"Kit.....Kit Cloudkicker.." - Kit, Plunder and Lightning "Plane for Keeps".
July 4th,1998 is usually the day where America celebrates the birth of a country. However; for me it was officially the birth of a new website. The birth of a TaleSpin website......However; this was no ordinary TaleSpin website by any means. (Although no TaleSpin website is 'ordinary'.) This is the very first website which pays homage and respect to Disney's #1 character. He is the cutest, most in-depth young man ever designed by Disney: Kit Cloudkicker. Yes; Disney's answer to drama and excitement from a character who didn't get much respect from Disney. I chose Kit Cloudkicker because I simply loved him as a character and also because there was no website that in fact focused on him. I always figured that there were as many people who loved Kit as there were many people who loved Don Karnage.
Well; another year has come and gone and I am shock that this website still continue to chug along so to speak. I'm currently looking for a new job after the funds ran out on the previous line of work that I was doing; so now I'm able to work on my website pretty much full time. My health has stablized and my weight has kept steady for the most part although my taste for good is also back to normal which was something that I feared for a long time now. But enough of that; let's get down to the business at hand concerning the work that I have done for the past year. As you all know; I've finished the last 14 episode rants of TaleSpin that I had on my first TAPE COLLECTION FROM LIMBO. I've also done the following editorials: Why I Hate Those Uncensored Websites, Cloudkicker Simpson, Sorry Fox! The FoxBox Is Just 4Kids, An Ode To The Small Packages, Is This The Future of Animation? and Allagory of DTVA- Why It Must Be Defended & Shunned! So I had 20 articles written this year compared to 16 last year. As for my fanfics; it was slow going this year: I've completed 50% of Chapter Three, 90% of Chapter Four and all of Chapter Five of Unforeseen Impact. However; every single fanfic from there has been barely touched and Rebecca's Diary hasn't been touched yet again and I have no plans on touching it until Unforseen Impact is done so it could be another year before I even start that. I've also started working on The Waltz of The Wind and done HTML conversions for Dragging the Sparna and Plunder Project J4306; however, that is ii from the fanfic side. I guess I was excited about the Nintendo DS (which is not to understand why I'm so excited over and Foxx is certain to be smiling as well.) that I forgot all about those fanfics. Curse you Reggie! Or maybe it was trying to find a job? I don't know which...Anyway; I also continued work on the TaleSpin Cast & Crew list and the TaleSpin Crew Talent Tribute. Both pages are as completed as I could get them with the little information that I could actually find. I've also updated the TaleSpin Voice Talent Tribute quite a bit by adding links and some information as well including finishing Phil Crowley's profile. A new project was created this year for that webpage called Productions That The TaleSpin Team Has Done; a sort of TaleSpin Connections list while I list all the productions from the world of media and entertainment. It has surpassed 4000 productions now. The list is as complete as I'm going to get it now; but I will only be working on it once a year (along with the Tributes as well) starting this December. It's a lot easier for me and it will put the focus back on the fanfics. Finally; I also work on a new fanfic series which is more general to animation called the MXC Cartoon World Cup based on my all-time favorite new show which happens to be on Spike TV (GASP!): Most Extreme Elimination Challenge which even to this day is still bringing the funny (although I don't like them recycling bumps. This might be the first show where it must Jump The Shark twice in order to be dead.). It is a competition where cartoon characters compete to become the best cartoon in the world in the only fair way: MXC style. I've already completed and posted two scripts and a third one is currently in development (in the Disney Television Animation bracket). I'm currently doing this with television animation; I might expand it to animated movies if this works out. As for next year's plans; I have finally got the SECOND TAPE COLLECTION FROM LIMBO with 18 more episodes. I'll be working on Mach One For The Gipper to start and maybe Louie's Last Stand or even redoing the Bullethead Baloo rant since I now have the full taped episode with me now (my rant was 90% accurate. I'm as surprised as you are as my memory isn't as shot as I originally thought). That I will start after this address. I'll also finish Chapter Three of Unforeseen Impact and maybe start on the HTML conversion of Waltz of The Wind since it is deep into the first chapter. I'm planning to ditch the whole editorial thing for this year since I have no material to work with right now....unless I finish my rants before this Fall and maybe I'll work on the latest installment of the FOXBOX. Although the jokegun that I have is almost out of ammo at this point...however; WINX might just give me the refill I need.
