saw the Resident Evil video the other day, which looked probably on par with GameCube, Wii-level graphics on a handheld. That's pretty cool, at least.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. Technology-wise, it looks good. But nothing there seems really interesting or original to me. A lot of it seems like really repurposed stuff, and I'm not really down with that. To be perfectly honest, which I'm sure will surprise absolutely no one, I'm not even frickin' interested in 3D. I'm not interested in getting eyestrain. I'm going to be 35 this year and I wear glasses, and so I don't really need to put my eyes at any more risk than they already are. To me, it's just a gimmick.
I haven't seen any really interesting applications of it. I'm sure that there will be at some point. I'm sure some genius in the industry will come up with something really brilliant that'll make me say: "Wow! This is really awesome and I'm glad 3D exists," but at this point, it's just a straight-up gimmick. I really couldn't care less about it, so I'm probably going to wait for a while. I think I'll probably wait for the second generation, honestly.
Chi Kong Lui: I was really surprised at how much stock people are putting into the launch lineup. It's not that it doesn't factor in at all, but really, for the last four system launches, how much of a factor was the launch lineup really to you? For me, when it came to the DS, the Wii and the Xbox, it wasn't really a factor. I don't even recall what the launch games were for any of those systems, to tell you the truth. Especially with the DS. Come on.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I don't remember what the DS's launch lineup was, either.
Tim Spaeth: Feel the Magic, Feel the Magic.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: That's right; that's right.
Chi Kong Lui: The only reason why for PS3 I started talking about launch lineup was because it was just so damn expensive that you had to start thinking along those lines.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: But I think for the most part, when the system's cheap enough, you just want to get on board because it's…Once it comes out, believe me, there's going to be a lot of talk, and you don't want to get left behind. You want to jump on board for that, and it's kind of exciting to get up at 6:00 in the morning or whatever and get online and that shit. It's kind of nice to do that every now and then. Believe me, I don't want to do that every year. But it's been a while, so I'm excited about that. But like I said, does that resonate?
Brad Gallaway: I would have to disagree with you, man, because I'm very much about the games. I can't remember the last time that I bought a system without there being at least three or four really good games that I was looking forward to. I didn't get my Xbox 360 for the first year. There was just nothing that was really interesting to me, and so for, me, that's a lot of money to put out. I'm not a rich man. I'm not a high-roller like you are, Chi.
So I've got to be more frugal with my purchases.
Mike Bracken: We can't all be taking trips to the Philippines for Christmas.
Brad Gallaway: That's right, man. I would love to have some of that delicious fried food, but I can't afford it. But for me, the launch lineup is very important, and to me, this launch lineup tells me that I can wait. I'm going to wait and I'm going to feel okay about waiting.
Mike Bracken: I think for me it does factor in. Sometimes in the past I'll buy something…the 360 I bought not quite at launch, I bought it right after, because there just weren't enough to go around at launch. I got mine a month later and there wasn't anything that I was dying to play at that moment. Perfect Dark Zero wasn't something I…
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly. That was what I was thinking about, too.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that I had to rush out and have. But at the same time, you knew stuff was coming, so it felt like a pretty safe investment. Funnily enough, I've put more stock into it this time with the PS3, because it seems like there are just so few exclusive games anymore that I wasn't sure for a long time if it was worth it to buy a PS3. I figure most multi-console stuff I'm going to play on the 360 because I prefer Gamerscore to Trophies.
Richard Naik: Yep; yep.
Mike Bracken: I do think the 3DS is going to have some good games. I could see, if money was no object, sure, I could jump in at the beginning. But the launch lineup doesn't really blow me away, but when is the last time a launch lineup for anything blew anyone away?
Chi Kong Lui: And that's what I'm saying.
Richard Naik: Yeah. That's one of the reasons I got rid of the PS3. There aren't really exclusive titles, at least for me anymore, to justify owning both a 360 and a PS3. I wanted to play Red Dead Redemption and it's out for both, so—
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Richard Naik: —I only have to get one, and that's always the case, so I just get it for the 360 and it was bye-bye, PS3.
Tim Spaeth: Richard, when I think of you, I do not think "mobile gamer," but what are your thoughts on 3DS? Are you in on day one?
Richard Naik: I am not in on day one, and I am probably not in ever. It actually has nothing to do with the price or the games at launch. There are a few articles that I've read saying like Brad was talking about, where you get eyestrain or headaches from looking at it, and I already have a problem with getting headaches and just general dizziness and stuff like that, so I don't really think I need to add fuel to that fire. Like you said, I'm not really much of a mobile gamer anyway, so I think I'm going to pass. The only reason I have a DS is because one appeared in my closet.
Mike Bracken: It magically appeared.
Richard Naik: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: So a few other interesting things about 3DS I want to talk about. First of all, game prices have not been settled on. Nobody knows for sure yet, except that Street Fighter 4 has a big sticker on it that says $39.99. So if that's the baseline, does that mean we can expect Square games to cost $49.99? Probably.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: What do you guys think of that? If we're looking at $40 for mobile games, are you comfortable paying that? Are you paying a tax for the 3D? To me, that seems high, but what are your thoughts?
Richard Naik: Depends on the game, really, I think. Are you paying $40 for a game that's worth $40, regardless of whether it's a mobile game or not?
Mike Bracken: I don't know of too many handheld games that are actually worth $40. We've heard rumors about $50, and $50 is a complete dealbreaker. If Square games are $50 and stuff like that, screw that. I'm not paying $50 for another port of Chrono Trigger, no matter how much I love that game.
