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Ask X3F: manual transmission edition

Believe it or not, we decided to take a break in our marathon session of Grand Theft Auto IV to bring you a new edition of Ask X3F. Surprisingly, this edition has almost nothing to do with Grand Theft Auto IV at all, a seemingly impossible proposition this week. No, we spend most of our time jawing about game manuals, giveaway winner selection, Xbox Originals DRM, and the cost of current generation games. Best of all though, it gave us an excuse to shine some light on the Earthworm Jim manual, truly one of the most awesome manuals ever. Read the questions (and answers!) after the break. Oh, and send some questions while your at it. We're running low.

Got a question for Ask X3F? Maybe you have a story or some information you'd like to share? Send it all to ask [at] xbox360fanboy [dot] com.

On Xbox LIVE, did you guys notice it doesn't tell you how long your friends have been offline, unless it's hours? I used to like seeing how many days it's been since a friend logged in, but no it just says "offline". Please tell Major Nelson to put it back in next time you see him.

Also, when you guys cover the inevitable Xbox LIVE issues during the release of GTA IV, can you give an update as to how the PSN is faring? I don't even own a PS3 but it won't hurt as bad if the PSN goes down just like LIVE will. Thanks, and keep on rockin' The Casbah.

Gamertag: Perno

Perno, we forwarded your complaint to Major Nelson. We should tell you though, we're not sure he has the power to just "put it back" into to Xbox Live. He hasn't replied yet anyway. Maybe he's too busy with Grand Theft Auto IV ....

As for potential Live problems related to GTAIV, you can bet we'll be keeping an eye out for them. We probably won't report on the PSN. Then again, if the PSN were to actually crash, we might report on it just to rub it in. We're all about lighthearted rivalry around here. Speaking of which, it must be nice for all the PS3 Fanboys to finally have a good game to play (tee hee).

Dear Xbox360Fanboy,

Do Xbox Originals have the same DRM restrictions as XBLA games?

For instance, if you purchased Halo on one 360 and it bricked (not necessarily RROD), and you bought another Xbox 360 via a retail store's warranty program and downloaded the title again, would you be able to play the game while not logged into Live?

If not, that would be another strike against DLC and the physical media.


Gamertag: BreakShooe

Yes, Xbox Originals are treated in exactly the same way as Xbox Live Arcade releases. If you were to detach your hard drive and slap it onto a friend's Xbox 360, your Gamertag would have to be connected to Xbox Live in order to play it. We're not sure, but we're guessing any Xbox Originals could be retied to a new console so long as you're willing to fight with customer service long enough to make it happen.

Maybe this isn't so much an "ask 360fanboy" as it is a "what's your take on this trend?"

I finally got COD4 the other day after seeing your tip re: Amazon's pricing. I cracked it open, and noticed the manual was a whopping 6-8 pages. Am I alone, or does anyone else miss manuals that actually tell you about the damn game?

My ass is already sore from spending $60 on what amounts to be an interactive advertisement (I'm looking at you EA), I don't feel like having to buy a help guide to tell me why there's an alien head flashing on my screen.

Guess I should put a question:

What's the most entertaining game manual you've read?


J, it's definitely true that video game manuals can be very sparse these days. We've noticed that sections dealing with online components of games are particularly barren. This is annoying as not everyone online is ready and willing to explain rules and mechanics to n00bs (forget the poor schlub who has no headset to ask). Some of the only truly detailed manuals these days are included with RPG titles like Oblivion and Lost Odyssey. Sad as it is, part of the reason for these skimpy manuals just might be that publishers are keen to sell strategy guides.

As for entertaining manuals, we're big fans of the old NES manuals, particularly the old Zelda manuals. They had some really cool illustrations. The Super Mario Bros. 3 manual had nice artwork too. The manual for Earthworm Jim was great too (there's a new EWJ on the way, you know). It had a lot of the game's humor. For instance, the description of Normal difficulty:

"Okay, you've ordered the action figures. You juggle fishing lures. You call him EWJ even though it has more syllables than Earthworm Jim. You've been caught in long underwear tying your hair to a curtain rod to see if you can swing from your head, just like EWJ. You begin to make hamster jokes yourself ..."

Classic. You can find these and others at It's a great way to waste your time, not that you should be doing that. We wouldn't condone doing it somewhere you shouldn't such as, say, your place of work.

How do you choose a winner for the Fanswag? Theres always a "set" thing to post with "tell us why something something" but I notice a lot of people just say "Give it to me please" or even try replying to the first person who posted to try and better their chances of being seen (although its a random drawing)

So my question is, do you eliminate those who don't follow the criteria posted?

Typically, no, we don't eliminate those who don't specifically answer our questions. Answering our questions and reading those answers, is certainly more entertaining though. As for how the winners are picked, that honor belongs to our good buddy Integer generators for the win. We take the overall number of entries, generate a random number somewhere within that number, make sure the comment associated with that number is legitimate, and notify that commenter via email. Pretty simple really.

Dear X3F,

Long time reader, first time asker.

I was a PC gamer for years. But I got tired of missing console only games and got a 360. I haven't looked back since. Seeing the Ironman game got me wondering. Why are there so many different prices for each system, and 360 is way more then the rest? PC and PS2 version are $30, yet 360 is $60. Comparing the PC and xbox rules out the theory of licensing. True they do have to pay to use the name 360 but they also have to pay for the name and to develop on Windows. It also rules out the theory that price is based on visual quality since the PC version is always the same or better visually. Comparing the PS2 version you can't say it's based on how many units expect to sell. A game like this or the Pixar games will more likely sell on the PS2 selling more copies, and PC coming in last.

Are charging us double just because they can?


Hate to tell you, Nate, but we'd say you nailed it. While publishers have certainly put forward many reasons for the next-gen tax (i.e. if it's on 360 or PS3 it costs more) -- next-gen games cost more to develop, etc. -- the long and short of it is that it doesn't matter what the reason really is. Games are an addictive medium, and gamers will pay almost anything to get their hands on them. Some say that special editions of games released for the last generation, like the Halo 2 Collector's Edition, for example -- were just tests to see how willing gamers were to spend more money for the same games. Needless to say, we snapped them up hook, line, and sinker. This concept is even scarier when you consider that thousands are currently plunking down $90 for the special edition of GTAIV.

Take heart that there is still a robust used games market, and you can pick up plenty of decent games for lower prices and, as always, games with low sales still wind up in the bargain bin. We make it a point to blog about deals and bargains that we find too.

That's it for this week, folks. Keep sending your questions to: ask [at] xbox360fanboy [dawt] com.

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