Old Guy with a PS3: Year 5 Results

Borderlands Handsome Jack!

One day I’ll have to murder Handsome Jack after he turns into an intergalactic madman, but in our shared past he’s just tipped me $22 for saving his life. What a guy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, at the beginning of 2016:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

…and it’s been a minor MCC annual tradition ever since. Last year’s entry covered a banner year in which I made time during my limited gaming sessions (three times a week at most, 90-120 minutes/sesh) to plow through five different games, winning four of them and infuriated at the other one. In 2019, I managed…um, not many. Very, very not-many. But I have excuses!

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #5: Still More Cosplay on Parade Continued

Big Brother and Little Sister!

Big Brother and Little Sister from the Bioshock trilogy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. In this installment we focus on characters from the world of gaming — those that I could identify or half-identify — plus a mini-gallery of folks from a certain old HBO series.

Same cautions apply as last time: we’re pros, not fans; corrections are very welcome if we misname anyone; we do take requests, but can’t guarantee we photographed every parade participant; enjoy!

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Old Guy with a PS3: Year 4 Results

Red Dead Redemption!

This throwaway exchange in the original Red Dead Redemption turned into foreshadowing for me. I see what you did there, grizzled frontier helper guy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, at the beginning of 2016:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

…and it’s been a minor MCC annual tradition ever since. Last year’s entry covered how I spent literally all my gaming time in 2017 on Borderlands 2, which fascinated me on all the right guilty-pleasure levels. 2018 was a bit more varied, though not vastly so. I found myself skipping more gaming sessions than usual as other hobbies, responsibilities, and conventions overtook my schedule and kept the ol’ PS3 waiting. The following is a rundown of my retro gaming in that busy year, in two or three short sessions per week, in the order played and with my trophy percentages included to reinforce the fact that I’m neither a gaming wizard nor a helpless grandpa:

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Ralph Breaks the Internet” End Credits

Ralph Breaks the Internet!

Fun in-joke scene for the eight people over 40 who ever loved AskJeeves.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the original Wreck-It Ralph. Not only did John C. Reilly’s layered performance hit me squarely in the heart with that big act of would-be noble sacrifice in the climax, but it later inspired me to write a jokey Top Ten-style follow-up that remains one of the site’s most enduring “evergreen” entries to this day. 2012 was a fun year for me in a lot of ways, and it tickles me to remember that Ralph was no small part of that.

Alas, with great success comes the threat of sequels. Disney Animation hasn’t released a theatrical sequel since Fantasia 2000 graced IMAX screens 18 years ago. Someone up high decided it was time to break the streak with Ralph Breaks the Internet, which, to be fair, tops very nearly every direct-to-video Disney sequel ever. I would have to see Aladdin and the King of Thieves again to decide between the two. That’s faint praise, though. Even as I dwell on the phrase “direct-to-video Disney”, memories of Dan Castellaneta’s Genie, Princess Ariel’s daughter, and The Fox and the Hound 2 return and make me wince.

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“Ready Player One”: The Movie Based on the Book Based on the Lists Based on the Collections

Ready Player Cyclops!

A grimdark timeline in which the only survivor of X-Men: Apocalypse was Cyclops.

Everyone loves crossovers! Who doesn’t get excited every time two to 10,000 pop culture characters of varying degrees of familiarity get stuffed into the same frames or panels and generate mechanical synergy for the amusement of fans and the enrichment of corporations? As a young teen collector of both Marvel and DC Comics I was bedazzled by the one-two punch of Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, each of which tossed piles of IPs into dogpiles and let them take turns teaming up and punching each other into oblivion. This brilliant concept in apocalyptic storytelling wowed me at the time, but began losing steam over the decades as all the other annual Marvel and DC crossover events kept (and keep) producing diminishing returns for increasingly transparent financial cravings. Meanwhile in other media, we had the innovative novelty of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and mash-ups like Kingdom Hearts, Soul Calibur, and Super Smash Bros. We had obscurities like Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, while the previous generation arguably had their own predecessor in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Despite the amount of behind-the-scenes wrangling involved, the method is simple: pick lots of famous faces that each have had tons of stories and years of character development dedicated to them, cultivated by their creators and successors with some combination of time and care; strip away everything from them but their outer shell and a one-line descriptor of their most superficial traits; throw everyone into an arbitrary arena; make them fight and fight and fight; then, profit. Hurray! It’s a crossover!

