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411mania » The 411 » Mark Salmela
Name:Mark Salmela
Current Roles:Lead Dance Choreographer for Lady Gaga
Past Roles:I used to write The SIXAXIS Report, B3yond the Report, and Games Only a Mother Could Love. I used to be the Lead Dance Choreographer for The Spice Girls, until an unfortunate disagreement broke us up.
Other credits:Best Dance Choreographer - 1999.
Quote:"Lady Gaga is a woman!" - Mark Salmela
History:I am from Northern Minnesota, where life revolves around woodsheds, snow, and lots of moose. Basically I spend my day whacking those silly moose with shovels.
Like awesome games? - 08.06.2009

Love awesome games? Than check out my column discussing full motion video games. The Sega CD lives on!

Dragonís Lair
Corpse Killer
Slam City with Scottie Pippen
Night Trap
Target Terror
Bram Stokerís Dracula
Supreme Warrior
Crime Patrol
The Masked Rider
Did Sony actually include Blu-Ray in the PS3 to progress technology or was it all an elaborated defense against piracy? B3yond 05.05.09 - 05.06.2009

For years Iíve been under the impression that Sony included Blu-Ray in the PS3 to further advance technology. After all, Sonyís platforms have been synonymous with new technology. The PS1 was one of the first consoles to popularize the CD format for video games. The PS2 was the first console to use DVDs and helped launch the DVD format. The PSP used UMDs, and while they werenít new, it was the first portable system to my knowledge to use a disc based format. The UMD format may have failed, but they at least tried. The PS3, Sonyís latest console, is currently using Blu-Ray. Iím not here to put up a debate as to whether or not Blu-Ray is a failure, since that isnít the point. What Iím trying to get at is why did Sony choose to use Blu-Ray over DVD.

Sony is the only console this generation using a new disc format. The Xbox 360 and the Wii are still using DVDs. While some people have been complaining about disc space, so far most people have admittedly been able to get away just fine using DVDs. Yes, DVD is not future proof. Games are getting bigger, and the number of multi-disc 360 games is growing. But for the most part, games are getting along just fine without the extra storage space Blu-Ray provides. Most developers have been using the extra space to copy the gameís code several times on the disc to lower the time spent searching for information on the disc. Most developers have also been using uncompressed audio, which really packs on the GBs of space. But is it necessary? I mean come on; can you really tell a huge difference between 360 and PS3 games in terms of sound? I donít, and I consider myself to have a solid surround sound system.

So why did Sony choose Blu-Ray? Besides the cell processor itís one of the main reasons the PS3 costs so much. If the PS3 had stuck with the DVD format I am almost positive the PS3 would have launched at a lower price point. What if the PS3 had launched with a 20 GB PS3 for $400 and a 60GB PS3 for $500? Would we still have a $400 console today? Would PS3ís have sold at a much faster pace than they are now? Something just isnít adding up.

Well it wasnít, until I really started thinking about it. What has Sony been known for ever since the PS1? Piracy. Piracy has been absolutely rampant on the majority of Sonyís platforms. The PS1 was the first widely modded system. Who doesnít know someone who burned PS1 games? The PS1 was one of the most modded systems of all time. It was easy and people knew how to do it.

To its credit the PS2 was not modded quite as often as the PS1. It could be done. Both hardmods and softmods existed for the PS2. But it wasnít as wide-spread as the PS1. The PSP on the other hand, once again faces a huge problem with piracy. Once again I ask who doesnít know someone whoís modded their PSP? Sony has been blaming piracy for the poor sales of PSP games for years now.

Sony has been burned over and over again with piracy. With Sonyís large investments into the cell processor, Sony knew it would be tough to regain a profit on their investment, and piracy would not help that cause. Sony needed to ensure that the PS3 would not fall victim to piracy. They could try with firmware updates, but as Nintendo and Microsoft are now noticing, it doesnít help. It didnít help the PSP either. Sony needed something more. Sony needed a totally new format that could not be pirated. Sony found that in Blu-Ray.

Iím not going to get in-depth with Blu-Rayís insides, but Blu-Ray has an insane amount of copyright protection in it. While that has been hacked, Blu-Ray holds one key that has kept the pirates at bay. That is of course the storage space. Who has the time and patience to download a 25 Ė 50 GB game? 4 GB isnít that bad, but once you multiply that number by 6, itís no longer an easy task. Metal Gear Solid 4 is 50 GB, who has the time to download that behemoth? Better yet, who has the bandwidth with todayís data caps to download that?

