Since the university semester is rapidly drawing to a close and graduation is coming up fast, it must mean that it's time for another installment of my final research project. As you'll recall, for my final project I'm studying the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection with an emphasis on functionality and potential future features. Yesterday morning I presented the final presentation on the topic and like before I'm reprinting the slides here on Press The Buttons in PDF format. You'll have to do without the accompanying speech, but the slides are darn good on their own. Stay tuned for the final installment of the project when I post the completed research paper here sometime next week.
A co-worker and I got to talking today about Nintendo's plans to offer classic video games for download on the Nintendo Revolution console and how there's rumor afoot that Nintendo may alter familiar games to include new (old) characters, such as the addition of Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario to Super Mario 64 DS. This got me to thinking just which characters could wind up in which games. We've watched the Nintendo universe grow for the past twenty years, and as new games introduce new elements to characters we think we know everything about, sometimes those old games can become a continuity issue. After all, not too long ago Nintendo revamped the original Metroid into Metroid: Zero Mission in order to smooth the entire Metroid storyline into a cohesive plot. *cough*
So this leads me to wonder what other changes may be in store for our old favorites. How about adding Yoshi to Super Mario Bros. 2, complete with tongue-attack and flutter jump? Maybe Dixie and Kiddie Kong could appear in the original Donkey Kong Country. Just for kicks let's drop Wario and Waluigi into Super Mario World. Wouldn't it be great to have the Pegasus Boots in the original The Legend of Zelda? Samus Aran won't mind - she's enjoying her new Phazon Beam in Super Metroid. Is that Koopa Troopa in Mario Kart 64 at long last? Let's ask Bowser; I think I saw him starring as the hero in Super Mario Bros. 3. The possibilities go on and on. What gaming mashups would you all like to see in the next generation of Nintendo gaming?
OK, so, GamePolitics reports that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt met with Nintendo executives recently in order to pitch a video game concept about promoting the United Nations. Setting aside the fact that it's unusual for a celebrity to pitch a game idea that doesn't involve said celebrity starring in the title role and shooting people, what kind of pro-U.N. game could Jolie and Pitt have in mind? How would such a game work? What's the object of the game? What's the genre? I have so many questions.
Admittedly, when I read the article the first image that popped into my mind was a political Super Smash Bros. in which Nintendo heroes attend summit meetings instead of laying out smackdowns. Can't you just picture the committees? Mario and Princess Peach represent the Mushroom Kingdom, Link and Princess Zelda come for Hyrule, Samus Aran appears for the Galactic Federation, Fox McCloud stands for the Lylat System, Kirby shows up from Popstar... the list could go on and on. The delegates would come to discuss treaties and referendums, issue sanctions against Bowser from the Koopa Kingdom, and declare Ganon a war criminal. It almost works in a twisted, bizarre sort of way.
Before I tear into the new Nintendo DS title Sonic Rush I must state up front that I like the game. It's fun and I recommend it for one reason which I'll get to in a moment. That said, the worst thing about Sonic Rush is that it's guilty of not meeting my expectations. That's a terrible piece of criticism to lob at a video game. How can a video game expect to meet everybody's hopes and dreams? Although it's an unfair verdict, I feel justified in saying it because while Sonic Rush is certainly enjoyable in parts, it's not everything it could have been and I've come to believe that Sonic Rush is about as good a Sonic the Hedgehog game as we're going to get now.
Sometimes it's fun to watch a rumor spread it's way around the Internet. Consider the case of Metroid Dread, a 2D traditional Metroid adventure for the Nintendo DS. Supposedly the game was announced just before E3 earlier in the year and I've seen people talking about it here and there ever since. The problem is that I never actually saw Dread on any actual official Nintendo list, nor was there any mention of it anywhere in Nintendo's E3 materials or media guides or product lists. Nada. Zip. Zero. In fact, while it seems that "everyone" was "sure" this game was coming, nobody actually had any proof that it even existed. Well, now this game that may or may not have existed at some point may or may not have been canceled by Nintendo assuming that it ever existed in the first place.
Here's the thing: I'm not entirely convinced that the game ever existed at all. Sure, I like to believe that Nintendo is or was considering a new 2D Metroid adventure and it's probably more likely than not, but where on Earth did people get the Dread title? Where did people get the information about this game that supposedly exists but nobody in the general public (or even the gaming media) has seen? And if a game that everyone knows is coming turns out to have never existed, does it make a sound?