For a game that was on the Super Nintendo. I'm not paying $50 for Square to republish their entire back fucking catalogue, yet again, with 3D this time, when I bought them all every time they've put them out. $40, honestly? I hate paying $40 for a DS game, for a Square game. I hate paying $40 even for a PSP game, and honestly, at least when you look at the PSP games, it's like you're playing a PS2 game. Whereas when you pay $40 for a DS game, it's something like Chrono Trigger, which was on the Super Nintendo. And it just seems ludicrous to be spending that kind of money on something that could've run on a 16-bit console that you could pick up at a yard sale now.
$40's too much, and it does feel like a little bit of a tax for the 3D to me, which is another thing I'm not really wild about. The 3D is nice as an add-on, as a throw-in, as a potential bonus, but honestly, the thing that more excites me about the 3DS is jus that the graphics and everything on it…it looks so much more powerful than the DS. So I'm just excited about that. I don't really give a rat's ass about 3D, like Brad.
Brad Gallaway: Well, you know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of when people were talking about the current generation of consoles. We'd kind of settled on $50 as the maximum price point for a retail game, but as soon as the 360 and PS3 were announced, everybody was like: "Well, they're going to be $60."
Mike Bracken: Have you seen anything in a game this generation that warranted $10 more over what we pay for games?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly what I was going to say. There has not really been the greatly spoken of jump in content and quality. There's been a few titles here and there which have really warranted it, for sure. There's always a couple standouts.
Mike Bracken: If they wanted to raise those prices, they should've done it when they jumped from the PlayStation to the PlayStation 2. That was a huge leap that everybody could see, in terms of graphics. If you look at the PlayStation games, when you looked at PlayStation 2, it blew you away. When you looked at PlayStation 2 or Xbox graphics [compared to] the 360 or PS3, yeah, there was an upgrade, but it didn't blow you away on the same level.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, exactly.
Tim Spaeth: Wait, wait wait. You wouldn't say that the jump to high-definition isn't?—
Mike Bracken: But when those systems launched, not everybody had high-definition, though. A lot of us were still playing on standard def. People didn't really start buying high-def until those consoles had been out for a little bit. Would you agree?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. That's very true. Oh, I totally agree, and I think it's just the mindset. People were saying: "Well, this is a more powerful console. You need to pay $10 more…because. Because, because, because."
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: Like you guys have said, I have seen very few things that have really justified a $60 price point. I think I've paid $60 a handful of times. Barely any times. I just don't buy games at $60, and it's kind of the same thing here. I think: "Well, 3DS, it's 3D. 3DS, it's better. $10 more." Well, I don't want to pay $10 more. I already buy games for the DS pretty cheap, and like Mike said, I've seen very few DS games or portable games in general that warrant that kind of price tag. I can't really think of any of the top of my head, where I'd be willing to pay that much money. For me, it's a sucker bet to put that extra ten bucks in.
Mike Bracken: The only—
Chi Kong Lui: Let me put some of this in perspective, though, because the standard retail price of a DS game, first of all, is $30. And then when you're talking about the premium Pokémon releases, they're easily $35. That price almost never goes down. Pokémon is one of the games that never, ever get discounted.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Right.
Chi Kong Lui: So, when you're talking about it, at the end of the day, in most cases it's an additional $5. So whether you want to say it's a 3D tax, I don't even see it that way. I just see it as, as you were saying earlier, Mike, it's an upgraded system. so I don't have a problem paying an additional $5 to $10 for the games. If I was going to complain about it, I would've done it at the DS level. But I pretty much accepted it then.
Mike Bracken: Right. I would just say to that that the thing is, though, when you look at the handheld games, and, again, how many of them are just fucking ports? All the Square games? Street Fighter 4? A lot of this stuff…If you're building something from the ground up, maybe I'd feel a little differently about $35 or even $40, but if you're just porting some game that's been around to a handheld, I shouldn't have to pay $40 for that.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, but in all likelihood, you'll get a lot of those crappy games, I'm sure, at the $25 to $30 range. All the retails are going to be maximum for that first month, I think.
Mike Bracken: But you don't see that with the DS. You don't get those games that are just ports for that [price] until they've been out.
Chi Kong Lui: Well, I think at this point, you do. You see a lot of DS games at a really huge range at this point, I think. There's a lot of casual titles, and there's just stuff—
Mike Bracken: Yeah, but I'm saying look at the big games: Square games, whatever. Sure, the DS is fucking full of shovelware. They're not going to sell all of it at $40, because nobody's going to buy Raise My Crack Baby DS for $39.99. But when you get into everything else, though—
Chi Kong Lui: Where's that game?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I can't wait to play that. [Everything else] falls into that $29.99 to $39.99 range—somewhere in there. I don't know. I don't mind $30, honestly. It's the ones that start creeping up to $35 and $40 that I have a problem with. And I fucking buy them, so I'm part of the problem.
Tim Spaeth: If Nintendo drops Ocarina of Time at $39.99, as great as that game was in 1997 or whatever it was, come on.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: For a port of Ocarina of Time?
Mike Bracken: For a port [unknown[ graphics.
Richard Naik: For a port, I would not pay that.
Tim Spaeth: That would be a dangerous precedent. One other feature I want to mention about the 3DS before we move on, is the transfer service. Last week, the announced that you will be able to take your digital downloads from the DSi and transfer them to the 3DS. I would just very impressed at this, because it's a great precedent. This is what we were all worried about coming out of this generation: What happens to all our digital content? Now, I don't have a DSi and I'm not buying a 3DS, but still, it's great to see this being addressed. Now, it's Nintendo, so I'm sure it will be a ridiculous procedure that will involve entering a great—
Richard Naik: Gigantic Friend Code?