Besides the large storage space, who has a Blu-Ray burner in their house? Sure some of the hardcore tech geeks may have it, and itís rapidly becoming more common, but itís still a relatively small amount of the population. Blu-Ray discs arenít cheap, nor are Blu-Ray burners. Pirating Blu-Ray just isnít feasible. Itís time consuming, and itís expensive. The only reason piracy existed on other consoles is because it was easy and affordable. Weíre 2 and a half years into the PS3ís lifespan and pirating Blu-Ray still isnít feasible.

Sony has continuously had problems with piracy. Sony hates piracy, and they would do anything they could to stop it. Well they managed to do that with the PS3. Do I think piracy is the sole reason Blu-Ray exists in the PS3? Of course not. Blu-Ray has its benefits. But was the world really ready for Blu-Ray? Did we really need Blu-Ray games in 2006? Or was Sony really ready to solve their problem with piracy?

The PS3 is an incredible machine. It really is built to last. If Sony wants it to, it can easily be their lead platform for 10 years *2016*. Blu-Ray will help to ensure this. But thereís more to Sonyís inclusion of Blu-Ray than its large storage space and desire to last 10 years. Sony needed to beat piracy, and they needed to beat it at any cost. But my question to all of you: Was it worth it?
Early impressions on Six Days in Fallujah and overall thoughs on games based on the Iraq War. - 04.12.2009

From B3yond the Report 04.14.09

There has been a lot of discussion about Konamiís new shooter Six Days in Fallujah over the past week. For those unaware Six Days in Fallujah will be a shooter based on the 2004 battle of Fallujah that happened in Iraq. Over 1000 civilians were killed in a very bloody battle that is not looked highly upon by the public. Konami has stated that theyíre not trying to make a social commentary nor give their opinion on the war, but rather they just want to make an entertaining game.

On one hand I can see that the Iraq War is untapped potential in terms of video games. Sure there are references and games that have dabbled in the conflict but there has never really been a full blown game based off of real events from the war. Someone at Konami probably thinks that there is a lot of money to be made from exposing the events of the Iraq War. Iím not going to state whether I think that is right or wrong. But Iím sure someone at Konami is thinking that because otherwise that design document would have never been passed through.

But on the other hand it could be a case of ďtoo soonĒ. There are a lot of families with siblings who are currently still over in Iraq, along with families whoíve suffered casualties from the war. I donít want to cross the line into politics too much since this isnít the place for that sort of thing but itís still a very touchy issue for some people. A lot of real lives were lost during that battle, and for some people itís not going to be ok to reenact those events so soon. It might just be a video game but youíre still going to be reenacting events that killed thousands of people only 4 years ago.

My real question to anyone out there whoís listening is when does it become ok to talk about actual events that were tragic? I donít see a whole lot of people who have a problem with World War 2 games. Does anyone have a problem with a game based off Vietnam anymore? When will the war in Iraq become fair game for developers, if ever? I have a feeling that at some point there will be a new generation who didnít grow up during those events who wonít have the same type of emotional connection that we might have with the Iraq War and to them it might be perfectly acceptable to make a game like Six Days to Fallujah.

In my opinion a video game needs to be entertaining. I am careful to not use the word fun because I do see the potential for video games to really become an art form that appeals to all emotions, including our ability to feel sad. For some people theyíve already crossed that line, with the death of Aries from Final Fantasy 7 being a prime example. But I want to stress and will go on to explain in a minute that those games will have to include more than the ability to feel sad.

The problem is that there still needs to be a redeeming quality to a video game in order for me to accept it and give the game my hard earned money. This isnít like a movie where I can feel satisfied giving my eight dollars to Schindlerís List to see a depressing movie. Schindlerís list is depressing but it is also only 3 hours long. Most video games are around 6 Ė 12 hours in length and cost $60. Iím not sure if I want to pay $60 if the video game will make me feel bad and leave a bad taste in my mouth during 6 Ė 12 hours of gameplay. Itís not that I canít stomach it itís that I donít want nor feel the need to experience it, and Iím sure Iím not alone.

