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

I left my heart in San Francisco

Later today I’ll be flying heading down to San Francisco for a work event that’s part of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) that runs this week in San Jose. The event that we’re hosting together with Microsoft will be in San Francisco tonight and it’s titled as a “Showcase” event.

Back in early October 2005 we had a similar set of events, one in New York and one in San Francisco, which allowed us to put a bunch of people in one room, give them the rundown on the new Xbox Live and the Dashboard and set them loose to play a good number of games on preview. This event is something pretty similar, in fact the New York component of the event happened late last week already.

I’m looking forward to it as I’ll get to meet a few editors and writers of websites I haven’t met in person yet, a couple people from GAF (TekunoRobby and Chittagong) and a couple people I’ve met before from the TeamXbox and GameSpot forums (ludcrouspeed and Splincr). Frankly, it’s nice to put a face to someone I’ve talked to online for a while now.

Either way, the event will probably be pretty fun, meeting people and getting to play some preview games — especially if the list of anticipated preview builds I saw late last month turns out to be accurate. As always, I’ll be taking pictures both for work and personal purposes, so I’ll put some up on here when I get a chance.

Also, I should be able to drop by the EB Games by my work to pick up Me & My Katamari and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion this morning before I head to the airport. Oblivion will have to wait, but I’ll have some Katamari fun if I manage to stay awake on the plane.