Tim Spaeth: —codes and pricking your finger and squeezing blood into the headphone jack. It's going to be something asinine, but good on Nintendo for addressing it, and I hope that this will be the standard. When we move to the next generation of devices, whether it's Xbox or PlayStation or whatever, that this will be a service that's offered. Are you guys as excited about that as I am?
Brad Gallaway: Personally, I think they had to. I remember there being a little bit of controversy…I can't recall the details off the top of my head, but I remember someone saying that there was a problem in carrying over some of your DSi data. In fact, I think it was if you bought a second DSi, like if your first one broke, you couldn't transfer your purchases over. I don't have that information in front of me, if that's true or not. But I think that's what the case was. So I think Nintendo took some heat.
Something like this, I agree that it's good. I can't say that I'm ecstatic, because I think they damn well should've done that. You can't screw your customers every time you announce a new piece of hardware. You're going to basically invalidate those last purchases. That defeats the whole illusion that they want us to believe in—that we're actually "buying" these games. Well, if I buy this game, I damn well expect to play it. And if there's going to be a transfer between DS and 3DS, to me, it seems totally reasonable and should be expected that we should be able to transfer those things over. So I think it was very appropriate that they did that. And I certainly hope they don't expect some huge pat on the back, because if they didn't, that to me, anyway, would've been a huge knock.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah. I think it's great that the first next-gen system has this, that it is setting the precedent. I think it could've just as easily gone the other way, and then everyone else said: "Oh, well, Nintendo didn't do it, so we can get away with not doing it, either." And I'm just happy it fell in this direction.
So let's move the conversation along. Let's expand a little bit beyond 3DS. I mentioned that I'm not going to buy one, and I'm not buying one because I've retired my DS completely and replaced it with the iPhone. It is my sole mobile gaming platform. Let's talk a little bit about smartphones and I'll talk about why it works for me, and Chi, I know you're doing some Android gaming, so I want to hear from you, as well.
For the kinds of games I play…And for those who don't know, I spend two hours a day on a train. It's an hour train ride into work, an hour train ride back, so I have a lot of free time. I sleep, I read, and I play games. For the kinds of games I'm playing on the train—puzzle games, strategy games, adventure games—for me, the iPhone features a deep library for each of those genres. The iPhone is cheaper than a 3DS. It's $200. Obviously, you're paying for a contract as well, but you can get an iPod Touch without a contract for $229, and the games are a buck or a buck 99.
Now, I know there's a lot of crap. There's a staggering amount of crap. But there are some deep titles out there, and everyone take a drink: You've got your Plants Vs. Zombies, [Laughter] but you've got Civilization. You've got two games I love: Shibuya, which I put in my Top Ten of last year. Drop7, those are as good of falling block games as you will find on any platform. You've got the Monkey Island games covering your Adventure. 100 Rogues, it's a deep Roguelike. It's easily as deep as Shiren the Wanderer. GameDev Story I've talked about. I've got a version of Risk, Carcassonne, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit: fantastic racing game on the iPhone. This is a platform whose graphics and sound right now are better than the 3DS will ever be.
Chi Kong Lui: I don't know if that's necessarily true, but I think they might be on par with one another. The graphics are in high-definition, I'll give you that. But I don't know. It'll be really interesting to see the polygon counts and the aliasing technology, whether that's there or not.
Tim Spaeth: The Retina display on the iPhone 4 is basically pixels smaller than the human eye can perceive, and I know that's not the case on the 3DS. Right now, I'm looking at the iPhone and I'm seeing graphics certainly equal to what I'm seeing on the 360, which I don't think we'll get from the 3DS. Maybe I'm wrong; we will see. But it's a gorgeous platform, it's cheaper than 3DS, fantastic games. For the types of games I play, it is for me a perfect platform and renders the DS obsolete.
Now, Chi, I'm not sure what your experience with the Android is. You probably obviously are not going so far as to retire the DS from your life, but what's your experience been like on that platform?
Chi Kong Lui: I've actually been really surprised. It's funny because we talk as console gamers, everyone I still talk to about it on Twitter or whatever now, they're all still like: "Yeah, I have an Android phone, but I haven't bothered with the games," which really shocks me. There's just so mny great games available. Android, if anything, has the smaller games lineup compared to the iPhone. I'm actually jealous of the iPhone users, because the iPhone, really, that market has just exploded. You say that there's a lot of crap games, and to sort of say that there's only a little bit of good games is really underselling it.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: There are really seriously a lot of games on the iPhone. Like, an insane amount of games.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, there are.
Chi Kong Lui: It'd be interesting if someone actually did a tally of what the triple-A games are, but I think most console gamers would be shocked at the quality of games that are out there right now. And for me, when I started looking into it, I was a long-time Palm user and I finally had to just give up on the Palm. They finally kicked to bucket, so to speak, and they got bought out by HP and that signalled the end for me, and I decided to get on Android because I just hate Apple in general.
I bought the biggest touch screen possible, just because I wanted to have a screen that was going to keep my son entertained at restaurants, playing some videos for him. And I thought, yeah, it'd be kind of cute to just play a few games here and there. But what I found was I was really shocked, like as you said, at how good these games actually look. They're right on par…I haven't had too much experience with the PSP, but I think it's right up there, just because it's high-definition. Yeah, some of the games are still a little rough and a lot of them are clones. In Android, instead of God of War, there's Hero of Sparta.
And instead of Halo, it's this game called Nova. But the funny thing is that these games aren't cheesy. They're actually really well done. Like you said, the price point. That's the part that really shocked me, because for me, any time a console game is $10, it could be the worst console game ever, but for $10 I'm in. It just has to be remotely interesting. It really just blew my mind when these games are just a dollar.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: And they go on sale a lot. That Need for Speed game you talked about, Tim, even though it's $5.99, just a week ago it was on sale for 99 cents and of course I picked it up for 99 cents. Why not? Like you said, it's worthy of console quality. You put that game on the DS, it would be mind-blowing.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, totally.