To those who love crossovers and other spectacles a la Battle of the Network Stars, by all means keep loving what you love. After a couple decades or more of them, they’re not an automatic draw for me.

And don’t get me started on the crossover’s close cousin, the whole “Easter egg” fetish that’s become a mandatory element of every geek-related product ever, to the point that viewers spend so much time expecting recognizable tokens and high-fiving each other for spotting them that they become the point of purchase and the only reason to pay attention. Some works are so oversaturated with Easter eggs, they’re less like a narrative and more like an extended Highlight for Children “Hidden Pictures” puzzle.

That brings us to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, adapting the novel by Ernest Cline that I couldn’t bring myself to touch after reading a lacerating review of its nostalgic self-indulgence that gave me more than enough signifiers to tell me it was Not My Thing. As if that weren’t enough, someone on Twitter (I wish I could remember who or in which recent month) shared numerous excerpts from the novel that confirmed it’s entirelty about the hero name-checking, listing, and pumping himself up with his never-ending stream of collector callback consciousness. Unless someone wants to pay me to bypass my gut reaction, count me among the viewers who saw the movie but didn’t and won’t read the book.

Frankly, I only saw the movie because I knew friends or family would ask me about it. In their defense and to my surprise, I’ll give them this: Ready Player One was a lot less anathematic to me than The Big Bang Theory.

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 3: More Cosplay!

Luke Skywalker and green milk!

Jedi Retiree Luke Skywalker swigging green milk, a nutritious part of every space breakfast.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.

In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz. If it’s a convention, that means it’s time for more cosplay photos! Anne and I are fans of costumes and try to keep an eye out for heroes, villains, antiheroes, supporting casts, and various oddities that look impressive and/or we haven’t seen at other cons…

Part Two featured the majority of Marvel characters we met. This time around, the arbitrary chapter divisions bring us to the amazing world of DC Comics, including a handful of Marvel/DC team-ups. As a value-added bonus, also on deck are heroes and villains from the Star Wars universe plus a selection of video game personalities, just because. Same disclaimers apply as in Part Two. Enjoy! Again!

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My Life in Concerts, Part 3 of 3: Classical Geeks

Ewoks at Conseco!

That time Conseco Fieldhouse hosted grotesque samples of Ewok taxidermy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Over the past few days, live performances have been on my mind for a couple of reasons I’ll get to at the end of this miniseries — to wit: my life at concerts over the past 25 years, mostly but not entirely rock-based, including a smattering of stand-up comedy and a pair of classical orchestras in more recent times. That number of years might sound impressive if I were a 30-year-old roadie and if the results were novella-length. As a 45-year-old introvert, I’m surprised they add up to as much as they do.

The next two concerts in my timeline shared quite a few traits. Both were at the same venue in downtown Indianapolis. My wife and son accompanied me for a change. Both featured large orchestras, multimedia displays, and original scores from entertainment media.

One of these presentations differed from all the other shows in this miniseries in a very noticeable way: we took photos!

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Old Guy with a PS3, Year 3: The Never-Ending “Borderlands 2”

Face McShooty!

In Borderlands 2, some missions are harder and more meaningful than others. The showdown with Face McShooty is not one of them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover two years ago:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

…which brings us to our third annual round-up of how I spent my retro-gaming time this year. In previous entries I would list all the games I played that year in the order I played them and with my trophy percentages included, whether impressive or embarrassing.

This year, it’s a short list, he understated:

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Our Christmas Day with “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”

Jumanji!

Dwayne Johnson on a motorcycle with a flamethrower. Maybe movies do get better than this, but some days they don’t need to.

No one deserves to be left alone on Christmas, least of all a grandmother. When one of our families canceled their Christmas gathering altogether at the last minute, it left one kindly relative in danger of spending all day alone with her dashed hopes and her TV dinners and a 227 marathon. We knew we had to do something. That’s why for the first time in ages we headed to the theater on Christmas Day — gave her some company, some fresh air, and the treat of an all-new movie. Waiting there for us with two hours’ worth of innocuous, family-bonding fun was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his happy sidekicks in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

In his wrestling days our man Mr. Johnson famously asked his opponents, “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?” He may not get into the ring anymore, but we can still smell what he’s cooking. And if there’s one thing The Rock cooks best these days, it’s popcorn. Lots and lots of popcorn. Movies with The Rock in them are like the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving of cinema. You might groan at what’s on the table, but even if you don’t touch it, someone else will appreciate the love and effort he put into that popcorn, and they’re gonna have some and love it.

