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May 2007

Better Late Than Never: E3 2005 Photo Album

E3 expoI don't know why I never got around to doing this before now, but my archive of photos from my trip to E3 back in 2005 is now available in the E3 2005 Photo Album.  Step back in time to two years ago when the Sony PlayStation 3 had a boomerang controller, the Nintendo Revolution still had amazing secrets to disclose, and the Microsoft Xbox 360 was coming up fast.  Marvel at the elaborate booth setups!  Gasp at the Nintendo press conference!  Thrill at demo screens from games that have long since been released!  Ah, memories.  And if you'd rather go back in time to a more recent date, don't forget about the E3 2006 Photo Album, too.

Anticipating Other Smash Bros. Items

Wario has a Super Scope The official Super Smash Bros. Brawl blog has been focusing on new items, giving a peek into the new tools we'll be using to blast popular characters to bits.  So far we've seen the Gooey Bomb and the Cracker Launcher.  Those are all well and good, but where are the items that come from the Nintendo continuum?  Once again I started thinking about other items that would fit into the Smash Bros. world, leading to a bunch of ideas.  This is all speculation and wish listing, mind you, but hopefully the Smash team and I are thinking on similar wavelengths.

  • Magic Whistle (The Legend of Zelda): Link's trusty flute could be an interesting addition to the series.  Pick it up and give it a blow to cause a whirlwind to swoop through the stage, tossing characters to and fro.
  • Banana Peel (Donkey Kong Country): More of a nuisance item, the banana peel would be dropped on the ground like one of the other "trap" items (such as the motion sensing bomb).  When a character steps on it, they slip and fall down, immobilizing him or her for a moment and becoming an easy target.  Drop it near the edge of a stage to cause a character to slide right into oblivion.
  • Blue Shell (Mario Kart 64): Koopa shells are already part of the Smash Bros. experience, but when a character tosses a blue shell, it seeks out and homes in on the character with the least amount of inflicted damage (even if it's the character who tossed it) and brings the pain.
  • Eggplant (Kid Icarus): Toss an eggplant at a character to temporarily turn them into a defenseless eggplant that can only run and jump.  Based on the infamous Eggplant Wizard's offensive attack.
  • FLUDD (Super Mario Sunshine): Using this water gun backpack players can blast opponents with a powerful stream of water, slowing down their advances, knocking them to the ground in mid-jump, and even blowing some of the lighter characters out of the way.

How about all of you out there?  Any good ideas for Smash Bros. items?

In Search Of... A Wireless Router

UPDATE: I've made my choice.  Thanks for the advice!Linksys WRT54G router

Now that I have a PC running Windows Vista instead of XP (Vista being the one that doesn't support Nintendo's Wi-Fi dongle), it's time for me to be dragged kicking and screaming into setting up a wireless router in my home.  Before I just jump blindly into buying the first piece of hardware that looks good, I thought I'd ask all of you out there for some advice.  Can you recommend a solid wireless router that supports Windows Vista and plays nice with the Nintendo Wii, DS, & Sony PlayStation Portable?  At the moment I'm eyeing a Linksys WRT54G router based on recommendations from both Nintendo and Sony, but if you know of something better, please speak up.

Rush The Halloween Season With Alien Carnage

Alien Carnage Once upon a time there was a game publisher called Apogee, and seemingly every month or so they'd release another fantastic shareware side-scrolling platformer game for DOS.  One day the company unleashed Halloween Harry (later re-released as the renamed Alien Carnage), and I eagerly downloaded the adventure from a local BBS with my little 14.4Kbps modem using the mighty ZModem protocol, saving it to my meager hard drive alongside games such as Commander Keen and Boppin.  Now, all these years later, Alien Carnage has been released as freeware by its creator so that today's gamers can roast aliens with flamethrowers and fly around with a jetpack.  Hooray!

We later changed the game's name to the unfortunately generic Alien Carnage because sales for Halloween Harry were below expectations, and we feared that people thought this was a seasonal Halloween game. Looking back, probably the real killer was Doom, which clearly set a new standard for shareware games, a standard that took a few years for everyone else to catch up to. Still, this was a well polished, fun game that deserved a wider audience, and even today is worth a try.

If you don't have an old 486 MHz PC sitting around then you'll most likely need the DOSBox emulator to get this game running.  It's worth the effort though, so don't be afraid to get your command line hands dirty.

(via GameSetWatch)

Weekly Poll: Pretty Brains

Weekly Poll for 5-21-2007The consensus seems to be that most of you want the canceled Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Game Boy Advance to rise again, but after playing the joy that is Mega Man: Powered Up, I really want to see Mega Man 2 given the same treatment.  You can't tell me that you don't want to play as Air Man or Metal Man with remixed music and new levels reminiscent of the original game.  I'll take that over a colorized Dr. Wily's Revenge any day.

While the rest of us are blowing up renegade robots, Nintendo is still pushing the brain games.  Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is coming soon, as is Brain Age 2 for the Nintendo DS.  Nintendo's Satoru Iwata wants to see the brain games really take off in the USA this year, but I have to wonder just how much of an interest there is in this market.  Have you played one of the Nintendo brain games yet?  Have you tangoed with Dr. Kawashima?  Let's hear some comments along with some votes.

Five Minutes With Five Instances Of Virtua Racing

Virtua RacingFor a while it seemed like every Sega game console was required to be home to a version of the company's Virtua Racing arcade game.  After all, there were versions of the game for the Sega Genesis (with SVP chip), Sega 32X, Sega Saturn, and - what?  No Sega Dreamcast? - Sony PlayStation 2.  Considering that each console can push a different number of polygons, one wonders how these versions of the game compare to one another.  Retrogaming with Racketboy has a look back at what makes one Virtua Racing different from another.  Don't miss the side-by-side comparison screenshots.