Mike Bracken: Do you guys think that maybe if the reason some of us who are console gamers aren't so quick to jump into this market is a) because the N-Gage soured us all to these things. [Laughter] and b) because, I don't know. This is my own personal take. I'm scared of dollar games. If a game is a dollar, I expect it to suck ass. So I guess that's my thing. Do you think that maybe it's just because some of us are afraid that you get what you pay for, and it's too good to be true that you guys are playing these fantastic games on your phone for 99 cents?
Chi Kong Lui: Tim?
Tim Spaeth: It's definitely a new way to think about things; it definitely is. You basically have to change the scale in your mind. 99 cents, maybe $1.99 is the new baseline, and you really just have to pick one up and play a great 99 cent game and then you understand the potential. But for me, the way I look at the price point is, it's almost disposable. If there's a game that somebody tells me about, for me, 99 cents is half a cup of coffee, basically. So if the game sucks, all right, I've lost 99 cents. Big deal. Who cares?
Once you get into the habit of having an app store with a list of 50 spectacular 99 cents games, you stop thinking about it. To me, I look at: Okay, I can buy Plants Vs. Zombies for 99 cents on my iPhone, or I can spend $15 for it on the Xbox. I can spend $20 for it on Steam, or buy the DS game for $30. So at that point, there's no question: you go with the iPhone version and it's arguably the best version of the game.
Chi Kong Lui: I think a lot of console gamers just don't want to process that world, really. [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: Yeah. For me, I don't have a phone and don't play these games. I'm interested in them, but yeah. I think that's exactly it. I'm almost intimidated because you hear how much stuff is out there, and it's daunting because there's like 50 million games out there in these app stores that you can pick up. And then you also hear that there's a fair ratio of crap. So I guess, yeah. It's almost a little intimidating.
Brad Gallaway: Well, if I can just jump in for a second real quick. I don't have a phone that can run these kind of games. I don't have a touch screen, because just personally, I don't like the way touch screens work. It's just a foible of mine. But my wife has an Android device, and she, being the gamer that she is, she has dabbled in quite a number of games. I've checked them out, and as everybody knows, I'm coming from a hardcore console perspective. Although there's been a few things where I'm like: "Okay, this was fun for two minutes," there hasn't been anything that's really sold me.
I'm not that big a puzzle gamer; I haven't really seen a lot of titles where I'm like: "Wow, this is so amazing I can't get this on a console." For my particular taste, I haven't seen anything that has really motivated me to even get a device. They look cute, and a lot of them, like Tim says, for 99 cents, they may be good, but they're not the type of games that would grab me. So I can't really see myself getting that deep into that world.
Chi Kong Lui: You know what I say to that, Brad? I know what you mean, as well. Believe me, I'm still not a big fan of Angry Birds. It's not like I'm this raving lunatic, saying; "Hey, Angry Birds! Play Angry Birds!"
I still kind of really don't get the…Believe me, I'm trying to play Angry Birds and I'm still not really feeling it still, despite how everyone loves that game to death. I think for me, one of the turning points was discovering the games from Gameloft. If you go to their site or their blog or anything there, they're the big proprietors of putting out these clones, but they do such a great job of it.
I played this game called Asphalt HD 6. I don't know if anyone remembers Asphalt, but I think one of the first games that I remember seeing Asphalt, it was one of those crappy DS games. It was one of those throwaway, had no idea what they were doing, just pure crapware for $10 or whatever. So I thought that name had always been a pretty tarnished one. But then I saw it in the new mobile phones, and I looked at some of the screenshots, I was just blown away and I tested it out on the demos at the Sprint store. Man, it's just come such a long way. On my trip to the Philippines, I spent a lot of time playing this game called Asphalt, and yeah, there's nothing particularly original about it, but it just checks off all those things that you want out of a decent racing game.
Brad Gallaway: Well, you just made the argument against it for me, then. I don't play games just to play a decent one-off or something. I look for really interesting and original. I'm sure that a lot of these phone users are going to be screaming at me as they're listening to this podcast, saying: "You don't know what you're talking about!" Which is great—if somebody wants to e-mail me and tell me your top ten really original, really interesting games, I'll be glad to check them out.
But like you said, I've seen a lot of one-offs that are like: "Oh, yeah, it looks okay," but it's the same thing as 100 other games I've played on a console, so why would I bother? I don't see a lot of the interesting ones. Maybe I'm just not seeing them. Maybe there's a lot of stuff that I've just overlooked. If that's the case, I'm very glad to check it out, but like you said, I see a ton of wannabes. There's 85 million different versions of Bejewelled under different names.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: I don't even want to mess with it. I don't see any standouts there.
Chi Kong Lui: Well, in the case of what Tim was saying, the best version of a game may often be on the mobile platform, in the case of those puzzle games. Yeah, it's a bit of a novelty, and I'm not saying if I had a choice between the console version and the phone that I'm going to choose the phone version. It is a lifestyle issue as well. I just don't have a lot of time these days, and I'm carrying my phone and it's on the bus, and I'm just surprised at the level of experience that I'm getting. It's sort of an eye-opener, and that has led me to believe that maybe there's other games out there with that kind of potential. And certainly games like GameDev Story, as Tim has been raving about, reach that potential.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, that's true. That's one of the first ones when I've really been like: "Oh, okay. Well, maybe this is something I should check out." That's one of the first ones, I got to say, but there hasn't been many.
