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About n8littlefield

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  • Birthday 02/02/1977

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  1. Everyone who uses the internet probably has that moment every once and awhile when they think "I should start a blog". That moment is generally accompanied by the second thought of "If I started a blog, what would I actually write about?" followed by "Oh well, back to looking at pictures of cats." I was in that boat until recently when after dealing with Microsoft's customer service policies I had something to get off my chest. I should start this writing with a quick note - I have been working in tech support/customer in various forms for the past 9 years. This probably makes me more sensitive to what I see as bad service and definitely makes me quicker to be angry when a company takes the approach that a customer is their enemy as I feel Microsoft takes. First, the lesser incident. In the fall, our money was slightly tight. So, the decision was made that we would let our Gold Membership with Microsoft lapse. I'm not a competitive gamer and my utter lack of sense of direction leaves me useless in most first person shooters, so our Gold membership was essentially to let me watch Netflix in our gameroom. I couldn't figure out where to just remove my old, expired credit card from the system or where to turn off any autorenewals (turns out you have to do that on the website or by calling, the system itself cannot actually manage most things). So, when Microsoft said they couldn't bill my card by email, I assumed I'd just let it be done at that, my account would revert to Silver and life would go on. Turns out, I was wrong. Instead of saying "We couldn't bill you so we've turned off your Gold access", Microsoft decided "We couldn't bill you so we've suspended your account and are holding it hostage". I called customer service and was told until I paid $60 I couldn't use my profile. I argued that I just wanted to go to Silver and that there was no way on the console to manage this stuff, but was again told that I had a $60 bill with Microsoft and until I paid it, I was in Microsoft Jail (my term, not theirs). We decided that was fine, I would live in Jail until we had some extra cash. Turns out that being in Microsoft Jail is extrememly inconvenient. The 360 is apparently too stupid to remember that you are in jail, so every single time the system tries to do anything online, it tells you again and again that you are on the Microsoft Naughty list. High score in pinball? You're suspended. Wanna browse the Rock Band store? You're suspended. It's a royal pain. So - a week later we relented and decided to re-up Gold. I decided I was done having a credit card on file, and wanted to just buy a Gold card on sale online. I called Microsoft to make sure this would be sufficient and was told it was not - that I to pay them directly to get rid of my bill to be able to do a Live card. I got off the phone and felt this seemed extremely wrong. I decided to callback and ask for a manager because I was willing to sign up for another year, why should they care how I do it? I called back again and a very nice rep cleared off my account, freeing it for Silver and allowing me to re-up at my convenience. I was thrilled with her, but obviously the fact I'm writing about it means it was starting to sour my 360 experience. Now, if for some reason someone is reading this and gets to this point they would probably be thinking "Ok, so a month long inconvenience, what's the problem?" Well, the major problem came a month ago, when I once again logged into my console to find I was suspended from Live - but this time it wasn't just me it was my entire console that was banned. I figured the message must be a mistake, so I called Microsoft. Microsoft's customer service cannot tell you why your console was jailed. They cannot request the jailing be lifted. They cannot do ANYTHING when you are deemed to have broken a rule - they only can refer you to post on an online, public forum. I had them promise not to re-new my Gold while I was suspended and after much arguing, agreed to posting on a forum to try to get my access back. I was already considering getting rid of my 360 right then, this is completely inappropriate service for a product. A quick scan of the other messages in the forum gave me a quick heads up why I was likely in Microsoft Jail again, non-official Microsoft Points. I will confess, awhile back I did a quick search for cheap Microsoft points online hoping to find some discounted points (Live goes on sale all the time, I figured points might). In the process I came across a very large ebay style site that sold "wholesale MS Points". They were guaranteed, said that they were completely safe to the use and were very cheap. I admit, I knew they were sketchy but the alure of a big discount is hard to ignore so I tried it, and it worked. I bought from them a few more times over the next year - each time getting a good deal and although I suspected they were iffy it was such a huge site and each seller had so much good feedback it seemed like it just was some form of loophole they were using. Apparently, my purchases broken the T&Cs of Live and my console was deemed to be evil. So, I posted to the forum asking to confirm if this was the cause and begged my case for reinstatement. I never heard back. About 2 days later I again posted to the forum and again was automatically told my message would be reviewed for posting and again I never heard back. Other people seemed to be getting answers, but mine was falling on deaf ears. I stated I'm not a hacker, I wasn't using the points to get FIFA advantages (something that I found out later many people were doing), I never play online and curse people out or any of the other stuff that gets the ban hammer. I