The GIA mirror now (mostly) complete

My [mirror of The GIA](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/mirrors/thegia) is now complete, as far as anyone can tell. It’s not entirely my work, though. My old copy was only about 2 GB in size, but someone in the USA managed to track down an 8 GB copy and send me the files by snail mail on two DVDs. Thanks a lot 🙂

I’m currently trying to make .torrent files for it. If that’s successful, I hope to be able to offer the entire thing through Bittorrent soon. That’s *in addition* to the normal, web-accesible mirror of course.

Yay for the GIA!

Nintendo: Deluge of new DS games announced at E3

We’re being showered with new stuff! If you’ve read the announcements elsewhere, I’m sure you’ve already picked your favorite titles. Several old guys come to new platforms to try their DS legs, such as Star Fox and Diddy Kong in [Star Fox DS](http://www.gamekult.com/articles/A0000048376/) and [Diddy Kong Racing DS](http://www.gamekult.com/articles/A0000048371/), respectively. A complete surprise to me was the announcement of [Super Paper Mario](http://www.gamekult.com/articles/A0000048390/) for the NGC, a mix of plain Super Mario jump’n’run elements and Paper Mario graphics and chunks of RPG. Odd. The graphics look like something a 12 year old might cook up in Flash over a weekend otherwise spent trolling IGN’s forums. But hey, who am I to judge a book by its screenshots.

The big names were present too, of course, such as the previously announced [Zelda: Phantom Hourglass](http://www.gamekult.com/articles/A0000048389/) for the DS. Talking about the DS, the thing is getting something close to a hundred titles this year. While quantity is not quality, I’m cheerful. Mario basketball game, check. Fighter jet simulation with multiplayer, check. Sequel to Yoshi’s Island, check. It’s like someone rummaged through the forgotten closet of abandoned franchises at Nintendo’s HQ and stuck everything he found into a DS game making *engine* of sorts, churning out six dozen games an hour and sticking the glossy press kits into a briefcase chained to Reggie Fils-Aime’s wrist before a hydraulic boot of sorts launched the entire press person into the vague direction of E3.

And that’s just the DS and NGC. The wiily wiizards at Wiintendo had a few wiild surprises for the Wii under their wiings too. But you can wiid that elsewhere.

Sony at E3: Let's copy from everyone!

Sony showed demonstrations of its modified PS3 controller and the accompanying games lineup at E3 today. According to an [article at Heise Online](http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/72851), Sony didn’t manage to set itself off from the crowd. The release date of the new console is November 17 in Europe and the USA, six days after the Japanese debut. The price is a hefty EUR 499 for the 20 GB and EUR 599 for the 60 GB version.

Also shown were the redesigned controller’s motion sensor abilities. Heise notes that “the controller seems to be hastily copied from Nintendo’s new Wii console.” Furthermore, “it does not look like Sony’s controller will be able to match the Wii’s precision. Instead of simplifying controls, Sony adds yet another type of control to their pad that the player will be forced to learn.”

The presentation left the feeling that Sony will be trying to copy from everyone. They want the price point and connectivity of the Xbox 360 and some of Wii’s unique controls, instead of offering something truly new that is wholly its own.

The games lineup also looks derivative, and Heise was particularly disappointed with the looks of the next Gran Turismo game. It looks “not even nearly as spectacular as in the scenes Sony showed earlier” (and this was to be expected), but apparently the tracks look bleak, sterile and boring.

“The games Sony showed left something to be desired in the originality department”, says Heise. “The look of the level shown from Resistance – Fall of Man might just as well have been placed in Warhawk, Killzone or Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 4. The design appeared completely interchangeable.”

Also, Heise criticized that the often heard argument that Xbox 360 games only aim for young macho men can also be applied to the PS3 library. Singstar, Hot Shots Golf and Africa being the only exceptions so far.

