Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 demo

I downloaded the demo of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 off of Xbox Live Marketplace last night just to try it out. I haven’t played a “realistic” golf game since Links 386 in the mid 1990s. I’ve had a lot of fun playing Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee on the PSP, but the obvious appeal is the arcade feel and format.

I thought the game was pretty good, I mean, some ten years later, you would hope the golf games would improve! The water looks absolutely amazing and I should know, as on the TPC at Sawgrass hole, I exceeded my shot limit with every single ball going straight into the drink.

Next I tried the Pebble Beach Golf Links┬áhole. It took a round to get used to how to aim, swing and most importantly, putt, as my double bogey would tell you. On the next round my drive took me to about 190 yards from the pin. I remember the guy saying the ball will roll towards the water on the green, so I aimed a little more right and took my swing… and I totally felt like I messed it up because I starting swinging forward before the backswing hit it’s apex. Then I watched the ball soar, hit the ground before the green, roll onto the green, curve towards the hole… DOUBLE EAGLE. (!!!)

Here I am, not into golf games and I’ve got my arms raised in the air in excitement over this one round in a demo. I couldn’t top that last night, so that was the last thing I did.

Birthday = Nintendo DS Lite

Nintendo DS Lite in enamel navy box

As if I hadn’t mentioned it a million times over, I got a Nintendo DS Lite for my birthday. In Enamel Navy. It’s very nice, I do like the color even though I had originally wanted Ice Blue. I have no games except for Nintendogs, which hasn’t been turned on in over six months. This was a pretty nice surprise, pretty unexpected really, especially since I already have a handheld (PSP) which I hardly use anyway because I don’t do too many things that give me the opportunity to concentrate for any length of time on a game. I like it so far, the size, everything is far better than the “normal” Nintendo DS, which almost feels more like a children’s toy than this in some respects. I guess that’s part of the point of the redesign beyond the improvements. Regardless, it was a nice present and I look forward to getting the couple games on my “to purchase” list I made in February sometime in the next couple of months. I need a second job with all these quality games coming out right now. I also want to go by one of those download stations and see what Brain Age is all about.

Nintendo DS Lite exterior in enamel navyNintendo DS Lite interior in enamel navy














April = birthday, FFXI

April bodes to be a good month, even though not as packed with releases as March. I guess that will make it a bit easier on the pocketbook.

First off is my birthday, for which I am the grateful recipient of what came through the following path:

Live UPS shipping data
Apr 07, 2006   10:18:00   US  SEATTLE   DELIVERED
Signed by: XXXX  Location: OFFICE
Apr 07, 2006   06:34:00   US  SEATTLE   OUT FOR DELIVERY
Apr 07, 2006   06:00:00   US  SEATTLE   ARRIVAL SCAN
Apr 07, 2006   05:44:00   US  SEATTLE   DEPARTURE SCAN
Apr 07, 2006   04:54:00   US  SEATTLE   LOCATION SCAN
Apr 07, 2006   04:47:00   US  SEATTLE   OUT FOR DELIVERY
Apr 07, 2006   04:23:00   US  SEATTLE   ARRIVAL SCAN
Apr 07, 2006   02:11:00   US  ONTARIO   DEPARTURE SCAN
Apr 07, 2006   01:26:00   US  ONTARIO   LOCATION SCAN
Apr 07, 2006   01:01:00   US  ONTARIO   IMPORT SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   22:21:00   US  ONTARIO   ARRIVAL SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   17:28:00   HK  CHEK LAP KOK   EXPORT SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   17:27:00   HK  CHEK LAP KOK   ORIGIN SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   16:35:00   US  ANCHORAGE   DEPARTURE SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   15:39:00   HK  KWAI CHUNG   PICKUP SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   13:19:00   US  ANCHORAGE   ARRIVAL SCAN
Apr 06, 2006   01:57:29   HK     BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED

Which was a Nintendo DS Lite in Enamel Navy.