Six Days to Fallujah was just announced last week. For all we know the game could completely change within the upcoming months and all of this could become irrelevant. So far there have been veterans both for and against the idea of Six Days to Fallujah, and I wouldnít say either of them are necessarily wrong. I will say that if the game is entertaining and provides great gameplay, I will probably play it. But if the game is released and either doesnít work properly, or tries to create an entirely negative experience that makes me feel depressed the entire time than Iím not going to play it. I donít feel obligated to play a game like Six Days to Fallujah if itís just going to be a learning experience about how bad war is, because I donít need a video game to tell me that. I already went through history class. I already learned about the battle of Fallujah and learned about it when it actually happened. I donít need to be reminded of the horrors of war.
Oh my gods, first post in over a year. - 03.20.2009

Hey everybody, I'm still alive and well. I'm pretty much strictly a reviewer and contributing editor now, which is why my posted articles section has all but completely dried up. Look for me in Fact or Fiction, top 5 *pretty much weekly contributions*, What If, and Three Player co-op.

Oh, and if anyone ever actually reads this, send an email to marksalms@gmail.com mentioning this and I'll make it worth your time *prizes*.
And we're rolling... - 03.16.2008

Well this past week I finally got a hold of my own DualShock 3 controller, imported fresh from Japan. For those of you who donít know the DualShock 3 controller has been out in Japan since late last year and controllers will work on any system *theyíre region free*. I would have picked one up last Christmas but the import rates were outrageous *near $85 after shipping* so I was much happier to find a couple of good eBay auctions this week *paid $60 after shipping*. I picked up the white DualShock 3 controller, since all my other SIXAXIS controllers are black and I wanted to try a different color. Needless to say, white is pretty sexy. The white PS3 and controller has been out in Japan for 6 months now, hopefully weíll see an American release soon.

The first thing you notice on the DualShock is the weight, as the controller is nearly twice as heavy as the SIXAXIS. Now donít panic, itís no where near too heavy. The SIXAXIS controller was way too light and felt uncomfortable at times because of it. The DualShock 3 feels about as heavy as a wireless 360 controller, and is much more comfortable to hold. The second thing I notice is the improved shoulder triggers. Donít get me wrong, they still look the same as the SIXAXIS triggers, but they fold back much easier than the SIXAXIS. The SIXAXIS triggers *L2 and R2* are universally agreed to suck, so to see improvements *itís far from perfect, but much better* with the DualShock 3 are more than welcomed. Also the battery life of the DualShock 3 is around 15 hours, so anyone worrying about battery life has nothing to worry about. The battery life is shorter than the SIXAXIS controller, but the DualShock 3 battery still lasts longer than double A batteries or any of the 360 or Wii charge kits.

The final thing about the controller is of course the rumble, the whole reason Sony made the DualShock 3 in the first place. While rumble is far from revolutionary, you have no idea how happy I am to have it back. Rumble has breathed new life into games such as Motorstorm, and it has made the game much more fun to play. So far Iíve only tested a select few games *Uncharted, Motorstorm, Resistance, WarHawk* and so far rumble has definitely made the games more fun to play. Rumble on the DualShock 3 works pretty similar to rumble on the DualShock 2, and it doesnít interfere with using SIXAXIS controls at all.

So if you can still sell your SIXAXIS controllers at a decent price or youíve been holding off on picking up extra controllers I highly recommend waiting for the DualShock 3 controllers. The DualShock 3 controller comes out in North America on April 15 for $55 and is definitely worth the $5 increase over the SIXAXIS controller. I have sold 2 SIXAXIS controllers myself and have picked up a white DualShock 3 and just bought one of the new Satin Silver DualShock 3 controllers *neither color confirmed to be coming to America, so far itís just the black*. I plan to sell my final two SIXAXIS controllers soon and pick up 2 black DualShock 3 controllers once they reach America next month. Youíll see rumble functions added to a lot of games within the next month, and itís a feature that should have never been taken out of the PS3 in the first place.

Once again thanks to my HANDY-DANDY PLAYSTATION EYE~! I can capture pictures of my hot DualShock 3 controller. So feast:

What a sexy beast!

Exciting, isnít it?

