Game Freaks


Introduction

Posted in Other by notasfatasmike on August 29, 2006

Leave it to Matthew to get up an information filled post up before I even do my intro…

Anyway, I’m Matt Biedermann, sometimes referred to as Matt #2. I am a German and Mathematics double major at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. What does one do with such a degree? I have no clue, really, which is why I am planning on going to graduate school for German when I finish up college.

My favorite genre of video game is the RPG, hands down. My personal favorite is Earthbound, and other favorites include Chrono Trigger and most of the Final Fantasy series. I also tend to like strategy-oriented games (Final Fantasy Tactics and the like), Bemani games, and old school-styled platformers (time and 3d graphics have not served the genre well). If I had to pick a genre of game to never play again, I would probably pick FPS games. Maybe it’s simply because I’m not very good at them, but I find Halo and its ilk to be really boring, truth be told.

Other interests include punk rock, bass guitar, Magic: The Gathering, and tabletop gaming. Oh, and I have a girlfriend, so I’m not on the market. Sorry ladies.

I can’t think of much else about me, so I leave it at that. I hope you enjoy our blog; please leave comments and tell your friends about it.

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Console Wars (My Thoughts)

Posted in Game News by lordsaanjun on August 28, 2006

So, clearly, there’s been a bit of humdrum in the gaming community of late regarding these three newfangled consoles that are hitting the market.  As a veteran gamer who remembers when the Sega Genesis rocked the worlds of thousands of NES fanbois, I’m kind of used to console wars by now.  I have my own thoughts on the subject, and it seemed like as good a day as any to share them.

Here’s the upshot: every new console is taking a risk.  Some of those risks are good, some of them aren’t so great.  Which of the consoles is the best is really not a question of pure hardware or software, as it has been in the past, but almost a matter of personal choice, a rarity in the gaming world.

Let’s start with the XBox 360, the first of the three to hit shelves.  That was, basically, 360’s gambit: They hit the market first, and so they’re going to be the yardstick by which all the other platforms are measured.  There’s a few unfortunate truths about the 360, though.  The first is that the hardware is, as far as anyone could tell, marginally improved.  There’s a fairly significant uptake on the graphics — more than maybe I first gave it credit for — but there’s certainly not much innovation to be had from Microsoft.  The other unfortunate truth is that the lineup so far hasn’t been thrilling.  The opening roll consisted mostly of rehashes and sequels, and it’s only recently with megahit Dead Rising that the 360 has really made waves.  The last inconvenient truth about the 360 is that it’s been out for so long already that it’s running the risk of being rendered obsolete by its two “competitors” who are being released after much more extended development cycles.  Will the 360 hold up under the pressure?  I haven’t spent my money yet, if that’s any indication.

The next batter that will stepping up to the plate in November (the 17th, to be exact) is the Playstation 3.  The risk that Sony’s taking?  The price.  PS3 is supposed to hit American store shelves retailing $600 USD.  That’s just silly. As a starving college student who is about to move to being a starving graduate student and broke newlywed, I can’t envision a day where I’m going to be willing to shell out six hundred clams for a new video game system, regardless of what it may look like.  Also, a starting lineup for the PS3 is still a closely guarded secret, with the rumor of Final Fantasy XIII showing up sometime in the first year of the system’s release.  The other big gamble?  Blu-Ray.  See, mixed in with the console wars this time around is a whole other battle: the “which new digital media format will turn into Betamax” battle.  Sony is staunchly backing its Blu-Ray DVD format, while other major media corporations are standing behind the Hi-Definition DVD that is supposed to show up fairly soon.  The trouble is that when the smoke clears, as with VHS and Betamax, there is likely to be a very real winner and loser.  Now, if Blu-Ray loses, will the PS3 have been a worthwhile investment?  That’s up to gamers with $600 USD to decide.

