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Column: Berkley's BUZZ

Buzzing in Your Ear: 'BREAKING: Kaz Hirai's Pants Not on Fire'

January 20, 2009 12:00 PM |

[GameSetWatch is extremely proud to debut the return - after a more than 2 year hiatus - of the column from legendary journalist Joseph 'BUZZ' Berkley. 'BUZZ' really has the measure of today's gaming market, and it's Sony's Kaz Hirai which has prompted his return from exile.]

There's been a lot of internet BUZZ over some comments that Sony Computer Entertaiment chairman Kaz Hirai made in the February 2009 issue of Official PlayStation Magazine.

For example, there's the following exchange to consider: "This is not meant in terms of numbers, or who's got the biggest install base, or who's selling most in any particular week or month, but I'd like to think that we continue official leadership in this industry."

These are comments which happen to mirror those that I made in my column of October 26th, 2006. But what Eurogamer didn't bother to cover was Kaz's refutation of the persistent claim that his pants are, in fact, on fire.

While the claim has gone unaddressed for some time, Kaz has finally deigned to deliver his own brand of PR to the situation. "These are not flames," Hirai was cited as saying, according to reliable sources. "I am not on fire. I just like having warm pants."

Kaz (pictured above, in earlier, less smoldering times) went on to explain that he was actually beta testing Sony's new Garment Heating Device, the Sony Pant & Suit Sweat Suite, or P3S.

He explained that any smoke, or appearance of a chemical reaction involving oxygen, fuel and heat resulting in the creation of light and heat were entirely within Sony's design specifications, and should not be construed as "fire", despite industry comments to the contrary.

Then, in his typical aggressive fashion, Hirai went on the offensive. "Sony's Garment Warming Device may be something of an expert level product. It's not for everyone. The Garment Warming Device offered by Microsoft may produce somewhat less ash, but the heating element tends to wear out in a year or two. These slacks will be hot nine years from now."

Hirai had less to say about Nintendo's offerings. "I think they're making glove warmers these days? What's with that?"

Finally, Kaz addressed those who criticize his pants-related comments. "You might think you know what fire is, and that there is fire on my pants. What I'm saying is, maybe you don't know what fire is? And maybe I do." He then ran off in search of cooling devices for his burning trousers, yelling: "FRIIIIIIIIIIDGE CHAAAASER!"

['Berkley's BUZZ' was a regular column from veteran game journo Joseph Berkley, whose illustrious career extends from the formation of Video Game BUZZ Monthly back in 1982 all the way to the founding of seminal teen game mag 'GameBUZZ - For Kids!' in 1992.

More recently, he was a regular columnist for much-loved late '90s game mag Big Important Thing, and the author of self-help manual: 'BUZZ Says - Less Drugs, More Games!' He has been unable to write for GSW of late, due to his demanding Managing Editor position at Official Phantom Magazine.]

BUZZ Words: Nintendo's Fatal Success

October 26, 2006 7:20 AM |

[GameSetWatch is extremely proud to debut this latest exclusive article from veteran game journalist Joseph 'BUZZ' Berkley. 'BUZZ' really has the measure of today's gaming market, and this time, he takes on the obvious - Nintendo's big problem.]

Atari, Or Won't They?

Once upon a time, back when I was molding the fledgling game fandom to my will like a baby made of clay, the business side was simple. Atari was number one, and everyone else only sold consoles in Europe. Back then, the only arguments were about whether or not my reviews were fair, and the debate was settled by me not printing the rebuttals. Then the Japanese had to come in and disrupt everything. Now you've got a company that also makes audio speakers selling me video games, and I have to grope around like a blind man in a simile factory.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the Japanese. Nintendo saved gaming, and kept me in a job. Without them, I'd have gone back to the sign factory. And here I am, all these years later, living the dream. Thank you, all Japanese people.

Wii Won't Rock You

So now we have the Wii, Nintendo's latest foray into GLORIOUS home console gaming, and I couldn't be more excited. It's a shame the system is already doomed to wind up in the closet inside two years. You see, YOU are very stupid. You, and all the rest of us playing video games. Unless you can give yourself the completely superficial thrill of saying "Hey, you see this, doesn't it look awesome?", you'll become bored, and the Wii, which is only interesting in terms of gameplay, and I mean COME ON, will be picked up by the help and moved to the closet, along with your old mobile phones, and pot bellied pig.