As a final note no I will not be changing the name of the column from the SIXAXIS Report to the DualShock 3 Report. Stop asking! Although if someone does come up with a better name for the column let me know and I will take it into consideration, a name change wouldnít hurt at all now that SIXAXIS is inferior to DualShock 3.
And we're rolling... - 03.11.2008

Since my guide to installing a new hard drive on the PS3 went so well 2 weeks ago, I thought Iíd do one more for everyone. While most of the internet savvy people such as most of my readers *hopefully* know, the PS3 is capable of running a full fledged operation system such as Linux. While I donít think anything as user friendly as Windows XP runs on a PS3 yet Linux works like a dream. So this week Iím going to show everyone how to install my favorite Linux, Yellow Dog Linux version 6.0 onto their PS3ís.

As I did with my last guide Iím not actually going to write out a long step-by-step, since other people have already done it before *and did a better job then I could ever do* so Iím going to cover the tips they donít usually cover while linking to the guides.

The first thing you need to do is actually find where to download Linux. Terra Soft *makers of Yellow Dog Linux* has a selection of sites to download YDL from, but navigating those sites can be confusing. Since most of my users are probably from the US youíll want to click one of the ďmirrorsĒ under the US *I recommend using the primary mirrors*. Once you are in one of the ďmirrorsĒ youíll want to navigate to ďisoĒ as thatís what youíll want to burn to a DVD. Once you are in ďisoĒ ignore everything else and just scroll to ďYellow Dog 6.0 DVD.isoĒ or a YDL 6.0 iso equivalent and download it. The download should be around 3.7GB so it might take a little while depending on your download speed *took me a little more than an hour downloading in the background*. If youíre still not sure if you have the right download be aware most of the ďdatesĒ will read that they were uploaded on or around March 3, 2008 *thatís when YDL 6.0 became a free download*.

Where to download Yellow Dog Linux 6.0
The actual step-by-step guide to installing YDL 6.0 on your PS3 from Terra Soft
How to get Wi-Fi working on the PS3 version of YDL 6.0
General Troubleshooting for YDL 6.0

The first thing to note is that the hardest part of the whole process is burning the iso to a DVD. Honestly, if you can get the iso burned to a DVD *which isnít too hard now days* then the rest of the process is basically just following a bunch of steps and letting Linux install itself. Most programs like Nero let you burn .isoís by going through ďburn an image to a DVDĒ and selecting a .iso file.

Once you have your iso DVD burned you will need to go to the PS3. In previous versions you also needed some separate .self bootable files but with YDL 6.0 all you need is the .iso DVD. On your PS3 you will need to first ďformat utilityĒ under ďsystem settingsĒ which means formatting the hard drive using ďcustom formatĒ to allow 10 GB for ďother osĒ which means Linux. Hopefully if you saw my guide for installing a separate hard drive that you should have done this process as soon as you got your PS3 or when you changed your hard drive since formatting the PS3 hard drive will delete your save files and downloads *they can all be downloaded back or backed up*. Once you have allowed space on the hard drive for Linux you need to go to ďinstall other osĒ under ďsystem settingsĒ and put in the DVD you burned with YDL 6.0 on it and let the installer do its thing. Sadly I couldnít find a decent install video for YDL 6.0 but keep checking youtube hopefully something will pop up eventually. After going through a stupidly easy install process where Linux does most of the work youíre set to go. There is also the option to boot the ďgame osĒ *the normal PS3 menu system* back up when you turn off Linux, and youíll have to choose whether you want Linux or the PS3 hub to start up normally when you turn on the PS3 via the settings menu.

While some people want Linux to be installed on PS3ís right off the bat even I must admit I donít have a whole lot of use for it. Thereís always potential for the future and the fact that it is an actual running computer for those who only have one computer in their house, but for most having Linux is just bragging rights. Iíve had Linux on my PS3 for over a year now and to be honest I havenít used it for more than a few hours, mostly just tinkering around seeing what I can get to work *sadly Iíve had trouble getting things like emulators to run on the PS3 Linux*. So hopefully those who were curious about how to get Linux on their PS3ís have had their questions answered for the most part. Obviously I accept no responsibility in the extremely rare chance that something goes wrong, but feel free to ask me questions in case youíre still not sure how to get Linux to run on the PS3.

And we're rolling... - 02.23.2008

Well just like I promised kids, this week Iím going to show all of you how to upgrade your PS3 hard drive. I have successfully done this process by myself and can confirm that any of my fellow readers out there are more than qualified to handle the process *that means you*. While itís not as painfully simple as pop-off and pop-on like the 360ís hard drive, itís also not a $180 rip off like the 360ís. Now that being said obviously youíre responsible for anything you do to your PS3, and while it doesnít void the warranty to change the hard drive you screwing something up on your hard drive probably isnít covered by Sony *how youíd screw it up I donít know*. Just covering my ass boys, just covering my assÖ

Now that said I was prepared to write a big and in-depth guide myself on how to do it including neat photos by my handy-dandy PlayStation Eye, but Iíve found there are guides more than capable of doing the job. But first letís go over some little clarifications.

