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Hi. I'm Mike. This isn't updated often.

Month: August 2008

Cleaning out the fridge, I’m a geek and an otaku, blah blah blah…

So today, Ys I & II came out on the Virtual Console. I’ve always wanted to check out this series, and never bothered to do so (either through emulation, or actually picking up a damn TG-16 / PC Engine). I said to myself, “Self, when you get home from work, download that shiz!

If only it were that easy.

When I downloaded Sonic the Hedgehog and Star Parodier recently, I ran my “blocks” down to the wire. I couldn’t even download most NES games. How in the bloody Hell was I going to download a TG-16 CD game?!

Time to clean out the fridge.

It was a very painful process. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m of the mindset that I absolutely should be able to have access to each and every single damn Virtual Console and WiiWare game that I’ve downloaded at any given time and immediately when I want it. Am I spoiled? Sure. I have no problem admitting that. Is it too much to ask? I don’t think so. Not these days, anyway.

Yes, this is basically just me acting like a broken record. You’ve already read this elsewhere. You’ve already heard this elsewhere. I don’t care. This is my blog, dammit! I get a chance to complain, too!

I’ve actually had plenty of instances where I was about to spend money on Virtual Console games… but I didn’t. Why didn’t I spend the money? Why didn’t I give free money to Nintendo for games that I actually already own in cartridge form sitting right over there? Sitting in the damn original system right above the Wii on the next shelf up (I’m looking at you, Waverace 64)?

I didn’t have the blocks available.

If I’m going to spend money on digital versions of games that I already own working versions of, my stipulation is that I have access to it right away. None of this re-downloading nonsense. None of this transferring to-and-from an SD card nonsense.

I’m not sure why I actually buckled down, caved in, and said “I’ll be a good boy, Reggie!” this evening. Maybe it was the prospect of playing a game that I didn’t already own and had been interested in for years. Maybe it was because I didn’t really mind moving over games like Bonk’s Adventure and Toe Jam and Earl (sorry folks, they’re just not that good). I also had to move over some games that I really didn’t want to move over, though, like Super Castlevania IV.

So now I’m back to having ~20 blocks left. No chance in Hell of being able to get Samurai Showdown II any time soon. And yes, I’m aware that Samurai Showdown Anthology will be coming out state-side at some point this year. It doesn’t change the fact that I have total gaming ADD and would love to be able to just point on over to the best one in the series and play a few quick rounds without getting my lazy ass off the couch.

360 Woes: Not The Red Rings

You may have heard about it on the most recent podcast episode, but let me break it down for you.

On June 18th, a bunch of people were over to go out and see The Dark Knight. In between picking up tickets and going back to see the movie a few hours later, we came back to our place to play a little Rock Band. Shortly after starting to play, strange things started happening with the display on the TV: weird green “splotchies” were all over the place. At first I assumed that a cable was loose with the new component switcher, but that was not the case. I tried plugging the cables directly into the TV (as opposed to going through the switcher), but the same thing happened. We played through a couple songs, anyway, and moved on with our evening.

The next day, I tried switching over to using regular ol’ (ugly) composite cables, just to see what would happen. At first, everything seemed OK! Shortly into watching a video, however, the same “splotchies” resurfaced to cause trouble.

– No, it was not a connection issue going into the TV.
– No, it was not a cable issue.
– No, it was not the TV.

After plenty of tests with various items and doing a little research around the intarwebz, I came to the conclusion that I am one of a small minority experiencing an issue with the GPU / video card essentially frying itself alive inside the 360. It’s a two-step process. The first step is that you get the aforementioned green “splotchies” which, at their best, look like this:

Xbox 360 GPU video card problems

And at their worst… well… you don’t get a video signal. In fact, the component switcher doesn’t even recognize that there is a video signal hitting it at all. Amusingly, audio still works perfectly fine, so you can blindly browse back and forth along the blades hearing the “whoosh”.

I kept putting off calling Microsoft about it, hoping the damn thing would just red-ring itself. Unfortunately, I was literally less than a month out of my standard one-year warranty, and this type of problem is not covered under the three-year extended warranty (exclusively for the red-ring hardware issue).

I would check the system every so often to see how it was doing with video. It ranged back and forth from having the green tint to being completely gone (which is where it is right now… no signal what-so-ever). Once Steven Totilo wrote about it over on the MTV Multiplayer blog, I was hoping the issue would get a little more attention… but unfortunately that just hasn’t happened.

I finally broke down and called Microsoft customer support for the first time, yesterday.