As far as we're concerned, innovation that isn't graphical is essentially not innovation at all. And once those systems move into the closet, Nintendo will make consoles no more forever! Because Nintendo is going to learn what any high school kid knows - if you aren't popular, you might as well kill yourself.

Peter Moore is not the devil.
Do not confuse these men.

The Short Tail!

Now, I know what some of you are saying. You're saying, in that high pitched, nasal voice of yours, "But BUZZ! Doesn't Nintendo actually make plenty of money, despite having the smallest market share?" A few of you are saying "Buzz, isn't it true that Nintendo is making a concerted effort to broaden the business beyond the usual graphics only steps forward, and focus on a large, untapped market that has been shown to care very little about the graphics race, such as the older women of the booming casual games market?"

Some of the others are saying that "even Microsoft's Peter Moore (who, regardless of what you'll hear on SOME gaming blogs is NOT the devil, despite working in marketing) has admitted that the Wii's innovations will likely bring new, more casual users to gaming." and some of you, the especially obnoxious are saying "In fact, according to financial reports in the last two years, hasn't Nintendo, despite paralleling Sony in launches of handheld and home consoles, and a dramatically smaller market share, actually made more money than Sony?"

[These reports for Nintendo and Sony [make sure to check on the Games section specifically] are fairly straightforward, while Microsoft's still buries the Xbox's actual numbers, but the fact that at no point do they claim a profit on the project is PRETTY TELLING.]

In fact, in 2006, didn't Nintendo bring in $840,842,000, compared to Sony's Games Division's loss of $233,000,000, for a difference of over $1 billion in Nintendo's favor?" To these people I say "You obviously don't know much about business."

there is nothing silly in this picture
These are a serious people.

Mario Love You Long Time

Nintendo's problem isn't money, it's popularity. If Nintendo isn't cool, people will get all embarrassed. Take Spain for example. Nintendo has never been successful in any Spanish speaking country. Do you know why? Because there is no Spanish word for "silly". The closest word is more along the lines of "asinine". So describing Super Mario Brothers as a goofy little game where a man in a silly hat runs around hopping on turtles suddenly becomes an asinine game where a buffoon named Mario acts like a damn fool. This lack of respect is why there in no Nintendo of Mexico, and instead the products are distributed by a far classier company, Motta Internacional. Motta is a name you can trust!

Epic Conclusion, Here

The Wii will probably sell out this Christmas. It's already showing up on many of the Must Have holiday lists, because the games are "innovative" and "fun". But in the long run, people will realize that Xbox and PS3 are able to deliver an image quality that Nintendo can't hope to match, largely because they didn't try.

Nintendo may be comfortable at first, performing only as a financial success, but they may eventually see they can't hang with the big boys any more in the arena that really matters: abstract conceptions of cultural worth and the ability to visually impress aesthetically shallow men aged 16-28. Game over, man, game over!

[Note: It has been asserted that the preceding essay bears a more than passing resemblance in tone and phrase to another article, reported on by GoNintendo, by Robert Summa. Any similarites are either coincidental, the result of Summa's attempts to hack into the GameSetWatch servers and read unpublished draft's of Buzz's work, or some kind of elaborate cosmic joke.]

['Berkley's BUZZ' is a regular column from veteran game journo Joseph Berkley, whose illustrious career extends from the formation of Video Game BUZZ Monthly back in 1982 all the way to the founding of seminal teen game mag 'GameBUZZ - For Kids!' in 1992. More recently, he was a regular columnist for much-loved late '90s game mag Big Important Thing, and the author of self-help manual: 'BUZZ Says - Less Drugs, More Games!' His column appears regularly on GameSetWatch, and is rarely actually true. His birthday is February 29th, 1955. He is 51.]

Joseph 'Buzz' Berkley Presents: Rumor Roundup!

September 7, 2006 12:02 PM |

[GameSetWatch is extremely proud to debut this latest scoop from veteran game journalist Joseph 'BUZZ' Berkley. Not content with pioneering the video game journalism scene as we know it, he's getting down and dirty with the latest HOT video game rumors, laying them to rest once and all - no namby-bamby 'BOGUS' or 'NOT BOGUS' guessing here, since Buzz is the original font of knowledge, and we're not talking Times New Roman, OK?]

RUMOR: With the PS3 right around the corner, Microsoft will be launching a third SKU for the Xbox 360. In a move that will shock many, rather than dropping their prices, they will have a more expensive model to attract the Idiot With Too Much Money demographic. This model will come with the HD-DVD add-on, and an even more gigantic hard drive. They might also throw on some gold or something. Anything to drive up the price.
VERDICT: Raising your price to give a sense of exclusivity and class is a time-tested sales technique. It worked for Lexus.
VERY LIKELY!