The first arcade rendition of Nintendo's popular Mario Kart is trickling into arcades in North America, and now 1UP.com has taken a good look at the game. The consensus is that it's a good game, but it has more in common with Namco's design principles than those of Nintendo.
The rest of the game is also a lot of fun -- it's a bit strange to control a Mario Kart game with a steering wheel and pedals when you first sit down, but after a race or two it feels completely normal. Like how Sega took the F-Zero franchise to arcades with its own special touches, Namco has successfully shaken up the Mario Kart franchise for an arcade release (and we're not just talking about including Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky amongst the playable characters).
I like the addition of some of the new items, such as the virus characters from Dr. Mario that cause the screen to distort, but the thing about Mario Kart is that it's always rooted in Mushroom Kingdom mythology. It's possible to dissect each game in the series and list which elements come from which video game. Some of the new items, such as the cream pie or the raincloud, seem out of place. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does break the pattern. Then again, that's because Namco is in the driver's seat this time around, developmentally speaking. I'm still hoping to stumble upon a Mario Kart Arcade GP machine someday, but I've also resigned myself to the fact that it's more likely I'll have to wait until some far time in the future when the game is legally emulatable on futuristic computers.
Many people have brought many things to Nintendo's beloved Shigeru Miyamoto to autograph over the years: games, strategy guides, Nintendo consoles, and even Nintendo-branded character merchandise. Sometimes people present him with something more unique. In this case there's a guitar for sale on eBay signed by Miyamoto at the September Nintendogs event in New York.
My friend's selling his one-in-the-world guitar we waited 8 hours for Shigeru Miyamoto (of Nintendo fame) to sign when he visited the Nintendo World store last September in NYC. When we finally got to the head of the line, and to his table, instead of just signing the guitar, he played the first couple bars of the original Mario theme! That was fanboydom at its best.
So there you have it: a guitar signed and strummed by Shigeru Miyamoto. The reserve price is a steep $700, so anyone who buys this guitar would be better off framing it than playing it.
Nintendo says that over 40% of Mario Kart DS owners have jumped online to race, but apparently some of you out there haven't made the leap yet. Of those who have most people agree that it's a good first step. I'll agree with that. As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and now Nintendo has finally taken that first step into online gaming. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection needs some improvement though. I want to see better control over my Friend List and faster opponent match-ups to start. After that we can talk about content downloads and user communication.
Something else new this month is the Microsoft Xbox 360. Now that it's out there, what do you think of it? Is it all that you hoped it would be? Or has Microsoft really nailed its foot to the floor with this one? As always, vote and feel free to leave comments.
Thanksgiving: a time for reflecting on those things that we are thankful for, a time for delicious feasts, and a time for one's family to complain about the launch of the Microsoft Xbox 360. At least, if you're part of my family, and this leads to what Microsoft may have to do first thing Monday morning. During dinner two family members were talking about going to one of the early pre-dawn sales at Target, to which I just sarcastically injected "Good, you can be first in line for the Xbox riots," and continued chewing on turkey. I didn't expect what happened next. Everybody at the meal - old, young, men, women - chimed in spontaneously on the matter.
"Oh, I heard those Xboxes don't work; they're all broken!"
"I heard people are being shot in front of the stores for those Xboxes!"
"And they're so expensive! They won't let you buy just the Xbox itself!"
This group of people (none of whom are game players and none of whom follow game industry news intensely) had this image of the Xbox 360 being an expensive broken thief-magnet. This public image may be the hurdle that Microsoft has to jump even higher to clear than reacting to malfunctioning power units and console shortages. If a group of average folks across several demographics at Thanksgiving all have this idea that the Xbox is more trouble than it's worth, how many other non-gaming folks out there have fallen into an anti-Xbox sentiment?
With all those terrible video games lurking out there it can be difficult to know which games are worth giving to friends and family as holiday gifts. Presenting someone with the likes of Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness could well end friendships and cause family feuds! Don't risk those relationships this holiday season. Consider giving some of my favorite video games that the people in your life would love to find under the wrapping paper in the Press The Buttons 2005 Holiday Gift Guide. I've listed several dozen great games for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Sony PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Xbox that includes everything from Mario to Mega Man, shooters to side-scrollers, and Samus to Sonic. This year give the best gift that there is to be given: fun.