Chi Kong Lui: And again, the other factor, Brad, you got to keep in mind is, they almost give these games away. Half of them I didn't even pay for. Seriously. They'll give them away and you can get them for free. So it's not even like you have to pay for them.
Brad Gallaway: I hear that. But for me, I don't have the free time, and so my gaming has to be really high-quality gaming. So there's no way conceivable that I would waste an hour on some throwawy Halo clone or something, because I just don't have that kind of free time. I don't have a long commute and I don't have a lot of downtime just to be sitting around somewhere. So when I finally do get a chance to play something that I want to play, it's got to be top of the line. And by that I don't mean it has to be the best graphics or anything, but it has to be interesting and original enough for me to warrant spending the time on it, so that's why I haven't really gone that direction.
Tim Spaeth: But I think the parallel here, Brad, for you is your quest to play 227 indie games on Xbox Live.
Brad Gallaway: [Laughter]
Tim Spaeth: It is the same kind of thing. You are wading through a massive field of crap to find the gems and you're probably only going to pay 99 cents for the gems. I'll make this statement now, because when I make a statement it's really important, this is the future. This form of distribution is the future. This is where I realized it. My brother and I and my father were sitting in a bar; we're watching the Browns lose, of course.
Mike Bracken: So that could be any Sunday.
Tim Spaeth: It could be any Sunday. We're sitting there. My brother pulls out his Android, and he is playing a game called Doodle Jumper. I don't know if you've played it, Chi. It's a silly little tilt platformer. Little dude jumps up the screen. Tight controls, very clever, 99 cents. He says: "Have you seen this game?" and I said: "Oh, that looks great."
So I played it once. I pulled out my iPhone; I went to the app store, typed in "doodle jumper," downloaded it. Within three minutes, I have the game on my phone. The reason this is the future is every barrier to my purchasing that game was removed: price, not an issue—99 cents. Distribution method: downloaded over the Verizon network. Didn't have to drive to a store; didn't have a chance to reconsider the purchase. Chi, if you had told me to go buy Dragon Quest IX, I may change my mind in the car; I may change my mind when I get to the store and look at the price tag.
All the barriers are gone, and this is how the teenyboppers, the kids, the high schoolers, are buying their games and sharing them with each other, and how they're learning about them. I made this statement on Twitter the other day: There is not a teenager on this planet who would rather have a 3DS over an iDevice. I would argue you couldn't find one. This is where we're going. I'm not saying that 3DS and cartridge-based or disc-based mobile gaming is disappearing. But iPhone is here to stay, and I think it's only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, and I do believe it will become dominant at some point in the near future.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. And I don't know what the App Store is like, but you know how everyone complains about how in the Xbox indie games, you can't find the good stuff, and how WiiWare, Nintendo has yet to produce a decent online store? But the stores for the Android market and I suspect for Apple, they are the models.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: As much crap as is out there, it is not very hard to find the good stuff. They're the ones with the good ratings; they're the ones that get promoted higher up on the featured list. I don't know what kind of algorithm they're using, but it's not hard to find a good game. There is a lot of crap out there, but yeah. It's pretty easy to find the good stuff, and there's tons of good stuff that's just waiting to be downloaded and played.
Tim Spaeth: It is funny, because in the App Store, it's the only five-star rating system I've ever seen where all five stars get used. On Xbox Live, every game is rated between four and five.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] Right.
Tim Spaeth: Or on Amazon, everything is between three and five. But on the Apple App Store, there are one-star games, there are zero-star games, and it's very evenly distributed. So you're right; whatever they're doing, it's working. It is the model.
Brad Gallaway: The only thing I wanted to clarify just really quickly was I don't disagree with you in terms of the method that these games are being delivered. I think your point about the ease of purchase and the impulse purchase is a very valid one, and I don't disagree with that at all. My concern is just strictly the quality of the games. If I started seeing a wave of games that looked like must-plays, I'd be there tomorrow. So I don't dispute the mechanism; I just dispute the content, for me personally right now.
Chi Kong Lui: And keep in mind, I think 2010 was Android coming into its own, maybe even iPhone coming into its own a bit as well. Now we're seeing Epic Unreal engine on iPhone and also now on Android for the first time. So I think 2011 for mobile gaming is going to be a really landmark year.
Tim Spaeth: I agree completely. And we forget, real smartphone gaming is truly in its infancy. It's three years, maybe, so who knows what we're going to see? Are we going to see the Super Mario Bros. of smartphone gaming here in the next couple years? I think we will.
We have not mentioned PSP at all. I prefer it that way. But does anyone havwe any point they would like to make about the oft-rumored PSP 2, what they might want to see from it? Do you think it'll be a factor? Do you even care?
Mike Bracken: I care. I like my PSP. I play it quite a bit—at least as much as my DS these days. I think everybody wants two analog sticks. If Sony can see their way to providing that, it might find some market share. The other thing that concerns me is: What's it going to cost? I don't think that they can come out and be $300 or more and compete with the 3DS and the phones and all that. So I think the platform will need to come out. For sure they're going to eliminate UMDs and all that, so it's going to be like the phones, where everything is download and everything, which is interesting.
But for me, it comes down to: Will it just be something to play games or are they going to try to make it 75 different things like they did with the PSP, where you can play music, you can watch movies, blah, blah blah? If they can keep the price point down, like I said, under $300, they'll have a shot. I don't know how good of a shot, because the PSP didn't exactly inspire confidence moving forward with them in the handheld market, but I'm interested. I will definitely be interested when it comes out.
Chi Kong Lui: It's rumored that Sony's also making a smartphone.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Is there a chance that PSP 2 is going to be that smartphone, or are they talking about it differently?
