Review of GameTap.com

11 10 2009

gametap

GameTap is something of a marvel. For years, several players would watch as their favorite games fade into obscurity, with nothing they could do about it. Try as they like, most of the systems that house these games would eventually break, ending any chance they had of playing their classics. It wasn’t until the arrival of the XBox Live Arcade that players had the chance to purchase and download earlier titles. Since then, Sony and Nintendo have provided services of their own. Taking a nod from them, GameTap, owned by Turner Broadcasting System, decided to provide a service to old-school gamers by offering a service in which to download some of their favorite forgotten games, spanning systems from the Atari 2600 to the Dreamcast. However, is the company at the point where it is worth looking into?

Look ahead to find out.

Now, of course GameTap doesn’t have modern hits like Halo 3 or Bioshock for purchase, but there is more than enough here to play around with. For a fee of $9.95 a month, you have hundreds of classic titles at your disposal, from 1942 and Deus Ex to Toy Commander and Grandia II. Role playing, action, sports, puzzle, FPS, no matter what you are into; GameTap should have what you are looking for. Of course, there are some limitations though. If you do not have a monthly subscription, you will only have a few dozen free games to play around with, which mostly consist of low budget arcade titles. Also, if you are looking for any games from the Sony or Nintendo platform, forget it. There is always the Virtual Console or Sony Store for those though.

Nevertheless, it was quite the nostalgia trip to go back and play through some of my favorite titles from the 80s and 90s. Mega Man X3, Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Tomb Raider III, Crazy Taxi, Deus Ex, EverQuest, and several more of my early non-Nintendo favorites were all there for the taking. It doesn’t just end with games though; GameTap also has several music and television options as well. Examples being Sealab 2021 and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, with the latter still receiving new episodes exclusive to GameTap. Every Thursday the GameTap crew updates their roster of games and episodes, with well over 1400 total media options available as of today.

I suppose the only negative that the site has going for it is the fact that several of the titles offered on it can be purchased for pocket change at used game shops. Especially titles for the Dreamcast, Genesis, and 8 bit systems. Also, a broadband connection is required in order to play the games you download, so if you happen to still be on dial up – forget about it. Requirements are needed to play games from GameTap, but they are pretty minimal. Pentium 4, Windows 2000 or better, and US/Canadian residence are really the only guidelines you have to worry about, but odds are 9 out of every 10 people meet all three of these requirements.

All in all, GameTap is a service for those who want to acquire classics from primarily the Arcade and Sega platform. The purchase of games or movies from GameTap is 100% legal, so if you always skipped out on the illegal emulator route then good for you. They may not have every single title you are looking for, primarily because they have only been around for a couple of years. However, if you are a fan of arcade classics, role-playing games, or fighting games, GameTap is the company to go with. So grab a broadband connection and ten dollars, and be apart of a service that is reliable and well worth the investment. It’s only too bad that something this convenient didn’t come around until this decade.

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The MMORPG Monthly Fee . . . Is It Worth It?

4 10 2009

WOWDouble$15 bucks a month . . . should I pay it?

Time and time again I will see people become somewhat interested in an MMORPG, only for them to turn the other way once they hear of a monthly service fee.  Now not all MMORPGs these days have a monthly fee.  Many of them, like the highly acclaimed Runescape and Maple Story, all are free to play and download (of course they charge for in game items or better graphics).  Nevertheless, people cannot seem to wrap their heads around why they should pay for a game after they have already payed for it once.  At one time I thought the same way.  Why should I shell out money to this company for some unknown reason, when I already put down $50-60 on the original game box?  Where does all this money go to?  How will I benefit?  Until you answer these questions, you truly never will know why you pay that monthly fee.  Of course, these are the same people that don’t have any idea how much upkeep it takes to run a smooth online role-playing game.  It is a necessary evil, one that is tough to deal with at first but gets easier as time goes on.

Probably the number one reason why MMO companies need that $10-15 dollar fee is to maintain servers and the patches that come with them.  When dealing with thousands of people, or even millions if you are talking from Blizzard’s perspective, you need a strong hardware line to support all of that data.  Without it, all that work you put into building your character would be as dust in the wind after a week or so.  Even with all that money that Blizzard gets (hundreds of millions per month), they still continue to struggle with lag issues and other maintenance problems that come up after every patch.  Technology has advanced quite a ways in the last few decades, but we are still not at the point where complete lag-free online game-play is possible.  It will only become possible if people continue to donate to the cause.  It may seem lame at first, but paying a monthly fee for a game you are enjoying shouldn’t be that hard to swallow.

/PLAYED

Another thing people take for granted is the amount of time they are giving to these games.  Now, a simple question.  How long does your average video game last these days from beginning to end?

Ten hours? Twenty hours?  Maybe thirty to forty if it has a decent multi-player setup or a quick premise with lots of replay value.

That is absolutely nothing compared to the amount of time one puts into a “single” character within most of these MMO worlds.  After playing both Asheron’s Call and World of Warcraft I noticed a shocking statistic.  The average amount of time per character was between fifteen and twenty days played.  Now multiply that by 24 hours and you have a lot of freakin’ hours.  And even though that may seem like a lot of time, that is nothing compared to what some of these MMO junkies put in.  It just annoys me to see people complain that they are bored with a particular MMO, when they don’t realize they have put in between 600-800 hours into it.  Damn, if I put that much time into a game I’d probably be bored with it too!  The difference is that you are spending a hell of a lot less money by playing an MMO than you would with the dozens of short single player experiences in this day in age.

