If you're a fan of the old N64 classic GoldenEye and look forward to Activision's remake for the Wii coming this fall, we're happy to note that Activision will be serving up a special bundle that contains a gold-colored Classic Controller Pro for $69.99.
The standalone game, which will retail for $49.99, does allow you to play with the Wii's motion controller, but many argue that the dual-analog Classic Controller Pro lends itself better to first-person shooters. Alas, a white Classic Controller Pro retails for $20, so you're not getting any sort of … Read more
The past several years have seen a steady drumbeat of negative prognostications for PC gaming, both as a creative medium and as a viable business. High-profile releases were steered to living room consoles, with perfunctory PC ports at best, and messy DRM and hardware incompatibility made many of the remaining PC games more trouble than they were worth.
Magazines such as Computer Gaming World shut down (after an embarrassing sponsored name change to Games for Windows Magazine) and the only bright spot seemed to be the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft--even if other MMO entries found it hard to bottle that lightning twice.
No one was more at the forefront playing Taps for PC gaming than myself, having gone from a cheerleading booster to sober realist in the space of a few short years.
Yet, for the first time in a long time, I find myself much more interested in what's going on the PC side of the video game industry than the console side. My office and home laptops are suddenly buzzing with new and upcoming games, including StarCraft II, Civilization V, and OnLive's various streaming-game offerings--whereas this year's big list of holiday season console releases elicits a shrug at best, filled by the annual installments of mass-market cash cows. How did this potential reversal of fortune take place?
First, the companies that make PC games and the consumers who play them all seemingly decided it was OK to stretch the boundaries and leave their respective comfort zones. The seeds were planted over the past few years as game publishers opened the door to new ways to distribute their wares, losing the most frustrating parts of the DRM equation with services such as Steam and Battle.net (say what you will about online authentication, it works a lot better than discs, especially for those of us who like to install games on multiple PCs).
The next step was online stores like Good Old Games that offer classic games for less than $10, completely DRM-free. It's amazing how much goodwill one can build up by not treating customers like criminals.… Read more
Classic Menu for Word 2007 recreates the look and feel of Word 2003 in Word 2007. Why would anyone want to do that, especially now that a new version is available in Office 2010? Some users don't want, need, or like change; Word 2003 was more than good enough for them. That's where Classic Menu for Word 2007 comes in. It integrates all the improved functionality of Word 2007 in Word 2003's style and interface, so you can enjoy improved performance with a familiar, comfortable feel--and the productivity that comes with it.
Like most Office add-ins, Classic … Read more
The Wylie Agency, which represents authors such as Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and John Updike, is publishing 20 books through its new Odyssey Editions imprint and making them available for sale exclusively in Amazon.com's Kindle Store for $9.99.
Andrew Wylie, the founder and head of the agency, has been locked in a battle with publishing houses over the digital rights to a number of modern classics and "backlist" titles. His new move makes a big statement to big-name publishers, which have been shut out of a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Because digital rights have only been included in more-recent book publishing contracts, the electronic rights to a multitude of famous books are held by authors.
Deals, such as this one with Wylie, have the potential of netting authors or their estates much higher royalties than if they'd signed an e-book deal with a major publishing house. … Read more
Update, July 7: This post has been updated to include additional games.
It's time to add a new selection of entries to our list of PC games well-suited for Netbooks. Especially as we expect to see many of these low-cost, low-power laptops in the hands of students during the back-to-school season, it's important to have a little action/RPG/adventure/puzzle break handy when one gets tired of taking lecture notes.
As usual, many of these entries are re-releases of classic games, originally available when even high-end computer hardware was at best comparable with today's entry-level systems. Online services such as Good Old Games and Steam are great resources for these.
One important exception is the new online gaming service OnLive, which takes current high-end PC games, renders the 3D graphics remotely, then streams you the video as you play. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it actually works pretty well, even on Netbooks. Check out our extensive hands-on look at OnLive here.
Super QuickHook is the sequel to one of our favorite iPhone games of 2009, adding brand-new locations, new obstacles, and more fun and addictive gameplay.
As with Hook Champ, the object of the game is to swing from obstacle to obstacle using a grappling hook you shoot ahead of you by touching the screen to swing through levels. Super QuickHook adds a scrollable level-selection screen with new maps and environments, OpenFeint connectivity for high scores and leaderboards, and a new Endless Mode that challenges you to see how long you can last ahead of an avalanche.
With Hook Champ's … Read more
Buster Red is a vertical-scrolling arcade shooter with frenetic pacing and a cool and colorful pen-and-ink aesthetic.
Your ship is constantly firing in Buster Red (no fire button needed), and you control movement by touching and dragging around the screen--a system that works surprisingly well most of the time, although occasionally your finger does get in the way, requiring quick repositioning. You also tap the screen to activate temporary or one-off "Buster Moves," such as a forward-firing beam, screen-filling electricity, or a giant, slow-moving fireball. Your ship can hold two "Moves" at once, which you pick … Read more
Sound & Vision magazine's Michael Trei recently tested three turntables: the Rega Research P1 ($395), Music Hall mmf 2.2 ($449), and Technics SL-1200MK2 ($699). And guess what: the most expensive turntable wasn't the best-sounding one!
Mike's an old friend and a major turntable guru in his own right. His knowledge of all things analog runs deep, and he regularly sets up finicky high-end turntables for the rich and famous, including the president of a major record company, here in NYC. Mike set up the VPI Classic turntable I bought last year.
The three turntables covered in his report, the Rega, Music Hall, and Technics are all excellent, but I was more interested in the belt vs. direct-drive aspect of the reviews. The Technics is a long standing DJ favorite, for its powerful, direct-drive motor, which is a big plus when you're back cueing and scratching records. Direct-drive 'tables never wowed the high-end crowd, they favor belt-drive turntables. The appeal is mostly based on the fact that the belt "decouples" the motor from the platter. So whatever noise and vibration the motor makes as it spins aren't directly transmitted to the platter, and therefore to the record. No wonder the vast majority of turntables sold to audiophiles are belt-drive designs.
Mike may be a hard-core audiophile, but he's not closed-minded about direct-drive turntables, and in fact owns a Technics direct-drive turntable (and many belt-drives as well).… Read more
As more games are released for Apple's tablet device, some of the old stand-up classics are making the jump to the touch screen. The iPad version of Pac-Man is almost identical to the original in every way, with the same ghost paths, same fruit bonuses, and same intermission movies. But can Pac-Man still be anywhere near as popular as it once was, with today's smooth graphics and multilevel arcade game offerings?
Before you head to the App Store and spend your hard-earned money, there are a couple things you should know about the iPad version of Pac-Man. Though … Read more