A while back I blogged about buying a PS2 in China, and there was a lot of interest. There’s not much to say about PS3, because it is so far uncracked/unpirated, so everyone who plays PS3 here imports everything. Games are 2-300 RMB each. XBox 360 has similar status re: pirating to Wii in China, but I have almost no experience with it, so will limit my observations to the Wii and its games.
Nintendo does not officially sell the Wii in the People’s Republic of China, so buyers must purchase an imported system. While previously Japanese Wii systems were the most common, now Korean imports are becoming more common. I imagine it is possible buy the Wii imported from the United States and other countries as well.
These are the prices I was quoted at my local video game shop:
– Basic Wii system (one controller) imported from Korea: 1580 RMB
– Installation of WiiGator “backup launcher” (which allows you to play “backup copy” AKA pirated games): free
– Extra Wii controller set (Wii remote + “nunchuk”): 450 RMB
– Wii Fit imported from Japan (with Wii Fit game/software): 800 RMB
– 10 games (not imported, obviously) – free
All games work fine as long as you load them through the WiiGator Gamma Backup Launcher 0.3. The system also comes preloaded with Homebrew and Softchip (an alternate backup launcher). The shopkeeper told me only to use the WiiGator Gamma Backup Launcher, but I did actually try out the Softchip launcher, and it worked for most games. The (Korean) Mii section, however, does not work at all. I’ve heard that it can easily be enabled; the shopkeeper I talked to said it’s a waste of precious memory. I didn’t buy any memory upgrades, and so far I’m doing fine without it.
Just like PS2 and XBox 360 games, Wii discs sell in Shanghai for 5 RMB each.
It is expected that “backup launchers” and other alternate Wii firmware will continue to make strides. Currently, for example, online access is impossible, and attempts to use it will likely lock down the offending Wii system. In the event that alternate firmware does release better versions, it’s understood that shopkeepers will upgrade the firmware of their customers’ systems free of charge.
I can’t actually help you buy a Wii; this information is for reference only. If you’re interested, please also see Buying a Wii in Taiwan, a sister blog post by my friend Mark, who lives in Taiwan.
I recently went to my local video game store and asked when God of War 2 was coming out (yeah, I’m a little excited about this game). They told me March 15th. Well, this past week at ChinesePod was really busy, working hard to implement all kinds of new features.
Yesterday (March 16th) after work, I met my wife for dinner. She asked about God of War 2. I had forgotten about it. We rushed over to a nearby video game store, and the conversation went something like this (keep in mind that the normal price in Shanghai is 5 RMB per PS2 game):
> Me: Do you have God of War 2?
> Shop Owner: (not looking up from his game) Yes.
> Me: How much?
> Shop Owner: (not looking up from his game) 20.
> Me: 20?! Why??
> Shop Owner: (not looking up from his game) It’s DVD-9 and it’s brand new.
> Me: So how long is it going to be 20?
> Shop Owner: (not looking up from his game) Come back tomorrow and it’ll be 10. No, wait, 15.
> Me: Forget it.
Then my wife and I headed to our local video game store. We were afraid it would be closed, but it wasn’t. They had God of War 2, but the boss told me it wasn’t working on a lot of people’s PS2 machines. When I tried to pay, he insisted on giving it to me for free, because I had recently helped him out with something.
When I got home it took about 5 tries, but it worked.
Today John B informed me that that same shop is charging 15 RMB for the game.
So there’s this show called 超级女声 which the Chinese abbreviate to 超女 and most people call “Supergirl” in English. (Danwei.org, on the other hand, calls it Super Voice Girls.) The show is a lot like American idol. This season it has been immensely popular all over mainland China. Viewers can vote for their favorites by text messaging with their cell phones. This past Friday was the final installment. A huge proportion of China’s TV-watching masses were tuned in.
Inspired by Micah’s entries, I thought it might be a good thing to watch. It couldn’t hurt my cultural understanding of China to watch something that so many Chinese folk were going gaga over. So I suggested to my girlfriend that we watch it. To my surprise, she hadn’t seen a single episode, but she agreed to watch it with me. We decided to watch it at her place with her parents, since they were into it.
Friday morning she asked that I also bring over the PS2. She said we could play video games first, then watch Supergirl. I agreed to that. So I came over with the PS2 around 5pm and we were soon very engaged in a cool Japanese fantasy game called Ico, taking turns playing it.
Soon it was dinner time. We ate, and then went back to the game.
When 8:30 rolled around, my girlfriend didn’t want to quit playing the video game to watch Supergirl. I didn’t really, either, since we were close to beating Ico and I didn’t want to miss the end. Supergirl ran something like 2 1/2 hours, so we decided to play for a while longer. As her parents started watching in the other room, the sounds of cliche, over-played songs started coming out of the other room.