The PS3 can use any 2.5 inch Serial ATA *otherwise known as SATA* internal hard drive *commonly referred to as a 2.5 inch SATA notebook drive*. The PS3 also runs at 5400 RPM *itís basically the speed* so do not go less than 5400 RPM. It is possible to use 7200 RPM or something greater than 7200 RPM but than you run the risk of heating up the PS3 beyond normal temperatures so itís something you do at your own risk. I stuck with 5400 RPM myself *and the new hard actually makes my PS3 cooler than the old hard drive*. Seagate is the company that makes all current PS3 hard drives but you do not have to use a hard drive made by Seagate. I am using a Western Digital hard drive myself and have no problems.

So for one last time your PS3 hard drive has to be a 2.5 inch form factor hard drive, it has to be a Serial ATA drive, and I recommend you stick to 5400 RPM just to be safe. If you find a hard drive that meet these 3 qualifications itís more than likely compatible. Now then Iíve found a nice written guide with pictures *that I used while installing my hard drive* as well as a nice video guide that does a great job showing how to do it.

A guide to installing a PS3 hard drive by Gamers Reports

If for some reason the link ever dies off or anything just Google search ďinstalling a PS3 hard driveĒ and youíll find a million links.

Now that you have a guide to show you how to do it and you know what qualifications you need for a hard drive to be compatible, let me tell you what you need. A mini-Phillips head screw driver. If youíre not sure if you have a screw driver small enough just pop off that HDD tab on the side of the PS3 and you can see for yourself. Now while I recommend you stick with the guide and get 2 screw drivers just to be safe I only had one screw driver *not a flat head* and Iíll admit I actually stripped the non-flat head screw. So if any of you are worried about stripping the blue screw be aware I did strip it and I turned out fine. Be aware the blue screw is very tight and would not budge for me, but it did come off eventually *probably because I didnít have a very good screw driver* and after that the other 4 screws came off easy. Otherwise just follow the guide and trust me changing your PS3 hard drive is easy.

With all that said I bought a 250 GB Western Digital Scorpio from newegg.com for $135 with free 3-day shipping. Here is a link to the page where I bought my hard drive from, and I recommend newegg.com as the best source for getting a PS3 hard drive. My 250 GB hard drive is great and I definitely recommend it as a great deal *especially considering the 360 is $180 for 120 GB*. Just make sure it meets the 2.5 inch Serial SATA form with 5400 RPM and youíll be all set for a PS3 hard drive.

As for a final passage you will need to format the hard drive no matter what once it is in. So when you turn on the PS3 and it wants to format itself donít panic. The formatting only takes about 2 minutes and after that you are pretty much set. Although as a tip readers I recommend going back into ďSettingsĒ > ďsystem settingsĒ > ďFormat UtilityĒ and doing a custom format and ďallow 10 GB for other OSĒ as you have to do that if you ever want to install Linux onto your PS3. Yellow Dog Linux 6.0 becomes free to PS3 users in a couple of weeks and Iíll have a guide on how to put Linux onto your PS3 as well. Also once the PS3 hard drive is all formatted you will lose 20 or so GB, thatís normal and itís just system info the PS3 puts on the hard drive so it runs properly. I only had about 220 GB out of 250 GB once my PS3 was all formatted.

Also once you install a new hard drive all of your saves and downloaded games are not carried over to the new hard drive *theyíre gone!*, so I recommend putting in a PSP, i-pod, flash drive, memory stick, or some sort of external hard drive to back up your save files so you donít lose them *basically copying all of your save files onto your new hard drive so you donít lose them*. As for all of your game and video downloads go to download list in the PlayStation store and you can re-download all of your media once you have your new hard drive. All of your system settings like your friends list and account information are saved onto the system memory so you wonít lose any of that stuff by changing your PS3 hard drive.

