Playstation Move – out in stores

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Video games have definitely come a long way. Back when I was a kid, the Atari 2600 was the game system to have which featured primitive graphics and simple controls consisting of a joystick and one button. I can't imagine what my children would think if they had to entertain themselves with my childhood game system with its relatively crude 8-bit graphic capability. The current generation of gamers don't realize how good they have it. Game systems like the Playstation 3 can render very realistic images in full motion that kids from my generation could only dream about. And even beyond the graphics engines, the way we all interact with the game console has evolved over the years. It's not all about "button-mashing" anymore. Gamers are now able to play with their whole body. Check out the new PlayStation(R)MOVE that Sony is introducing this month. The PS3 controllers are taking things to the next level in terms of motion sensing.

Most of us are familiar with Wii motion controllers. Well, the Playstation Move improves on this technology with better accuracy and precision. Sony has incorporated a camera to work with the controllers that will keep track of 3D positioning. In other words, those little "short cuts" with those Wii controllers won't work here. The PS3 Eye will make sure you're performing the proper movements. So, for example, if you're playing tennis, you can't just flick your wrists to hit the ball with the PS3 Move. You'll need to do a full and complete swing of the racket to return a serve. That's definitely a welcomed improvement in my book.

I know the Playstation Move would be perfect for this household. I've got three young boys so they love playing against each other in head to head sports games. the PS3 game "Sports Champions" looks to be comparable to "Wii Sports". I've seen the demo of Table Tennis on "Sports Champions" and it really looks challenging. There are subtle wrist tilts, top spins and back spins which gives the game more depth and replay value compared to the simpler aspects in Wii Sports. I think my kids would love the higher degree of difficulty in mastering the movements with the PS3 Move. Plus, the colorful, glowing sphere on the move controller is just cool looking. At the $99 price point, it appears that the PlayStation®Move Bundle is the one to get. The bundle includes the motion controller, the Eye camera plus the Sports Champions game. But I'd also recommend getting a second Move controller since most gamers would want to play against a friend with these types of games.

Todd Rundgren – reProduction (2011) – CD review

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Todd Rundgren’s follow-up CD to his tribute to Robert Johnson is out this week, titledreProduction. And surprise, surprise, it’s ANOTHER album of covers!! That’s TWO cover albums in a row! wow. this is definitely unusual for Todd. Apparently at this stage in the game, securing proper funding for the recording & distribution of new material is getting difficult for legacy artists like Rundgren. As Rundgren explained in recent interviews, his Robert Johnson tribute album was required by Hi Fi Recordsin order to get his 2008 album, Arena released. Similarly, reProduction is a result from his participation in Gigatone’s “My Record Fantasy Camp” which allowed fans (willing to shell out the big bucks) to record with Rundgren in a studio. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this CD of remakes but after playing it the last couple weeks, I have to say that it’s a fun listen.

Long time fans should get the joke. Rundgren has always included novelty songs on his albums i.e. “Emperor of the Highway”, “An Elpee’s Worth of Tunes” and “Onomatopoeia”. Hell, he even released a full-on Beatles spoof with his band Utopia titled “Deface the Music” which essentially sabotaged the band’s popularity back in early eighties but that’s a whole ‘nother can ‘o worms so don’t get me started on that.

Anyway, if you can get past all those hurdles, Rundgren’s new interpretations aren’t all that bad. The new arrangements and sound palette aren’t that far removed from what Rundgren did on his 2004 Liars album. You can definitely hear synth patches that he’s regularly used in the past so the album is not a total *180* that some might think. And after the last two guitar-based albums (Arena, TR’s Johnson), it’s nice to hear his signature Todd chord/tone-clusters that he usually does on keyboard-centric songs. So if you can recall Rundgren techno-flavored tracks like “Truth” or “Wondering” (both from the album Liars) or even something like “Chant” (from 1983′s Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect), you can get a sense of what the new album sounds like.

Overall, reProduction is full of addictive ear candy. Todd built interesting arrangements around easily digestible hooks. Just take a listen to the Daft Punk-esque chorus of “Tell Me Your Dreams”. It’ll definitely linger around in your head a long while after the CD’s done playing. Also, Rundgren sings enthusiastically all throughout the record. As a matter of fact, I can picture him laughing his ass off while constructing these songs on his little MacBook. shit, an artist having a blast making a record?? hell, I’m all for that! and yes, there’s liberal use of the autotune/melodyne vocal effects here but it’s all goodsince it’s simply part of the genre Todd is spoofing here.

The only misstep that I’d like to mention is “I Can’t Take it”. Todd’s remake is pretty much a sped-up version of the original but with a clunky drum machine. Not a complete makeover like some of the other tracks. Since it’s more of a power pop flavored arrangement, Rundgren should have overdubbed live drums (perhaps he ran out of time during his Record Fantasy Camp sessions at the Track Shack back in January) instead of leaving in the canned drums. It just sounds stilted and awkward as is. Definitely a missed opportunity.