The first woman I got sounded like she had a horrible cold and could barely speak. I’m pretty sure she hung up on me; the call didn’t “drop”, but it died. I wonder if she had to vomit and just couldn’t take it anymore.

I called back and spoke with “Richard” (lolzsurethatsyournamewhatever). After going through a lengthy process of struggling to understand him and informing him that I actually knew what I was talking about, we set up the “generous” $99 repair, and a box would be arriving in three-to-five business days. After I was done with him, I asked to speak with his manager to dispute the charge (since it’s a documented issue that Microsoft unfortunately refuses to publicly acknowledge). I spoke with “Joy” (riiiiight…) and continued to struggle with understanding a single word spoken aloud to me. She talked me in circles for about ten minutes, ready to get me off the phone as soon as she possibly could.

I don’t really have a problem with how they handled the situation, since they’re nothing more than outsouced phone support, and to their credit, they were incredibly polite the entire time. I’m furious with Microsoft, however. I really wanted to be one of the lucky ones to get the red-rings, and I’m instead one of the unlucky ones with faulty hardware that Microsoft is choosing to remain tight-lipped about.

I’m hoping they’ll go back and do a retroactive reimbursement for this type of repair once they eventually acknowledge the damn issue. Until then, I’m hoping I get my damn system back in time for Rock Band 2 next month. If not, Andrew’s going to have to bring over his system.

Yes. Andrew and a 360. He’s got a story for you, himself, all about that… but I’ll leave it up to him to tell…

Posting from an iPhone app…?!

Just testing out the iPhone app to allow me to post to the blog wherever I am. I gotta say, this is pretty sweet.

To give you some actual gaming related content, I learned today that Shining Force CD is actually an enhanced remake of the first two Shining Force: Gaiden games on Game Gear. Huh. Learn something new everyday.

Anyone wanna send me their Sega CD that they’re not using anymore? I never did get around to picking one up… the 32X sure wouldn’t mind the company…

Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Master System)

So I have a bunch of Wii points sitting around while I wait for Shining Force II to eventually come to Virtual Console, and I figured I would blow 500 of them on a little game staring a blue hedgehog.

… which is funny, considering I already own nearly all of them either via their original cartridges, or the various compilations that have come out over the years (though Andrew’s got me beat with his Japanese Sonic Jam).

That’s right. I picked up Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Master System.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Master System)

Why did I do this? I don’t really know. I guess I just wanted to play it. Sure, I could have easily just loaded it up via an emulator, but since I legally own the whole rest of the bunch, it made more sense to go this route.

While it’s rather terrible, it’s still mostly enjoyable. Part of that enjoyment is seeing and hearing 8-bit representations of Green Hill Zone that I didn’t even know existed. The music is sparse, the enemies are even more sparse, and the slowdown is horrific… but it’s still Sonic running fast from left to right, and gosh darnit, it’s gotta be better than some of the recent games we’ve seen come out for the franchise.

I only made it as far as the second bridge level (that’s all three areas of Green Hill Zone, bridge 1, bonus level, onto bridge 2). I wasted all my lives on Robotnik/Eggman because I was totally not even paying attention to what I was doing.

It’s a cute little game, but it already shows how ready Sega was to sell out the character by creating half-assed ports and conversions that just wouldn’t cut it. Unless you’ve got absolutely nothing else to play, have extra Wii Points, have a measly 20 blocks to spare, and really enjoy the blue guy (basically, that describes me)… it’s probably good to pass, though you might be entertained, none-the-less.

Also picked up Star Parodier… Haven’t played yet…

Conversation 002: Backwards Compatibility & The Top Ten Games We’ve Never Played

I told you I’d get this done before Otakon! OK, so we’re leaving for the convention later today, but that’s still on time…

That’s right, the second episode of our show is all up and ready for listening. We had an awesome time with this one, and I think that’s reflected in the content of the show. This month we took a look at backwards compatibility: what is it, how does it affect us as gamers, and where on Earth is is heading? We go all the way from the very beginning of console gaming, up through today and various, confusing SKUs that have either full, half, or no backwards compatibility what-so-ever.

In addition to that, you’ll hear a little bit about some updates in our gaming lives (new systems, beaten games, etc.), as well as our Top 10 list… The Top 10 Games We’ve Never Played. That’s right… after trying to establish some credibility in the first episode, we’re completely destroying all chances of that with this list.

Enjoy! See you down in Baltimore, or see you next month on the show!

(I owe you guys the top ten list of the PS2 games I own and have never played… that’ll come soon! Don’t worry!)

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