All right; now what should I do for a speech for the sixth year of Cloudkicking? Maybe for once I should just say that the address is done this year and be my merry way.....Ummm...Actually; I do have one rant to do and that is what I saw at the Electronic Entertainment Expo a little more than a month ago. A brand new handheld was revealed by Nintendo at this show called the Nintendo DS. I got to admit; when I first heard about this new handheld back in January of this year I thought it was quite bizzare since the Gameboy Advance is barely into its fourth year (and still had at least two more good years left now that SquareEnix was starting to develop far better titles for it. Not to say that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Sword of Mana were bad at all.) and this new handheld which was being announced was shaping up to be like a succesor to a system that had sold tens of millions already worldwide. I thought that Nintendo DS was going to end up like Virtual Boy because that system was too complex and too "freakishly red colored" for anyone to accept (It was marketing Virtual Boy as a handheld instead of a novelity that really killed it; make no mistake). However; after seeing the Nintendo DS system for the first time I can safely say that I will be buying one if the price is $150 US and avoiding the PlayStation Portiable like the plague which is well over $300 and has a battery-life equal to the horrible N-Gage handheld (about two hours before it needs a recharge). I got to give Nintendo credit; they didn't hold _anything_ back in creating this system and I'm surprised that they downplay some of the features which I think are the reasons why over one hundred developers and publishers are so interested in developing games for Nintendo DS (some rightfully so downplayed.). Even Majesco's CTO Kevin Ray delievered a vicious shot to Sony's PSP. When was the last time that has ever happened to a Sony platform? Um...Never... So here are the reasons why I will buy a Nintendo DS when it comes out this fall if the price is right.
[1.] Visual Power: I'm starting with the most downplayed part of the system because Nintendo is lying about the system being more powerful than the Nintendo 64. That implies that it's only a bit more powerful than the Nintendo 64 in power. Any smart mark of Nintendo knows that. The reality is that it is a little more than half the speed of the Nintendo Gamecube if developers wish to go that far with it. I can only imagine a couple of years down the road that some game-engine developer is going to find the way to make this system turn into a system with power equal or slightly above X-Box. It will happen; you just watch.... When I was watching the webcast of the press conference for the unveiling of the Nintendo DS; when the demo of Metroid Prime: Hunters was shown the entire place went absolutely nuts. I didn't know why at the time because my internet connection for the web cast was so poor that I wasn't able to actually see the Metroid Prime: Hunter footage well enough. When people started reviewing; the first response was something like this: That game looks exactly like Metroid Prime on Gamecube; and it's running on a handheld device right now on the showroom floor of E3! When I looked at the footage; it did look like Metroid Prime but it was running at a slightly lower framerate (about 55 fps) and there was less filtering effects; but it still got a huge reaction. I won't say that it's better than PSP in power; but it is quite close and impressive for an handheld that is going to be half the cost of PSP and probably have more useful technology for actual games. I hope Nintendo doesn't force compaines to develop just quirky games and actually allows developers to take full advantage of the handheld because as much as I love Gameboy Advance; everything I've seen about this system tells me that this "third-pillar" system is going to become a successor by the time it is released. I could go as far to say that it's a three pillar system (console, handheld, innovation) and call it Nintendo CHI. One piece of evidence to prove my point is that at least one developer has already went public to announce that they are moving their GBA title to Nintendo DS just a few days after the E3 show was over. It's just too good on visual power alone....and I haven't even got started yet.
