Category Archives: Buyer beware

Brand new Xbox with Kinect for only $99!*

Xbox Live Marketplace

Xbox Live Marketplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*There’s a catch – why wouldn’t there be?  According to Joystiq, some GameStop and Best Buy locations are selling Xbox/Kinect console bundles, normally priced around $250-300, for only $99 provided you also sign up for Xbox Live Gold for 2 years at $15 per month.

If you do the math, which Joystiq did for you, you will actually end up spending about $60 more over the next 2 years under this contract, than if you bought the bundle at retail plus two 12-month XBLG cards for $50 each.  So basically it’s the same marketing trick as rent-to-own or building up debt on your credit card:  pay less now, but more in the long run.

It should be interesting to see how well this cell-phone pricing model works for Xbox.  Just FYI, you can still do a lot on Xbox Live for free, without paying for the extra Gold subscription.  You can still buy downloadable add-ons and songs for games like Just Dance 3 and Dance Central, use Your Shape‘s online workout-tracking features, and download free demos of Kinect games (you may have to wait a week or two for them to become available to non-Gold members).

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Online support for EA Sports Active 2 and NFL Training Camp will end next month

EA Sports Active 2 for Wii

EA has announced that they will shut down the online servers for a group of games, including EA Sports Active 2 (on all consoles) and NFL Training Camp (for Wii).  That means your online workout stats and workout groups for those games will go to cyber-heaven on April 15.

While EA should get some props for having the first console fitness games to have crucial online support – something I decried the lack of – it’s still dismaying that they’re pulling the plug after only about a year and a half after those games were released.  It’s also a consumer issue, since EASA2 and NFL are still on many retail store shelves and still selling for as much as $50.  Someone might pick up one of those games on a whim, or as a gift for a football fan who’s wearing a hole in the couch, only to find that the online support promised on the box no longer exists.

On the silver lining side, NFL has been drastically cut to under $15 at Amazon and I expect EASA2 to soon follow suit. I picked up NFL a couple months ago and tried it a couple times, and while it does have some connectivity issues (Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 for Kinect has really spoiled me) it’s still a good workout with plenty of NFL fan flavor.  The heart rate monitor and leg controllers are identical for both games, so if you get one of each, you can enjoy multiplayer on both games.

And since it’s the age of social networks, there will still be forums and groups devoted to EASA and NFL even after the built-in support is gone. The EA Sports Active forum is very active, and by all indications, will keep on movin’ after April.

(Via Ars Technica)

Buyer beware! New Wii won’t play DDR, Active Life or other mat games

This new Wii - note the horizontal Wii logo - has no ports for plugging in your mat

The Wii is still a hot item for the sixth holiday season running, and in the past, your biggest problem in selecting a Wii console was fighting off the pepper-spray-wielding Ebay resellers.  Unlike Xbox 360 or PS3, you didn’t have to worry about different models with different features; you just snatched that white box with “Wii” in big letters and you were good to play any Wii game, or any Gamecube game for that matter.

Well, Nintendo thought you buyers just had it too easy, and set out to change that.  Now there is a new Wii appearing on store shelves and at Amazon, and at first glance, it looks like the only difference is a lowered MSRP and a horizontal rather than vertical stance.  And you may have read on game sites that it no longer plays Gamecube games, which is no biggie for most people.

But what many upset buyers are finding out after the fact, is that they got rid of the four Gamecube ports, which means that if you want to play DDR, Active Life Explorer (or other Active Life game) or Walk It Out using a foot mat, you’re screwed.

Original Wii console: note the vertical Wii logo (this console can be either vertical or horizontal) and the Gamecube ports on the left

These mat games may be last century tech, but they’re still around – a new Active Life game, Magical Carnival, was just released.  And the newest Wii DDR game, DanceDanceRevolution II, is being hailed as a return to classic DDR with no hands, gimmicks or balance board, and doubles play for the first time on Wii.  Yet the new console won’t let you plug in even one mat, let alone two!

There are wireless third-party DDR mats, but they’re pricy and haven’t gotten good reviews.  My beef is that a “Wii game” should play on a Wii, not only certain models of Wii.  Nintendo really dropped the ball with this decontented box, and does a disservice to consumers by not making it clear that you can’t use the controllers that came with the DDR or Active Life bundle.

Pass up this no-bargain console, and look for the older Wii models (which are getting harder to find, and more expensive) or buy one used.  Otherwise you’ll have to miss out on some great active games.

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