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Wizard World Chicago 2017 Photos, Part 3: Last Call for Cosplay

Hands of Blue!

The mysterious Hands of Blue from Firefly, on the hunt for WWC guests River Tam and River Song. Their next target after that: possibly Melissa Rivers.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time once more! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found much enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. Friday night left us near death by the end of our day, after a few miles’ worth of walking up and down the aisles and hallways, with breaks to go stand in lines of varying lengths and value. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

…I know, I know, less typing, more costume photo galleries. While you enjoy I’ll just be sitting over here in a musty corner, waiting to get back to writing paragraphs at some point. ‘sokay, I ain’t jealous.

So: cosplay! From gaming, movies, TV, and cereal!

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C2E2 2017 Photos, Part 2 of 4: More Cosplay!

Thrawn!

Straight from the pages of my wife’s Star Wars Expanded Universe bookshelves and into the world of Star Wars Rebels, it’s that master planner Grand Admiral Thrawn and an Ysalamir.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The eighth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking…

…and cosplay. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of cosplay. Of course we took photos, but we missed much impressive handiwork, partly because we spent a lot of time in lines and partly because we hadn’t rested yet from the previous weekend’s Indiana Comic Con and feared overextending ourselves to the point of burnout.

But! These are the costumes we’re glad we didn’t miss from the worlds of animation, gaming, movies, and what I’m being told is one extremely popular webcomic. (Special thanks to my son for naming assistance with a few of these.)

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Old Guy with a PS3: Year 2 Results

Bioshock Infinite!

Pushing the boundaries of dark science fiction gaming: the dramatic Parisian cheese-shopping scene from Bioshock Infinite‘s DLC finale, “Burial at Sea – Episode 2”. Mmmm, brie.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, this time last year:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

So this was my 2016 in retro gaming, in two or three short sessions per week, in the order played and with my trophy percentages included to reinforce the fact that I’m neither a gaming wizard nor a helpless grandpa:

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2016 NYC Trip Photos #20: Imagination in Motion

Tenth Doctor!

Me whenever Republicans and Democrats bend over backwards to rationalize their appointed idols.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…

The morning of Day Five, we set forth on an ambitious journey to do something completely different: we took a subway out to Queens, our first time stepping foot into any New York City borough besides Manhattan, unless you count our landing at LaGuardia. All it took to lure us beyond Manhattan’s river boundaries was a museum dedicated to the preservation and contextualization of works and universes that usually keep us entertained and fixated within our living room boundaries.

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Pokemon in All the Wrong Places

Rattata!

Teaser image of Rattata from Eli Roth’s next horror film I Catch Pokemon on Your Grave.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: while waiting at Indianapolis International Airport for our (delayed) flight to Manhattan, I downloaded Pokemon Go as an amusing experiment just to see what would happen. Three weeks later, I’m still toying around, curious to see how much longer it’ll take me to get bored with it and move on. Yep, that should happen any week now.

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C2E2 2016 Photos: Gaming and Animation Costumes!

Final Fantasy VII!

The family that cosplays together: straight out of Final Fantasy VII, it’s Barrett, Vincent Valentine, and li’l Cait Sith peering into your SOUL. My favorite photo of the weekend.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I spent two days at the seventh annual Chicago Comics and Entertainment Exposition, where Midwest comics fans in particular and geeks in general gather together in the name of imaginary worlds from print and screen to revel in fiction and touch bases on what’s hot or cool at this moment in pop culture.

In tonight’s photo parade, we focus on artforms made of moving art, interactive or otherwise. I’m not the best guy to ask about anime or XBox games, but I’ve played my share of video games and seen more than a few animated features. The younger cosplayers are great at stumping me, but I love seeing other fans celebrate some familiar faces out there. And as longtime MCC readers may recall, Final Fantasy characters get preferential treatment here, but there’s more where they came from.

Right this way for more heroes and some Saturday morning flashbacks!

