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July 2007

Best Game Of E3 2007 At AMN

Super Mario Galaxy It's amazing how long we can stretch out E3-related material after the event is officially over.  Here we are at two weeks later and we're still talking about it over at AMN.  We voted as a group earlier in the week to award top honors to our favorite games, but now each individual AMNer has the chance to speak out and pin a ribbon on that one certain game that tickled our fancies.  Betcha can't guess which one I picked!  Well, maybe you can if you've been paying attention.  I mean, out of a whole galaxy of games, which one could I possibly have chosen?

Atari Jaguar, We Hardly Knew Ye

Atari Jaguar Caught up in the mid-1990's madness of outdoing other consoles with more bits, Atari made one final run to bring back those living room domination days of yore with the Atari Jaguar.  The plucky console made some bold promises, but in the end it just couldn't compete.  Now the shocking true story behind Jaguar's life can be told.

“He trained really hard. The kid literally showed up for practice literally every day at 6am and would often leave at 10pm at night.” Jaguar’s former agent, Robert Sherman, recalled fondly. “By his premiere date he had a Tom 26.59 MHz Processor, a 32 Bit RISC architecture, a 64-bit blitter processor, a Motorola 68000 processor, a Two DACs, and a lot more. I’ve met a lot of consoles over the course of my career, but I rarely met one as determined as Jaguar. He was really something else.”

I knew that the Jaguar was supposedly very advanced in some aspects, but I had no idea it had achieved sentience before its tragic demise.  I'm surprised that the console wasn't buried in the family plot, although by the time it died I suppose there wasn't anyone left alive in the Atari console family to bury it. 

Best And Worst Of E3 2007 At AMN

Super Mario Galaxy With the E3 2007 party wagon long gone into the sunset the time has come for us at AMN to hand out the cheers and jeers with our picks for the best and the worst of the show.  Who won for Best Trailer?  Best Press Conference?  The answers wait within.

With E3 2007 in the past, we’re taking a moment to award some of the show’s best and worst games. What’s more, there are awards for the best press conference, worst press conference, as well as an assortment of other categories to name, too.

The awards below were voted upon by the attending AMN E3 staff. The criteria for each game category was simple: a game had to be at the show in playable form by either attendees or by a developer or publisher, and we had to see it being played ourselves. There is only one category a game did not have to be playable to win an award in: Best Trailer. Furthermore, for multiplatform games, we are awarding the version that was playable at the show.

It wasn't easy to pick winners for this, mostly because there were some categories that I believed had no winner this year.  I don't even remember playing a traditional puzzle game at E3, let alone playing one that deserved to be labeled as the best of the show.  Then again, knowing me, if I were the only voice that mattered on these awards then I'd just choose Super Mario Galaxy and Ratchet and Clank Future for everything and call it a day.

Linking To The Past

No way!Games don't exist in a vacuum anymore.  Sometimes a game knows that you've played other games.  Better yet, sometimes players are rewarded for such behavior.  There's a discussion at the NeoGAF forums involving games that give players bonuses or upgrades based on memory card data from other games.  For instance, the main Ratchet and Clank games for the Sony PlayStation 2 read memory card data from the previous game in the series.  If you have the right data on your card then you get free or discounted weapons.  Then there's the more obvious games that use this gimmick, such as Sonic & Knuckles's lauded lock-on abilities from the Sega Genesis era.

Personally, I like these little bonuses provided it's possible to access the content in other ways if I haven't played other games in the series.  When I played the Ratchet trilogy on PS2, I played them out of order, starting with the first game, then the third, and finishing with the second.  By doing that I missed out on some freebies, but I was able to earn those freebies with hard work and a large collection of bolts (read: in-game money).  Sometimes formats get in the way.  For example, Mega Man X8 for the PS2 features a secret fan service battle with an 8-bit Cut Man all the way from the original Mega Man.  This battle only happens if there's a save file for Mega Man X: Command Mission on the memory card.  Alas, I have the Nintendo GameCube version of Command Mission, and of course PS2 and GameCube memory cards aren't exactly on speaking terms.  So was I left out of the Cut Man fun?  Nope.  Capcom tossed in a secret code to unlock the battle without having the required save file.  No harm done.

Weekly Poll: Step Aerobics With Princess Peach

Weekly Poll for 7-16-2007Nintendo wins?  Really?   You all  know I love the company's products, but this whole casual gaming thing just leaves me with a question mark over my head sometimes.  Wii Fit will sell billions, sure, but I need to know there are more traditional Nintendo-type fare coming in 2008.  To that end, I declare Sony the winner.  My god, I feel so dirty all of a sudden for some reason.

So, speaking of Wii Fit, what's your take on it?  Are you excited by what we've seen so far?  Confused?  Disappointed?  (other)?  Let's hear your Wii Fit thoughts in a casual comment posting.

