Next Xbox Dad column (TMNT coverage) is up

My 2nd column is up on, covering the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.

To sum up, it is a pretty fun game for kids; I’d compare it to a faster paced, less scary and complex version of Prince of Persia, which is a great game to be compared to.

Renting vs. Buying

I own a lot of Xbox and Xbox 360 games… some good, some bad… but the hit/miss ratio is much better for all my 360 games, mostly because of game renting. Starting around the time the 360 launched, I signed up for Gamefly and I’ve alternated between the two and three game plans. It is definitely a good deal for me, I usually only rent my second tier list of games, ones that I think I’ll like but I’m not already positive I’ll buy. Sometimes I even rent games that I’m pretty sure I’ll never ever buy, just because I want to try them out. I suppose you could do the same with Blockbuster or some other store, but I’m big into these ‘send to my house’ programs (like Netflix…. did you know they have RSS that shows you what movies I currently have at home?). At one point, right after launch, I added every 360 game to the list, which lead to checking out some games I would never have purchased (like Rumble Roses!). I find it especially useful for kids games, because the quality can really vary on those, and sometimes Xbox Live demos aren’t really enough for me to decide if I like a game or not.

Occasionally I’ve even gone ahead and purchased the game through Gamefly, which is usually a pretty good price… you keep the game you have so you already know that it isn’t scratched up and that it is working well in your 360 (and if it isn’t working well, don’t buy that one!). Overall, it is my way of playing more games, without paying $60 bucks for each one and possibly ending up with a copy of Over G Fighters on my shelf.

Interested in checking it out yourself (they do Wii, Xbox 1 and PS2/3 games too)? Here’s my ‘sign up a friend link’ and here is one without any additional stuff on it… use whichever one you’d prefer 🙂

My first "Xbox Dad" column (post?) is up…

<random musing>It seems like an online article, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be just easier for them to publish these articles as blog entries?</random musing>

Brian is finding himself pretty busy lately so I decided to try my hand at writing an Xbox Dad column, and the results are up online now…

Meet the Family

Last Tuesday was the first FamilyGame Night on and the featured game, Walt Disney Pictures Presents Meet the Robinsons, has been a real hit around our house. My son Connor had been talking about the movie, Meet the Robinsons, for some time…

Check it out and let me know what you think… and send your ‘xbox dad’ comments my way!

Feeling nostalgic for my Intellivision for some reason today…

I think it was playing Chargeball in Meet the Robinsons, but for whatever reason I started thinking about this

I loved the breaking glass sound when I broke an enemy’s disc or threw my disc through the recognizer’s eye… mmm…. good times 🙂

Tron Deadly Discs for the Intellivision on Wikipedia

Jetpac Refueled hits Xbox Live Arcade

On Wednesday, a new Xbox Live Arcade game from Rare will be hitting the Marketplace… Jetpac Refueled. I have to say, from the moment we started shipping retro games onto the Xbox 360, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

Not this game itself, I’ve never heard of it before to be honest (but wikipedia delivers the goods as always), but I always figured that the retro games would be re-developed to take advantage of the 360’s graphics and sound… and this one has been. So, unlike Frogger, Pac Man, and Dig Dug… where I kept hoping to find a secret button to turn on the new and improved version… this one delivers.

New Jetpac Refueled Graphics

Of course, and I would have expected this for all ‘retro’ games, you can still play in ‘old skool’ mode too…

Original Graphics

I get the appeal of playing the ‘original’ way, but for games on the 360 I have been pretty disappointed in the lack of extras added to the new versions. Can you imagine Time Pilot where you could choose to play the original or the new awesomeness that would be possible on the 360?

Have you tried Amazon Unbox?