Mike Bracken: That's been the rumor; that's been one of the rumors that's floated around, as I understand it, that yeah, somehow this could all go together or it might be something separate. Nobody really knows. This is the best worst-kept secret in game history or something. It's really confusing.
Brad Gallaway: I've heard that the phone is going to be a Europe-only thing, and again, like you guys said, there's nothing at all definite out there. There's no hard information.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: I was hearing that the Europe thing was going to be a phone-ish device, and that it was going to be more of a standard games-ish device for the States. But then again, that could be completely wrong. It's totally hearsay, so hard to say.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: And as a PSP player, like you, Mike, I ditto everything you said. My two main concerns are a) two sticks are a must. If that thing does not have two sticks, I refuse to buy it.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I'm not buying another one-stick.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. It's ridiculous; ridiculous. And the second thing, just like you said, it needs to not be a multimedia device. It needs to be a games device.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: I think that the PSP had great potential. It was a beautiful, sexy device.
Mike Bracken: It really did, yeah.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. Great tech. I mean, there were some really sharp-looking games, and they just completely pissed all that away by trying to make it all things to all people. For me, I don't really need a TV viewer/movie viewer/phone/picture sorter.
Mike Bracken: Especially not now.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, especially not now, when I could easily go down and buy an iPhone and get all that stuff and undoubtedly have it be done better than Sony could do it. So all I want from them is a really slick, dedicated games machine, and if that's what it is, then I will be interested as well.
Chi Kong Lui: So is the big question that's still remaining how much is iPhone going to eat into 3DS's lunch?
Mike Bracken: Do you think it will? I don't know. I'm curious about that; I don't really have an opinion one way or the other.
Chi Kong Lui: And it's almost like: How much has it already eaten into Nintendo and Sony's portable market?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I kinda wonder about that. I guess, I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking of this, but when I think of the DS, I tend to think that's something that you usually see little kids playing. That's not a slight to Nintendo that they're a kiddie console maker or anything like that. But iPhones are more for hip, twenty-something or older adults, basically. Although maybe they're not so hip anymore, because everybody I see has a fucking iPhone.
But yeah. I don't know. It seems almost to me, just as a casual observer, it almost seems like they're going for two separate audiences. There is some crossover, but I don't think there's a lot of crossover.
Chi Kong Lui: One interesting thing is how the Nintendo DS, they dropped the ball on the whole preschool market. Actually, that's where Apple and Android, they're actually really good in that department. I've actually read articles about how parents have all these apps for their preschooler kids, and how these preschool kids are begging for their parents' iPhone.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. My niece and nephew, my four-year-old nephew and my two-year-old niece can work the iPhone. They find the games they want to play on it; they can totally work it. Neither one of them could work a DS.
Chi Kong Lui: Right. So that's all kind of anecdotal, but it'll be interesting when these kids get a little older, what they're going to be asking for.
Mike Bracken: Umhm.
Tim Spaeth: Well, speaking just for my daughters, they're in preschool, we're working on reading, and there are some amazing educational apps on iPhone. And what we've been doing is play the flash card game or the sight words flash cards, whatever it happens to be, and then as a reward, let's minimize that app and go over to Fruit Ninja or something and play that game for ten minutes as a reward for doing well in the [educational] app. That's how they're learning to read, and it's also how I'm slowly introducing them to games. They are whiz kids on the iPhone. They knw that perfectly, but if I handed them an Xbox controller, they would be completely lost. Yeah.
Anything else on smartphones? We should probably take a break and we'll wrap this up by talking about some of our eagerly anticipated games coming up here in the next few months in 2011. Stay with us. After the music we'll be right bsck.
After a long holiday drought, some new games are finally starting to come out. We thought we'd name-check some of our most anticipated upcoming releases. I just have a couple. I'm not all that excited about anything, really, but a couple games have somewhat peaked my interest. One is Full House Poker, which is coming to Xbox Live Arcade.
Mike Bracken: Does that have the Olsen twins in it?
Tim Spaeth: Oh!
Oh! Good reference!
Mike Bracken: Thank you.
Tim Spaeth: I love that! I love that.
Richard Naik: That reference just did 10,000 hit points of damage.
Tim Spaeth: Seriously. I've got Dave Coullier on my left.
Mike Bracken: Dave Coullier. yep.
Tim Spaeth: Saget on the right. Kimmy Gibbler.
Brad Gallaway: Stamos.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, Stamos is there. Oh, I love it. I'm this close to knocking out the theme song, but I'm not going to do it. So Full House Poker, they're calling it the spiritual successor to 1 Versus 100. I love online poker, I love gambling, but I only like to do it against real opponents and for real stakes—preferably money, but Achievements and avatar rewards will do in a pinch. So I just hope that Microsoft supports it and nurtures it and promotes it like it did Game Room.
So that's coming out in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to that. The other thing I'm really looking forward to are the Torchlights.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: We have the XBLA release of the original Torchlight, and then Torchlight 2 on PC. I love that first game, and the sequel looks great as well. So that's really all that's on my radar for the first few months of the year, at least. Richard, we haven't heard from you in a while, so I'll give you the floor. What are you looking forward to?
Richard Naik: Well, I have three titles that I'm going to name-drop. One of them might come as somewhat of a surprise but I don't think the other two will. The first one is Portal 2. I loved Portal; it would've been my 2007 game of the year if I had been in a position to choose a 2007 game of the year. The Portal gun was just one of the few game mechanics of the past decade or so that you could legitimately call "innovative," so I'm just looking forward to what they can do with that in a second go-around.
Brad Gallaway: Richard, not a surprise. Not a surprise at all.
