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April 2006
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June 2006

May 2006

Beyond The End Of New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros.After two weeks of heavy play I believe I've finally seen all that New Super Mario Bros. has to show me.  I've defeated Bowser, been to every level, found every secret exit, collected all the star coins, spent all of the star coins, found the secret character surprise, and earned the coveted "triple star" ranking icon next to my save file.  All without turning to a guide book or FAQ, too.  Two years of anticipation all came to an end after two weeks of play.  Some will argue that two weeks is too short a playtime for a game such as this.  Maybe they're right.  If this game has a glaring fault it's that it ends.  However, those two weeks of running and jumping have been the best two weeks of gaming I've had in a long time.  If you're one of those people still on the fence about picking up this game, remember this: it's not about total playing time or number of levels or star coin collections.  It's about fantastic running and jumping.  What more do we really need in a video game?

Ubisoft Hatches Lost Game

LostIf you're like me (and I know I am) then you set aside each Wednesday evening for the TV hit Lost.  I was sucked into the show way back at the premiere of the first episode and I've been caught in the show's mythos ever since.  Now Ubisoft has been given the go-ahead to create a video game based on Lost.  Check out the details of the deal before you groan.

Ubisoft execs already are talking to series creator J.J. Abrams and producers to develop a storyline. It will move to sign deals with actors after it determines which characters will be included in the game. "We'd like to fully integrate the series' creative team, from writers to composers to set designers and stylists, so that we create an extension of the television series that is organic and extremely compelling for the fans of 'Lost,' " said Bruce Gersh, ABC/Touchstone's senior VP, business development, who negotiated the deal for the studio.

As long as the show's creative staff has a hand in creating the game I think it could turn out well.  I'd like to see the game reveal a side story to the main Lost plot; something that if I didn't play the game I wouldn't miss anything crucial to the series, but if I did play I'd pick up a few minor answers to burning questions yet unseen on television.  Oh, and the level where I play as Locke had better be about more than just entering 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 into a computer console.

Weekly Poll: Flying Pigs

Weekly Poll for 05-16-2006The people have spoken and the people want Pit.  It's great to see him win the poll, as it shows a currently untapped wealth of popularity for the little angel that could.  Speculation is running wild that we'll finally get a sequel to Kid Icarus this coming generation.  Can you imagine a 3D third-person platformer featuring Pit, the Grim Reaper, and the Eggplant Wizard?  I gaze off into daydreams just thinking about the possibilities.

Moving on, I had no idea that my purchase of a Sony PlayStation 2 would stir up such a reaction.  I'm used to commenting on news, not being a news item myself.  Some people have interpreted my purchase as a sign I'm leaving Nintendo products and I'd like to state right now that is simply not true.  I'm prepared to take a loyalty oath to the Mushroom Kingdom if necessary.  Still, if last week's purchase was such a surprise, then what could possibly top it this week?  What unlikely gaming event is going to happen next?  Vote in this meaningless poll.  Next week we'll discuss something important.

There Goes The Neighborhood

Sony PlayStation 2I've never owned a Sony PlayStation product until now.  For the last twenty years I've been a textbook loyal Nintendo customer because I absolutely love Nintendo's games.  After all, so many Nintendo products are happiness packed into a game cartridge or disc.  I've never wanted anything beyond Nintendo's own offerings and the occasional third party product from Capcom and Sega.  So how is it that I willingly walked into Best Buy yesterday afternoon and put down nearly $200 on a PlayStation 2, memory card, and a few games?

Continue reading "There Goes The Neighborhood" »

Abandon All Fun Ye Who Enter Here

Press hatWith another E3 behind us it must mean that it's time for the annual slew of articles that look down on those who get caught up in the moment at E3 press conferences and media briefings.  The latest such piece comes to us from Joystiq:

It's unfortunate, however, that many members of the E3 "press" failed to quell their enthusiasm. I now recall in embarrassment the hoots and yells that routinely break out at E3 press conferences, particularly the Nintendo conference. Such ad-hoc outbursts of passion are appropriate at a pep rally, or at an Evangelical telethon, but they're completely out of place in a room that's supposedly full of members of the press (wouldn't be much of a press conference without press there, would it?).

Remember, gang, no having fun out there!  Be serious and stone-faced and refuse to crack a smile, lest you lose your objectivity.  But seriously, let's remember that video game journalism is on a different level than investigating the Watergate break-in.  I can't speak for my colleagues, but I know that I'm out there to have fun in addition to critique game demos and report on new developments.  If I can't be happy about my work then why am I doing it?

Continue reading "Abandon All Fun Ye Who Enter Here" »

You May Not See The Twilight Realm

The Legend of Zelda: Twlight Princess Last year fans got their first look at The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess's Twilight Realm, the latest spin on the old Light/Dark World dynamic.  When we last saw the Twilight Realm it was gray, lifeless, and quite depressing.  Well, AMN has word that Nintendo has changed the realm's color scheme.