RUMOR: The Nintendo Wii will be released on November 15th, plus or minus 45 days, and might be as cheap as $175, but possibly more. Probably not less, though.
VERDICT: Based on all the confused and apparently ill-informed guessing from publishers and merchants, as well as the details Nintendo themselves have slipped, we’re able to nail the Wii release info down pretty firmly. You can bank on it!
VERY LIKELY!

it's entirely true.
RUMOR: Dead Rising is the best game on Xbox 360.
VERDICT: This is totally true.
SURE THING!

RUMOR: The PS3 will be shipping without an HDMI cable.
VERDICT: It turns out Sony had an official announcement about this before we were able to go to press with our Buzz Rumor Roundup. Still, it was pretty cool that I knew this two days ago!
SURE THING!

RUMOR: NintendOWNZ!
VERDICT: As a general rule, Nintendo invests in other companies without purchasing them outright. RARE, for example, was largely held by Nintendo, but was never a wholly owned subsidiary. However, they did buy Retro Studios.
IN A SENSE!

RUMOR: The PS3 is being delayed not because of problems with the Blu-ray laser, but because the aptly named Cell processor is based on illegal Stem Cell technology.
VERDICT: This rumor doesn’t really make any sense, since the PS3’s processor has been seen by dozens of people, and it’s repeatedly said that the architecture is very similar to eight of the hyperthreaded vector engines from the PS2 running in serially beautiful parallel. However, when we contacted Sony for comment, they refused to deny the rumor. You know what we say, here at the Buzz Rumor Roundup: “Not saying ‘No’ is a lot like ‘Yes.’”
POSSIBLY!

PS4?RUMOR: The PS4 will require surgery in order to install the Optic Nerve Upload Server, or ONUS, which will send display images directly to the extrastriate cortical areas of the brain.
VERDICT: For the last time: NO. I don’t know how this rumor was started, but it’s simply absurd. Any direct access to a users nerve system will be done near the base of the spine. It’s a far less intrusive surgery, and the results allow the game to send signals to all areas of the brain, rather than tacking simple video stream into the optic nerve.
NO CHANCE!

['Berkley's BUZZ' is a regular column from veteran game journo Joseph Berkley, whose illustrious career extends from the formation of Video Game BUZZ Monthly back in 1982 all the way to the founding of seminal teen game mag 'GameBUZZ - For Kids!' in 1992. More recently, he was a regular columnist for much-loved late '90s game mag Big Important Thing, and the author of self-help manual: 'BUZZ Says - Less Drugs, More Games!' His column appears regularly on GameSetWatch and is rarely true. He currently lives in Lacuna, Illinois.]

Buzz Investigates: PlayStation 3's 120 FPS Subliminal Messages?

August 23, 2006 8:13 PM |

HypnoPS3.jpg[GameSetWatch is extremely proud to debut this latest scoop from veteran game journalist Joseph 'BUZZ' Berkley. Not content with pioneering the video game journalism scene as we know it, he's now getting next-gen, presenting an EXCLUSIVE SCOOP on the PlayStation 3's hitherto unpublicized extra features.]

It’s been over a year since Ken Kutaragi announced that PS3 games would be able to run at a stable 120 FPS. While some might assume it was an empty marketing claim that simply doubled the current industry standard of 60 FPS, Kutaragi stood strong. Never mind that even the newest HDTVs cap out at around 60hz - some day in the future these TVs would exist, and the PS3, despite being a few decades old at that point, would be ready.

However, the human eye can only process input with an upper limit of around 75hz. Now, if Mr. Kutagari’s claims were just meaningless hyperbole designed to create a new bullet point for arguments about which hardware has the biggest numbers, one could assume that he didn’t realize this. But since we know from personal experience that he’s a serious man, Buzz Investigates asks: what are the other 45 frames for? They’re going by too quickly to be perceived consciously, but our minds will process them and mull them over subconsciously.

After speaking to sources so secret that it’s possible they don’t even exist, we’ve found no reason not to post this unsubstantiated speculation. After all, none of my sources could tell me for sure the PS3 wasn’t designed with so-called 'brainwashing' in mind. And not being told “no” is a lot like being told... well, you know how cutting-edge journalism works, right?