I was interested, and I guess I still am, but I’m not sure yet…

For one, they seem to be WMV files… protected with our standard DRM, but yet they don’t use Windows Media Player to play them back? I’m not sure why this is, but if they supported playback in a normal video player then I’m pretty sure these videos would work through Media Center (and therefore my Xbox 360) without any hassle. As is, I think I’d be limited to watching them on my computer screen (which holds absolutely no interest to me) or perhaps on my iRiver portable media center (which they list as compatible, but yet it doesn’t support any other DRM’d video content that I know of, unlike newer PMC’s like the Toshiba Gigabeat).

My second concern is the price… $14.99 for a digital download of Casino Royale when I can get the DVD for $15.99 … and (despite the complexity and questionable legality of this process), I can rip that DVD to a WMV that will play everywhere (including my Zune). It seems to me that a digital download that is limited to a certain number of devices and doesn’t include any of the packaging of the DVD should be a lot more than just one dollar off the DVD price.

Your thoughts?

Have people forgotten how to use HTML?

This keeps happening to me on Microsoft sites, and it really bugs me…

  • I go to view a product on one of our sites, and most recently
  • I click on some image to see a larger view…
  • I right-click on the image with the intent of saving it to my machine, only to get the standard Flash context menu (Zoom, etc…)

I get the appeal of Flash, I really do… but these pages are just a gallery of images with a back and next button. There is no smooth animation between images, the images aren’t interactive or animated, this is just 3-10 jpeg images that I can move between. By using Flash, I lose the ability to interact with these images in the way that HTML would have provided, and I can’t see what I’ve gained!

It is completely within the capabilities of HTML combined with Javascript to make an image gallery with this level of functionality, and shouldn’t we try to stick to that level of technology whenever possible?

Nike+ actually makes me consider an iPod

If you know me, or read my blog much, you’ll probably gather that I’ve fully bought into the WMA/WMV world. I’ve always been a bit annoyed at the iPod model of things as well… I mean, seriously, you can only use iTunes with iPods and iPods with iTunes… talk about crazy… people need choice, who wants to be locked into one music player or one music store?!?

Of course, I don’t get to rant about that anymore, now that we are doing the exact same thing with Zune… I don’t like it any better just because we are doing it, but I’ve decided that I must be in the minority and that most consumers must not really care about being locked into a single store/brand.

Anyway, the long and short of this is that I would never consider an iPod, all of my media is firmly sitting in the Windows Media world. I have an Xbox 360, a Media Center PC, a Portable Media Center device, a Zune, an iRiver Clix and my wife has a Napster-to-go subscription. Yep, I’m in the Windows Media world alright.

But then I see this, and I really want it. I’ve been writing down my run distances and times onto a piece of paper for the past two weeks, and now I was going to find some form of online log to input them into… and my search brought me to the very fancy site. And from there, I ended up viewing … bugger!

I don’t think I can do it, it would end up being just for running, and that is an expensive package just to run with… but it is very tempting.

30 more hours of Oblivion coming… wow…

I’m far from having used up all the gameplay in the initial release of Oblivion, and I haven’t even gotten into the expansions, and now they’ve annouced an additional expansion with a ton more gameplay that I can jump into on the 360… amazing.

Even More Oblivion on the Shivering Isles
Thursday, January 18 @ 11:10:00 PST   

Bethesda Softworks has announced The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, an official Oblivion expansion for Windows and the Xbox 360.

I have to say that Oblivion is still the best 360 game I own, and it just keeps getting better.

Hidden Feature on Channel 10, tag based dynamic playlists

While working on a certificate issue for the ‘next’ iteration of, I decided to code up a new feature that has been sitting on our feature list for quite some time. ASX files are very simple files that let you list out a series of media files and Windows Media Player will happily play them in sequence, so I wrote some code so that a URL like this:

Will output an ASX file containing recent videos tagged with ‘E3’.

Woo hoo, exciting… well, maybe not that exciting, but it does mean that you can pick a topic you are interested in (like Xbox 360), go to one link and have a bunch of videos play through without any more clicking/navigating…

A couple of notes:

  • When they are playing if you want to jump to the next one, just use the Next track button in WMP.
  • If your shuffle option is on, the videos will play in random order, which might surprise you (it suprised me)