[2.] Durable, Dirt-Cheap Medium: I'm also surprised that Nintendo hasn't talked about this much since several developers have already stepped forward (GBA developer NeoPong being one) stating that the semiconductor cards Nintendo will be using are dirt cheap. It is understandable since a lot of this innovation that Nintendo is offering is going to cost more to develop than usual. There wasn't much to say which company Nintendo called to get the chips from to make those really tiny cards. (I would think it was Matrix Semiconductor since they have a deal with Nintendo a few years back on semiconductor chips) However; one gigabit is equal to 128 megabyes which is about eight to 32 times bigger than the average Gameboy Advance title and about two-to four times as big as the biggest N64 games. Also consider that Reggie Fils-Anime stated that the size was the bare minimum and that it could go even higher; so that could help bridge the gap between the size of DS's format and PSP's format (which uses a UMD disc which is 1.8 Gigabytes in size.). While there may be a problem with the size of the DS cards (because they are so tiny in physical size); they look to be more durable than UMD discs which I think is a great idea. I thought of something while watching the webcast on the unveiling of the Nintendo DS and that was the unveiling of GBA Video from Majesco/DC Studios. The idea behind that was a compression technology that would allow for 45-90 minutes of actual full-motion video. That would allow media compaines to put actual episodes of television shows or cartoons onto one GBA cart and let the GBA play them with the GBA controls being used to play, rewind, fast forward, stop etc. Now I believe that the GBA carts are around 16-32 megabytes for around 45 minutes of footage. I was wondering if DC Studios were design the same compression technology for those Nintendo DS cards. Each one is about 128 megabytes in size which could hold anywhere from three to six hours of footage; thus meaning that it could be possible to have full-length feature movies on the go complete with DVD extras. Guess where I'm going with this? A way for DVD playback with a more durable medium and prehaps a less expensive alternative to GBA Video. I betcha Majesco will be talking to DC Studios on that. Another small note is that the Nintendo DS has a separate slot to allow Gameboy Advance and Gameboy titles to be played. (which defeats the third pillar purpose right there.) It could also be used for other appliacations such as the missing sensor abilities that Nintendo was talking about building into the Nintendo DS; but it cost too much.
[3.] Triple-Threat Control, Triple-Threat Multiplayer Play: So what do I mean when I say Triple-Threat? In terms of control Nintendo DS allows players use the six button controller much like previous handhelds; with the lower screen being a PDA-like touchpad. Think Zodiac Tapware with the difference being that Nintendo DS's touchpad will be used for actual gameplay. It can also be used as a PDA like Tapware with PictoChat which allows for instant message, chat and drawing pictures using a stylus or fingertip. Thankfully; Nintendo is providing the lower screen will a much tougher cover when it will be released knowing that the age group will be for almost everyone and I do mean everyone. The third aspect of control is voice-command with the microphone port which will allow future games to be controlled with voice and/or sound such as hand-clapping (do I smell Donkey Konga DS?). It would basically allows gamers to tell their characters in games what to do and allow for voice chat as well. That aspect is very nice; however, the real star is the Triple Threat Multiplayer Play modes offered by Nintendo DS. The first is wireless gaming which allows a wireless network for up to 16 players to play at least 30 feet and up to 100 feet; depending on conditions met for high response rates. There will be two communication protocols; the standard wireless IEEE 802.11 and Nintendo's own communication protocol with the latter used to reduce battery consumpation. That is perfectly nice. However; the system is also Wi-Fi compatible; allowing for (in theory) virtually a limitless number of players to connect to a central game hub on the internet; regardless of distance apart. Yes; Nintendo has found a way to get on-line without any trouble. Also if developers wish to do so; multiple players could even play wireless games and test them as long as there is one person with a game card insterted and they stay connected. These features (particaully the Wi-Fi ability alone) are what is going to sell Nintendo DS; since on-line gaming is supposed to be the key to the future of gaming. I once said that on-line gaming was a pipe dream that had too many issues and problems to be worth it; after Nintendo's demonstration, it might no longer be a pipe dream anymore.
