The HD Era Begins When…

…you buy a component or HDMI cable. Why the hell doesn’t the PS3 come with anything better than a composhite cable?

Cue lots of people being bitterly disappointed when they get it, stick a Blu-Ray in there, and find that it looks the same (or worse) than their DVD player. Or the same reaction when those whose knowledge of high definition is limited to the fact that their TV is “HD Ready” finds that it looks shockingly bad on their LCD. Believe me, composite really does.

I know that I haven’t said anything positive about Sony in a while and I’d like to be able to, but apart from the good move of adding HDMI to the cheaper model what have they done to make themselves some new friends?

This is supposed to be the ultimate high-end gaming experience with no expense spared but it comes to a cable that could only be worse if it was RF, they dropped the rumble apparently because of cost (a motor must cost them pennies), and they don’t give it an IR receiver so that even the most expensive of universal remotes can’t control the PS3; you need to buy its horrible Bluetooth remote. That last one, in particular, won’t convince the AV community with their £150+ remotes that this is a legitimate choice for their new HD movie player.

Can someone convince me that this isn’t a ridiculous move?

Okami Soundtrack

Check this baby out. Got it in the post this morning from YesAsia. Thankfully I didn’t order from Lik-Sang…

Okami Soundtrack

I haven’t had a chance to listen to most of it since it’s five discs, 218 tracks, and over five and a half hours long. I think that I actually have albums that are quicker to listen to straight through than it’s been to import this thing into iTunes.

The music while playing the game has been very good, obviously with strong traditional Japanese influences and more modern elements for good measure. If you like that kind of music I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. In any case how can you say no when it’s this purdy? Anything less wouldn’t do the beauty of the game justice, I suppose.

RIP Lik-Sang

Remember those days when your only choice for getting an import game was the local independent and the prospect of paying £100 for it? Or a questionable mail order company in the back of CVG that may or may not fold before the next issue? Then the Internet came along and we could get all the cheap imports and dirt cheap accessories we wanted from Hong Kong outlets, and it was good.

As you may or may not know, possibly the biggest of these Hong Kong retailers, Lik-Sang, has today announced in a surprisingly ironic statement that it’s closing down as a result of repeated Sony lawsuits against it. The most recent one, which I wrote about in my last post, ended in a ruling that the importing of PSPs into the EU before the official release had been illegal and, by association, that importing the PS3 would be as well.

“Today is Sony Europe victory about PSP, tomorrow is Sony Europe’s ongoing pressure about PlayStation 3. With this precedent set, next week could already be the stage for complaints from Sony America about the same thing, or from other console manufacturers about other consoles to other regions, or even from any publisher about any specific software title to any country they don’t see fit. It’s the beginning of the end… of the World as we know it”, stated Pascal Clarysse, formerly known as the Marketing Manager of

“Blame it on Sony. That’s the latest dark spot in their shameful track record as gaming industry leader. The Empire finally ‘won’, few dominating retailers from the UK probably will rejoice the news, but everybody else in the gaming world lost something today.”

Well, fuck them. Really, fuck them. I’d never once used Lik-Sang to buy a Sony product but had bought countless cheap gadgets (most recently my £10 component switcher) that are difficult to find elsewhere. Now that’s gone because Sony wants to attack consumer choice for when they decide that they don’t like paying more for a late product. I don’t, didn’t buy a UK PSP, and also won’t buy a UK PS3.

This is a sad day. I hope this pisses off enough gamers to really come back and bite them.

Sony’s at it Again…

So now it’s illegal to import a Sony console into the EU without their permission, following on from all that rubbish surrounding PSP imports when that was delayed in Europe:

“The law is clear; grey importing PS2, PSP or PS3 into the EU, without the express permission of SCE is illegal. Therefore, we will utilise the full scope of the law to put a stop to any retailers who chose to do this.”

Beside the fact that if it’s illegal it’s not ‘grey’ anymore, it’s a potential stumbling block for those indies who miss out on the Christmas rush of PS3 buyers and so were counting on flogging imports at inflated prices to actually get an advantage of the high street for once. And I thought this thing was multiregion? What’s the point if you can’t import games, since the PSP embargo stopped a lot of companies even selling those?

Maybe someone should point out to them that price fixing is also illegal. I can’t think of a better term for a 33% price hike while simultaneously blocking cheaper imports from abroad. Whatever happened to competition?

Okamina of Time

Now that I’ve finished MGS3 (reviewed here), finally managing to enjoy it, I’ve switched focus to Okami. As I’m sure you’re aware by now it’s to be one of the last titles to emerge from the brilliant-but-moribund Clover Studio, but, sad as it is, that’s not what I want to talk about.

Okami lets you play as a wolf. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess lets you play in the form of a wolf. Coincidence? More than likely, but I’m really noticing the similarities between this game and Zelda. I expected something more like a straight-up action game and, I suppose, if you’re going to make more of an open-ended adventure like Clover has, Zelda is the obvious template to borrow from. What has surprised me is how I’m finding myself enjoying it more than any recent Zelda.

Maybe it’s just the tremendous amount of personality that the stunning visuals give it, or maybe that in eight years Zelda arguably hasn’t matched the sheer quality of its first 3D outing. It might even be that the trend of giving Link a magical instrument with which to manipulate the world (ocarina, masks, rod, baton, talking hat, etc) is echoed and superseded in Amaterasu’s infinitely more versatile paintbrush. Whatever it is, Ammy is certainly an able rival to Link. And she, too, has an annoying sprite for a sidekick.

Whether it actually manages to top Zelda at its own game or not, Okami deserves your money. Sales haven’t met expectations, so make it a big seller and show Capcom the error of its ways. RIP Clover.

A Toe in the HD-Pond

Look what I got in the post yesterday!

My First HD DVDs

Yes, there’s a few weeks before the Xbox 360’s HD DVD drive comes out to say hello but I wanted to get these purchases out of the way before I’m buried under a deluge of new games. Serenity is an obvious choice and when I first saw HD DVD I was blown away by the video quality in The Last Samurai. Batman Begins is on the way across the Atlantic as we speak (can’t wait to see those beautiful glaciers in HD), and when you add in King Kong I’ve got a nice early library.

I won’t comment on the mental health implications of buying discs that I currently have no way of playing. Surely I’m not the only one who’s done it? In any case there’s a format war to be won this time and I’ve done my part to ensure victory for the HD DVD format. Take that, Blu-Ray!