By Izmeiah Brown

Going into this iteration of the DSi family was exciting for me. You see if my closet is any indication I LOVE my DS. I bought the original DS “Phat” back when it debuted on Nov 21, 2004 and as the system aged I have been constantly buying the “upgrades” to the family. So far I have owned 1 DS, 3 DS Lite, 1 DSi and now a DS XL. The Lite, and the DSi were a marked upgrade over the original. They featured sexy designs, and sleek polish over the bulky gray original. However the reduction in weight and smallness of the system meant one thing to me: Hand cramps.

I have over 100 DS games, and playing them for any amount of time on a DS Light or a DSi caused pain throughout most of my thumb region. This was pretty much my only complaint about the system. Enter the DS XL, this big boned beautiful sister  alternative to the popular DSi has become my liberator. Gone is the pain and cramping associated with my DS playtime. The DS XL for all its enormity is by far and away the best example of engineering put  out by Nintendo in a long while.

The screens are absolutely gorgeous. I had read on many boards over the last few weeks that there would be “distortions” caused from the bigger screens, but this is largely not true. The screens still operate at the same dimensions as their smaller counterpart. The screens are perfect for those that need glasses, or perhaps those that like to show off their gaming to family and friends. There does in fact seem to be a wider view angle when compared to the previous DSi and this is somewhat a nice thing. I can count many times when people have put their ear to mine to hear the ocean watch what I am playing. The fact that they can now sit comfortably beside me is a godsend.

Now for the bad.  I have downloaded games through the Nintendo WFC yet, even with a linked account to Club Nintendo, I am not able to download those purchases. So basically Nintendo dropped the ball yet again on their wireless end. I hope these issues are fixed by the time we see the 3DS, or the successor to the Wii. I mean this is kind of a big deal. This means that somewhere someone at some Gamestop in Alabama gets all my hand-me-down games. Unacceptable, Nintendo.

Also while I am talking about the 3DS why on Earth did Nintendo announce that this week I wonder? It almost seems certain that it would detract from XL sales, however it also seems just as likely that if they had waited a week it would have upset 3DS sales too. A thorny situation, thorny indeed.  Whatever the reason it is I still stand behind my purchase on this system. Despite what others have been saying online I say that this system DOES in fact feel like an upgrade to an already great system. I just hope that in four months there isn’t a NDS Super XL: Now with cup holder edition.

Really, the biggest news of tonight is the launch of Final Fantasy XIII in the United States. It’s launched in the EST, but we’re still waiting on our copy in the CST.  Very excited to say the least.  In our own due diligence, we wanted to share with you at least an update of the PSN.  The ONLY thing we’ve seen from Sony for why the systems and PlayStation Network would not work is below.  We can’t but help to think it was a media stunt to gain more Twitter followers at this point:

The PlayStation Recap

Posted by Chris Morell // Senior Specialist, Social Media

  • UNCHARTED 2 Title Update 1.06 and Multiplayer Updates – We released an update to the multiplayer modes of UNCHARTED 2 earlier this week. The Title Update and live updates we pushed performed some additional balancing to player hitboxes, some weapons and one Booster that we felt was warranted after Title Update 1.05 was released. As part of these updates, we also pushed some geometry updates to prevent intentional glitching.
  • “Unleashed: The Art of Naughty Dog” art show opens this weekend – Twenty Naughty Dog (and UNCHARTED 2) artists are doing a group show of their art work at the Gnomon Gallery in Hollywood, California. The opening reception for the show is on the evening of Saturday, March 6, and will run for at least a month.

As of 6:20PM CST, we can confirm that our PS3’s are working as expected on the PlayStation Network.  All DRM/DLC, trophies and saved data is present and accounted for.  We first got word of this from Izmeiah Brown, our Lead Designer, when it broke on Gizmodo.  Still no official word from Sony, but that’s typical and to be expected.  This ability to login, however, does not mean that it won’t happen again.  Scary how they can push an update like this and shut almost 40 million systems down without no one really noticing, isn’t it.

This is a use at your own risk deal since there has been no official word from Sony yet.  We’ll let you know as soon as they start making apologies.

== UPDATE ==

Sony releases the following statement on their blog:

We are aware that the internal clock functionality in the PS3 units other than the slim model, recognized the year 2010 as a leap year. Having the internal clock date change from February 29 to March 1 (both GMT), we have verified that the symptoms are now resolved and that users are able to use their PS3 normally.