Richard Naik: I did not intend it to be a surprise. That's the one I thought you were going to bring up, Tim.
Tim Spaeth: I still think Portal 2 is trying too hard. I think it's overreaching.
Richard Naik: Really?
Tim Spaeth: I don't think it's going to be anywhere near as special as the first one. I hope I'm wrong; it's Valve. They don't usually let me down, but I am cautiously optimistic.
Richard Naik: Hm. Well, we'll see. The second game is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Mike Bracken: Umhm.
Richard Naik: I've been addicted to the Bethesda overwhelmingly huge universe since Morrowind. Morrowind was my first real Western RPG, so I've got a bit of a soft spot for it. Oblivion was a little hit-or-miss for me. There were parts of it I really liked; there were parts I did not like. I liked Fallout 3 and then they're going back to Elder Scrolls with Skyrim, so I'm looking forward to that. And then the third game is Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Tim Spaeth: Mm.
Mike Bracken: Mm.
Richard Naik: I don't generally go for MMOs, but I like BioWare and to me, the first Knights of the Old Republic game is the best thing to ever come out of Star Wars in any medium. And this is ostensibly the replacement for the Knights of the Old Republic 3 that we never got, so I really hope it's good.
Mike Bracken: Ohhhh. Disappointment ahoy!
Tim Spaeth: I hope it's good, Richard. I hope for everyone's sake that game is great. I just don't think so.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Richard Naik: We'll see. Because Knights of the Old Republic 1 was so good, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt for now. But I imagine that at some point I'll just be pissed off about having to go collect ten wookie pelts and go deliver it to Admiral Smackbar or something.
Brad Gallaway: You shoud've given a spoiler alert, dude, because now that first quest is going to be—
Mike Bracken: Yeah. That first quest is ruined for everybody.
Richard Naik: Sorry.
Tim Spaeth: Brad Gallaway, my old friend. What are you looking forward to here?
Brad Gallaway: Well, I was kinda looking forward to just the first quarter. Kinda like you, there's not a ton that I'm super-excited about, but there were a couple titles. The first one is Two Worlds 2. Now I have to cheat a little bit, because I actually did just get a review copy yesterday. So I actually have my hands on it, snd as everybody who plays consoles probably knows, the original Two Worlds was the biggest joke of a game. It was wrong in so many ways. It was just a steaming pile, and the developers shouldn't have even dreamed of releasing it in the state it was in.
So Two Worlds 2 is not really on a lot of people's radar as something to look forward to, but I saw it at PAX last year, and it was looking head and shoulders better than the first game. And after having spent the afternoon with it yesterday, I got to say, it's pretty fucking cool. So big props to the developers for turning that around. It's actually a little unfortunate that they kept the title, because Two Worlds 2 is so much better than the first one. Keeping that title is just going to make people stay away from it, because they're going to associate it with the crapfest that was number one, and this game is so much better.
Mike Bracken: I guess that's really just stupid.
Brad Gallaway: It's stupid, yeah. Two Worlds 2 is kind of a stupid title. But it's like Oblivion minus all the stupid stuff. So I kinda liked Oblivion, but there was a lot of stuff that I didn't like in it. So it's faster paced; it's more streamlined; it's more action-packed; the combat's better; the magic system's better, and it's huge. It's really huge, too. So for me, Two Worlds 2, which actually hasn't released yet, so I guess it still technically qualifies as something to look forward to, is a really good game. So anybody listening to this, it's really, really good. If you like Oblivion and you want something that moves a little faster, check that out. Good stuff.
The second thing I'm looking forward to from Namco is called Knight's Contract. It's a really super violent, super bloody combat game. It's kinda Medieval-themed, where you control an immortal warrior who has to escort a witch on this adventure to do…whatever. Stuff or something. But the hook is that your character is immortal—he cannot be killed. And so although it seems as though the game is going to be one giant escort mission, which I don't think anybody is really up for, the developers have been saying they've put some interesting spins on it, where the person you're protecting can hold their own within reason and there's supposed to be all kinds of interesting twists. So I'm always up for something extra violent and bloody, and this one sounds like it's got a good hook.
And last one is Lord of Arcana for PSP.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: I'm looking at Lord of Arcana for two reasons. Oh, you know what I'm talking about, Mike?
Mike Bracken: Yeah; yeah.
Brad Gallaway: All right, okay. So the first reason I'm looking at Lord of Arcana is because it kinda sorta seems like a one-off of Monster Hunter. And if anybody's been following me on Twitter or my blog, you guys know I've been pretty deep into Monster Hunter for the at least the last six months, maybe the last year or so. I really dig Monster Hunter in a big way.
So this one seems to take that same general Monster Hunter idea and tweak it in a few different areas, so I'm kinda curious to see how that plays out. But the second reason—and the more important reason—is that Swery65, who was the mastermind behind Deadly Premonition, which ended up being my game of the year, is actually working on this title. So I'm interested in anything he does. I think he's really brilliant. And after hearing that he's got a couple fingers in this pie, that immediately got my attention. So even though I was kinda already sorta looking at it, knowing that Swery is in on this game makes it ten times more interesting to me. So I'll definitely be checking that one out.
Mike Bracken: What's the other one that's coming out that's kinda like Monster Hunter, too? God something?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, it's like God Eater Burst.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, God Eater. Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. Monster Hunter is so frickin' huge in Japan, I'm surprised it's taken this long to get the wannabes out there. But, yeah, those two are hitting at about the same time, I think.
Tim Spaeth: Brad, I noticed omitted from your list, Dragon Age 2.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Isn't that hitting quarter one?
Brad Gallaway: I guess. To be honest, I've actually forgotten about it. To be honest, I was just kinda so-so on Dragon Age. I liked the characters, I liked the story, but I ended up giving it an 8 or something.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, it was an 8.
