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CURRENTS
Issue #76
April 1, 2008
Dancing on the Border of Insanity
Front Page

Greetings, and welcome to the seventy-sixth edition of RPGamer's Currents Column.

Well, I recently picked up the new MMO Real Life, (read RPGamer's review for it here) and I've been playing far too much of it. The strange thing, though, is that I'm actually not too impressed with it. It's extremely repetitive, and I find myself doing the same moronic quests time after time after time. The environments are pretty nice looking for the most part, but they quickly become boring to look at, because you're in the same places all the time. You can travel to different areas if you want, but the time and money required is barely worth the payoff. Worst of all, no matter what I do, I CANNOT unlock the dating/marriage quest. In fact, I have absolutely no idea where to start, and it's starting to piss me off, because I hear that's where the real fun is. Sigh. Oh well. I'm sure my perseverance will pay off in the end.

There's a fair amount of news in today's column, and it's some pretty strange stuff, just to be frank. Read on and decide for yourself.

PlayStation 4 Revealed
No doubt, they'll be pricing it too cheap again

So how many of you out there have a PlayStation 3? Nobody? A few? Okay, we have a few hands up in the back row there. Hey, it's cool; the fact is that not many people have a PlayStation 3. Why? Oh, the reasons are many. It's expensive, there aren't many games for it, and it represents one of Sony's greatest collective PR blunders. In all, I think it's safe to say that the PlayStation 3 has just been a big, fat, expensive failure from day one. Know why I think it's safe to say so? Because SCEA President Kaz Hirai said so, that's why:

"...the PlayStation 3 has been nothing but a big, fat, expensive failure from day one. It was a novel idea, and I suppose we have to at least credit our late President Ken Kutaragi for his... ah... hubris, shall we say, but the fact of the matter is that it just didn't resonate with the public, and it's particularly pathetic when measured against the success of our last-generation console, the PlayStation 2.

Ouch... not pulling any punches, eh? Hey, if the President of SCEA tells you that the PS3 is a failure, who are we to argue? It seems that, for all intents and purposes, he's abandoning ship:

The PlayStation 3 is a sinking boat. It's been leaky from day one, we've tried our best to plug up the holes, but for every hole we repair, three more pop up. We're under attack from all sides, and it's all we can do to keep our heads above water. Well, no more. As of today, we're changing ships. PlayStation 3 is in the past, locked away in our darkest, most tragic memories. Now is the time to embrace the future: PlayStation 4.

I'll admit, the news came as a bit of a shock to me, and I think it's safe to say, to ALL of us here at RPGamer. I know the PlayStation 3 was sailing some rough waters, but I thought they had been calming of late? I guess I was wrong. I mean, damn... this has to set some kind of record, as far as short console life spans go. But enough soliloquizing; what is this PlayStation 4 he speaks of?

In yet another surprise, Hirai told us that the PlayStation 4 will be released in November of 2008. That's right folks; Sony's next-gen system will be here in time for Christmas. When asked what kind of specs it will pack, Hirai gave a shocking response:

PlayStation 4 will represent a significant step backwards in terms of horsepower. We learned our lesson with PlayStation 3: people honestly don't care about owning the cutting-edge of technology. What they want is cheap goods. They want to spend as little money as they possibly can, and upon its release, PlayStation 4 will be the cheapest console on market. I can't really give a solid price point right now, but I will say this: it's going to be cheap.

Speaking further about the system's capabilities, Rai revealed that PlayStation 4 will play PS1 and PS2 games, but will not be backwards-compatible with PlayStation 3. When asked why this decision was made, he simply responded "Is there honestly anything from that library that you would want to play? No? Exactly." When asked what unique features the PlayStation 4 will bring to the table, Rai smiled and proudly held up a prototype of the PlayStation 4's controller, which looked somewhat like a Wii-mote. "Rather than just focus on how they look," he said "PlayStation 4 is going to revolutionize the way games are played. I can't reveal too much now, but I promise you that it will be made very clear in the coming weeks."

