Monday, October 26, 2009

My thoughts on the DSi revamp

Sorry for the gap in updates there... Things should be a little better from this point onward.

It was announced earlier today, quite out of nowhere, that there will be yet another DSi model released by the end of this year. Reading the details, I was, at first, feeling a little cheated. I'd just bought my DSi in April, and here they are announcing another one with far bigger screens retailing for the exact same price. I'd be holding my DSi-Mini while other people are walking about with their Mega-DSi systems and enjoying the extra 0.75" of screen (It doesn't sound like much, but it really is). Seems unfair to the millions of DSi owners out there, doesn't it?

Perhaps not. Let's look at the reasoning for this update. As was said ages ago, Nintendo would be using bigger screens in upcoming handhelds to accommodate the poorer eyesight of the elderly. The new DSi's 4.0" screens are sure to be far easier on elderly eyes than that screens of previous systems. There's nothing wrong with this, and in fact, I support it. The more people who get to enjoy gaming, the better.

Another reason given is a little unclear at this point. It's been said that these larger screens will help "expand use for the system to movies and digital books". This is all fine and good, but... The wording makes it seem like this won't be available for the original run of the DSi. Of course, this is coming from a Japanese newspaper, so for all we know, something was lost in translation. Still, it's a little odd that the original article wasn't more specific.

Could these new, bigger screens play host to software incompatible with the older DSi?

Also unclear at this point is whether or not this new model would come with any hardware upgrades. Technology advances at an alarming rate, and it's entirely possible that hardware superior to that included to the DSi would have dropped to an affordable price-point in the last year. Would Nintendo go through with it, though? Releasing DSi-exclusive software is already splitting the industry as is. Making software using the advanced-hardware of this upcoming model would just divide things up further. So while it's possible that this new DSi could sport some faster, more powerful innards, I don't see it as being very likely. Worry not, fellow DSi-owners!

One problem many have mentioned regarding these larger screens is the resolution. Making screens bigger is better, yes, but not if the resolution doesn't increase along with it. Allow me to simplify. The DSi's resolution is 256x192 pixels, spread across a 3.25" screen. If the new DSi's resolution stays the same, it will then be 256x192 pixels spread across a 4.0" screen. Basically, the same image will be stretched further, and it will appear to be of lower quality. Look at the below image for an example (View full-size).

The above image is merely to illustrate the difference. It's not an exact representation.

The screenshot on the left is the same size and resolution as what you'd find on a DSi screen. On the right is the same screenshot enlarged to the dimensions of the new DSi's screen, resulting in pixelation. It's bigger, but not exactly prettier. If Nintendo takes this path with the new DSi, their new customers will be getting bigger screens, but with poorer pictures. Upping the resolution won't change a thing, as DS software is made for 256x192 and nothing bigger. Future software may be adapted to this, providing a higher-resolution image on the new DSi, but the library would be limited, at least at first. So while the larger images would be easier on elderly eyes, younger, sharper-eyed players would notice the pixelation.

The bottom line is that this new DSi wasn't made with everyone in mind. It was made for the elderly. Less of a broad market, yes, but a valid market nonetheless. Chances are that this new DSi will be exactly like the ones in millions of hands around the world at this moment, but with larger, pixel-enlarging screens. Also, if they don't upgrade the hardware, there's no reason owners of the original DSi can't get in on the movie and digital book action, removing the possibility that owners of the new model will be receiving exclusive features. Rest easy, DSi owners, for it seems your recent handheld investment is safe. Even if it does turn out to be better, it will only be marginally so, and hardly worth worrying about. Those out there considering buying a DSi should put a hold on those plans for a bit to see how things play out, but everyone else can relax. Whatever the outcome, we'll still have one of the best damn handhelds ever made, and that's nothing to be sad about.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello? Anyone there?

This break lasted a little longer than I intended... I really hit one hell of a writer's block back there. Right now I have, oh, five or so unfinished articles sitting around. I just couldn't figure out what to write. Well, until today, as there's a new article right below this one! Really! No, I'm not kidding! Look! It's alright, I'll wait!


See? Bizarre, huh? Yes, I know it's not the longest update, but more extensive articles are on the way.

Now then, as for future updates, I hope to have something posted every week, with the occasional "bonus" update once in a while. As I said in the last post before this break, upon their return, polls and banners won't be weekly. They'll just change about whenever a new topic comes along. Having to change it every week led to lackluster topics, and I really try to avoid anything that can be described as "lackluster". It's not a pretty word.

