When we last left our hero, he was pondering the future of the next generation that was soon to start with the Xbox 360. You can still read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!
I went to college in the fall of 2005. I brought along most of my consoles, but I rarely played them. My TV was situated in a room that was shared with three other students, and they were usually busy playing Halo 2 or whatever college football game was all the rage then. I spent more time on my PC, playing more World of Warcraft and playing through Half-Life 2 again.
I did play Guitar Hero, which was still a very new thing. I was actually a fan of the Guitar Freaks series, which was mostly a Japanese thing, but appeared in a few American arcades. It’s hard to believe that I used to play that game and get quizzical looks from everyone else. I doubt there are many college students these days who don’t know what Guitar Hero is.
Due to some bizarre circumstance, my older brother decided that he was going to spend a night in my dorm in Toledo, then camp out at a local Target to get his Xbox 360 on launch day. Before he ever took it home, he plugged it up to the TV in my room. I can’t remember what he played. I know he got Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo at launch. He now informs me that it was the demo for NBA 2K6, so he could see the virtual sweat. Sigh.
My first impressions of the system were pretty apathetic. Those early launch titles didn’t look great, and I was pretty convinced that this whole new generation had come too early, especially at the high price of entry. Remember, before the infamous $599 PS3 announcement, the $399 360 seemed like a lot of money.
I eventually transferred to a college much closer to home, so I got to leave dorm life, which never really agreed with me. The spring of 2006 was a time I spent playing a lot of PS2 games, and it was when my opinion of the system finally changed. I played Shadow of the Colossus for the first time, which just blew me away. It was refreshing to see a game be so big, bold, and beautiful. Hey, that’s the Three B’s!
I also played Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. I sort of ignored Snake Eater when it was first released, but I quickly fell in love with MGS3. Its story was much more grounded in reality compared to MGS 2 and 4, and it had evolved the stealth gameplay introduced in Metal Gear Solid to near perfection.
Still, the next generation was calling. As stubborn as I was about it, I was still a gamer, and gamers crave the next new, big thing. Once I owned a 360, I quickly fell in love with Xbox Live. It was nice to finally have a built-in, uniform system for online gaming and chatting, and the easy access to demos was novel at the time.
Also around this time was E3 2006. I can’t remember much from Microsoft’s press conference that year, but boy do I remember Sony’s. It was made famous in mocking YouTube videos and the sort, but watching it live, it was just kind of boring. I mean, besides the fact that Genji 2 led to the whole “Giant Enemy Crab” joke, just think about the fact that they were actually demoing Genji freaking 2. Not what I would call a show stopper.
You also had the $599 price tag that confused everyone, a demo for a Gran Turismo half-game that went on for too long, and the introduction of the already almost extinct Sixaxis. It was clear to any observer that the tides were turning against Sony.
Nintendo, meanwhile, had a coming out party for the Wii. Now remember, at this point I was a pretty big Nintendo loyalist. I was beyond pumped for their press conference, and they delivered. Super Mario Galaxy looked gorgeous, and was quickly the talk of the show. Twilight Princess, despite seemingly having motion controls shoe-horned into it, was still looking great, and would be available at launch. At the time, even Wii Music looked interesting.
I remember having to camp outside my local GameStop just to be able to preorder a Wii. I was ecstatic to get it home and open it up, and enjoyed Wii Sports and Twilight Princess immediately. These days, quality titles for the system seem few and far between. Sure, we get a Super Mario Galaxy every once in awhile, but it seems like we have to wait up to several months between quality first party releases. When your systems have been defined by their quality first party releases for over a decade, that’s a problem.
I got my PS3 about a month or so after launch. Yes, despite my somewhat negative outlook on the system, I had to have it. The biggest problem I had with the PS3 initially was coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t a 360. I was frustrated that online gaming wasn’t easier to set up with friends. Still, even if I don’t like the system’s interface a much as its counterpart’s, the PS3 has had some quality titles, most notably my current favorite game of this generation, Uncharted.
The 360 was quickly becoming my favorite of the three, thanks to triple AAA titles like BioShock and Fallout 3, and the host of amazing Xbox Live Arcade games like Braid and Castle Crashers.
In 2007, I started a games podcast with my older brother, AJ Minotti. The Exploding Barrel Podcast started like many of the 1up Yours clones that were sprouting up around that time, but we eventually found our own voice. Last month we recorded our 100th episode. If this seems like shameless plugging, so be it. I’m damn proud of that podcast.
I also joined a group of gamers known as the Squadron of the Shame. We’re officially a group of gamers dedicated to finding, playing, and discussing underappreciated games. Really, though, we’re just a big group of friends.
And, well, here we are today. I’ve graduated college last spring with a degree in Professional Writing and Editing, and started my own site, Give Mike Minotti a Gaming Journalism Job, in hopes of securing work in this profession.
I do love games. I feel like I’ve grown up with this industry, and am constantly excited to see where it will eventually go. I feel like I’ve grown from that kid who felt like he had to pick a side in some fictitious console war to a gamer who’s much more willing to just enjoy his hobby. Besides, in this industry, yesterday’s losers can quickly become tomorrow’s winners, and vice versa. You’re far better off to just be a fan of gaming in general.
Oh, and here’s this stuff:
Xbox Live: Tolkoto
It’s a lot of Tolkoto’s. You can also follow me on twitter. Surprise, I usually talk about videogames on there!
Thanks again for reading.
-Mike Minotti (still jobless, but it doesn’t end here)