Kirby's Dream Course Hits US Virtual Console

Kirby's Dream CourseI haven't been commenting on releases on the Virtual Console for the Nintendo Wii because there are a multitude of websites out there dedicated to covering and discussing the trickle of retro gaming goodness we get every week, but this week I'm going to speak out and make a simple demand of all of you.  Kirby's Dream Course is one of this week's addition to the Virtual Console in North America, so that means you must all get on the Wii Shop Channel right now and buy it.  Originally for the Super NES, Dream Course is my favorite mini-golf video game of all time.  It's even more fun with two players, mostly because it's possible (and encouraged) to knock the other player around when it's your turn to play.  There's a simple storyline that has something to do with King Dedede, but the game is all about careful planning, smart uses of power-ups, and old fashioned luck.  You have your orders.  Now get to it!

Complete History of Mega Man and Street Fighter Coming In 2008

Robot mastersYou may think you know Mega Man and Street Fighter, but do you truly know everything about them?  Don't worry; this isn't a quiz.  Instead it's a chance to study up on two of the most profitable franchises in the world of video games.  Chronicle Books and Capcom are working on two volumes that take us through the history of both franchises.  Intrigued yet?

It just so happens that both the Mega Man and Street Fighter franchises celebrated their twentieth anniversaries in 2007, so we’re publishing a compact “complete history” of each in Fall 2008. From napkin-scrawled idea to production to million-selling success, both series’ histories will be told in extreme detail in original text and interviews with the developers, animators, and other industry folks. We’re going to pack in tons of art, too–early concept stuff as well as memorable character sprites. My favorite part may be the package itself, though–these are going to be paperbacks, but they’ll come in a partial slipcase that looks like an original Nintendo cartridge sleeve.

I'll definitely pick up the Mega Man book if it's loaded with quality information.  Most video game history books have a bad habit of basically saying something such as "Mega Man was released in 1987, and then Mega Man 2 came in 1989.  Lots more games came after that" and leaving it at that.  I want that character art, I want those interviews, and I even want closer looks at the more obscure Mega Man titles in the series.  Rockman and Forte for the WonderSwan, I'm looking at you.  The downside to all of this?  We have to wait until Fall 2008 for these books.  It's time to be patient.  READY?

(via GameSetWatch)

Wii Photo Channel Is Neat

Wii photo channel I realize that I'm late to the party on this one, but I tried out the Nintendo Wii's photo channel for the first time this morning.  My grandparents were over to visit and I wanted to show them the photos from my E3 trip.  Rather than gathering them around my computer monitor and making them squint to see everything, I loaded the pictures up on a SD card and displayed it all on my comparatively larger television.  I've been neutral regarding the photo channel mainly because it's rare that I have any photos worth displaying.  Now that I've used the channel for its intended purpose, I'm impressed.  I can see myself using the channel more down the line to show off my pictures.  As for my grandparents, I think they were more impressed that I was able to display the photos on TV than they were with the photos themselves.  Once again Nintendo has captured the imagination of the senior citizen demographic.

European Nintendo Promo Tape 64

Nintendo 64 Promo Tapes I've discussed the wild world of 1990s promotional video tapes before, but perhaps it's time to revisit the subject with this archive of tapes (and corresponding downloadable video) from the Nintendo 64 era.  Today's collection comes to us from and covers games such as Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Pilotwings 64, Conker's Bad Fur Day, F-Zero X, Gex 64, and Lylat Wars.  Wait a minute, did I just say Lylat Wars?  Hmm, that must mean that this archive is from Europe.  That's right; gather 'round for promo videos from Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

Nintendo has given out a lot of free VHS videos in both Europe and USA to show future releases or promote individual games. They also gave tapes to retailers which could be shown in stores, plus there were magazines which came with included VHS tapes showing new games and such stuff. In this special we want to show you as many of those videos as we can find, video rips included if possible.

The promo tape truly is a lot art in that it's much cheaper cost effective to make material such as this for online audiences instead of spending precious resources to produce the tapes and then mail them to everyone on the Nintendo Power mailing list.  On the other hand, considering the quality of the scripts and actors usually found in these videos, I don't think we're missing too much.

"Who Won E3?" Roundtable At AMN

Barker Hanger I've already asked this question of you, but now it's time for the AMN gang to come forward and answer the annual question: "Who Won E3?"  My comments kick things off (and my answer may surprise you).  While there are a lot of answers, I was surprised at the response for the roundtable.  Of all of the responses, only four people who spoke out actually went to the summit.  It's a reminder that the people watching and covering the show from home may well have a completely different take on the event than those of us who were out there on the buses and schlepping around Barker Hanger.