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FAQ: Cyril Explains it All! Part 2
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 20, 2007   |   Episode 68 (Show Archive)  

   


Thank god these two morons didn't have any questions for me, I would hate to have to answer a giant pizza slice!
With six years of articles, reviews and special features behind us I thought it might be fun to go back and rediscover some of my favorite shows. One of my favorite pieces was something called FAQ: Cyril Explains it All, a lengthy article that looked at some of the most controversial questions and gave them a fair shake. In the very first episode I answered some of the most important questions of the time, including queries about the protagonist in San Andreas, whether Sony waited too long to drop the PS2's price, what sells a system, and whether or not it's worth it to wait in line for Star Wars Episode III.

After re-reading this three year old article I realized that I was largely right about my predictions and decisions. As I beat my chest and did a victory dance I decided that if I was right once then maybe it's time for me to try again and answer a few more burning questions. So that's exactly what I'm going to do here, I'm going to grab ten of the most important questions and give you my take. Forget about doing your own research and coming up with a conclusions, there's no reason to exert such energy when you can just read what I have to think and take my opinions as fact.

In this very special article we will take a look at everything from the PSP's pricing, Rare's recent output, the Wii's audience, the amount of shooters on the Xbox 360, those blasted Friend Codes and so much more. Over the next five pages you will discover the truth and learn what you need to tell people if they ask you any of these important questions. But enough stalling, isn't it about time you discovered FAQ: Cyril Explains It All! Part 2? Yeah, that's what I thought ... so get on with it, scroll down and enjoy the first two questions in this life changing article.

Did Rockstar doom their PSP Grand Theft Auto Games by Releasing them on the PS2?
The Problem: While Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories continues to sell out on the Sony PSP, Rockstar's follow up, Vice City Stories, can only be considered a disappointment in the sales department. Could it be that by setting the precedent of first releasing the game on the PSP and then on the PlayStation 2 Rockstar Games actually doomed their second PSP Grand Theft Auto?

The Situation: Fans and critics all agreed, the fact that Rockstar Games was able to fit Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories onto the PSP was an impressive feat. Never before had we seen a portable Grand Theft Auto game that looked and played just like the console counterparts, and even if it had a few minor problems (some control issues, lame music, a boring location) people were ready to accept its faults and simply be impressed by what the company was able to pull off. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why it was so popular all the way through 2005, proving to be the best selling PSP game of all time.

Early in 2006 Rockstar announced that they were going to port this top selling game to the PS2 for a fraction of the price, something that opened up the game to a completely different
audience. While usually this would be the kind of thing that could hurt the portable version's sales, the PSP game continued to sell well because of the budget price and lack of competition.

Later that year Rockstar released Vice City Stories only to find that their hard work didn't pay off. Thanks to the low price tag Liberty City Stories continued to outsell Vice City Stories and a lot of people who would have normally bought the brand new PSP game decided to hold off until the inevitable release on the PlayStation 2. One is left to assume that a good number of the people who bought Rockstar's first PSP Grand Theft Auto game decided to wait a few months to buy the PlayStation 2 version of Vice City Stories for a discounted price. By rushing to cash in on the game Rockstar shot themselves in the foot and ended up hurting the PSP in the process.



The Solution: Next time you release a brand new game on the PSP make sure it stays exclusive to the console for at least a year, that way gamers aren't tempted to just sit out the next PSP release and wait for the PlayStation 2 version. It would also have been a good idea if Rockstar had spent an extra six months working on a brand new location, Grand Theft Auto fans like it when they have a new city to explore. And for what it's worth, that $50 price tag has got to go, especially when the PlayStation 2 version comes out at $19.99. Rockstar has nobody to blame but themselves.

Will Nintendo Ever Do Away With Friend Codes?
The Problem: Friend Codes suck! While Microsoft and Sony have come up with personalized usernames to allow gamers to keep in touch with each other, Nintendo has decided to go in an entirely different direction ... a very annoying and frustrating direction. Nintendo's bright idea? Friend Codes, 12 digit codes that are game specific and are difficult to remember/keep track of. Nobody likes them, and everybody from journalists to gamers complain about them on a regular basis. Yet with all of the nasty things written about them the Friend Codes remain. Are we stuck using the worst buddy system of all time or will Nintendo do away with the Friend Code?

The Situation: After years of saying no to online gaming, Nintendo of America shocked the entire world when they announced that they would allow people to go online with the Nintendo DS and games like Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing. Fans, journalists and pretty much anybody who loves video games unanimously agreed that this was a great idea, hopefully opening up the idea of online Wii games. Unfortunately the excitement was short lived thanks to Nintendo's use of Friend Codes.

A Friend Code is a 12 to 16 digit number that works as your own personal identity in Nintendo's various WiFi games. The problem is that the codes change per game and are hard to distribute. Most people's first experience with the Friend Codes came with Mario Kart DS, a game that didn't allow any kind of communication at all. In
order for Nintendo DS owners to find people on their buddy list they would have to know the people in real life or track down Friend Codes on the different forums. Not only was this a hassle, but it went against the common theory of building an online community.

The media reaction to the Friend Codes were understandably negative, nobody likes to jump through hoops when it comes to playing games online. But apparently Nintendo didn't learn their lesson because Friend Codes are a vital part to the Wii community. At first gamers were willing to give Big N the benefit of the doubt, believing that the Friend Code would be system specific and not based on what game you had. Unfortunately that is not the case, each online Wii game has its own unique Friend Code, which means that we're dealing with exactly the same problem we had with the Nintendo DS.

In the past Nintendo has justified the Friend Codes by explaining that it's for the younger gamers' safety. Apparently Nintendo worries that online predators will use their DS to track down innocent children and kidnap them. So far this has not been an epidemic with the Xbox Live or PlayStation Online service, but it's the kind of thing Nintendo is worried about. The Chris Hansen in all of us thanks Nintendo, but at the same time most of us are just frustrated by the way this service works. Nobody likes to memorize a dozen digits, especially when there are different codes for different games. We will have to wait and see how this ultimately affects the Wii's online community, but for now it's safe to say that most gamers would like to see an end to the Friend Code.



The Solution: You would think that the smart people over at Nintendo could come up with a way to both protect the younger gamers and make it easy for people that want to play together. The idea of protecting younger eyes and ears from the hate filled content that permeates in online gaming is a good one, but it's all about balance. You can't base your entire online plan around the small percentage of people who may be kidnapped or see something they shouldn't be exposed to. I'm afraid if Nintendo continues on this Friend Code path they are bound to pull in only modest numbers and incorrectly conclude that we aren't interested in online gaming. I love the idea of playing games online, I just hate memorizing several different 16 digit codes.

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