was just getting cheap Rock Band tracks. I offered to let them wipe my system's drive to remove the offending DLC, but no answer. I declined to write back a third time because by then I was alerted by a friend to a site where "funny or embarrassing ban messages get posted" and decided I was done publicly begging for answers and forgiveness. At this point with no phone support, no forum support and the risk of forum support publicly ridiculing me, I decided to start calling around about getting rid of my Microsoft products. I was done being treated like my business didn't matter and if they didn't care enough to give me answers, I certainly wasn't going to reward them with more money. I'm 35, this was my family's console - we had Kinect with 8-10 games, 4 controllers, 30+ other games and a room full of plastic instruments - so it wasn't a small decision. I had unfinished games, some of which were 360 exclusives that I'd never finish. I called and found a few places that said as long as it wasn't physically modded they'd give me credit (of course the credit was very small, the games I had were the bigger trade values by far). I left the store that night with no 360, no games, but a brand new PS3 and about 10 games for it. Two weeks after all of this, I received an email from Microsoft. It wasn't answering my multiple inquires about my ban, instead it was confirming my Gold membership was set to autorenew (despite earlier promises it wouldn't). I called customer service again, they apologized for the lack of answers, said I should have picked a random moderator to private message instead of trying to post - I said I was following the prior rep's instructions,that I sold all their equipment and asked him to pass on to management exactly what I had been through. I never heard back from them again. I'm happy with my new console, but it stil amazes me the lengths Microsoft will go to avoid actually helping a customer. It amazes me they would expect me to go buy a new console and support them without any answers or support. It amazes me my console would get banned with no warning or email stating why. It's an approach to customer service that is completly foreign to me - the approach that the customer is always wrong, the customer doesn't deserve any answers as to why they're wrong, and if we decide it's funny enough we'll make sure the customer looks stupid about being wrong. Love my new PS3 though...
  2. I actually look forward to seeing what Game Gear games look like portable on a better screen than the GG head. I remember really liking the Shinobi when I had a copy. I'd really rather Nintendo move on and get us some Genesis Shinobi games on the system...but I suppose it will take time for the VC to hit non-portable games.
  3. The main issue was probably price. The fact that it did exactly what the other PSP models did but with some extra storage didn't justify the price hike. When you combine that with the higher price of downloading a game vs buying a UMD it made no sense to pick one up (except as an emulation machine). At $150 with $10 downloadable retail games it would done have much better and probably still made more profit than the UMD versions given how few PSP retail UMDs were being sold new in the US. Retailers don't care - they sell iPods which are exactly the same idea.
  4. We're starting to get more dungeon crawlers on Arcade (Crimson Alliance and Torchlight come to mind) I'd love to see more though - one of my favorites on the PS2 was the Bard's Tale remake.
  5. I'll go: Lego Star Wars Clone Wars: If you haven't gotten sick of the Lego games yet, this is a solid buy, especially for the $20 asking price. The 3d is really nice too. Asphalt Racing: I traded it in - the framerate in 3d bothered me. Very generic and just felt like a cheap cell phone game more than a full retail release. Ghost Recon: A must play if you even remotely like turn based strategy. Not the "oh wow, look at the 3d" showoff title, but one that you'll spend hours in front of. Mario Kart: It's Mario Kart in 3d. It's super pretty, really fun and the online is actually good. Only complaint is the traditional complaints of the game cheating to keep races close. Mario 3d: Amazingly fun game. Very nice looking, controls like a dream and I actually like the levels better than Mario Galaxy. Star Fox: It's Star Fox. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the series, but picked it up anyways and haven't played it that much. If you like the series it's probably a no brainer though. 3d is really nice on this one - great depth. Zelda: I've never played OOT until this so I'm having a lot of fun - but it is a more traditional Zelda in that there are many moments where you really aren't certain where to go next. It can be frustrating, but it's a classic that I'm glad I could finally play. Nintendogs: Same gameplay with a few more things to do - graphically very impressive. The animals all look fantastic though and of course kids love it. Pacman/Galaga: I really like Galaga Legions and Pac Man Championship, but the other games are sort of meh. I paid $20 and think that's fair, but anymore and I would have ticked. I kind of think the games i liked are worth $10 each and the rest is just kind of bonus. I also have Xevious 3d and it's really fun - just don't turn the 3d all the way up it's way too strong! My next game will probably be Pushmo on the download side of things and I may go back and get DOA or Street Fighter since I don't have any fighting games yet and that genre was never well represented on the DS.
  6. I really liked it - with the exception of Baby Bowser, I really hated him as a boss character. Otherwise I loved the water gun mechanics and the camera didn't bother me that much. It's a really pretty game assuming you can get over the fact it doesn't really have the large variety of themed worlds that traditionally Mario games have had.