What does this mean for consumers? At its most innocuous, the relatively harmless: subliminal advertising. In fact, this method of advertising would likely be legal! The developer would simply add a notice to the End User License Agreement, which you never read anyway. It could be as simple as a notice that the User understands that the game contains advertising, with no mention of the fact that it will be delivered through the will-dominating method of Really Quick Images Flashing on a Screen, or RQIFS. These RQIFS-es could even be updated with new, possibly fast-food related ad campaigns using the PS3’s online capabilities. Could this be the entire reason that no concrete details about the service have been announced? The Buzz thinks so!

There is currently an alternate theory spreading across the Internet that, rather than planning to force the gamers of the world to obey their every whim, Sony will be looking toward the PlayStation 4, in around 10 years, to release some kind of Optic Nerve Clamp, somewhat like the scientific documentary Inner Space, that would allow the system to send video signals directly to the extrastriate cortical areas of the brain.

Obviously, this is wishful thinking at its best. If Sony is going do anything with Optic Nerve Clamps for PlayStation 4, it’s going to involve totalitarian mind control via altered perception. In the mean time, consider your mind altered, Buzz-style.

luciddream.jpgNEXT TIME: Buzz Investigates asks the hard questions. Does Peter Moore not know what lucid dreaming is, or do all his lucid dreams feature people with distressingly unrealistic facial movements?

['Berkley's BUZZ' is a regular column from veteran game journo Joseph Berkley, whose illustrious career extends from the formation of Video Game BUZZ Monthly back in 1982 all the way to the founding of seminal teen game mag 'GameBUZZ - For Kids!' in 1992. More recently, he was a regular columnist for much-loved late '90s game mag Big Important Thing, and the author of self-help manual: 'BUZZ Says - Less Drugs, More Games!' His column appears regularly on GameSetWatch and is rarely true. If he did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.]

BUZZReviews: Quadrun for the Atari 2600 VCS

August 7, 2006 1:15 AM |

Quadrun1.png[GameSetWatch is extremely proud to debut this premier review from veteran game journalist Joseph 'BUZZ' Berkley. 'BUZZ' has decided to branch out and invent a COMPLETELY ORIGINAL method of reviewing games. And by golly, it's going to debut right here, and right now.]

Even though I invented video game review scoring back in 1983, I've never been totally satisfied with the system. While Famitsu (and EGM by extension) have been happy as 'pigs in sh*t' using the same format they stole from Game Buzz Monthly back in the mid-eighties, I've been a constant innovator - always seeking the most accurate and concise method for reducing a complex personal experience to a single, almost meaningless numerical representation.

Well - you GameSetWatch readers are in for a treat, because I think I've finally found 'Le Holy Grail' of video game reviewing. The NEW Buzz-O-Meter reviews games based on the principles that really matter to today's hardcore gamer. To wit:

"How does owning this game affect my status in the insular and marginalized world of the video game fan?"

And with that, I bring you the first BUZZReview: Atari's classic title Quadrun for the 2600 VCS.

--

Visuals
Quadrun suffers a little in the 'visuals' category, because it didn't come in a box. You'll have it up on your shelf, with the rest of your 2600 collection, all boxed (at least a few sealed, if you're serious) and you'll likely have this game sitting in a Ziploc bag. It takes the refined eye of a serious collector to realize this IS the complete packaging for the title.

And that's not just any Ziploc bag: it's the original Ziploc bag that the game arrived in when it was shipped to Atari Club members who mail ordered the game back in the early '80s. The game was never available in stores. Genuinely striking. For a real Atari fan, this is truly a beautiful sight, and far better than any onscreen graphics could ever display.

Therefore, it gets: Visual BUZZ: 7

--

Audio
As one of only two Atari 2600 games with simulated voice, Quadrun is very collectible. This is, in itself, something that makes any self-respecting collector sweat profusely.

Naturally, this means: Audio BUZZ: 9

--

Quadrun2.pngGamePlay
Obviously, the point of Quadrun isn't so much to play it, as to have it. Rather than someone else not playing the game, you get to not play the game, assuming you can find a copy. The delight is in knowing that you have a copy of this particularly rare Atari 2600 game that you're not playing, as opposed to all the people who don't have the game that aren't playing it.

Put it this way: Imagine the feeling of choosing to not play the game, especially a game so rare. Very few people have ever had legitimate copies of Quadrun to not play, and having your very own copy to not play is a sensation like no other. Excepting any games that are considered rarer by the official Atari 2600 collecting literature, of course.