Obviously, the Arcade version will be the top choice for purists, but the PS2 version does a great job and ads some shadowing effects. The 32X version, in most cases, comes out top as the Sega console version champ. The Saturn version is a bit laughable in places, but does “ok”. The Genesis version kinda pales in comparison to the arcade version, but is quite impressive for the Genesis hardware (even if it is using an extra built-in processor).

I was always partial to the 32X version of the game, mostly because it was the first one that I played.  There's just something about driving through a textureless shaded polygon world that makes me all nostalgic, but then I remember Nintendo's Stunt Race FX and get over it.

You Can Change The Game

Wario's wish It's another long holiday weekend here in the USA, and not only that, but it's the long holiday weekend that signifies the unofficial start of the summer season.  Warm weather, ocean waves, vacations, picnics, and all kinds of outdoor fun.  Perfect conditions for staying indoors in front of the television with a controller in your hand.  But seriously, while you're out there having some fun in the sun I'd like to plant a question in your brain.  Consider it your weekend assignment.  If you had the power to change one thing in the video game industry, what would that be and why?  It can be any one change that you want.  You could bring Sega back into the hardware business, replace a company's management, bring a certain overseas game to your country for official release, or anything else that you want.  I'm genuinely interested in hearing what you'd all do given the opportunity.  And remember, you just get one change, so use it wisely.

What would I change, you ask?  The quick and dirty answer is that I'd bring Mother 3 out of Japan for a worldwide release, but that's a little too easy.  It'd be like getting one wish from the genie of the lamp and using it to ask for a really good chicken sandwich.  No, given the chance I would ditch Nintendo's Friend Code restrictions for online play so that it's possible to "bookmark" players I meet online to a list for later matches.  I've encountered some legitimately good competitors at Mario Kart DS and Tetris DS (as in, they don't cheat with hacks or cheating devices) that I wish I could challenge again, but there's just no way for the system to make that kind of an on-demand match.

What would you change?

Nintendo Explains Mario Strikers Online Capabilities

Mario Strikers Charged With the upcoming Mario Strikers Charged for the Nintendo Wii poised to be one of the bigger sports games released this summer, prospective soccer (or football, depending on your homeland) fans are eager to find out the details behind the game's online multiplayer mode.  As you'll recall, Strikers is the first Wii game to allow actual competitive gameplay over the Internet.  We're not just trading scores or screenshots here, folks.  We're gonna challenge players from all over the world!  Wait, what's that you say?  It's not worldwide?  Aw.

Note: If you'll be using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection in Mario Strikers Charged Football, you will be able to play only with people within Europe. If you choose FRIENDLY and invite somebody living in another continent after having inserted their Friend Code, you might be able to play with him or her, but Nintendo does not advise it as the lag could potentially make the match unplayable.

OK, so we'll play regionally.  So then, how does the scoring system work when playing online?  How are players ranked?  Nintendo explains it all.

Continue reading "Nintendo Explains Mario Strikers Online Capabilities" »

Kiddette Icarus

Pit The Smash Bros. blog updated again today as promised (and if you haven't been reading it, you really should), and today's character profile is the star of Kid Icarus himself, Pit.  Pit was revealed as a newcomer to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl world last year at E3, but his character design has changed just a little since then.  Specifically, his face has been softened and made a bit more - oh, how do I say it? - girly, following in the proud tradition of anime-inspired characters that can look downright androgynous at times (seriously, Final Fantasy, what the hell is your deal?).  Since Pit is an old-timer coming back after over fifteen years of sitting on the bench, my first thought was that newer gamers who may not know Pit's heroic background could well mistake him for a girl.  But that's silly talk, right?  Then I went over to AMN and saw this on our front page:

Kiddette Icarus

Pit's a guy!  A guy!  Not since Samus Aran was assumed to be a man under that power suit has a gaming character suffered such an indignant insult.  I went ahead and corrected the mistake, plus I'm sentencing whomever made the original error to play Kid Icarus all the way to the end of the game to see where damsel-in-distress Patulena turns Pit into a manly man.  No, not like that.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

The Sims Movie? Really?

The Sims 2Unless someone licenses the film rights to Pong or Tetris, I'd say that the upcoming movie based on The Sims coming from the people who brought us films (and I use the term loosely) such as Norbit, Eragon, and Scary Movie 3 is the most plotless movie we're bound to see in our lifetimes.  How can there be a movie about a game that has no story (not like that's stopped Hollywood before, but I digress)?  The whole point of The Sims games is to build up a little household and send the residents to work, on errands, or through painful torture sessions (oh, sure, like you've never trapped a Sim in a room without a toilet).  So what's the movie gonna be about?  Never mind that.  The question we should be asking is, "why is this movie being made"?  CHUD has the answer.

Rod Humble, head of the Sims Studio and the guy managing the property for Electronic Arts says: "'The SIMS has done an interactive version of an old story, which is what it's like to have infinite power and how do you deal with it… Given that that's an old story, you can imagine how easily that would translate to traditional story telling," but the truth is that nobody involved gives a shit about the story aspect. It’s all about doing a Google search and seeing the hits, or looking at the sales figures of the games, or seeing what a poll of certain desirable demographics turns up.

So get ready for Sims movie tie-in games that star the film's characters (assuming it has unique characters, of course) and all of the other trappings that go with a summer movie.  Except for, you know, a plot.