Friday, October 20, 2006

Comics? Hardly

Regular readers (a dying breed) might know about my love/hate relationship with the newspaper comics. For years, I would read every single execrable comic that appeared in the Gazette, daily. I would follow each storyline and I really didn't know why. Most comics are hardly funny. I mean, "comic" is right there in the word! A smile, a chuckle? Is that too much to ask? Where are the Calvin and Hobbes or Farsides of my day? Hell, even The Boondocks ended. Most strips were are left with are incredibly lame and have no real punchline. They simply exist to waste ink and amuse 80 year olds whose sense of humour died around the time they had their first hip surgery.

Thankfully, the Gazette finally ditched some of the worst ones. I mean, does ANYbody enjoy Sally Forth? I could go much deeper in every one of those strips they printed but I don't want to rant too much. It is my birthday after all. Stay positive!

Anyway, I'm just writing to mention my new favourite web site, the Comics Curmudgeon. It represents exactly how I feel about the current state of comics. It's basically a guy who posts that day's comics and just rips into how awful they really are. So I'm not alone!

Note: I have, for weeks now, stopped reading the comics. Just like that, cold turkey. I just couldn't handle it anymore after a particularly awful Beetle Bailey. I must report, I am generally more happy this way, as reading comics in the morning no longer spoils the day to come.

Friday, October 13, 2006

EA the devil?

We all knew EA was evil, way back when they turned their back on the Dreamcast. Sega effectively made EA who they are, by carrying plenty of EA titles on the Genesis back in the day. The first NHL game by EA was exclusively on the Genesis (I had it), the simply named NHL Hockey. The following year, they released NHLPA '93 on Genesis and SNES and they were off. But the point is, EA are jerks.

Fast forward a few years where 2k was putting out spectacular titles, including their NFL 2k series. The last game, NFL 2k5 was so damned good, and was priced at $20US, that EA got so scared that they bought the exclusive NFL rights. So now and for years to come, only EA can put out a football game. Due to this monopoly, their football games have regressed, removing features to overall diminishing quality. Monopolies are rarely a good thing. The latest outrage? EA is charging for content they once gave for free.

Yes, EA has added downloadable stadiums to the latest Madden game, which you can get for the low low price of $3.75 US apiece! (link) This is an outrage. Take their latest hockey entry, NHL 07. Not only is it stripped of pretty much every feature you want in a game and filled with AI bugs, it also has no alternate jerseys or arenas, something they used to give free...something that the competition, NHL 2k7m gives in extreme abundance. EA will instead add them online and you have to buy extra content like that for a fee. I urge all to read this satirical article. In an IGN interview, EA even admits they fear a consumer backlash. So why are they doing this?

It's just the latest in what is beginning to seem like a new trend to squeeze money from us. Take the latest Gran Turismo game coming for PS3. It will come in 2 flavours: one with 30 cars and 2 tracks or another one with no cars and no tracks, just the bare bones of the game. It's up to the consumer to then go online with their PS3 and download cars and tracks, at ridiculous prices. Based on the preliminary price schemes, to download all the content for this game will cost between $500 and $1000. Can you imagine?

When did video games reach such an elitist level? Soon will come the day when kids will no longer be able to simply get a game for Christmas, because that game will come with strings attached. They will need their parents' credit cards in order to round out the missing content from their game. Not only that but it further stresses classism in the increasingly expensive hobby of gaming. Sure, rich kids could always buy more games, but now even if everyone owns the same game, those with more cash will have more options, more features and will extract more enjoyment from the games.

Yet again, I am reminded why EA is to be loathed. Shame on you EA. And shame on you, Sony, too.