[4.] The Little Things: One of those little things that is probably the most important aspect of handheld gaming is battery consumpation. Although Nintendo did not say how long the battery will last for Nintendo DS; it is expected to be around 10-15 hours; the same as Gameboy Advance SP is right now. The battery will be rechargable (like GBA SP) which is a great idea; abliet a little bit flawed since during long power outages ( something like a five day run; Hurricane Juan for example) there is no way to replace the battery. Unless you have one of those propane power sources; then there is no way to recharge the battery (recharger double as an AC Adapter.). But that a minor quibble not worth talking about since that kind of problem is very rare (particually if you live in Nova Scotia). A low energy consumpation design is also expected which should help the battery power a little bit along with Power Management Functions of Sleep mode and Standby mode. There's also a nice feature where the DS activates itself from Standby Mode if a message is sent. Another little thing is the 16-channel sound which will make for better sound and music which was a problem with the Gameboy Advance SP. I love videogame music....and of course; there will be two LCD backlit screens which offer expanded gameplay and better control. I think most gamers will accept the two screen concept in time; however, it is not the main reason why this system will sell regardless of what Nintendo sezs about it. The system can do true 3D very well and can do 2D very well which is a huge plus. Over 40 titles have been announced already from over one hundred developers and more will be announced in the weeks and months to come. Hey; I just heard that even Nintendo's main rival Microsoft might develop and publish for Nintendo DS. When was the last time that happened? Um... Never. (and the GB Color deal doesn't count.)
Now don't get me wrong; PSP is a good handheld. It is probably the best handheld outside of Nintendo. However; that is not saying much considering that PSP hasn't impressed me. After seeing Nintendo DS; I can safely say that Sony PSP is screwed no matter what it does..... You know that PSP is in trouble when:
[1.] They cannot decide on the battery life for a handheld...2 hours? 5 hours? 10 hours? 2-10 hours? Make up your mind Sony! No wonder Nintendo is making fun of you; that's the first thing they teach you in handheld school if there was one...and because Nintendo's the king of handheld school; Sony doesn't listen.
[2.] SquareEnix announces a DS launch title (Egg Monster Heroes); demonstrates it at E3; then announced two games based on Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior & states that they are reclucent to develop a single PSP title. SquareEnix actually stated that Sony has no clue where it's going with PSP. Not a good sign; as in How To Screw PSP 101.
[3.] Death Jr. is the only interesting original title on PSP and even it is not well liked. Nintendo has four DS titles that are original (PictoChat, Nintendogs, Egg Monster Heroes and Project Rub) and all four are more interesting even if just for the token innovation technology of the touch-screen abilities.
[4.] Over one hundred developers are interested in developing for Nintendo DS; less than seven months after it was announced; and most of them are excited about developing for the system. Only 99 developers are stating that they will develop for PSP; a little more than 13 months after it was announced and yet most of them are not that excited in developing for it.
[5.] PSP (which has one screen and no touch screen) will cost over $300 by itself without a game; while Nintendo DS will be released with at the most ; a $200 price tag and maybe as low as $150. Games of PSP are about $50 while Nintendo DS will be around $20-$50; same as Gameboy Advance even if Nintendo takes a loss on the Nintendo DS due to the two screens. I could easily buy a Nintendo DS with a mircophone/headset, and a couple of games easily. If Nintendo gets some M-Rated titles (look; I'm not a fan of M-Rated titles; but it will help DS make no mistake), original content titles and high-production values games then PSP is completely dead (not just merely screwed) before it even gets started.
[6.] Microsoft actually gives Nintendo DS a good thumbs-up and states that PSP is in trouble. Not to mention the rumor that Microsoft might develop for Nintendo DS.
See what I mean? Anyway; the Nintendo DS is not an absolutely perfect system but it is close. The only minor flaws I could find were that the Nintendo DS button were a little too high for my liking and that there were not enough original games available to display. Some say that the system looked ugly; but then so did GBA.... Since the final shell was not shown (the Nintendo DS name will change when it is released at the end of this year.) at E3; those problems will be fixed. Since many developers are interested in developing for the system (including Tecmo's M-Rated studio Team Ninja which had one title in development as of this writing.) the lack of original games should be fixed at least somewhat in the weeks and months to come when more titles are announced. In the end; I really loved Nintendo DS and I will be buying it right away if the cost is $150 US. It might just be the revolution Nintendo has been searching for....a system that finally delievered.
That's all for another year of cloudkicking......That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time.