Well, there you have it. The saga of the PlayStation 3 is officially over folks, although I think it's safe to say that it ended quite a bit sooner than we expected. But then, I have to respect Sony for admitting their blunder and wiping the slate clean, rather than continuing down this vicious cycle that the PS3 continually feeds. To be honest, I can't wait to hear more about the PlayStation 4 - in particular, I want to know more about that controller. Shown below is an EXCLUSIVE image of an early prototype build of both the console AND its unique controller. Feast your eyes, and then get ready to count down for August!

somehow it looks familiar...
Xbox 360 Explodes, Destroys Suburban Home in Middle TN
I'm keeping mine outside from here on out...
Title

This one hit a little close to home, if you know what I mean. It took place right in the middle of the Smyrna area, here in middle TN, which is quite close to where I live. Now, we all know that Microsoft's 360 console hasn't been the most reliable piece of hardware since its release, with failure rates reportedly being as high as 33%. Freezes, disc read errors, and Red Rings of Death are, unfortunately, far more common than they should be. Even Microsoft knows this, which is why they've extended the systems warranty twice, so that it now covers a full three years. However, out of all the horror stories we've heard about the 360, this latest one takes the cake.

As reported by several TN newspapers, early last Sunday, a Smyrna man's Xbox 360 spontaneously combusted, and shortly thereafter, exploded with such force that it took out a massive portion of the man's suburban home. Firefighters were quickly on the scene, and the fire damage was kept to a minimum. Thankfully, the man, (who is single) was unharmed - he had fled his home moments earlier. "I was playing Lost Odyssey," he said, "and I had just reached the Ancient Temple on disc 3. Next thing I know, my 360 just started screaming at me; it sounded like a mad cow struggling to give birth. I knew something was wrong, so I just got the hell out of there. I was scared for my life, and it turns out I had good reason."

When contacted for comment, Microsoft gave one of their standard taciturn responses: "We have not received widespread reports of exploding 360's," a spokesperson said. "we're talking about a very small percentage of consoles here; this isn't anything that's going to affect our current market standing." When asked about what manner of compensation the Smyrna man would be receiving, the spokesperson replied, "his console was still under warranty, so we have a prepaid UPS package on the way to his residence. Or what's left of it I should say. As long as we find that there was no prior tampering or illicit modifications made, we will ship him a new console within four to six weeks." The spokesperson also made it clear that a recall for the system would not be issued.

Microsoft is only hurting themselves by remaining so nonchalant on the matter. RROD's are one thing, but spontaneous detonation is in a whole different league. This guy lost his home, for crying out loud, and all they're going to do is ship him another console? And how the hell is he supposed to ship them his old console, anyways? Isn't it in so many pieces among the rubble? Furthermore, what does Microsoft mean when they claim they haven't received "widespread" reports of exploding 360's? Just how many reports HAVE they received? One? Two? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? This is a matter of public safety, and gamers certainly have the right to know the likelihood of their 360 going BOOM.

Ohio Man's Famicom Sells for $2,375, Miyamoto Pissed
As he should be
Title

If you recall, I reported last week on an Ohio man who was selling a Super Famicom, plus a few classic games, on eBay. But this wasn't just any Super Famicom, oh no; it was a Super Famicom that bore the signature of the immortal Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of revered Nintendo franchises such as The Legend of Zelda. As the title suggests, the system sold for a meager $2,375, which, in my opinion, is a joke. There is no monetary value that can be applied to such a gem; it's worth simply cannot be expressed in mere human words. As I said last week, and as we discussed on our recent podcast, the man who sold this is an ass. Plain and simple, he is an ass, and it is clear that his mind is dreadfully sick. But what does the man who so graciously autographed Nathan Smart's Super Famicom think? Well, in a surprising move, Miyamoto himself has responded to the controversy. To put it bluntly, he's pissed:

To be frank, I feel used. I graced this man's Famicom with my signature, and he has the gall to turn around and use it for monetary gain. I find Mr. Smart's actions to be despicable to the highest degree, and yet, at the same time, I am hardly surprised. Mr. Smart had the misfortune of being born in America, a country where the value or worth of anything, be it a human being or a videogame system, is measured by the omnipotent dollar. In a way I feel sorry for Mr. Smart, trapped in a lifestyle in which he is unable to appreciate that which is truly beautiful. What he had was priceless; what he has now is perhaps enough to make a car payment or two.

Well, I can certainly understand Miyamoto's anger, although the semi-racist comments against Americans are perhaps a bit much. He has a point, though: there are some things in this world that simply can't be measured by the (ever-softer) American dollar. Shigeru Miyamoto, by all accounts, is a god among men, and among the videogame industry. His signature is every bit as priceless as the many games he has created and produced for us over the years. I can only hope that he realizes that this tool in Ohio hardly represents us as a whole, and finds it within himself to forgive us.