The last of the contenders is the Nintendo Wii.  No, the gamble being made by the Wii isn’t the new console name, which still forces its way into my head as the punchline to a dirty joke every time I think about it.  Nintendo has brought the not inconsiderable forces of its marketing group to bear on making “Wii” a household name laced with a lot of positive meaning for people, and I don’t see it as an obstacle to the system in the long run. No, Wii’s gamble is twofold: an adventuresome new controller, and an as-yet-unknown final release date, which is giving Nintendo diehards itchy palms.  The controller, which apparently has two configurations, depending on whether or not you’re using the “Nunchuk,” an analog-stick plug-and-play addition, is certainly innovative, the question that bears out in the long term is whether or not change is good. Nintendo’s certainly held up under this particular kind of fire well before — the DS, which raised similar control concerns with its touch screen, has gone on to be incredibly well received and has now garnered one of the most impressive new releases for a handheld system: the long-awaited Final Fantasy III, which was originally released for the Famicom (Japan’s NES) in the early ’90s and never found its way to America.  Its belated release (almost fifteen years later) will feature entirely updated graphics and some adjustments to the play of the game to update it for the more refined modern gamer.  Suffice it to say, FF junkies (like me) are salivating heavily (time to wash this shirt), and many of them (like me) are touting FF3 as the reason to buy a DS (as if New Super Mario Bros. wasn’t reason enough).  So the controller for the Wii could wind up being an amazing innovation, something that every other company rushes to emulate for its stellar gameplay experience.  The trouble is that there is still the significant possibility that most gamers will be unable or unwilling to make heads or tails of the thing.  So that’s hurdle one: then there’s the release date.  When is this system coming out?  With a scant $200-300 USD price, and an amazing starting lineup including new entries into the Zelda and Metroid franchises, the only big question looming on the horizon is when US audiences are going to get to take a Wii home with them.  And Nintendo’s clamming up on the subject.  The worry then becomes simple: If both the PS3 and the 360 beat the Wii to the punch, will gamers be unwilling to spend money on potentially a third system?  Time will tell.

My personal bet is on the Wii for long term stability, reasonable price, a solid starting lineup, and continuing innovation. While the other systems have their advantages, and I have been a Playstation diehard for quite a while now, it seems unlikely that I’m going to be convinced to shell out the money for the PS3, especially given the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD wars.  And the 360 just doesn’t have enough going for it to maintain my interest in the long term.  No, at least for now, it’s Wii for me.

Stay frosty, team,

Matt #1

Mr. White, Reporting For Duty

Posted in Other by lordsaanjun on August 27, 2006

Yo,

I’m Matthew White, also known as Matt #1. I figured I’d let you all know a little something about me since I’m going to be torturing you… I mean writing video game reviews for you… every week.

I’m a Creative Writing major with a Library Science minor at UWEC currently, and I plan to expand my studies in Library Science to graduate work at the UW – Milwaukee in January. Future aspirations as far as education and career go include becoming heavily involved with young adult librarianship, or possibly moving on to some kind of position within a major academic library.

It’s worth mentioning that I am engaged to be married on the 30th of June, 2007. That’s worth mentioning because it is as much or more a significant part of my life as my college career. You’ll probably see me mentioning that occasionally… although not as much as I do in my personal blog, which I’ll leave you to track down if you’re feeling Holmes-like.

As far as video games go, and I know this is the matter of chief import for most of you rabid, ravenous readers, I play Final Fantasy games until they come out my ears. I also enjoy almost any game from the classic Nintendo franchises (Kirby, Mario, etc.), as well as the Castlevania games, Katamari Damacy and its manically addictive sequel, and most any RPG or turn-based strategy game you can throw at me. If I had to pick a least-favorite genre of games, it’s a close tie between sports games (Madden Football 2099) or mission-based games (sorry, Grand Theft Auto, I hate you). Don’t get me wrong, both of those genres have their merits… but they also both make me want to rip out my front teeth with a pliers.

Other miscellany can be left for later, I think. This is probably enough for now. Enjoy the site, enjoy our first review which will hopefully come out on schedule this Wednesday, and, uh, don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

A Brief Introduction

Posted in Blogroll,Other by gamefreaks on August 27, 2006

Welcome to Game Freaks, a weblog reviewing classic-era videogames, predominantly from the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit eras. Game Freaks is run by Matthew White and Matt Biedermann, collectively known as “The Matts”. The idea for this weblog was started in a small independent newsmagazine on the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire campus. That newsmagazine was called The Flip Side, and Game Freaks was published in every issue of the newsmagazine as a regular column. We (the Matts) have decided to venture boldly onto the intarwubs, where we sincerely hope that our referential humor and occasionally irreverent video game reviews will reach a wider, stranger audience. A new review will go up every week on Wednesdays, with other posts being added as The Matts feel compelled. We want Game Freaks to be a source for game news as well as the classic game reviews that are our trademark, and we’ll do our best to keep you updated on the latest in gaming while still giving you the old skool games you love.

As for a bit of the “how” of Game Freaks, The Matts do paired reviews of games, with each game being reviewed by each Matt in four separate categories: Play Control, Difficulty, Graphics, and Replay Value. These categories are each ranked from 1 (abysmal donkey piss) to 10 (the absolute best ever). At the end of each individual review, the categories are totalled and averaged, resulting in an Overall Score of 1-10 for the game.

We’re glad you could join us for the ride… it’s going to be wild, strange, and vaguely reminiscent of that haunted theme park in that old episode of Scooby Doo. Yow.