With all of that said I definitely recommend everyone go change their PS3 hard drive to something bigger, itís really easy. Not to mention once things like Sonyís Play TV DVR tuner for the PS3 come out your hard drives will fill up really fast. Think for the future people, upgrade your hard drives. Any further questions or requests for help can be left in the comment section or sent to my email, thanks.
And we're rolling... - 12.24.2007

Well after 3 weeks of nominees, the time has finally come to announce the 2007 SIXAXIS Game of the Year. Last year Rainbow Six: Vegas for the 360/PC/PS3 won the SIXAXIS GOTY, and now I have selected the top 5 nominees for the current GOTY.

The SIXAXIS Report 12/04/07.
The SIXAXIS Report 12/11/07.
The SIXAXIS Report 12/18/07.

In the first article I nominated Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. The second article featured the nominations of God of War 2 *PS2* and Halo 3 *360*. Then last week I nominated Call of Duty 4 *PS3/360/PC* and BioShock *360/PC* as the final two nominees.

For those of you wondering why Mass Effect and The Orange Box didnít get nominations, let me explain. I considered The Orange Box to be 5 separate games, like they are listed on Steam. Portal was a great game, but I didnít feel justified nominating a game I beat in less than 2 and a half hours. Team Fortress 2 has way too many bugs to get nominated, and is far from the best multiplayer game of the year. Half Life 2: Episode 2 is a great game, but it is again too short and doesnít feature a whole lot of new features to get a nomination from me. It was a great game, and The Orange Box is probably the best deal you can get on a video game this year, but I didnít feel any of the 3 new games individually were strong enough to get a Game of the Year nomination from me.

As for Mass Effect, I want to say it was the hardest decision I made for the GOTY awards. The game is simply phenomenal, but that is only when the game actually works. Mass Effect has a lot of problems, and I donít think any one person will deny that. But the problem is that this is an award for the best game the video game industry had to offer in 2007, and Mass Effect is too unpolished to be the single representation of what 2007 was in video games. People are too willing to forgive the tremendous amount of bugs in the game simply because it is a large and open experience. Other people may ignore the terrible framerate and the horrible camera, but I will not. Mass Effect is a great game when it works, but due to the increasing number of problems people are having with it, I will not give Mass Effect a nomination for the best game of 2007.

I also enjoyed Rock Band a lot, but that was only when I played with 4 other people in a party. There are not enough songs, and the single player isnít nearly good enough to deserve a nomination. That and $170 is still a lot for any one game, not to mention the huge number of problems that people are having with the guitar and drum kit breaking *they both broke on my unit*. Rock Band is a great party game, but it is not on the level of the other 5 nominees.

So without further adieu, I will now give out The SIXAXIS Game of the Year award.

The 2007 SIXAXIS Game of the Year award goes to:

Cooking Mama

Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii

Honorable Mentions: Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, God of War 2, and BioShock

One day Mr. Miyamoto must have looked up into to the sky and had a vision. There is almost no other way to explain his incredible talents. The way Miyamoto has revolutionized the industry over the years has proved that he is the single best developer in video game history. No other person has had such an impact on video games. Starting with Super Mario Bros on the NES, the game which helped bring the industry out of the depression the home console market had been in since the Atari 2600, Miyamoto has carried Nintendo on his back. The list of blockbuster games Miyamoto has created is stuff of legend, and Super Mario Galaxy is no different. The story will warm even the angriest gamerís heart, and will bring back childhood memories for any Mario fan. For me, playing Super Mario Galaxy reminded me why I fell in love with video games in the first place. Video games donít have to be violent, nor feature any sort of deathmatch gamers have become accustomed to having.

Super Mario Galaxy features some of the best graphics the Wii has ever seen. Hell, even without 1080p high definition graphics, Super Mario Galaxy is phenomenal. Super Mario Galaxy shines with some of the most well designed and artistic levels ever in a video game. Super Mario Galaxy is a true work of art. The sound is also top notch, so good itís actually spawned its own soundtrack CD with music from the game. The gameplay is also top notch, featuring some of the most inventive and perfect platforming youíll ever see. There is a reason Mario is often looked at as the mascot of video games, and Super Mario Galaxy proves he more than deserves this title.

I think the best relation I heard of Super Mario Galaxy was this: Super Mario 64 was like Super Mario Bros. It was revolutionary and defined the genera. Super Mario Sunshine was like Super Mario Bros 2, while a good game; it fails to live up to the original and often gets lost in the shuffle. Super Mario Galaxy my friends, is like Super Mario Bros 3, it is the best title of the set and perfected every possible aspect of the genera. Super Mario Galaxy is not only the best video game of 2007, but it is perhaps the best video game in the past 3 years. I can not do Super Mario Galaxy justice by talking about it; all I can do is recommend everyone out there buy it.