Jack Thompson Sues Himself
It seems he's found out who the real enemy is
Title

You just can't keep a man like Jack Thompson down.

I reported last week on Thompson's trial before the Florida Supreme Court, which ended in his being sanctioned. For those of you who didn't read about it, Thompson can no longer submit any filings to the court without the signature of another attorney who is in good standing. This being the case, it is logical to assume that Thompson will henceforth be severely handicapped in his ongoing war against all that is unholy in the videogame industry. Right?

Wrong. Thompson is still going strong, everyone; and this time he's after the real bad guy. Just last weekend, Thompson filed a lawsuit against none other than John Bruce Thompson, commonly known as Jack Thompson, well-known crusader against the videogame industry. That's right, Jack Thompson is suing himself, ladies and gentlemen, for defamation of character - and it's actually not quite as ridiculous as it sounds. Below is an excerpt from the sixty-seven page filing, which, in case you were wondering, was signed by Florida attorney Marcus Wells:

Jack Thompson's legal practices have always been, to put it lightly, far less than professional. As a result, he has succeeded at making me, Jack Thompson, look like a complete and total ass in the eyes of the public, particularly in the eyes of the videogame community. With almost a freakish obsession, Thompson has pursued legal action against the videogame industry for many years now... it's as if Take-Two Interactive represents Moby Dick, and he has taken it upon himself to act as Ahab.

In order to hunt this whale of his, Thompson has consistently employed methods and practices that, to be frank, dance on the border of insanity.... sending copious numbers of faxes to angry judges, suing all those who stand in his way, and consistently making wild accusations against organizations such as certain law firms, the videogame industry, and even the U.S Department of Defense. However, despite all his ravenous efforts, Jack Thompson has succeeded only in making himself look like a fool, and as a result, thoroughly and irrevocably tarnishing the record of myself, Jack Thompson. This is evidenced by the recent sanctions imposed on me by the Florida Supreme Court on account of Thompson's actions...

Heh. It seems that Thompson's finally figured out who his real enemy was, and I commend him for finally doing so. It will be most interesting to see this one go down.

Every Last GameSpot Employee Quits
Title

Well, we sorta all knew this was coming. Ever since the quasi-infamous Jeff Gerstmann controversy, GameSpot has steadily been losing water. As of today, CNET has announced that GameSpot will be closing its doors for good. Why? "Because all our f**cking staff just up and walked out the door," CNET spokesperson angrily claimed. "For some f**cked-up reason, nobody here could get this simple f**cking concept through their heads: you do not f**cking piss of the people who give you money. I'm sorry, that may not line up with all the "rules of proper journalism" or whatever, but that's just business. I mean, we aren't covering the fine arts here. Roger f**cking Ebert doesn't work at GameSpot. These are videogames for Christ's sake, and it's not like anyone out there reads these f**cking reviews anyways. I mean, if you want to give your frank opinion on something like, oh, I dunno, Lost Odyssey, then go ahead, no one gives a f**ck, Mistwalker isn't something we need to worry about. But when it comes to some of these bigger names, it's a whole different ball game. 'game journalism'... what an oxymoron that phrase is."

Um... okay, then, Mr. Spokesperson, sir. Please, don't get too wound up. The fact of the matter is that GameSpot's reviews have largely been garbage for quite a while now, it has lost all credibility in the eyes of many, many people, and it's probably about time it was laid to rest. Sad, because I used to love it, but hey. All good things must come to an end. That's just life.

Gwah! Too much to do! How am I supposed to find any time for gaming! For those of you who are interested, my backlog is no smaller than it was last week. I've played a little Crisis Core and greatly enjoyed it, and I'm working (slowly) on Super Metroid. Unfortunately, Persona 3: FES is almost here, and I shall be forced to purchase it. Okami for the Wii is coming soon as well, and it shall take a great deal of discipline on my part not to purchase that as well. Sigh. What can you do?

Thanks for joining me on this April 1st edition of Currents, everyone. I'll be back next week with more news, although I'm unsure if it will be quite as... unique as this week's.

Oliver Motok (Email Me!)

 

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