A Parents' Guide to Gaming


Today, according to the American Library Association, is National Gaming Day at your Library. As a person who has grown up gaming, I see the confusion in some parents’ eyes as they try to determine what games are right for their children.

Your kid already knows what they want – but just because it’s a game doesn’t necessarily mean you should cave in, especially if you’re the type of parent that pays close attention to the movies your child watches or music they listen to. Why should video games be any different?

So today, I’ll be at my local library presenting, for parents who wish to attend, A Parent’s Guide to Gaming. I will be discussing ESRB ratings, as well as how the individual consoles handle their parental controls. For those unable to attend (the extreme majority of the people who view this website), I’ve prepared a few links that might help you.

Below are videos from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada – now these videos are a little old, but the majority of the information is still the same. I wish I had the ability to record today’s demonstrations, which will all show case the latest revisions of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. Since you can’t attend, below the videos are also step-by-step guides from the manufacturer’s themselves, describing in detail how to manage the Parental Controls of each console, with their latest updates.

Video Demonstrations
Configuring Parental Controls video for Microsoft Xbox 360
Configuring Parental Controls video for Sony PlayStation 3
Configuring Parental Controls video for Nintendo Wii

Written Guides
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for Xbox 360
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for PlayStation 3 (PS3)
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for Wii

The Backorder: The Conduit (Wii)

When I first got my hands The Conduit for the Wii, I was excited for all of the great things I had heard about it. Core gamers were supposed to be pleased, hardcore gaming had finally come to the Wii.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprised when I was let down in the end. Maybe my expectations were too high all along. But there was so much build up, hype, and even the screenshots made it look glorious! I thought I finally had a reason to dust off the Wii and get excited.

Let’s talk story: it uses every single Sci-Fi stereotype, rehashed and retold stories for about the ten thousandth time. Ever seen an episode of The X-Files? Good, then you’re up to speed. The characters do nothing to make me care, instead it even feels like the game is trying to hrry me through the storyline so that I won’t notice just how bland it is.

Graphically, the game looks about right fo the hardware specs of the Wii. People hate adding “…for a Wii game” behind every other line of their articles, but the fact remains that the Wii is not up to par with other current generation systems. If this game were competing with a PS2 title, hands down it would look fantastic, but the generic enemies and redundant environments did nothing to wow me.

I thought the ssound effects would be the game’ saving grace, and while many weapon and environment sounds were impressive, the terrible voice acting was inexcusable. In a post Uncharted era, the bar has been set.

The game itself has interesting play mechanics, and I did not feel as though I as being forced to ‘waggle’ my way through the game. It was intelligent use of the control scheme, although I still was hoping for something just a little different. More people want to see a shooter on the Wii that doesn’t force the crosshair to go all over the screen, but remain centered as it does with other first person shooters. so far, the best entries to the Wii-Shooter category, The Conduit and Red Steel, both had you shooting all over like a generic light gun game.

I don’t do a lot of multiplayer, but since the experience was supposed to be so unique, I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, my first spawn in to a multiplayer match placed me either directly over top of another player or in a wall, or something. I was completely unable to move. I have not returned to the multiplayer menu since.

Maybe if I get Dead Space Extraction on the Wii, soon, I will have my faith in the Wii restored. but right now, rather than suffer through what should have been a better game, I will return to the game I know is laughable, but still fun: the House of the Dead combo pack with the Nyko perfect shot attached to my Wii Remote. It’s like i’m standing in the movie theater arcade all over again!

Bored? Wanna Win A Game? Talk to me!


Everyone is in media lockdown mode, preparing for E3. No major announcements coming from the big companies, and the few things happening aren’t things that are capturing my interests. I don’t know why, just seems like a lot of “we knew it was coming” – even the big things like the Mythic Map Pack and such. I browse the usual sites, and the best I can come up with is reporting that the Wii’s Motion Plus add on will be available June 8th, for a mere $20 – or downright free with Wii Sports Resort.

