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December 2005

Looking Ahead To 2006

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past One thing that is as constant as loud music from my neighbors downstairs on New Year's Eve is the many many predictions made about the coming year in just about every major field of study and entertainment by anybody with a magazine column, website, or blog.  Who am I to ignore this seemingly required aspect of journalism?

Read on for my predictions for 2006 in which I put aside my brand favoritism and speculate on which companies will soar, which characters will be reinvented, and which consoles will land in homes around the world in time for New Year's Day 2007.

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Capcom Sells Direct For Cheap

Mega Man cast photo I've been saying for a while now that video game publishers should bypass retail outlets and sell their games direct to consumers, citing that by cutting out the retail middleman publishers can potentially earn higher profits and customers can buy games for less of a cost.  Leave it to Capcom to put the idea into practice in a big way, offering up bundles of current-generation titles for cheap.

Capcom is currently offering holiday bundles of Mega Man, Viewtiful Joe, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, and other popular titles for Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo Game Boy Advance.  How about picking up Mega Man Anniversary Collection, Mega Man X8, and Mega Man X: Command Mission for $50?  They'll even toss in a few strategy guides.  At retail that kind of bundle would cost upwards of $150.  It's a "while supplies last" holiday promotion, but the point is that it's being done.  Keep up the good work, Capcom.

Editor’s Top Ten of 2005 At AMN

Mario and Luigi: Partners In Time We're closing in on the end of 2005 which must mean it's time for the editors of the Advanced Media Network to choose their top ten games of the year.  Over at AMN's Nintendo GameCube department we've made out picks, and after playing so many good (and bad) games this year it can be hard to narrow the list down to ten.  Sometimes it can be hard to pad the list out to ten depending on the year's games, but luckily this year that wasn't an issue.  Don't miss my picks for this year: ten games that are unsurprisingly Nintendo-centric, but still some of the best titles on which you can spend your time and money.

More On Unreleased e-Reader Cards

Nintendo e-Reader Last week's look at the lost e-Reader levels of Nintendo's Super Mario Advance 4 has a little footnote: PTB reader CaitSith2 has been kind enough to step forward and identify himself as the person who made the do-it-yourself dotcode printing possible for the Japanese levels.  This site features the dotcode data for your printing and scanning use, and all without linking to that pesky ROM file that makes linking to the site an issue of questionable legality.  Also don't miss the video files that show just how the whole thing is done.

Dr. Mario's Diagnosis

Dr. Mario There's nothing new on PTB today due to an unexpected trip to the hospital for some IV fluids, medication, and x-rays.  Armed with new medication, I'm hoping that things return to normal tomorrow.  Your assignment in my absence is to go play a video game and be prepared to discuss it tomorrow in class. 

- MattG

Weekly Poll: December Loot

Weekly Poll for 12-18-2005 It's nearly an even three-way split between Castlevania, Metroid, and Kirby when it comes to desired compilation games.  It's easy to see the popularity behind each series, but I still have to say I want a Wario Land collection.  With only five games in the series (three for Game Boy / Color, one for Virtual Boy, and one for Game Boy Advance) it should be easy to slap most of those on a Game Boy Advance game pak.  The Virtual Boy game would need some work to make a version playable on the GBA, but it'd be a nice bonus for those who have never played Virtual Boy Wario Land.  It's one of the top three games in the series, I say.

With the 2005 holiday gift season drawing to a close it's time to take stock of just how much loot we all scored this December.  Did you get all of the games you wanted as presents?  Vote in the poll and share your stories of holiday acquisition.  Feel free to brag a little, too.

The Gift Of Games

Christmas with the KongsWhen I was growing up I could always count on at least one of my holiday gifts being a video game.  From seemingly simple grayscale games all the way up to today's modern 3D wonders, there's nothing quite like the excitement of unwrapping a familiar box-shaped present.  There's that moment of uncertainty in which I hope that whomever gave me the gift followed my wish list suggestions, lest I have to face some horrible game and put on a happy 'Wow, thank you!' act.  Some of my favorite holiday memories involve video games, and on the occasion of Christmas Eve I find myself reminiscing about the games of holidays gone by...

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Zelda Rumors Run Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Following up on that rumor from a few weeks ago about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess being a showcase for the upcoming Nintendo Revolution comes this rumor that the game will be released when the new console hits stores and will take advantage of the new controller, allowing players to swing the remote controller to control Link's sword.  Note how this rumor has come out at the end of the week just before Christmas, meaning that there's nobody at Nintendo to confirm or deny the rumor because they're all on holiday break.  Let me just say that I do not want this rumor to be true.

It seems as though a lot of people have not been happy with the Nintendo GameCube, but I've been thrilled with it.  It's Nintendo's best home console since the Super NES in my opinion.  I actually own more GameCube games than I do games for any other Nintendo console.  As the GameCube generation winds down I want Twilight Princess to be that one last grand finale.  The GameCube deserves a legacy that doesn't involve limping along from mid-2005 to the end of 2006.  If Nintendo wants to add Revolution swordplay to the game then I'd like to see it remain a surprise.  Release Twilight Princess in April, let us all play through it and enjoy it, and then when the Revolution comes at the end of the year reveal "By the way, put Twilight Princess into the Revolution and see what happens.  We think you'll like it."  That way the GameCube gets a memorable send-off and the Revolution launches with a nice surprise that allows us to experience the game all over again from a different gameplay angle.

The Lost e-Reader Levels Of Super Mario Advance 4

The Lost e-Reader Levels Of Super Mario Advance 4 When Nintendo decided to re-release the primary Super Mario back catalog for the Game Boy Advance, the company decided to include small amounts of new content.  The remake of Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Advance 3, was the first in the series to include actual new levels.  Six of 'em, to be exact.  Then Super Mario Advance 4 (the remake of Super Mario Bros. 3) came along and Nintendo created over two dozen new levels to insert into the game (note that these are not the lost levels of the original Super Mario Bros. 3).

However, instead of loading them into the game pak the company decided to release them in dribs and drabs for the soon-to-be failed e-Reader accessory.  The e-Reader fizzled before Nintendo could release all of the levels, with less than a third of the developed content making it into the hands of fans.  Now a group of game enthusiast hackers are working to rediscover and release these latest lost levels, restoring yet another piece of Nintendo history that has been swept under the rug.

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Jason Fox, True Gamer

Fox Trot Bill Amend is at it again with his Fox Trot comic strip.  Today's strip explains the real reason so many children are begging for a Microsoft Xbox 360.  Ten-year-old Jason Fox figures that even though he doesn't really want one, by asking for the Xbox 360 his parents won't be able to find one, so they'll shower him with plenty of other gifts in order to ease his "pain".

The hell of it is that he's probably right.  The last time I was in Best Buy I overheard a conversation between a middle-age woman and a salesclerk.  She asked for the Xbox 360 to give to her young son for Christmas and was told the store was sold out, but the clerk talked her into buying the original Xbox instead.  She then asked for "the popular games" and walked away happy with a stack of what had to be eight or so games chosen by the salesclerk.  Jason Fox is right.  Playing parents is almost too easy.