Eternally waiting for the PS3

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Were you wondering what my first gripe of the year was going to be about? Your wait is over!

...but mine sure isn't.

I'm an avid video game player (in my own little world, that definition does not include Madden or Call of Duty. If yours does, too bad).

However, I'm constantly behind the times as a financial necessity. My NES was a christmas present in 1993 (8 years late). I threw down on a Game Boy in 1995 (6 years), a SNES followed in 1996 (5 years), a PlayStation in 1997 (2 years), a Sega Genesis in 1998 (9 years) and a Game Boy Color in 1999 (1 year).

Several of those models (the NES, SNES and Genesis ... and later my PS2 and PS3) were revised models with significant price drops. It eventually became my stated rule that no system or game will be bought by me at full price. This continued through the ages.

The First Wait

The Playstation 3 launched in North America in November of 2006. It was suggested that I should take a second job to afford the $599 behemoth. It's kind of funny; the arrogant tone insisting something is wrong with me for not having a 3DS sounds so much like it. ...It now occurs to me that the reason the jobs were so hard to come by starting in 2007 might be because so many people wanted to buy that PS3.

Last year (5 years) I had a big scheme on finally joining the HD generation of gaming. The key to it all was Black Friday, of course.

As several of you might recall, nearly every retailer had a special PlayStation 3 bundle for Black Friday sales: A 160GB system with Little Big Planet 2 (special edition) and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One for $199.

Sadly, the necessity of a new set of tires in October gutted my discretionary savings. By the time Black Friday rolled around, that $199 would be all I had to my name, with nothing left to do early Christmas shopping.

Then, I discovered K-Mart's unique offer: They did not exclude Black Friday sale items from layaway. I'm honestly surprised this didn't buttress holiday sales. I could put the holiday PS3 on layaway and snag Best Buy's $80 24" HDTV (as I saw little point in playing a PS3 in SD), I would still have $100 left to spend on presents.

The Second Wait

Getting the PS3 from K-Mart at 5 a.m. was simply easy.

Getting the PS3-enabling HDTV from Best Buy was simply Hellish.

For the past several years, I have ventured out and about on Black Friday for specific items. Seeing as I'm a night-owl anyway, it was never much of an effort for me to be on the hunt all night. In years gone by, the crowds have been very manageable. I never had to go to a store more than an hour in advance in order to get everything I wanted to pick up there.

But 2011... was different. Nearly every store, desperate for a sales shot in the arm, opened on the stroke of midnight (in Maine, blue laws keep them from opening any earlier, like Walmart's 10 p.m. plan elsewhere). While not many people think they can manage a 2 or 3 a.m. sale, most can stay up until midnight. As a result, every store was mobbed with lines an order of magnitude longer than the lines of 2010.

I scouted the line at my local Best Buy on the way home from my sister's Thanksgiving meal. I'm glad I did; the line had already wrapped around the building at 4 in the afternoon! Based on this, I oped to arrive at 7 p.m. instead of 9.

And I waited.

Best Buy started issuing reservation tickets at 10 p.m. Of the 50 cheepo HTDVs available at my local store, I got my mitts on ticket #39. I don't think I could have arrived much later if I wanted anything at all. The ticket was good until 4 a.m., but having waited more than 3 hours for it, I decided I'd just sit tight until midnight, get in and get out.

Let me tell you, the only thing worse than waiting outside Best Buy for 5 hours, is waiting inside for 2. A definite miscalculation on my part, as I knew the store had few registers to check out the hundreds of customers.

Shortly after 2 a.m. I was sung inside my car with the loot. I was tired and sore, but I thought that was nothing a energy drink and a breakfast sandwich couldn't fix while I kicked back until it was time to line up at K-Mart. Everybody else thought that too, it seems, as there was another hour wait to place an order at Tim Hortons. But I got a chair in the warm inside, put some food and caffeine in me, and I was ready for K-Mart and the PS3 layaway gambit.

This part, fortunately, passed without incident.

The Third Wait

This, of course, refers to the four payments to layaway. This part also passed without incident, so I'll just move on to...

What? A Fourth!? But I already have it!

At long last, I close out 2011 with a PS3 (thanks to some unexpected Christmas cash helping me make an extra payment).

Oddly enough, the first thing I want to do is to see if my ISP connection is cool enough to do HD streaming of Netflix.

"In order to use this feature you must download software."

OK

"In order to download this software you must sign onto the PlayStation Network."

Sign in

"In order to sign onto the PlayStation Network, you must update your firmware to the latest version"

Download, install, reboot

"In order to use this feature you must download software."

OK

Download, install

"An update for this software is available."

Hold the phone. I JUST downloaded the software. Did Netflix push an update in the last five minutes or something? If they had not, why don't you offer the fully patched version as a download?

So I download the magic update, install that too, re-sign into the PSN, sign into Netflix and finally I can DO something.

And this was no isolated incident, either. I went to the PSN and downloaded a dozen demos. EACH ONE needed to be patched AFTER downloading them. It boggles the mind.

Then I start trying to play REAL games.

I was never big on Ratchet & Clank but I decided I might as well try the pack-in game. The game, naturally, needed to be patched. After downloading and installing the patch, the disc loads. It plays a short and amusing opening cinematic before telling me it must dump a gigabyte of code on my hard drive or I can't play it.

The worst offender by far was Little Big Planet: Game of the Year Edition which took more than 3 hours to update and install. What the hell kind of developer thinks this is permissible? THREE HOURS. What a load!

And while we're on the subject of download/install stupidity, I'm calling out the music export feature of the Rock Band series. The music is on the disc. Why can't we use the code do download a program that exports the music directly from the disc? Why do I have to download all the music off the PSN?

It seems this Fourth Wait I shall experience time and time again for as long as I use the thing.

After installing and updating a small collection of PS3 games (and a few more that Gamefly dropped in my mailbox), the demos, the Rock Band tracks and some themes and wallpapers, my 160GB PS3's drive had only 89GB left. I filled nearly half the hard drive in two days.

It occured to me those poor souls who cling to their launch 20 or 60 GB models for the backwards compatibility. That compatibility seems to be about all those models are good for unless their owners enjoy uninstalling and reinstalling every game they want to play. I'm glad my PS2 still works.

Over the past two years, I have bought more than a dozen PS3 games I had tried and enjoyed whenever I found a very good deal. Of those games I snagged in expectation of this console, all have experienced the Fourth Wait save for two: Eternal Sonata and Final Fantasy XIII I could just put in and PLAY. That I like. No updates, no installs, just me playing the damn game. Like I've been able to do for the past six console generations.

...though I find it odd that the only games that don't take what seems like an RPG sidequest chain to play are the RPGs.

Status report

"Just" started: Corpse Party (PSP), Game Dev. Story, Monster Tale, Professor Layton and the Last Specter,Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

Still Playing: Dragon Quest IX, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Torchlight

Lagging behind: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, The Incident, Infinity Blade, Metroid: Other M, Persona 3: FES, Starcraft: Brood War, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, Wii Sports Resort

"Just" Finished: Corpse Party (PSP), Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Half-Minute Hero, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Secret of Mana, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Up Next? Conker's Bad Fur Day, Cubivore, Dissidia Duodecim, Dragon Quest IV, Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman: What Did I Do to Deserve This? 2, Jumping Flash 2, Kingdom Hearts, Mega Man 9, Okami, Persona, Sam & Max: Season One, Scourge, Secret of Evermore, Snuggle Truck, Star Ocean: The First Departure, Trine, Zach & Wiki

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