With spring time boredom setting in, I have decided do something sweepingly fun. I want to build a community. Not just have a website, really give people a home. I have been a bit of a vagabond over the years, in different forum. And for a time, in each one, I really got the feeling like I was at home, and that these people were my friends. Some groups of people just fit well together. I’m hoping to find another group of those people – and bring them here. So let’s talk about games, movies, music, just go ahead and introduce yourself – kick off your shoes and do what makes you feel comfortable.

I thought you said I could win stuff? Oh you can. Register with WinBreak, post in the forum, and start making this place your own. See what kind of community this becomes, join the fun. Help give us our own identity – be the shapers and molders.

I still don’t have quite the pull that the bigger guys do, so when I do contests, they come right out of my pocket. So here’s what I am putting up for grabs: 3 “2nd place” winners will receive Xbox Live Arcade games (your choice of $5 or $10 title from the new Amazon Digital Marketplace). A grand prize winner will be selected and offered a prize valued at $20 – whether you want Wii Points, Microsoft Points, Multiple Arcade games, or PSN Store Credit.

How I will choose winners / Rules: Post in the forum. Each forum post containing substance you make will count toward your total number of entries in a random drawing. “Substance” will be judged by Garrett “NuAngel” Culver; obviously abusive entries (example: “I agree” being the entire contents of the post) and spam posts will be discredited as entries, and repeat offenders will be disqualified. No warnings must be given to those disqualified. This contest will end 11:59 PM EST July 31st 2009. Contest is open to residents of the 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (if prize codes have errors, something will be worked out). The process is ongoing. Each “2nd place” winner will be selected at random intervals between today, April 14th 2009 and 11:59 PM EST July 31st, 2009. The Grand Prize winner will be announced August 1st, 2009. WinBreak.com & Garrett “NuAngel” Culver reserve the right to cease the contest at any time. Winners of 2nd place prizes are also counted in the “Grand Prize” drawing, but are eliminated from remaining 2nd prize drawings. All winners will be announced on main page of WinBreak.com. If you have any problems with the registration process or forum, please contact us.

Wii Community still coming?

While sony continues to litter the pool of SKU’s for the Playstation 3, launching the 160GB model this week, I decided to look for a story online that didn’t make me roll my eyes. The closest thing I could find today was this column-sized article on Gamepro, where Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime talks about how unique that the currently non-existent Nintendo Wii “Community” could be. I still rolled my eyes, because Nintendo still seems a long way from matching up with the offerings of Xbox Live and the Playstation Network.

Wii Speak is a nice start, but Nintendo is a long way from actually giving me a true “community” feeling on the Wii. Other channels provide a level of interactivity, like that in the “Check Mii Out” channel, but until Nintendo provides me with an easy to manage friends list and easier multiplayer options, I’m afraid they’re a long way from the community that I really want to be a part of.

Wired compares Avatars to Miis


I’m not going to tell you that the NXE is out, you know that… you know that better than I do while I’m out of town away from my console! But you don’t come to this site to read things you already know, so here’s a fun article comparing Nintendo’s Mii to the new Xbox 360 Avatars. I just wish Wired blogger “Z” was also involved in the Playstation Home beta, and had a little mre to talk about. Still, the comparison isn’t just “which one I like more” – but “Z” actually gets in to a fair comparison as to why he likes specific features. Enjoy the read!

Nintendo unveiled the new DSi, and more!


In a recent press conference, Nintendo confirmed the rumors of the new Nintendo DSi, along with plans to price it at a low $179. They have intentions of releasing it as early as November 1st in Japan (it is implied that it will make it to the U.S. just as early, and debut in Europe Spring 2009).

My favorite announced feature so far? A built-in web browser. Other features include a new online DSi Shop, a .3 mega pixel camera (seen on the hinge above), 12% thinner than existing models (as partially demonstrated above), 3.25 inch screen and “better audio capabilities.” Sadly, to facilitate this slimming down process, they will remove the Game Boy cartridge slot.