Old Guy With a PS3: Year 1 Results

LA Noire!

Arson investigator Ken Cosgrove searches for clues that will bring shady real estate baron Walter Bishop to justice. We’ve come a long way since the days of barrel-tossing apes.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: as a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3 for reasons already outlined in the post linked above.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures, sorted not by preference but by my mostly lackluster Trophy percentages, best to worst. Y’know, for fun, as games are wont to be. Consider this my personal PS3 report card.

Right this way for a look at the ten games I tried in 2015…

C2E2 2015 Photos, Part 2: the Rest of the Costume Contest

The Hunter! Zadalamel! Liara!

The Hunter from Bloodborne is flanked by Liara from WildStar and Zasalamel from Soul Calibur IV.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I went to C2E2 and took photos! Part one was the twelve winners of the Costume Contest. Presented here are the other remarkable contestants whose efforts likewise deserved recognition for their skills, efforts, and imagination.

Right this way for Costume Contest goodness!

C2E2 2014 Photos, Part 3 of 4: the Costume Contest

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: photos from the fifth annual C2E2 convention in Chicago. In this installment: photos from this year’s Costume Contest!

This didn’t quite go as well as we’d hoped. We arrived in line at 6:30 p.m., an hour before start time, hoping to have seats slightly less terrible than our last GenCon experience. We were wrong, and unaware that VIP ticket holders received first dibs on seats. On the upside, the room had better lighting than GenCon’s contest normally provides, and it was equipped with a massive HD screen that gave the audience a much better view of each contestant.

On the downside, the contest started fifteen minutes late and the judges needed extensive time for deliberation after all finalists had been allowed on stage. On the side of compromise, the judges vetted all contestants first and apparently allowed only the best ones onstage — meaning the presentation was ostensibly shorter, but that we’d see fewer costumes than expected.

On the downside, deliberating ran until sometime after 9 p.m. We had a three-hour drive ahead of us and Sunday morning responsibilities we refused to shirk. The DJs who entertained the crowd to cover the judges’ deliberations weren’t enough to keep us in our seats. Consequently, we had to leave before they announced who won in each of the four categories. Thanks to the magic of social media I did find out who won the whole shebang:

Subject Delta, hero for a day!

Subject Delta from BioShock 2 won against some ridiculously fierce competition.

This way for more of this year’s opponents!

C2E2 2014 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Costumes on the Show Floor, Not-Comics Division

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: photos from the fifth annual C2E2 convention in Chicago. In this installment: more photos from around the exhibit hall and other convention areas, but with fewer super-heroes than last time. If you recognize any of the unlabeled characters, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top feel free to chime in so proper credit can be given. Thanks very much in advance!

Sharknado costume!

One of my two favorites from this batch: Sharknado!

This way for movies, video games, anime, and so on!

E3 2013: Sony Unveils PlayStation 4 Console, Games, Lack of XBox One Fatal Flaws

Andrew House, Sony, PlayStation 4

Andrew House, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, shows off his company’s amazing new baby.

This week is the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or “E3” for effort conservation), an annual trade fair held in Los Angeles for those in the computer and gaming industries to meet, greet, demo, impress, and preview their upcoming products. Since my gaming bailiwick is fairly narrow, I was only interested in one of the scheduled press conferences: this evening’s 100-minute presentation from Sony Entertainment, at which they finally allowed the new PlayStation 4 console to see the light of day. The largest physical advantage of the PS4’s new, sleeker, less angular design is that now you can stack things on it. This sounds silly, but the PS3 is built like a car’s dashboard and defies all attempts to use it as a temporary shelf.

Though the press conference began twenty minutes late by my watch, some of the news and notes were well worth the wait. The best announcement of the entire conference, as far as our household is concerned, was Square Enix’s assertion (with preview clip!) that the long-procrastinated Kingdom Hearts III is now in development, after years of stalling and inferior handheld offshoots. I’m hoping this is released long before I reach the age of arthritis attacks. The clock is ticking and the calendar is flipping.

Also generating intense enthusiasm here was a trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which has likewise been in limbo for years. Following it in the lengthy pipeline are the probably spectacular Final Fantasy XV, plus a retooling of FFXIV, which means less to me because the original FFXIV is one of only two main FF installments I never bothered to try.

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