  7. I read in reviews the 3D on the HTC 3D wasn't very good, and was a lot more headache-inducing than the 3DS. That, and the 3D slider is only an on/off switch; you can't adjust the 3D. I tried it in store when picking my last phone and I was completely underwhelmed. The 3DS effect worked better for me - probably thanks to the adjustable slider. The phone felt very gimicky. With that said, I think the 3DS is in a bit of trouble right now. When the DS library lacked depth, it was ok, because the competition was either nonexistant or much more expensive - now the competition is looking good and at the same price. I'm a Nintendo lover and I haven't bought a 3DS and I'm pretty sure I'll be going Vita this next round of hardware - my son will probably have one next year though - his loyalty lies with Pokemon.
  8. Thanks - I'll keep you in mind. I'm going to post a list/pics this weekend (busy tonight at Harry Potter.) As a side note, I would be open for trades if someone has a good sized Pro Duo memory card on hand, that's what I'm hoping to get with the $$ anyways - my PSP only has a 2GB card and it's proving to be too small.
  9. I understand those 3 games likely would have had lackluster sales. I completely understand that decision. It bothers fans, I get it, but in the end they really did seem like niche titles at the end of a console lifespan and given how poor Wii software sales have been lately, I can see why they might have decided not to push them out. The 3DS launch is absolutely inexcusable though. The DS launch was weak and I was kind of understanding as it was a new tech and pretty unproven and at the time even Nintendo hadn't fully committed to the hardware (they called it their third tier, to coexist with the Gameboy line). This time it's just terrible. I wanted a reason to buy it, but still can't come up with one, so I bought a 2nd hand PSP for a temporary upgrade from my DS.
  10. I'm selling a large bundle of PC games as is. Basically, I have no PC at the moment that has a working CD rom drive so I can't really go through each disc to make sure that they work, so I'd like to just sell them as a lot. I don't PC game anymore - my Netbook isn't really a powerhouse... There are a bunch of games I've put together so far - off hand I know there are at least four Sims 2 expansions with their boxes and serial numbers, Knights of the Old Republic, Diablo 2 & expansion with serials, a few strategy games like Cleopatra and Vegas Tycoon, and some disc only games that you'd probably have to find serials for like Alice, Warcraft 2, and Black and White. There are a few kids games in there - I know there are Spongebob and Cars games in there still in the jewel cases. I'm just asking $25 - which is probably about .50 per disc - plus $10 shipping as I'm just going to throw them into a prepaid priority mail box. If I get no bites I can try to get a really complete list together, but basically if it's a commercial PC disc in my house I'm going to throw it in a box and ship it to you cheap.
  11. Yay! I was hoping EA would be the winner of the bidding war. Popcap makes great games, but unfortunately they are very PC/iPod focused - the DS/360 versions of Plants vs Zombies took forever and the distribution of Bookworm and Peggle DS were pretty terrible too (at least initially). Zuma on the 360 feels like a quick port as it doesn't even fill the screen well in HD. EA behind them will hopefully speed that up and improve their ports. I'd love to get 360/DS/PSP ports of the Bookworm Adventure games - and the PSP never got Plants vs Zombies. EA has improved over the years, they are much better than seeing Popcap go to Zynga who was one of the other bidders. And EA isn't the only one guilty of the sequel thing - think of how many versions of Bejeweled Popcap has put out...
  12. Pick up Tingle or Giana Sisters for the DS - I think those were Europe only - and both are pretty decent games to boot.
  13. That's exactly why I broke down and picked one up this month. My son got a PS2 as a handmedown and it reminded me of some of the great franchises that Sony has (I don't own a PS3). The 3DS/Vita news made me want a more powerful system than my DS and once I saw I could get it free with some extra games I had to tradein I was sold. I've bought about 15 games for it already - but I've promised the wife to lay off buying for awhile. I do have Katamari on the way for it from Amazon but that's the last for a bit.
  14. I've played 3 good non-Nintendo racers and it's not for lack of trying. Asphalt: Urban is ok if you can get it for less than $10...it's really a glorified cell phone game but at least has a somewhat solid engine. Sonic All Stars Racing (or whatever it is called) - is solid - but again, not a real realistic experience. Speed Racer is really, really fun as someone already mentioned. With that said, except Mario Kart, there are no racing games I've ever played on the DS that I would pay more than $10 for - it just hasn't been well represented as a genre on the DS. It's too bad, a port of Super Beetle Adventure Racing would be sweet.
  15. I'd also recommend Pursuit Force. It's easily my favorite game so far on the system. It's basically Chase HQ with varied missions, some on foot shooting sections and a great sense of speed. I can't believe after playing it that they didn't turn it into a major property on the larger console too - it's so much fun. If you like the genre, Hot Shots Golf is also one you can't go wrong with. It's exactly what you'd expect, a simple, fun golf game.
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