In additional news, Nintendo has been considering the lack of storage on the Wii for quite a while. How do they combat this? Sure, there is a model of Xbox 360 sold without a hard drive, but if you want it bad enough, you can buy a new hard drive and fix the problem yourself. No such option exists on the Wii. With the recent announcement of the Marriott In-Room Entertainment allows users to select multiple games without swapping discs – suggesting the storage problem was solved.

According to Kotaku, users will be able to save their downloads directly to an SD card, without having to make the stop on the console in the middle. It will only apply to content downloaded from the Wii Shop channel and other similiarly designed channels in the future, but it’s a step in the right direction. Keep in mind, however, that the biggest downloaders still may have to swap out their CD-Cards, as the console is not officially compatible with SDCards over 2 GB.

Wii: Still no Hard Drive, but something in the works?


Club Nintendo had an article, and the fans over at GoNintendo.com just had to get it picked apart and translated. The article was an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto ad Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo’s top dogs. Based on the efforts of the community, one of the more interesting questions asked had to do with re-designing the console to include a hard drive. Miyamoto responded that something was in the works, but not to expect it any time soon. Clarification in why not to expect it came with Fils-Aime’s response, when he noted that console redesigns often happen when sales are in a slump.

A notable question also came when they were asked about Xbox 360’s upcoming Avatars. The Nintendo rep’s happily replied that imitation was the highest form of flattery!

Re: GamePro: Wii's features "starting to match" others…


“Graphics aside,” it begins, the Wii will finish off 2008 “with a roar that includes features once only thought possible on the PS3 and Xbox 360.” So says a GamePro article. The big reason for this article is highlighting that the recently announced “Call of Duty: World at War” will also be available on the Wii. Exciting? Yes – but is that suggesting that there is some sort of magical “feature” of the Wii, allowing this to happen? No, it just means the developers are willing to take the time to produce lower quality models and textures to port the game to the Wii.

The Wii is, indeed, expanding it’s online support, with more and more multiplayer games (the future CoD:WaW included) slated for release on the system. And yes, even future access to downloadable song packs for games like Guitar Hero World Tour (using the in-game store) are in the works, other DLC for Wii-Ware games, all of this is great news for the Wii.

But is all of this showing that the Wii is really starting to come up to par with the “features” of the other consoles? It all sounds like some heavily dedicated developers not wanting to miss out on a large install-base.

For the Wii to truly “start to match” the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, they are going to need an easier way to manage your contacts and friends, real time voice communication, and a host of other features that Nintendo themselves has no interest in adding to this generation of their product.

Mario Super Sluggers rated & dated…

For anyone who hasn’t been following along at home – Mario Super Sluggers is a baseball game (you know, that sport that’s huge in Japan, and supposedly America’s Favorite Past Time?) starring our portly plumber pal (like that’s never been written before). ESRB has declared that it’s rated “E” (as if there was any doubt), and the game is now scheduled for an August 2nd release in North America, the game features everyone’s favorite character (almost no matter who it is {sorry Blooper fans}). The game launches in Japan on June 19th, so expect to see more video and pictures as random people play it, and as the game gets any finishing touches on its English localization.

Wii for Rehab, another quaint story…


I could be reporting on the three people who were tied up while their house was robbed of their Playstation 3. I could, but I like nice stories. Wichita Falls TimesRecordNews is running an article about a local physical therapist using Wii Fit to keep her young patients active and engaged in their therapy. We’ve heard similar reports before, and even seen the Wii pop up in retirement communities to keep seniors active. My own grandmother had her first Wii Bowling lesson this weekend!

The article does a great job of explaining how the young patients don’t even think of things like Wii Fit as Therapy, and look forward to it. While I can’t imagine there’s anyone still out there who doubts the way the Wii is breaking new ground and tearing down walls, this article is one of many great arguing points for anyone trying to persuade employers, boards of directors, or funds committees that the Wii can serve a purpose beyond “video games.”