If the time displayed on the XMB is still incorrect, users are able to adjust time settings manually or via the internet. If we have new information, we will update you through the PlayStation.Blog or

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

And that’s that.  They “apologize”, but fail to state exactly what they’re going to do for breaking the trust of all of the gamers WORLDWIDE.  Sure the PSN is free, but come on; The trade off is quite obvious at this point – monitoring.  We should be able to play Single Player games like Heavy Rain regardless if the PSN is online or not.  We should also be able to use our games that we downloaded without being told we stole it (basically what the error message implied).  These are the things that they should be focusing on and making Next-Gen actually Next-Gen. 

As one comment we read earlier today, you could pop in a Nintendo cartridge, and BAM you were playing the game.  Why doesn’t this work the same way today for the PS3?  And what about the people without access to the Internet?  Are they still affected?  We’ll never know because they’re completely out of touch with the rest of the living world.  Trust us, if this happens again, we’re going to make sure they answer these questions that all gamers of the PS3 deserve.

With Sony’s typical “We’ll just let them wait and find out approach” on their Blog and Twitter, not to mention the launch of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 tonight at midnight, gamers without a working PS3 are a bit upset to say the least. A global problem with the PS3 Firmware has caused an outage and system failure to systems both online and offline from the PlayStation Network. One thing we have seen this good for is Sony’s PSN Twitter Account, with records of 120-200 new followers per minute. That seems a lot like people standing around waiting for someone to say something – anything – that might help them get out of this snafu that was a major oversight by Sony’s Q/A Department. With those already doing the “corporate shuffle” and blaming MSI and Freescale as commentators on the PSN Blog should be ashamed of themselves.

At approximately 9PM CST on February 28th, 2010, users began dropping off of the PSN. They found themselves locked out of their systems, including those who had not connected and only updated via PS3 games as a mandatory firmware update, with their system clocks rolled back to December 31st, 1999. Those who had connected to the Internet and updated also found themselves in more trouble than that. Sony confirms that save data, game data and DLC and DRM Content may become corrupt if you even turn on your PS3. That’s right: Sony has advised people to not even turn on their PS3. According to CNN, Sony reported last month a total of 40 million gamers who had connected to the PSN but were not sure how many of those were plagued with this problem.

We have read around the web that players trophies have disappeared altogether – however this may not be the case. After we logged into, we found that only what we had done within the last two weeks, (last trophy reported was February 15th, 2010) was not present with a convenient fine print of…

Note: The above information is dependent on the proper functioning of the PlayStation®Network. Information is not updated in real time.

That means all of our Heavy Rain and White Knight Chronicles trophies are gone…or maybe not. We don’t know yet because of their fine print. However, we can confirm that users who did hear about this problem last night and unplugged their systems from the Internet were still affected since it was the firmware that caused the problem – not the connectivity to the Internet. One user reported to us that they had never connected their PS3 to the Internet and just played Fallout 3 and their system still worked just fine.

No word from Sony yet. Some users have reported removing the system battery will correct this problem, however this will most likely void your warranty. We’ll update this post further when our staff has a chance to add few more comments.

In the mean time, tell us what you think Sony should do to fix this problem. Just push a firmware update (which we’re hearing might not even work), give us free credit to the PlayStation Store (or perhaps remove the DRM so this doesn’t happen again and we can play Single Player Games) or start shipping out PS3 Slims to everyone. We look forward to your thoughts and comments!

A recent update from Sony PlayStation Blog stated that PlayStation users are advised to NOT use their PS3’s due to the wide-spread issue with the PlayStation Network. Here’s the direct post that they made:

As you may be aware, some customers have been unable to connect to the PlayStation Network today. This problem affects the models other than the new slim PS3.

We believe we have identified that this problem is being caused by a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system.

Errors include:

  • The date of the PS3 system may be re-set to Jan 1, 2000.
  • When the user tries to sign in to the PlayStation Network, the following
    message appears on the screen; “An error has occurred. You have been
    signed out of PlayStation Network (8001050F)”.
  • When the user tries to launch a game, the following error message appears
    on the screen and the trophy data may disappear; “Failed to install
    trophies. Please exit your game.”
  • When the user tries to set the time and date of the system via the
    Internet, the following message appears on the screen; “The current date
    and time could not be obtained. (8001050F)”
  • Users are not able to play back certain rental video downloaded from the
    PlayStation Store before the expiration date.