One last thing. If you look below the banner (Below the ads if you don't have AdBlock), you may see some new randomly-selected text floating about. I decided to add a few random non-sequiturs during the last two and a half months. See, I wasn't being completely useless! ...just mostly! Anyways, there's 29 of them now, with more being added whenever something occurs to me. Catch 'em all!

For those of you still here, I thank you! All two of you! For anyone who has left, I hope you return. And for anyone visiting for the first time... Read the archives while I get things back up to speed, okay?

One Duck's Opinion: Dead No More!

The worst jobs in gaming

Just about everyone has some sort of complaint about their job. Idiot co-workers, a boss that expects too much, insufficient pay, laughable health coverage... The list goes on. It just can't get any worse, can it? You'd think so, but then you look at some of the jobs some video game characters have to deal with. You're the lucky one. Chances are your job is nowhere near as bad as some of the stuff listed below. What better way to make yourself feel better than to look at what some other jerks have to do for a living, virtual or not? Sit back, relax, and read all about these poor souls who would gladly trade their profession of depression for a more calming career.

Gym Leader

As seen in: Pokémon
Why it sucks: You dedicate your whole life to becoming a powerful Pokémon trainer, leading to the day when you prove yourself to the Pokémon League and become a certified Gym Leader. After all this work, what awaits you?

Defeat. Constant, never-ending defeat. Due to some stupid Pokémon League rule, you're restricted to fighting with only one type of Pokémon. Being restricted to one type, and even being advertised as such, trainers know just what to bring to the battle to counter you. It's a simple game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, except you can only ever pick Scissors, and your foes always choose Rock... Or Fire... Or Water... You know, depending on your "specialty".

What's more, Gym Leaders are very rarely permitted to even leave the building. Whether it's the afternoon on a Wednesday, midnight on a Sunday, or even frigging Christmas morning, you're pretty much stuck there for your whole life. Happy birthday, now get to work!

Stuck in a stinking building forever, constantly getting your ass-kicked by 11-year-olds... What could possibly be worse? Well, how about the fact that, after all your hard work to be powerful, you're stuck fighting with a team of three crappy, low-level Pokémon? Goodbye LV.85 Blastoise, hello LV.12 Geodude. If that isn't the biggest kick in the nuts since you learned you had to go by the pun-tastic moniker "Brock", nothing is.

Police Officer
As seen in: Grand Theft Auto and all games like it
Why it sucks: Police officers save lives, put criminals behind bars, and eat a whole whackload of donuts. It's a pretty sweet deal... In the real world. Take that cop in the video game world, though, and he'll be dead before you can say "Officer down!".

On the job hazards for Liberty City police officers are numerous to say the least. Shootings: Check. Explosions: Check. Traffic fatalities: Check A flaming car landing on you after falling from an overpass which then explodes (The car, not the overpass) and causes a chain-reaction of exploding vehicles all down the crowded avenue, all while being shot at: Check.

It's not as if the higher-ups have much faith in you, either. You're patrolling the streets of the most violent city in the country, and what equipment do you receive? A handgun, a flimsy patrol car, and minimal armour. This so isn't worth $15/hour. Further minimizing your importance to the police chief is how he seems to have the SWAT team on speed dial. It's as if he knows you're not going to be able to do it on your own. No matter, he'll be dead soon, too.

With all of this said, I can think of one upside to the job: You never have to worry about affording your retirement. I hear Cluckin' Bell is hiring...

As seen in: Pretty much every RPG ever
Why it sucks: Congratulations, mayor! The people made their choice, and it was you. Okay, party's over, now let's get to work. The roads are full of potholes, educational funding is abysmal, and a gigantic monster just ate the entire industrial sector. Would you like a coffee?

In pretty much every RPG known to man, some town gets destroyed, or at least heavily damaged. From Mideel in Final Fantasy VII to Trodain in Dragon Quest VIII, a city randomly gets completely screwed over. Causes vary, but it happens. Sometimes it's a monster, other times it's an explosion, and other times it's a curse of some sort. Whatever the case, you'll probably be wishing you didn't win that election.

On the off-chance that you survive the destruction, you'll probably get blamed for whatever caused it. Chances are you had no part in the catastrophe, nor were you at all capable of preventing it. Nonetheless, every mayor should make room in the funding for some body armour.

If you still want to be mayor, though, go ahead, I won't stop you. Just make sure to keep an eye out for any gigantic monsters on the horizon, always have your luggage ready to go, and keep a scapegoat in mind (I'm partial to the finance minister).

If, after reading this article, you still feel your job is crap, please get in contact with me. I've always wanted to meet Mike Rowe.

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