Initially, the Twilight Realm featured a grayscale theme, differentiating it from Hyrule. However, Nintendo has changed the look of the realm to one that’s hazy, full of color and very stylized.  Where things once looked barren and dry, the Twilight Realm now features a distinct style that separates itself from the rest of Twilight Princess.

That does sound neat.  So now we've been told about it, but can we see it?  Whaddya mean there's no images to go with this article?  You can't just tell us this kind of news and then not show us the revised realm!  Not even a little peek?  C'mon, I'll be your friend if you show me.  Oh fine, we'll wait until the game is released later this year.

Who Wants E3 Junk?

E3 logoWith another E3 come and gone it must be time for those who went to the show to dump their collected freebies on eBay for some quick cash.  Take it from someone who went to E3 - most of the handouts aren't worth taking the time to pick up for free, let alone buy.  The swag this year was, in my experience, rather minimal and unimpressive.  It's as if companies realized that people come to their booths for the free goodies to sell on eBay a week later, so they backed off on the freebies this year.

Last year I brought home great things including a DS game card with the then-new trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on it along with a remote control Mario Kart racer and Mario Kart stylus.  This year the best of the swag I collected is a silver Nintendo Wii pin and a Sonic the Hedgehog fifteenth anniversary t-shirt.  My advice to you all is to save your money if you're looking for E3 swag this year.  What are you going to do with a Sony PlayStation 3 lanyard or a deck of playing cards from some online poker game that'll be forgotten in six months?

Nintendo Won't Go Episodic

To be continued...Episodic gaming is becoming the latest buzzword in the world of video games.  Game publishers are planning all kinds of games that are delivered a few levels at a time via the Internet instead of all at once on a disc, and of course you'll be paying separately for each episode, too.  Imagine if The Legend of Zelda ended abruptly after the first dungeon with a message that the next dungeon is coming soon for only $9.99, for instance.  Basically it amounts to gamers paying more money for less content.  Nintendo's Satoru Iwata has some thoughts on episodic gaming.  The short version: he doesn't like it.

"If you ask me whether that kind of approach can become the huge, main resources for the huge, main revenues in the future, I'm not optimistic, actually," said Iwata. He added, "Asking customers to pay something monthly, or something periodically, we can never expect that kind of revenue to become the significant, main resources for Nintendo."

I'm certainly glad to hear that.  Could this be a sign that the games available on the Wii's Virtual Console won't be offered on a permanent rental cost model?  Can we truly expect to pay for a game once and then own it forever?  That's jumping to quite a conclusion, but I'm in a leaping mood today.  At the very least I take his comments to mean that we won't be seeing a Zelda or Fire Emblem title that's been sliced into "sold separately" bits anytime soon.

Castlevania To Remain Stagnant

CastlevaniaI love a solid Castlevania game, but from the sound of things it looks like Konami isn't looking to allow the series to evolve any time soon.  Consider this quote from Castlevania development maven Koji Igarashi regarding possibly bringing the popular franchise to Nintendo's new Wii:

Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi said that Castlevania does not fit with Wii, because the Wii market is for people who want to have new experience, these type of people do not have time to play lengthy games like Castlevania; also he does not have a good idea to make use of the Wii controller in the game.

Did you catch that?  The Wii is for people who want new experiences, and since Castlevania isn't Wii material, the conclusion is that Castlevania won't be changing in the next generation of video games.  While the 2D handheld installments get better with each sequel (Dawn of Sorrow was the most fun I've had with a Castlevania title since the original NES game and the upcoming Portrait of Ruin is looking even better), the 3D home console versions need a bit of a pick-me-up.  What better than to infuse it with the new creative blood flowing through the Wii?  As Kotaku suggests, just image plunging the Wii's freehand controller through the heart of a vampire like a stake.  I could get behind that.  It's too bad that Konami is not willing to do the same.

Capcom Plans More Mega Man

Mega ManPeople like to rag on Mario for appearing in so many spin-off games, but the character who has led the way in new incarnations has to be Mega Man who, to date, has branched off into six (count 'em!) variations of himself.  The blue bomber's ongoing evolution isn't ending anytime soon though.  Fansite Planet Mega Man caught up with the character's creator, Keiji Inafune, to get some comments on the future of all things Mega Man.

Keiji Inafune: However, the Wii definitely has some potential, and it's maybe one where our target audience could embrace the Mega Man series. So while we haven't planned anything specific now at this time, I think probably that the potential is the highest on that piece of hardware.

I hope someone at Capcom is taking notes, because here comes my Mega Man for Wii wish list.  I want the freehand controller to function as Mega Man's arm cannon.  Make the gamer into Mega Man.  Do the whole thing in first person perspective if you must.  I just want the chance to get "under the helmet" after all these years, and the Wii's controller seems like the perfect vehicle with which to do it.  And no more funky Mega Man reinventions!  Battle Network this and ZX that, bah!  Bring on the original Mega Man character that we all grew up with and came to love.  He's long overdue for a glorious return.