More time passed, and the show was almost over. I didn’t want to miss the grand finale, at least, plus we had gotten stuck on this one part of Ico. So I asked my girlfriend if she was going to watch Supergirl or not. Her response:
> No, I’m really not interested. What’s so special about that show? There have been a million other shows like it, and they’re all the same. *I* can sing as well as some of those girls! Sorry, I’ll pass.
So I caught the tail end, and she didn’t watch any of it. To my surprise, the cute one got the least votes, and I thought she sang the best. The worst singer won. And it wasn’t very interesting watching.
My girlfriend made a good point: there really wasn’t anything unique or revolutionary about the show. It was actually in its second season, and received little attention its first season. Why was it so popular? I wanted to watch it to find out what all the hype was all about, but I think I should have just followed my girlfriend’s lead. She’s pretty smart.
So then we beat Ico. Cool game.
The next day my girlfriend invited 9 friends, male and female (all Chinese), over to my place for a little party. I asked them how many of them watched the final episode of Supergirl. They all did.
I think my girlfriend is the only Chinese person I know that didn’t watch a single episode. She wanted to play PS2 instead. She’s pretty damn cool.
I don’t think I’ve ever written about it before, but it’s such a valuable resource that I really should. Every student of Chinese (intermediate or higher) should be aware of the Kingsoft Online Dictionary.
The dictionary itself is not that special… If you put in an English word, it returns some possible Chinese translations. If you put in a Chinese word (in characters), it returns possible English translations, which are linked to those words’ Chinese definitions. Naturally, it is completely Chinese user-oriented, so there is no pinyin or notes explaining the differences between the Chinese words. I pretty much never use that dictionary.
What I do use often is the 短句 (“Short Sentences”) function. You can either enter a word in the dictionary first and then click on 短句, or you can click on 短句 and then enter a word.
For example, recently I encountered the word 芯片at the video game store. I could tell by context that it meant “chip” (as in “computer chip”). The shop’s PS2’s came installed with a mod chip (直读芯片 or 米赛亚芯片) as well as an “anti-frying” chip (防烧芯片).
Later I wanted to explore the word 芯片 a bit more, so I looked it up with Kingsoft’s 短句 function. It returned 10 sentences using the word 芯片. The simplest sentence was first:
> The chip is the most valuable part in the computer.
> The element silicon is so closely identified with computers that most people would be likely to associate it more readily with California’s high – tech valley than with the periodic table.But such thinking may soon have to be radically revised,as high – speed computation moves beyond chips and machines to include the tools of biochemistry and genetics:test tubes,slides,solutions,even DNA. [punctuation/spacing errors theirs]
Definitely a useful tool, but I should note that Kingsoft is very much a fallible source of information. I’ve been using its products for almost five years, and sometimes it comes up with some bizarre meanings/translations. Example: when I put “chip” into the 短句 function, these two were at the end of the list:
> What carpenter,such chip.
> Such carpenter,such chip.
What’s going on here? Possibilities:
– Kingsoft is more down with the latest slang than me.
– Kingsoft has some seriously outdated expressions in its database.
– Kingsoft has taken upon itself to be a creative force in the evolution of the English language.
That’s right, the PS2’s manufactured in China cost more, and according to the owner the quality isn’t as good. I asked the owner why. The conversation went something like this:
> Me: Why are the ones made in China more expensive? Shouldn’t they be cheaper?
> Owner: Sony is Japanese! The Japanese always do this! They make good stuff and sell it to the USA, then they sell all the crappy electronics in China, for higher prices than the good stuff sells for in the USA! Why do you think we hate the Japanese?
> Me: Ummm, I thought that had something to do with historical events…
> Owner: No, this is why!
A very “Shanghai moment,” that.
The imported controllers are more expensive than locally manufactured ones, though. The owner highly recommends them, as the locally manufactured ones break/wear out too easily.
In that shop, pirated PS2 games go for 5 RMB each! I remember when I was a teenager I had to mow quite a few lawns to earn the money I needed to buy the NES cartridges I was dying to have. Nowadays, kids in Shanghai can get the newest video games for pocket change. The cost of the system itself is a bit prohibitive, though.
While I was in the shop, there was a high school boy in there seeking out the owner with all the anxiety of a parent going to visit a sick child in the hospital. It seems his mom got so fed up with his excessive game playing that she picked up his PS2 and smashed it against the ground. The owner said he could actually fix it! Meanwhile, the kid, in desperate need of his video game fix, was returning to the shop every few hours to inquire about the status of his precious PS2.
One of the games the owner was recommending was God of War. Now, I pretty much outgrew video games in college (except for the occasional game of StarCraft or original Alien Hominid), but this game had the magic to draw me completely back in. At least for a little while. There’s just one word for this game: stunning. (Also shockingly violent — not for the kiddies!) Greek mythology has never been so fun (even if it is a bit off).
If you know me, you surely know about my staunch anti-piracy stance. All this rampant piracy in China should not be supported.
But yeah, I’ve been playing quite a bit of PS2 lately.