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June 2007

Wowee-Wow-Wow For WiiWare

Starfox 2 Nintendo has finally let it slip that original downloadable content - WiiWare - is in the works for next year.  There's all kinds of speculation as to just what will be offered as WiiWare (so far we've only been privy to the Wii's web browser and a few add-on channels), but a lot of people are speculating on seeing the kinds of Flash games for which the Internet is so well known.  Basically, it's all about the smaller games that are packed with creativity.

"Independent developers armed with small budgets and big ideas will be able to get their original games into the marketplace to see if we can find the next smash hit," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime. "WiiWare brings new levels of creativity and value to the ever-growing population of Wii owners."

That's great and I'd like to see what new games come from this initiative.  On the other hand, I'm a traditional gamer at heart.  I may be in the minority here, but I want to see those rare and excised snippets of older games make an appearance. I want those e-reader levels from Super Mario Advance 4 to be available as WiiWare. I want the canceled Star Fox 2. I want an updated Stunt Race FX that can finally shine due to adequate console horsepower. I want Special Tee Golf from the old Sattelaview service.

Here's the thing: I can play Flash games for free all I want on the computer. When I play a Flash game I'm after a 5 minute break from whatever I was previously doing. When I sit down at the Wii I'm looking for something a little more immersive. That doesn't mean Zelda-levels of gameplay, mind you, but I do demand something a bit deeper than just another run at Bejeweled.

@$#! Wii Component Video Cable On Sale

Wii Component Video Cable

UPDATE: I wrote to Amazon about this issue and they've agreed to refund the difference in price.  Kudos to Amazon for such a quick response and for refunding the $17.

Typical, just typical.  On Tuesday I ordered one of those hard to find component video cables from for my Nintendo Wii so I can enjoy 480p visuals on my new HDTV, and what does Amazon go and do?  They put the cables on sale today for $13.  I paid $30 for my cable (which arrives today).  Ah, if only I'd waited.  This kind of thing happens all the time.  I can't tell you how many games and accessories I've purchased over the years that have either gone on sale or become discounted Greatest Hits / Player's Choice titles one week later. 

Kiddies Love The Licensed Music

Sonic the Hedgehog Band!!The Orlando Sentinel has some troubling news about the future of video games.  It seems that the Orlando Science Center held a Game Design Summer Camp for kids to take a crack at game design and development.  The campers recently presented their final presentations and reveal what elements of game design are the most important to the kiddies.

While the tools these 11 to 15 year-olds used to make these games were rudimentary, you could see some good ideas at work. It was most fun for me to see what things the kids thought were most important; secret levels, licensed music, and of course lots of shooting.

Licensed music.  *sigh*.  I hate to see the next generation of gamers putting such an emphasis on licensed music.  I have yet to encounter a game in which the licensed music felt appropriate.  I'd much rather hear original songs in games instead of the latest Top 40 crap.  If licensed music had been around at the dawn of gaming we may never have been exposed to the classic songs of Super Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, or Castlevania.  Original songs tailored to the atmosphere and events of a game beat licensed music any day.

Smash Bros. Team Takes My Advice, Announces Banana Peel

Super Smash Bros. Brawl I love it when developers take my advice.  About a month ago I pitched some ideas for new items to include in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii, one of which was the classic banana peel from Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Kart.  This morning the Smash Bros. blog updated once again, this time announcing a new item: the banana peel.

Yes, banana peels... You don’t, um…think they’re too much of a cliché, do you?

I mean, when a banana peel gets dropped, everybody pretty much knows what’s going to happen next.

Now announce the magic whistle!

Weekly Poll: HD For Me

Weekly Poll for 6-22-2007It may be cheating to use controller macros, but I now know that using such conveniences seriously sucks the fun and challenge out of a game.  Once I realized I could map special moves in Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX to a single button, I began to bring the pain to every match I played.  Every encounter ended with an easily performed super combo.  I was winning every time, yes, but it wasn't fun anymore.  The enjoyment comes from the possibility of losing and the challenge of trying to win.  Guaranteed victories are hollow.  Now I am unstoppable when playing as Akuma, but what's the point?

Moving along, I've finally joined the high definition world with a new HDTV.  I don't actually have any HD content yet (first things first, after all), but so far I've been enjoying the larger screen and widescreen formatting that my old regular television could not provide.  My question to you all this week is about whether or not you own a high definition television.  So, do you?  How do you like it?  Or, conversely, what's keeping you from buying one?  Let's here some comments after you cast your vote in the sidebar.

TurboGrafx-16 Library Definitively Defined

BonkThe TurboGrafx-16 content just keeps on coming at Retrogaming, where today the focus is on the games that defined the system.  Some you know (Bonk's Adventure, Gates of Thunder (to which other shooters just don't compare)), some you probably don't (Military Madness, Soldier Blade), and some you never had the opportunity to play (Akumajou Dracula X, Chi no Rondo (Demon Castle Dracula X, Rondo of Blood)).

