Are regular gamers better reviewers than game critics?

Developers have told me gamers can be more appreciative of parts of their games than pro reviewers were, and that users reviews often track higher than press reviews. But sometimes users do things like tear down the popular vote for "Gears of War 2" down to a 3.2 out of 10.

So are gamers kinder than professional reviewers? Harsher? Or do they actually agree most of the time?

Take a look at the scores for nine recent major games, comparing the critics' scores vs. the regular joes': Read More...

*"Rock Band" is now more avidly played by Wii gamers than "Mario Kart."

*This year's re-tooling of "Madden" for Wii, despite a lack of buzz, shows signs of clicking with Wii gamers.

*The average consumer of "Wii Play" does not just buy the game for a second remote. They play the game for nine hours!

These are just some of the discoveries in our third number-filled breakdown of Wii software usage stats. We're dong this monthly and we can pull numbers for (almost) any Wii game that's been out for at least a month. Who needs NPDs? And who needs exit poll numbers?

See below to learn a LOT about the performance of 20 Wii games, from "Mega Man 9" to "Guitar Hero III" to "Strongbad" to, well, see for yourself:

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Microsoft claims that the New Xbox Experience -- that big dashboard upgrade being pushed to all 360 owners on November 19 -- will allow your favorite Xbox 360 games to load more quickly. To enjoy that benefit, a gamer will have to install their disc-based games onto their 360's hard drive.

People keep asking me if doing the installation is worth the trouble. Are loading times that much better?

I tested Microsoft's claim on four games, using my NXE-enabled 360. Above, you can watch the initial loading for "Grand Theft Auto IV," DVD vs Hard Drive. After the jump, check out loading comparisons for "Fable II" and "Gears of War."

(Videos not viewable by users logging in from Canada or the U.K.) Read More...

'Punch-Out!' For Wii, Coming In 2009

"You ask very good questions!"

That's what Nintendo's lead designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, said to me near the end of our interview last week, before issuing a surprisingly frank explanation of what the wildly praised "Super Mario Galaxy" and "Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" could have done better.

Then, things got even more unusual. He put me on the spot and started interviewing me. He wanted to talk about hardcore games. (Guess which first-person game he lavished praise on?)

And he wrapped it all up with a tease about the new Wii "Punch-Out!".

Read about all of that and more in this third and final part of my interview with Mr. Miyamoto ... right below. Read More...

There's a deep sense of attachment for "Fallout" fans. When Bethesda Softworks revealed they were doing "Fallout 3" in a style different from the original games, many old-time fans cried bloody murder.

I always wondered why Bethesda chose to place a three in the title. If they had just named it "Fallout," wouldn't people's expectations have been altered? Fans would be happy with a new "Fallout" game and newcomers wouldn't have a barrier to entry.

Even though my interview with "Fallout 3" product manager Pete Hines is a few weeks old, as "Fallout 3" ships to gamers this week, the question is still relevant. So, Pete, why call it "Fallout 3?"

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Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, once a rare presence, is now a frequent fixture of the marketing push for Nintendo's big games.

Earlier this year the game designer did the rounds to discuss "Wii Fit." Then in July he talked up E3. Last week in San Francisco, he took a break from sitting near me at a charity dinner, to talk to reporters about "Wii Music."

To be honest, I was beginning to feel like Miyamoto interviews were becoming a little too familiar, like you knew what he'd say before you ever read one.

Then I wound up sitting with him for an hour at Nintendo's Redwood City offices last week. The result was the most interesting conversation he and I have had since I first talked to him in May 2004.

What follows is the first half of a full transcript of the interview, with the latter half running tomorrow. A shortened version of part one is live on MTVNews.com. This first half of the mammoth interview covers much of the "Wii Music" part of our conversation, which branched far beyond what you may have already heard about that game, covering:

  • Why he wishes the game came out before "Guitar Hero"
  • His biggest failure
  • The game's radical dismissal of things like high scores
  • How the design of "Mario" and "Zelda" influenced the project
  • What he thinks of the game's graphics
  • How Wii MotionPlus could change the game
  • And much, much more.

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