I believe that people have just become ungrateful and have taken for granted the amount of enjoyment that an MMORPG gives them.  The genre may not be for everyone, that is a given.  Some people don’t like grinding out levels for hours or running the same quests over and over again to get that one unobtainable weapon; especially when they realize it will become obsolete by the next expansion pack.  Those that play MMORPG’s are players that enjoy a great story, have a broad imagination, and enjoy playing with other people.  Sure some online games may have a crappy player-base, but those couple of people that become your “allies” in these games more than make up for it.  Some of the players that I befriended throughout my MMORPG times have actually become my friends in real life.  Amazingly enough, people have even met their future spouses in these games.

VoidHole

In the end, great MMORPGs can paint a pretty picture, but it cannot get there without the pastels and brush; two things that the player and the host company must provide.  Just remember that there are hundreds of MMO’s out there, some free and some not.  Each one gives you a trial period, which can generally last between two weeks and one month; plenty of time for you to decide whether or not it is the game for you.  So ultimately yes, it is worth paying that fifteen or so a month to keep your favorite game running.  Just don’t be like the people on most game forums and gripe about every single thing you don’t like about said title.  If you don’t like the game anymore then don’t play it anymore, nothing is forcing you to turn that game on time after time except your own addictions.  Just take a break every once in a while.  After all it’s just a game . . . that you pay a monthly fee for.

Though it doesn’t seem so bad now does it?





E3 – Shigeru Miyamoto Hints at a New Zelda Wii

2 06 2009

link

A few moments ago at his annual developer’s speech, Miyamoto mentioned a Zelda title in the works for the Wii.  There isn’t much information about it, in fact, at the moment there are only sketches of some main characters.  Regardless, it is always good to hear about a new Zelda in the vein of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.

Miyamoto went on to say that the game would feature a more mature Link, perhaps even older than the one seen in Twilight Princess.  This would be interesting to say the least, as most of the Link’s in the last few Zelda titles have been a tad younger (Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass).  The new Zelda title will also most likely utilize the new MotionPlus device, which will make combat even more accurate.

That’s all for now, but check back as the information continues to pour in.

Source: Kotaku.com





E3 – Metroid: Other M Impressions

2 06 2009

SamusAranSamus is back and in a whole new dimension

Toward the end of the Nintendo conference earlier this morning, everyone had seen just about enough of charts, tween games, and odd peripherals (vitality checker?) — WTF indeed.  Thankfully, Reggie himself stepped onto the scene and introduced the core gamers to a variety of games, the last of which being the most surprising of them all.  No it wasn’t the fact that it was Metroid, we knew it was coming; it was how it was presented that stunned us.

Third person perspective?  Team Ninja? Voice acting?

Woah.

The newly titled Metroid: Other M seems to take place after the Metroid Prime Trilogy, with the emphasis on a possible new Metroid fighter.  The title “Other M” seems to indicate that Samus may be replaced in this new adventure, or perhaps step out of the spotlight for a bit.  Glad to see a Nintendo character that is willing to avoid the limelight for a while; yea, I’m talking to you Link and Mario.

Anyway, on closer inspection one can see that the game will take place in a third person perspective, with a mix of 2D and 3D elements surrounding the environment.  This is a welcome change, as the Metroid franchise was originally supposed to be a third person side-scroller/adventure.  Now I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the Prime series (well maybe Corruption), but it is good to see the franchise return to its roots (in some ways).

teamninja

With the recent news of Itagaki and most of his team leaving Team Ninja, it will be interesting to see how to remaining staff do with Other M.  From the trailer, it looks like several mechanics from Ninja Gaiden are already present in the game.  That being the advanced storyline and the acrobatic moves that Samus shows the first few minutes in.  Ridley looks bad-ass and better than ever, and the visuals, though unpolished, look to be some of the best the Wii has to offer.  As said earlier, it seems that Nintendo and its second parties are the only ones who can truly draw out the full power of the system . . . lazy third party developers.

The game is still far from completion, so there will definitely be more to come.  In the mean time check out the trailer from the game shown at E3 earlier today — definitely some hot stuff here.

Thanks to Youtube for the link.





E3 – Perfect Dark Coming to XBLA Later This Year

2 06 2009

perfectdark

Ah the good ol’ days of my youth.

Sitting around the couch and playing Perfect Dark inside the house on a hot summer day.  Whether it was the excellent four player action or the engaging sci-fi esque campaign, Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64 still stands as one of Rare’s greatest achievements.  Though it has had contractual issues in the past, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb confirmed today that the 1998 FPS will debut on the XBLA this winter, in full 1080p.

It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, considering that Banjo Tooie was recently released on the Xbox 360’s premier arcade system.  While some Nintendo fans may be disappointed, at least they didn’t have to trudge through the borefest that was Perfect Dark Zero.  You know what they say, “always learn from your mistakes.”

Source: http://twitter.com/majornelson/statuses/2008690137





E3 Approaching!

30 05 2009

e3

Hey all, been away for a while but I’ll be back at the start of the E3 week.  Alot of gaming news will be going down and I’ll be here to cover it, so stay tuned.






Interesting! – Duke Nukem Forever Game-Play

10 05 2009

Duke Nukem Forever is a game that has been in development for nearly a decade and a half.  When you take that into consideration, it means that the game has gone through three system generations.  A lot has changed since the Nintendo 64/PlayStation One days and it is interesting to see how far along the game has come since then.  The following video is a little taste of what the “current” Duke Nukem Forever is, and I must say it looks pretty damn good for a thirteen year old (development wise) game.

Thanks to Youtube for the link.

Now that 3D Realms has shut its doors, who will pick up where they left off?  Please, somebody finish this game already.  The Duke deserves better than this!