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August 2007

Want To Invest In Electronic Arts?

Wall Street Kid If you have some spare cash sitting around being lazy then you may be inclined to get it working for you.  Perhaps you should invest some of that money in a game publisher.  No, I don't mean hording rare game cartridges, I mean buying stock.  One would-be investor has his or her eye on Electronic Arts and asks the Orlando Sentinel the eternal question: "I'm being told that Electronic Arts Inc. has great prospects, but its stock hasn't been all that great. What do you think?"  Well, what do you think, Orlando Sentinel?

The head of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox division, Peter Moore, was hired to oversee EA's profitable sports-game business. The former president of Activision's publishing division, Kathy Vrabeck, was hired to lead a new casual-games division. Following those moves, the analyst consensus rating of EA stock is "buy," according to Thomson Financial, consisting of eight "strong buys," 11 "buys," and 12 "holds."

EA has 10 new releases planned for the current fiscal year, including some specifically for Nintendo's Wii. The company has been criticized for not having enough Wii game titles.  Earnings are expected to increase 45 percent in its fiscal year ending in March 2008 and 71 percent the following fiscal year. Projected five-year annualized growth rate is 20 percent versus 13 percent forecast for the multimedia and graphics-software industry.

A few months ago a co-worker read about the runaway success of the Nintendo Wii and asked me if now was a good time to buy stock in Nintendo.  I had to tell him that the best time to buy stock in Nintendo was 2003.  Buy low, sell high, and all that (fun fact: most people who buy stock in EA tend to buy more stock the following year and then again the year after that, but the stock doesn't perform quite as well as people remember from the year before).  None of my traditional financial investments are in video games, unfortunately.  Like most of you out there my gaming investments involve, yes, hording rare game cartridges.  Someday when I step forward with the last known original sealed copy of Kwirk, the financial world will bow at my feet.

Ocarina of Time Photo Album

LinkRemember when The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was born?  How it came into this world as a bouncing baby newborn gold game pak just full of adventure and potential for the Nintendo 64?  Then we watched it grow into the gray game pak revision, onto its awkward GameCube Master Quest years, and finally into maturity on the Wii's Virtual Console.  Platypus Comix has a look back at the game's changes over the years in the Ocarina of Time photo album.

Not only that, [Ganon] also bled rather dramatically when Link smashed him in the face during his Ganon transformation. This was also colored green after the gold carts were sent out. Ocarina of Time was delayed nearly a year... yet there was still a tight race against deadline to bring it to market on November 23, 1998. Given what we see here versus all other versions, it's obvious the gold carts were made first--BEFORE an official verdict came in from the ratings board. Airborne blood automatically gets you a T rating, and that's not what Nintendo wanted. If this game had a more relaxed development schedule, the public might have never seen Ganon bleed at all.

Other topics covered include some very subtle changes to the game's text over several revisions, the infamous Muslim chants removed from the Fire Temple, the lost beam attack, some translation errors, obscure text for sequence breakers, the "swordless Link" glitch, and even a dip into hackerland with the quest for the Triforce and the seam walking technique.  Interesting stuff, if not all of it new.

Starring Phil Collins As Himself

Phil Collins Back when Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories was released I read where Phil Collins appeared in the game as himself.  Being a fan of his music and all I thought that was neat, and then I filed away that bit of data in the back of my brain next to Elton John's real name and the story behind Billy Joel's "Piano Man".  For some reason that little piece of information bubbled back to the surface this morning, so I decided to see how the whole thing wound up.  Just what was Phil Collins doing in Vice City?

Collins made an appearance as himself in the 2006 PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, set in 1984. He appears in three missions in which you must save him from a gang that is trying to kill him, the final mission occurring during his concert, where the player must defend the scaffolding against saboteurs whilst Phil is simultaneously performing "In The Air Tonight." After this, the player is given the opportunity to watch this performance of "In the Air Tonight."

Wow, that is interesting.  Yes indeed.  I'd like to see the performance, but who has time to play through another Grand Theft Auto game?  The fantastic potential of the Internet comes to the rescue once again, as the concert is available on YouTube.   Check out the whole six-and-a-half-minute performance or just skip ahead to the 4:08 mark for the awesome drum moment.  You know the one I mean.

AMN Is Hiring

AMN logoHey you!  Yeah, you!  Wanna get your foot in the door to the exciting world of video game journalism?  Here's your chance.  We're hiring news editors over at AMN, so if you'd ever wanted to be the guy or gal that writes the news copy on our network and hits the virtual beat every day to scan for various happenings, then you'd best apply for the job.  You'll have to start at the bottom of the totem pole, of course, and that means you'll have to go through our company training course, work hard to earn our respect, and bring all of us long-time staffers bottled water and donuts when we're covering E3.  You have proficient writing skills and can fetch water, right?   There's not a deadline for applications at the moment, but I wouldn't wait around if I were you.  These positions tend to be filled quickly.  See you at the next staff meeting!

Rare Mega Man 7 Prototype Revealed

Mega Man 7 Gather 'round for another tale of Mega Man history, folks.  It's time to break out the bag of prototype game paks once again, and reaching inside and digging around reveals a still-in-development version of Mega Man 7 for the Super NES.  SNES Central has dissected the Mega Man 7 prototype experience and outlined some of the changes between the beta version and the final version of the game.

