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Ask X3F: The solitude of space edition

This week on Ask X3F, we discuss important issues like analog stick ... um ... stickiness, Canadian pricing, dead batteries and that all important topic: how do you convince your significant other that he or she needs an Xbox 360? Yes, we take a look at all this an more in the latest installment. Find them after the break. If you've got questions of your own, don't forget to send 'em our way.

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

Hey X3F,

I was wondering. Since late last year, Microsoft has equalized the cost of video games in Canada and USA. Before, games brand new cost 69.99, and now they are 59.99 (thank god). However, they still have not changed the rates on Microsoft Points. Canadians are still being charged more per point than Americans. Why did Microsoft only reduce costs on retail games and not both? Will we ever see MSP equality with our southern neighbours? Or do we have to pull an 1812, and burn the white house down just to get noticed?


Reece aka MyAbsolution

Why does Microsoft still charge Canadians the same price for MS Points as it always has? This is an excellent question and one for which we honestly don't have an answer. Going purely on gut instinct, we're betting the answer is this: because it can. As far as burning down buildings, there are perhaps better targets than the White House, considering Microsoft is based on the opposite side of the country. We're not suggesting you burn anything down though. That would be wrong. Might we suggest you start with an angry letter instead? Because, you know, angry letters always work.

Ask X3F,

As I was playing a few games, I noticed something odd with my controllers. My left analog stick seemed to be, well, sticking!

I read briefly somewhere (probably here on X3F) that this was a known problem with the controllers and assumed that Microsoft wasn't going to do anything about it. Well, with the news that there will be some controllers with fixed D-pads, is Microsoft going to do something about the faulty analog sticks? Did they already fix the problem and I missed out on it? I own five controllers (don't ask) and three of the five act up like this.


GamerTag: DarkAugustNight

No, Microsoft hasn't announced anything regarding analog sticks. In fact, the controllers with improved D-pads are limited edition and will only be released in Europe, Asia and Latin America, so, in truth, the D-pads aren't really being fixed at all. As for your particular problem, it's fairly common, especially if our previous coverage on Ask X3F is anything to go by. It's fairly natural to assume that analog sticks will eventually tilt in the most commonly pressed direction, which happens to be up for most games (Phantasy Star Online did this to my old Dreamcast controllers). Not to mention that sticks acquire some nasty crud thanks to all the sweaty little hands that twiddle them all day. Cleaning them might help, maybe with some alcohol and a Q-tip. Unless you're willing to actually crack your controller open -- and have the equipment to do so -- you'll probably just have to get used to the problem (unless you're really good at arguing with tech support).

I hope you guys can help me out, because this has been driving me crazy.

I bought my 360 earlier this year. At the time of purchase I picked up a white Play and Charge kit. About a week later, I bought a pink battery. Another month or so after that, I bought a black controller/Play and Charge bundle.

For three months from the purchase of my 360 everything was good. Then, within a week, all three of my batteries stop holding a charge. They went from being able to last for eight hour gaming sessions to nothing. When I plug the charge cable into the controller the red light is on for about three seconds, then it turns to green. When I unplug the charge cable the battery indicator (in the profile blade) sinks from four bars to three to two to one in about five seconds, and then the controller powers off.

I've tried swapping the batteries between controllers, using different Play and Charge cables, and charging them through my PC and Mac. Same results. The contacts are clean on the batteries and none of them have been used very heavily, just an occasional game of Worms or sinking a lot of hours into Dead Rising once in a while. One of the batteries was only used twice and kept out of the controller when not in use.

And no, there's no crazy EMF activity in my house or anything like that that would affect them.

Any help would be appreciated!


Sounds like you've got some bum batteries. We'd say your best bet is to get on the phone with 1-800-4MY-XBOX and try and score some replacements. You didn't mention whether or not the batteries you purchased were first party Microsoft products. If they aren't, we suggest you pick up official MS batteries, as we haven't heard good things about the third party options. Beyond that, you might also consider picking up some rechargeable AA batteries, they last just as long (or longer) than the MS alternative and they're cheaper.

Also, you may want to double check that EMF activity. There could be ghosts.

Will Stars Wars The Force Unleashed have any online multiplayer? I tried the demo and its a great game but so was Assassins Creed and I remember when I beat it I never played it again because there was no online so I dont want the same thing to happen to The Force Unleashed.

Nope. As you might expect, Darth Vader's secret apprentice works alone, so no multiplayer for you. We say rent that sucker!

Hey guys,

My brother and i share our 360. i pay for a gold subscription and he doesnt. and when he has the 360 my gold subscription is wasting away. is there any way whatsoever to "pause" my subscription?



Nope. The only conceivable thing you could do is pay for Live month-to-month and not buy a subscription for periods when your brother is using it. We're guessing he doesn't have it for months at a time though, so that's probably not a practical solution. Besides, Xbox Live is a service, kind of like cable TV. It's not like you don't have to pay for your cable just because you're not watching it. Our advice: tell your bro to keep his mitts off your Xbox. Failing that, you'll just have to live with the lost hours of Xbox Live.

Dear X3F,

I am currently trying to persuade my girlfriend to get herself a 360, and so the latest rumours of a September price drop are giving me some hope. These are, however, rumours for a price drop in the good ol' US of A. Have you heard from any of your super-secret inside sources about a possible UK/Europe price drop anytime soon?

Oh, and how about 3 reasons (other than Viva Pinata 2) for a girl to buy a 360? Just for a bit of help with the convincing...

Cheers guys,

Sam, we have (sadly) heard nothing in regards to a price drop in European territories. However, given that the rumored US price cut seems timed for the holidays, it sounds like the kind of price cut that would extend to Europe. With any luck, we should have a pretty good idea of where the price cut stands by the end of the week.

As for your significant other.

1) XBLA - Xbox Live Arcade is filled with all kinds of great games that appeal to casual gamers. Puzzle games, especially, are great fun to play together. Think Poker Smash, Puzzle Fighter, Lumines.

2) Rhythm games - Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are also excellent choices for someone who doesn't consider themselves a gamer.

3) Co-op games - This is a good choice because you can play together, instead of against one another (which can be a turn-off). Fable II, for example, offers two player local co-op. Castle Crashers is also a great co-op game.

Overall -- and this goes for all casual gamers -- we'd say to stick with games that feel like 'fun' and not 'work.' Any other suggestions, fanboys?

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

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