We hope to resolve this problem within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you have a model other than the new slim PS3, we advise that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality, such as recording obtained trophies, and not being able to restore certain data.

As mentioned above, please be advised that the new slim PS3 is not affected with this error. We are doing our best to resolve the issue and do apologize for any inconvenience caused.

As we thought, this is the PS3 Y2K bug indeed. Let’s hope this is resolved before FFXIII comes out.

PlayStation Network Down

As we had reported last night, the Sony PlayStation Network was (and still is) down because of an unexplained technical issue.  The issue causes an error code of 8001050F to appear upon launching any PS3 Blu-Ray Game, setting the clock back to 12/31/1999 (sounds a lot like a Y2K bug), trophy sync problems and downloaded content (DLC) to show that there are invalid copyright permissions.  This has caused a lot of headache among hundreds of thousands of gamers globally and still no update from Sony on their blog or their Twitter feed.

So, what is this? A PS3 Y2K bug? Possibly.  The error code “8001050F” is referenced to mean “Hardware failure. Cannot update firmware or connect to internet.” However, upon launching most games, players are getting a message stating “Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will quit. (8001050F)”. Why would this be? Shouldn’t the PS3 work offline too? That’s what we thought. All of our offline DLC, such as Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII (PS1/PSP Playable) does not work at all. We can’t play single player games that shouldn’t rely on the Internet or not such as Heavy Rain. All we have to say is we hope that this is fixed today, and for sure before the 9th of this month, when Final Fantasy XIII releases.

Usually by this point, Sony would/should have replied…but what’s to be expected from a free network?  Our advice: If you haven’t turned on your PS3 yet, don’t. It’s tragic enough to read about and even worse to see for yourself. Last night, the topic of “playstation network crash” hit the #5 hottest trend on Google and now currently sits at #40. Wait until Sony updates their Blog or Twitter with “we’ve fixed the error”. We will keep you posted as well, so stay tuned.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, obtained by SOE on May 15th, 2007, was a game that many hoped would trump the legendary EverQuest.  It was well known that there were problems with Vanguard, even before SOE had controlled the game.  The reason I mention SOE is because I have played EverQuest for quite some time (almost 5 years at the time of writing this) and still occasionally play.  When I think of an MMO after EverQuest, I have a big problem relating to the monotony that I hardened myself against while playing EverQuest.

The monotony in EverQuest could easily be neutralized by simple applications such as MacroQuest.  Even though MacroQuest was a big part of how I played EQ, I still wanted to go for a game that I thought was fun enough to not want to cheat.  I guess, the biggest reason I write this now is because I’ve reached the level in Vanguard that I have no problem going directly after high tier items that other people took months of combined time to obtain – and I’m stopping myself.  So.  Vanguard has bored me.

The biggest thing that I really experienced was being in the community, leveling three different types of XP at the same time and working on skills, and traveling the obnoxiously large world.  The game, after the just the shock value of tuning it to work on your system, has some impressive things going on – graphics are all rendered real-time, the amount of data being processed, just the sheer load of what a computer is handling is impressive…and also not very energy efficient at the same time.

The best thing that I can think of Vanguard at this point is being a decent benchmarking utility, but when you’re building a computer for someone else, how often do you want to transfer 20GB for one program to test a few minor settings?  Could be an interesting service, but I doubt you’d find that many consumers wanting someone playing on their gear.

I really hated the fact that once I was actually out in the world, playing the game, that I could see the limit that the developers left on the game.  I know that designing a working MMO isn’t an exact science, but there was no sense of impending doom that lurked over the whole world – or even something in my general area that taunted the NPC’s in general was somewhere or something I should be doing.  When I realized the thought of “should be doing”, that’s when the I feel like my ability to have fun was inhibited.  I really felt like the game was misguided, or got lost in the translation.

Sure, I should be doing something else – like not padding my blog with rich content that’s well past expired or expecting cool things from a pretty box.  In conclusion, Vanguard sucked balls and still does.  It does not match up to the mathematical complexity, the ability to manage character development, and the creativity that I expected from the creator of EverQuest, Brad McQuaid.