Super Mario Galaxy is part of a dieing breed, a breed of video games that I donít want to lose. In an industry that is constantly maturing into a blood filled gore-fest, Super Mario Galaxy outshines them all. Super Mario Galaxy has marked its spot in history, and I can only hope people will not ignore this gem. This is a game people should be playing decades from now, this is a game you will play with your grandchildren and smile. Congratulations Super Mario Galaxy, you are the best of the best. Super Mario Galaxy has not only won the 2007 SIXAXIS Game of the Year award, but a spot in history.
And we're rolling... - 10.09.2007

Well my children, today I'd like to talk about a little something that's been bothering me as of late, and by bothering, I mean pissing me the hell off!

You see, Sony announced the successor to its PlayStation 2 in May of 2005, to be called *what else*, the PlayStation 3. Now, no official launch date was given, but heavy rumor was they were planning on a release in March of 2006 *the month the PSP had launched a year before*, with the slight chance that it may launch at the end of 2005 to compete with the XBOX 360. But then, we got a delay, as Sony officially announced it was pushing back the launch of the PS3 until November of 2006, and this, my friends, was the first delay for the PlayStation 3. It wouldn't be the last, we're a long time from seeing the last delay on the PlayStation 3, and if things keep going the way they are, we may NEVER see the end to this madness of delaying title after title for the PS3.

This week I would like to talk about the real reason Sony is losing the next generation console wars. Now sure, bad marketing and bad publicity *not to mention the original price point shock* started the PS3 on the wrong foot, but with 110 million PS2 users, there was almost no way Sony could mess it up with a slightly higher price point, but they did...

The Xbox 360 and the Wii are both right around 11 million units sold, I call that a drop in the bucket of the potential buyers of this next generation of the console wars. I still think the race is far from over, anyone can win, but at the rate we are heading the only thing I can guarantee is that the DelayStation 3 WILL NOT win the war.

The PS3 was originally supposed to launch with around 40 games, and guess what it launched with? I don't have the official numbers, but if my mind serves me right, it couldn't have been more then 10 or 12. That means that 75% of the initial games set for the PS3 launch in November 2006 were delayed, 75%! Now some will say, "But Mark! It was the PS3 launch, give them a break, they needed more time to work with the hardware!" To that, I say, you're right. I can not place a lot of blame on the launch titles, or even the titles in the first couple of months that got delayed; they simply didn't have time to work with the console. But that time has passed, the PS3 is approaching 1 calendar year on the market and still, almost every major blockbuster game from Sony has been met with a delay.

Halo 3 is an amazing game, and definitely sold more then a few 360's, but it didn't move as many units as predicted, it wasn't the "end all" of video games, and nor will Super Mario Galaxy or Super Smash Bros Brawl. Sony really could have cleaned house this holiday season, a price cut is nice, but software moves the hardware, and that is a cold, hard fact. There's no question about it, at $500, or even $600, the PS3 could have cleaned house this year. But it is due to delays of games such as Killzone 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, Home, Devil May Cry 4, and many other blockbuster games, that Sony is bound to get last place this holiday season.

Just look at some of the recent delays for the PS3, and this is just off the top of my head: BlackSite: Area 51, Stranglehold, The Orange Box, Uncharted, Unreal Tournament 3 *though not 100% official it's very likely*, Oblivion: Game of the Year Edition, DiRT, Devil May Cry 4, Turok, Mercinaries 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4, and there's many, many more.

Now sure, some of those games are multiplatform and got delayed for other consoles too, but for the most part, those are Sony only delays. Some will say they have no say over whether or not they get delayed, and I say that is a bunch of crap, Sony goes and works specifically with developers hands on, and they are working with their own technology for games they have been working on for *in most cases* years. There's no reason games like Killzone 2 are getting delayed over a year past its initial launch date *Christmas 2006, now coming spring 2008*. Some say Sony will lose the console wars because they lost too many exclusives, I say they will lose because people like me are fed up with waiting for all of these triple A titles Sony promised all of us back in May of 2005.