Due to these intense sensations, we'll have to go for: GamePlay BUZZ: 10

--

Conclusion

Though ostensibly a true 'lost classic' of video games, it's argued by some that Quadrun is more 'lost' than 'classic'. But then, isn't being lost, and therefore rare, MUCH, MUCH more important than just being classic? After all, Super Mario Bros. is a "classic", and The Buzz now uses Mario Bros. NES carts (with a 'beautifully' photocopied frontispiece) as his BUSINESS CARDS. That's right, they're so common that I'm dropping them like quatloos in Triskelion, bitch.

Quadrun is more like owning a piece of history that is, sure, less important, but definitely more obscure. And isn't obscurity the reason we love games in the first place? Damn right.

For all these reasons, we have reached a decision: Final BUZZ: $350!

['Berkley's BUZZ' is a regular column from veteran game journo Joseph Berkley, whose illustrious career extends from the formation of Video Game BUZZ Monthly back in 1982 all the way to the founding of seminal teen game mag 'GameBUZZ - For Kids!' in 1992. More recently, he was a regular columnist for much-loved late '90s game mag Big Important Thing, and the author of self-help manual: 'BUZZ Says - Less Drugs, More Games!' His column appears regularly on GameSetWatch and is rarely true. His love is real, but he is not.]

Berkley's BUZZ: 'Wii to Receive Adult Oriented Software?'

July 31, 2006 4:50 PM |

adult_wii.jpg[GameSetWatch is extremely proud to debut this first exclusive article from veteran game journalist Joseph 'BUZZ' Berkley. 'BUZZ' really has the measure of today's youth, and his first story for us delves deep into the seamy underworld of the Big N/]

Will Nintendo's Wii be the first home console to feature an Adults Only rated game from a major publisher? And could that publisher be Nintendo itself? Will Mario finally get lucky? The Buzz has the exclusive scoop on this major development.

'Art' Exhibition? Smut Exhibition!

Sources close to The Buzz have revealed that Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto was recently spotted at a Modern Art exhibit which included several paintings, referred to as "classic nude studies", that focused on salacious adult oriented content. When asked why he was attending the exhibit, which included more than one portrait which literally included a woman with no clothes on, the seminal creator of the Mario series replied that he found the artwork "inspiring".

Does this mean that we can expect Super Mario Galaxy, or one of the other upcoming Wii games being worked on by Miyamoto to include Mature Themes? While there has been no official announcement from Nintendo of Japan, the Internet forums are already ablaze in controversy, since the information we have leads us inexorably to this particular conclusion.

Mario's Fall From Grace!

In general, consumers are stunned by the notion that Nintendo, long known for their adherence to a family friendly formula, would suddenly move to include nudity or sexuality, especially in one of their franchise games. Said one forum user, under the handle PwnN00bz15, "It's about time. Nintendo finally realizes that games aren't just for little kids. If the game had some guns it would finally be like Mario for grown-ups."

lsl.jpgWhat's more, another aggravated forum user, OMGpants23, ranted on this shocking development: "I can't believe that Nintendo would do this. I'm deleting all my N64 ROMs immediately, and will also return my GameCube games to GameStop at the earliest opportunity so I can trade in for those Naruto DVDs. Nintendo is irrelevent - and so are you! Pwned!"

Plumber... For Sale?

Sources speculating wildly on the basis of this original report have also intimated that Mario, who is long due a relaunch, is being retooled to be more like one of Miyamoto-san's allegedly favorite game characters - Leisure Suit Larry.

Long a fan of the lovable misadventures of the adult-rated lounge lizard, it's reputed that upcoming additions to the Mario series may include rakishly adjusted hats and salacious Liar's Dice competitions. If our sources are right, expect Mario to be looking for love in ALL the wrong places, come the launch of the Wii!

Of course, none of this is confirmed, but that shouldn't stop you from speculating. But remember, kids - Buzz knows best!

['Berkley's BUZZ' is a regular column from veteran game journo Joseph Berkley, whose illustrious career extends from the formation of Video Game BUZZ Monthly back in 1982 all the way to the founding of seminal teen game mag 'GameBUZZ - For Kids!' in 1992. More recently, he was a regular columnist for much-loved late '90s game mag Big Important Thing, and the author of self-help manual: 'BUZZ Says - Less Drugs, More Games!' His column appears regularly on GameSetWatch, and is rarely actually true.]