Mariokart Wii: First thoughts

Mariokart Wii is a blast as a game. Three complaints about the online experience:

1. Friend codes suck. It’s a pain to use, hard to track down your own friends, and then after all is said and done, your friend code only applies to a single game title, so your Mariokart code won’t work with Smash Bros. It would be marginally better if you could manage friend codes on a website, so you could at least copy & paste.

2. If you want to play with friends, you can only play with friends. There’s no practical way to get you and your friend(s) in a public race. Either you have a private, unranked, friend match, or you play with strangers.

2. Voice is everything. I was playing online against strangers, and without voice communications, I felt like I was just playing against some computer AI. I missed the trash talking and such; there’s just something gratifying about taunting the person in the lead with a blue shell for awhile before launching the sucker. When I started playing with a friend, we ended up using our Xbox 360’s voice chat while we were playing. We went into a COD4 private match lobby and just stayed there. If you do the same trick, be sure to press a button on your controller after every race so your controller doesn’t go to sleep.

Anyway, my Mariokart friend code again isĀ 0430-8679-3315, leave your friend code in the comments.

I’m sure glad that Marokart came out when it did. I’m sure XBox live is going to crash and burn tonight with the release of GTA IV.

360 Dead… again

For those who don’t know, I won the Xbox 360 at CFUnited ’06 from Microsoft’s booth. Immediately upon receipt, I had to spend $150 on this “free” system for a wireless network adapter and one game, just to play it. That’s the most expensive free system ever.

That Xbox lasted a long time, relatively speaking… It was around spring of ’07 when the disc drive tray decided to stop opening/closing. I wasn’t experiencing any of the overheating, red-ring-of-death problems I read so much about. I figured that perhaps the problem was overblown or whatnot, or maybe I was just lucky.

Well, my luck ran out. A few months after getting my first replacement, it died. Now, just moments ago, my replacement’s replacement died. After weeks of inability to just log in and play games, thanks to Microsoft’s servers buckling under the pressure of Christmas sales, I now can’t play any disc-based games. On top of that, the 360 is also our DVD player, so not only can I not game (and use my 360 subscription that is paid for), but I won’t be able to watch movies (and use my Netflix subscription that is paid for).

I’m thinking that it’s time to bite the bullet and actually buy a 360 Arcade (or a used 360 still under warranty) for the other room. Not for primarily gaming, but as a Media Center Extender. I’ve built up quite the library of movies, and it’ll be nice to watch them from the other room, too. And, when the next XBox dies, I’ll have a spare to tide me over until the repairs are finished.

Ugh… XBox Live still having issues

I love how Microsoft claims that there was no outage. Sure, only a small percentage of people were able to log in and play over the past week, but that’s not an outage. Apparently the servers never went down, they were just overwhelmed. Next, the power company will say “Sure, only a small percentage of our customers have power, but it’s not an outage. The power plant is still functioning.”

We deserve compensation for the service we’ve paid for that we were unable to access. Of course, since they don’t provide compensation for service unable to be accessed when your defective console is going in for repair, I expect them to pull the same shenanigans with this, and pretend that they owe us nothing.

XBox LIVE login issues

It’s been mostly ignored by the social media sites, but XBL has been having major issues the past few days. Inability to log in, people getting kicked off of XBL in the middle of online games, etc… And it’s a worldwide problem, not just in the US. Hopefully Microsoft can actually provide us with the service we *pay* for, on the days we’re getting new games, and actually want top play them online.

Oh, if any of you are able to sign in, have COD4, and want to play, send me an invite. My gamer tag, as you might have guessed, is iotashan.

Plantronics GameCom X30 and XBox 360 Messenger Kit Review

Last week, I was in the middle of some Team Fortress 2 when everyone started yelling at me that my mic was producing nothing but static. It would seem that the frail little wire that connected it to the controller must have shorted out. It was time to get a new headset.

First I went and got the Plantronics GameCom X30. I love Plantronics headset quality, so I figured it would be perfect. It probably would have been, except that this headset grabs onto your ear from the bottom. Now, I don’t have ears like Will Smith, so it kept falling off. If I turned or tilted my head at all, it would end up half-hanging out of my ear.

I took it back to BestBuy, and figured I’d just get another one of the standard Microsoft headsets. When I got there, the price for the headset alone was $19, but the price for the XBox 360 Messenger Kit, which also comes with the same headset, was $29. I figured for $10, I might as well try it out. I’ve had it for a couple hours now, and I must say it’s not bad. It’s definitely faster and easier to type out messages. Connecting it was a tad tricky, but no big deal. The headset that comes with it is the “revised” headset. You can tell the difference by the connector… It’s just the plug. The volume and mute switch are actually halfway up the cord. This headset actually provides richer sound, better base response, and the microphone actually seems to pick up my voice more accurately.

By reading the manual (You’re surprised, aren’t you?), I discovered that this keyboard has another trick up it’s sleeve… You can hook up any standard 2.5mm headset. So now, you can actually get a nice telephone headset (not the cheap-o ones for wireless phones, but ones actually designed for people who wear a telephone headset all day like customer service reps or receptionists) and use it with your 360.