As you can see, most of the ideas for the game were in the beta version. The level layouts were changed slightly to add or remove challenge to areas. The graphics were improved as well, most noticeably in the backgrounds. The gameplay remains the same, so hardcore Mega Man fans may want to give this a shot.

Hmm, so I guess too much didn't change between versions after all.  But still, hey, rare prototype and all.

(via Lost Levels)

Fake Wii Remote Wants You To Believe

Senator Wiinak How do you know when you've created a successful product?  Why, when less scrupulous companies create imitation knock-off versions of your golden goose, of course.  Such things are nothing new to the video game industry, but this is the first instance of Wii fakery (fakerwii?) that I've seen.  4 Color Rebellion's Greg spotted a Wii remote wannabe in his local Wal-Mart that oh-so-badly wants you to believe that it's the genuine article, but it is actually a crummy little LED football game.  That's just sad.  Considering the toy's size, I have to wonder if it's even playable.  I wouldn't expect it to be fun or fair, mind you, but I assume it must beep and display something on that tiny screen.  I wonder if the buttons are even connected to anything.  I'd like to suggest that if you come across this item in the wild that you don't buy it.  Of course it won't be any fun to play, but let's not encourage this type of thing even just for the curiosity and/or mocking value.

Trophies Out, Stickers In For Brawl

UPDATE: Trophies are back after all!

StickersRemember the trophy collection from Super Smash Bros. Melee?  Wasn't it fun to collect and view the high quality 3D models of various Nintendo characters and items?  Well, it looks like it's time to move on.  Super Smash Bros. Brawl will have us all collecting stickers seemingly based on Nintendo promotional artwork instead

I’d like to introduce a new collection element to the game—stickers. Yes, the ones you slap on your notebook or skateboard or whatever. Stickers. Stickers are easier to get a hold of than trophies. Just play the game and you’ll start to earn them as rewards. Stickers get filed away in your album. There are big ones and small ones, all with different kinds of artwork. There’s a ton of variety. This is a fun extra mode where you can enjoy decorating things by putting stickers on them. You can even make single frame comics with them.

Single frame comics?  If you listen very closely you can hear the sound of a thousand crappy Internet sprite-based comic strips springing into existence.  You'll know the sound when you hear it.  Just listen for the soul being sucked out of your favorite gaming characters for the sake of a pathetic toilet-related joke.

Wow, bitter today, aren't I?  That's what happens when you take a man's trophy collection away.

Why Won't You Be A Good Robot And Die?

Zero I was just thinking about the Mega Man X series of video games and about how sad it was in that one game when X's best friend and fellow Maverick hunter, Zero, died.  Remember that?  No, in that other game.  No, the other one.  Say, just how many times has Zero died anyways?  Leave it to Miranda Paugh at the Mega Man Homepage to offer a tally.

Someone asked me once why I keep mentioning that Zero dies a lot, and asked for a list of all of the times that Zero has kicked the bucket. So I decided one day to sit down and go through the games, noting either games where Zero “dies” during the game itself, or he spends at least part of the game out of commission. (Note: “Death” doesn’t mean his body was completely obliterated, just that he was rendered non-functional. Since Reploids aren’t humans, you can’t really say a Reploid “dies” at all, so this just means he’s put out of commission and has to be rebuilt.)

Of course Zero dies all the time.  That's what happens to pretentious warrior robots.

Tamagon's Revenge

DevilHave you seen the latest Super Smash Bros. Brawl news?  The Smash Bros. Dojo blog revealed another new assist trophy character this morning, and shockingly enough it's the devil from Devil World.  Hmm, Devil World... where have I heard that before?  Oh, right, it's the Nintendo Entertainment System game that was never released in North America due to its religious themes and tones.  Now, some Smash enthusiasts may worry that the Devil may well be removed from the non-Japanese versions of Brawl.  Yes, I'm recalling the fate of poor Tamagon, the hero of Devil World, and his Smash Bros. Melee trophy that was removed from the non-Japanese versions of Melee so as not to offend anybody.  If Tamagon had to go, then what chance does the devil himself have of surviving localization?

Let's not panic just yet though.  For while Tamagon was banished from Melee, he did turn up internationally in Tetris DS.  Yup, Level 17 of the game's marathon mode features Devil World visuals and as far as I know, nobody complained.  Perhaps Nintendo of America is warming to the game as time goes by.  Either that or someone at the Tetris DS factory didn't get the memo about tossing Tamagon and friends.

Lovingly Pathetic "Not So Super Mario"

It's not often that I post a video clip and say "ha ha, that's funny!" but today I feel the need.  Specifically, this clip from called "Not So Super Mario" is too good not to share.  Now I can't read the original website (the creators had the gall to write in a language other than English), but according to Game|Life where I spotted the clip...

Pirated games are bad, mmkay? This video is trying to convince you of that by pointing out that pirated games just aren't of the same quality as the official versions. It's not really succeeding, but it's trying really, really hard. This spot looks like it was crazy fun to film, too. Love the flame-spewing Bowser at the end.

My favorite aspect of the video is the almost-but-not-quite Super Mario Bros. overworld theme that plays in the background as "Mario" staggers and trips his way to his doom.