Nintendo DS Lite in Enamel Navy

Final Fantasy XI FFXI box art Xbox 360I’m also looking forward to the April 18 release of Final Fantasy XI on the Xbox 360. I’ve kind of fallen off the FFXI wagon since about January when I had worked up a backlog of Xbox 360 games to plow through. Of course having experienced FFXI in HD through the Xbox 360 beta also spoiled me a bit and made it difficult to settle for the lower resolution from the PS2 version I play on. I played the beta a little bit, but I got pretty tired of having to start over when I knew I didn’t have to. It was nicer to just run around and go exploring with the better quality graphics. It’s just a little over a week away at this point however. I can’t wait to jump back in. I will, however, lament the loss of being able to use my Logitech Netplay controller to control and type with ease. I’m going to look into seeing if I can get a wireless keyboard going though, so I can play with comfort.

Xbox Live Free Weekend and Ambassadors

This weekend (March 31 – April 2) is going to be the first Free Xbox Live Gold Weekend that will take place since the Xbox 360 has launched. I hope, and I’m sure, a lot of people will try this out on the current crop of Xbox 360 games. I really didn’t maximize my use of Live when I had an Xbox. It really was for Halo 2 and nothing else. Most of the time it was because I didn’t play the game far enough to say I wanted to go online, like with Top Spin. I wasn’t going to go online unless I had completed the character I created. Now I’m definitely playing it a lot more, and you can bet that when I pick up Top Spin 2, I’ll be hitting the online courts as quickly as I can.

The Xbox Live team is also launching a new little program with this first Free Xbox Live Gold Weekend, the Xbox Ambassadors. This is a (rather sizable) group of people hand selected to be nice, helpful people on Xbox Live for those folks who might be enjoying their first foray into Live and online multiplayer gaming. I was glad to make that group of gamertags selected to be Ambassadors for this weekend, so I could maybe get new people onto my friends list to play games with in the future. So, keep a lookout for me (and the rest of the Ambassadors) this weekend and invite us to your friends list for a game or two.

A Tale of Two Cities

A photo of the DJ and attendees at the Xbox Spring Showcase 2006

The last couple of days I have split between San Francisco and San Jose. In San Francisco, I went to an event on Tuesday night we put together with the Xbox team that was held at the Supper Club. The entire club past the bar at the entrance was turned into one big gaming and mingling room. There was a white and green DJ booth in the center of the room and what seemed like queen mattresses next to each other were completely lined again three of the four walls in the room to make lounging areas on both the ground floor and on the upper floor. They all had Xbox 360s and screens breaking up the lounging areas, and a few more on the floor itself. As best as I can remember, the following games were set up there:

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Burnout Revenge
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Tomb Raider: Legend
Top Spin 2
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Saint’s Row
Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting
Texas Hold ‘Em Poker
Dead Rising
Ninety-Nine Nights
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2
Sonic Riders
Over the Hedge

This is a bit different than the initial list of games I had seen, but still far from a disappointing turnout. The titles on display was sweetened even more so when a couple people from Capcom came by just minutes before the event started to deliver the most recent build of Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting.

Anyway, the event was great and I was really glad to meet some people I had only corresponded with on e-mail, or occasionally on the phone. Of course, as I had mentioned before, I was also looking forward to meeting Splincir and ludcrouspeed again. I spent a while, probably far too long, talking to TekunoRobby and Vark from GAF there too. They will not have heard the last from me, that’s for sure!

The next morning (at 6:30 AM no less) I hopped into a car with some coworkers and Peter Moore to bring him to a breakfast we were hosting in San Jose with guys from Joystiq, GamingSteve, Kotaku, Gizmodo and GamerAndy. This was the first time I met most of these guys, as working with bloggers is someone else’s area at work. I think the breakfast went well and lots of interesting things were discussed, but I’ll let the bloggers at the table post or podcast about it. One of the guys I work with, John Porcaro, posted pictures of the breakfast at Gamerscore Blog, the Xbox marketing team blog.

Mere hours after the breakfast was over, I was on a plane headed back to Seattle ending my whirlwind two city tour.

Here are some links to posts or podcasts from the guys who went to the breakfast.
GamerAndy and his impressions from the showcase are here