Brad Gallaway: There was a lot of stuff that was wrong with it. It wa not a perfect game, by any means, and actually, going back to some of the DLC, it soured me. I didn't want to go back to it; I didn't want to play it anymore. So it's okay—I've already pre-ordered it, to be honest, because I wanted a lot of the extras that are coming with the bonus edition.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] Only Brad would say that: "Yeah, I'm not crazy about this game, but I just pre-ordered it."
Brad Gallaway: Well, I only do it for the BioWare games; I don't do it for any other company, because I'm still kind of a sucker for BioWare, although since they merged with EA or whatever, I've really shied away from them a little bit. But we'll see. I've played a little bit of Dragon Age 2, and it seems interesting, but I have some real reservations on it. So I can't honestly say that I'm really that jazzed about it.
Richard Naik: Yeah. Dragon Age 2 almost made my anticipated list. The console version of the game really got the shaft, in terms of the combat mechanics. It was really just a messy interface and everything else. It was really more suited to a mouse and a keyboard, just so you could click on stuff and it wasn't so crazy. So I loved the original Dragon Age. I wasn't really all that excited when they said they were going to make the protagonist just like basically Commander Shepard. So it came out to be getting called Dragon Effect 2 or Mass Age 2 or whatever it was called. So we'll see. Right now, without having actually played it, I don't think I'll like it as much as the first one, but I don't know. We'll see.
Chi Kong Lui: I'm one of the few people that was fine with the console version of Dragon Age exactly the way it was. I had no problem with the combat system; I was fine with the controls; I loved that game top to bottom, agreed with everything you praised it for, back in whatever 2010, so that actually would be my pick, would be Dragon Age 2, so I'm going to pick that.
Tim Spaeth: I just saw a news story that the original Dragon Age has been approved by the FDA as a prescription sleep aid.
Mike Bracken: I actually bought it over the break, but I haven't started playing it yet.
Richard Naik: I saw another news article that said Too Human had been approved for use in lethal injection chambers.
Mike Bracken: Aw.
Brad Gallaway: I thought you were going to say it was going to be a laxative.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Richard's bringing it tonight.
Tim Spaeth: Certainly is; certainly is. May not be bringing it next time, though.
Chi Kong Lui: I did have one other pick, Tim.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, go for it; go for it.
Chi Kong Lui: From Dust from Eric Chahi. I see that's still scheduled for sometime in 2011. So from the guy who brought us Another World/Out of This World.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Still very little information out there about it, but whatever this guy's doing, I'm on board.
Tim Spaeth: Fantastic. Hear, hear. Yeah, I cannot wait to get more news on that. That's going to be something to see. Brack Attack, close it out here. What do we got?
Mike Bracken: All right, my choices. First up, thing I'm most looking forward to, hopefully it comes out this year, please God. Diablo III.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah.
Mike Bracken: Yes. More loot whoring, killing things. I'm all about that. Diablo III actually looks pretty cool, too. I'm excited to see what Blizzard does with it, and I think it's going to be huge. Big prediction there. Going out on a limb.
Other things. This is an interesting choice because I didn't love the last game particularly, but I'm going to hope that this fixes it: Gears of War 3. I enjoyed the first Gears of War quite a bit. Gears of War 2, I didn't like the single-player as much. I didn't think the story was as good. I thought it tried too hard. But I'm interested in seeing where Gears 3 goes. I don't know. Is this only a trilogy? Is this the end of the line for Gears? I kinda hope so. I would like to see that story wrap up and get closure, so looking forward to that.
I'm kind of interested in Bulletstorm. I wasn't, and then the more stuff I see about it, it just looks like a big, stupid, mindless, fun shoot people in the face game, which I kinda like sometimes. So that one's on the list for me, and Deux Ex, the new one, if that actually comes out, too. I'm pretty excited about that. Loved the first game, like to see that series come back and start moving in the direction of the first game again and see where it goes. So those are just a couple of things I'm looking forward to this year. I'm sure there will be a million things that we haven't heard of yet that will be exciting, too.
Tim Spaeth: Notable omission: No one looking forward to Duke Nukem Forever.
Mike Bracken: No.
Richard Naik: No.
Brad Gallaway: No.
Richard Naik: I don't understand the obsession with it at all.
Tim Spaeth: I'm just looking forward to reading…There's going to be a lot of articles. I think the reviews for this game will just be fascinating reading.
Mike Bracken: [Chuckles] Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: I have no interest in playing it, but the reviews are going to be just a great week of reading, I think, is what I'm looking forward to.
So guys, let's wrap this show up. We're just about out of time; I need to get out of the studio. They're flagging me out. So let's close this out. I want to thank anyone listening to this show. I want to thank you for listening. And e don't ask a lot of you, but if you like the show, the best thing that you could do to support us is tell a friend. Link to us in your Twitter feed, post something on a message board, but tell someone about us. That is how you could repay us for the gift of this podcast, and I use the word gift very, very loosely.
Brad Gallaway: That's in quotes, right?
Tim Spaeth: It really is; I mean it sarcastically. But we do. We love the audience. We love you all so much, and it would mean the world to us if you would spread the GameCritics.com gospel. As always, you can subscribe to the show through iTunes, Zune, listen live off the GameCritics.com homepage. You can leave your comments there. If you're shy, sweet, sweet boy, if you're shy, e-mail your comments to podcast AT gamecritics.com. We'll read them there as well.
My thanks to you fine gentlemen: Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, official co-host Richard Naik. Heck, let's thank the entire GameCritics.com family. We all wish you, the audience, good night and bonne chance.