Gates of Thunder was the opening salvo for the TG-16 CD in the US. Released as part of a 4-in-1 CD with the first 2 Bonk Games and a hidden Bomberman game, Gates of Thunder was packed in with both the Super System 3.0 card and the new TurboDuo (TG-16, CD attachment, and Super System Card 3.0, all in one slim form factor). The Super System Card enabled a lot more than shooters, but shooters, graphically and musically, are where the system, as usual, shone most brightly.

I recognize a lot of these games from the Virtual Console, meaning that a lot of seemingly obscure treasure has been brought back around for a second chance.  It's an impressive list, but I can't help notice the omission of one of my favorite TG-16 games: New Adventure Island.  Nobody dares forget Master Higgins!  Despite this insult of the highest degree, this article is still worth a read.  Next time, however, I may not be so forgiving.

The Obscure World Of Super Famicom Redux

Super Back to the Future II Last September I directed your attention to Steve and his wondrous forum thread of Super Famicom obscurities.  As often happens with these sorts of things, the forum threat became such a laborious exercise that Steve pulled the plug on new updates and instead channeled his energies into a website packed full of obscure Super Famicom and Sega Saturn curiosities.  Thrill to all new reviews of games such as The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, Super Back to the Future II, Iron Commando, and Lode Runner Twin!

Most people know that four Spider-Man games, specifically starring the webbed wonder, were made for the SNES. What few know, however, is this Super Famicom exclusive! The game is a side-scrolling action title featuring nine (short) levels. Because he can cling to any wall he touches, Spider-Man feels a bit sticky. Each button is put to use. The web attack is very small and there seems to be an odd delay. This is especially discernible when shooting in mid-air.  Still, the web has its moments. Just don't ever use it during boss battles -- it's way too slow leaving poor Spidey ripe for the pickings. The bosses also have a sixth sense regarding the web shooter. Before he can barely raise his wrist, they're on him like white on rice.

Aside from the rarities, Steve is also reviewing the average run-of-the-mill games of the Super NES library.  Super Metroid, Aladdin, and Rocky Rodent are among the games given a second (or, in some cases, first) look.  Everything is written with a tongue-in-cheek style, meaning that in addition to learning something, you'll also be entertained, and really, isn't that what the Internet is really all about?

The Great Title Hunt

UHF MTV's Stephen Totilo is a man on a mission.  He's searching for video games that meet his very selective criteria.  Can you help him out?

I'm looking for things that I think might have been in video games. They certainly could have been in video games. But I'm not sure.  Starting today but continuing as long as I can, I'm going to build a list of stuff that's got to be out there. Let me know which games I can find these things in and I'll update this list accordingly -- and give proper credit, of course.

Kicking things off is a search for racing games that feature speed bumps, games that recreate moments from Raiders of the Lost Ark (other than the famous boulder sequence), video games that fall into the "biography" genre, RPGs with mages who are not attractive women or wise old men, and games in which a poor frame rate is used as artistic expression.  I came up with a few answers, but maybe you can do better.  The list will be updated and new challenges will be added as time goes on.

Third Time's The Charm For "Sonic RPG"?

Sonic RPGAs if poor Sonic the Hedgehog hasn't had enough problems lately, now Sega and Bioware are tossing him into a new RPG adventure for the Nintendo DS.  Yeah, let's take a character known for his amazing speed and drop him into an adventure involving turn-based combat and menus!  Yes, that's jumping to a pessimistic conclusion, but remember what happened the last time Sega stripped Sonic of his lightning feet?

Sega's tried those whole "Sonic RPG" thing before to some extent.  Once upon a time the company toyed with the idea of taking the Japanese Sega CD RPG Popful Mail and replacing all of its characters with  elements from Sonic the Hedgehog, even going so far as to cast Sonic's unheard-of sister as the star.  Fortunately, Popful fans revolted and Sister Sonic was put to rest before it could do any real damage.  Then there was unheard-of company Panovation's claims that it had secured the rights to create a Sonic MMORPG.  That too turned to dust, as apparently the group hadn't actually licensed anything.  Now Bioware's taking a crack at a blue blur-based RPG  Third time's the charm?

Tesla Techno Tunes

Spark Man Thanks to the power of the Internet we can all experience the fruits of someone else's free time.  Today that fruit comes to us in the form of a musical presentation of memorable video game tunes performed on Tesla coils. The Geek Group has posted a bunch of videos on YouTube of their custom musical Tesla coils performing the greatest hits from Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Gargoyle's Quest, and a bunch of non-game music (theme from Beetlejuice anyone?).  They've even offered an eleven minute explanation of the sorcery science that makes it all work.  A few of my favorite clips are posted below. 

(via Fark)

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