Heise is not known for in-depth gaming coverage, but even they noticed that large parts of the industry have degenerated into rehash-factories. I might be walking the primary-colored path towards Nintendo fanboydom, but I think all of this bodes well for Nintendo, since they are so *not* what Sony and Microsoft are at the moment.

First Wii player reports in TIME

Time (or is it TIME? They seem to insist. If so, what does the acronym stand for?) was given the honor of sending one of their writers to Kyoto to sample Nintendo’s Wii. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Here’s Lev Grossman’s fairly interesting [Time.com article](http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1191861,00.html). While he’s a bit inaccurate with some of the more obscure details, I’m surprised to see an article of this depth in the mainstream press. I hope the plan is working out and this gets Nintendo where they want to be; I suppose this kind of coverage is all part of the Wii plan.

Coop launches new line of lactose-free products

Coop is taking an active stance and has released (this week) several new lactose-free products. Among them:

– 3 different flavors of ice cream
– Mozzarella
– Cottage cheese
– Whole milk
– Skimmed milk
– Vanilla-flavored milk
– Chocolate-flavored milk
– Curd cheese
– Cream
– Various yoghurts

This is great news for lactose intolerant people (including Asians and Africans of course) living in Switzerland! Coop has so far been very quiet in this sector, but Migros recently released a new line of soy-based products like puddings and chocolate drinks. This was a response to high demand from people on a vegan diet, but those with LI also profited from the move. That coop targets us specifically with this new line is fantastic. The products are made out of processed dairy milk, no soy involved (in case you’re worried about soy allergy).

Some small manufacturers, such as Breisgaumilch from Germany, already produce lactose-free cream for example, but that was a niche product only available in select stores in Germany. This is the first time such a product makes it to a Swiss mass-producer like Coop, who is present in nearly every larger town.

Olé!

I will try some of the stuff to see if it tastes like mold or toothpaste or newspapers.

Source: A Coop employee posting at the [Libase.de forum](http://www.libase.de/thread.html?threadid=13270&boardid=14).

Is Nintendo ripping off Europe?

While trying to find cheaper Nintendo DS games, I noticed a large discrepancy between prices in the US, the EU and Switzerland. Here’s a comparison, all prices in Euros.

Title Price USA Price EU Price CH
Brain Age 15.00 27.00 31.00
Tetris DS 28.00 35.00 44.00
Mario Kart DS 28.00 39.00 44.00

I started investigating and asked a bunch of Swiss retailers why some games are more than twice as expensive in Switzerland. A game that is clearly only worth EUR 15 (Brain Age) is selling for EUR 31 here — how does that make sense? The retailers couldn’t really answer me, they think that Waldmeier AG might be to blame. Waldmeier has the monopoly on Nintendo imports in Switzerland. In many other European countries, Nintendo does their own distribution, but Switzerland is handled by Waldmeier. I asked Waldmeier for a comment but received no answer in more than one week.

So not only do the Swiss get less value for money (the Nintendo VIP club isn’t available here, for example), but we also pay significantly more. Similarly, people in the EU are paying between 40 and 80% more than North Americans. Canadians, by the way, pay about the same as USians.

Of course I realize that it costs money to translate the games into the different languages of all the territories where the same single EU DS cart is sold. But a 40% increase to translate the 200 or so text strings that pop up in a kart racing game? The per capita purchasing power of the EU is slightly higher than that of the US, yes, that’s true. But how do you explain the differences between titles? Why is Mario Kart DS 40% more expensive and Brain Age 80%? If we had price parity, the percentual difference for every title would be the same.

Something is fundamentally broken with Nintendo’s pricing.

Square-Enix launches Final Fantasy III site

FF3 is the only one of the NES-born FF games not to receive a relaunch so far. Square-Enix are working on a 3D adaptation of the title for the Nintendo DS.

On the game’s new official website, meanwhile, you can listen to harp music while watching Japanese elves of questionable gender caress a crystal:

[http://www.square-enix.co.jp/ff3/](http://www.square-enix.co.jp/ff3/)

COMING SOON! indeed.