There's a reason Sony doesn't even announce launch dates of its PSN games, as after Calling All Cars was set to be released every week for over an entire month, people got fed up with waiting for Calling All Cars, and sales were severely hurt. Sony has lost almost all of its exclusive games this holiday season to delays with the exception of Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune *which Uncharted still got delayed 3 weeks in the US*.

The price point is fine; the number of exclusives is acceptable, the only real reason I see for which Sony will get a distant third place this holiday season and fall even further behind in the console wars is because they failed the consumer. They failed me, they failed their fan base, they failed you, they failed all of us. Sony Computer Entertainment failed to deliver its promise of great video games for this holiday season, and for that, they will fail, miserably.

I said earlier the console wars are far from over, which they still are, but Sony, this is from me to you, you are on your last straw. I don't care how awesome your first quarter of 2008 looks, if you delay your games any longer, the fans will turn on you. It is now time for the PS2 fan base to look for a next generation console to buy, there will be no more waiting around, and they are just about fed up with waiting for you. Both Microsoft and Nintendo are releasing triple A awesome games RIGHT NOW and they aren't going to wait around for you guys to play catch up any longer. I bought my PS3 at launch from a reserve ticket; I denied selling my PS3 on e-bay because I had faith in you guys, but that faith is wearing thin. Sony, your company has fallen severely into debt with how much money you guys have lost recently in your other production departments, but yet you put billions of dollars into the PlayStation 3, and it is one of your last hopes to make up this huge defecate. People may not believe me, but you could potentially bankrupt your company if you don't save your PlayStation brand and make back that money, and soon... Let's hope you know what you are doing and listen to what I have told you today. Stop delaying your games and get them onto the market, now!
And we're rolling... - 09.23.2007

One thing Iíd like to bring up is how much of a jackass company Gamestop is. Now maybe itís just me, but theyíre the most unprofessional company Iíve ever dealt with. I put down my Halo 3 preorder and asked if they were holding a Halo 3 midnight launch, and the first thing the employee there said to me was ďyes, but if you are a jerk at the launch we reserve the right to kick you out and deny you the gameĒ. Now itís not like I walked up and insulted the guyís mother or anything, he was just a straight up ass, and heís supposed to be working. UmmÖ Hello? Customer service anyone? The customer is always right? Did anyone teach this guy marketing 101?

I donít expect perfect customer service, but come on, this isnít the first time itís happened either. I had a friend who asked a Gamestop employee whether or not BioShock had online multiplayer the week before it came out, and the guy said ďDuh, itís Microsoft, of course it willĒ. Not only that, but I know a Gamestop employee and heís told me about how heís told many different people Halo 3 is coming out for the original Xbox. Now for the internet savvy like myself and all of you, thatís no big deal weíre not stupid, but any random Mom out there shopping for her son who wanted Halo 3 for his birthday, or Christmas *come on, you know parents are stupid and will buy their kids M-rated games and then blame it on the game makers*, they wouldnít know whether or not their son needs and Xbox or an Xbox 360. Gamestop still carries original Xboxís, and who says they wouldnít sell some Mom an original Xbox because they just told her Halo 3 will be on it. Remember, this is the same store who gives you 50 cents for all of your games on trade in prices.

There is a difference between joking around on your free time and being professional on the job, and this doesnít apply to all Gamestop employees, I know there are plenty of honest workers there who just love games. But come on, most of the people there are a bunch of idiots who couldnít make it out of community college, and get their personal enjoyment from being a bunch of asses to all of the customers.

I really try to like Gamestop, but they rip you off and donít care, and have some of the worst customer service ever. And yes, I told them this to their face, and now whenever I come in they say ďthat game probably doesnít provide good customer serviceĒ to whatever I look at, which not only doesnít make sense, but provides me to remind them they work at Gamestop, and still live in their parents basement. I, as a writer, may get a lot of shit from angry readers, but I promise to never be an ass to you, and hope you think twice before shopping at Gamestop, I know I will.
And we're rolling... - 09.14.2007

Hey what's up everybody? Being the new writer in town *commonly referred to as n00b, luckily I was born at the age of 25*, I thought I'd give you guys a way to contact me so you can thank me, hate me, embarrass me, or whatever your little heart desires.

Email: marksalms@gmail.com
Xbox Live name: The Salms
Playstation Network name: Fester
Wii Code: 5600 8530 8903 9730
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/thesalms
AIM: Salms Classic *yes there is a space*
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