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April 2008

Cryptic Nintendo Moon Riddle Hides Mother Of All Secrets?

MoonUPDATE: The riddle has been solved.

Maybe you should put on a helmet because I'm about to blow your mind.  Allow me to guide you down a Rorschach test of pure speculation and show you this image of a moon from the most recent Nintendo Power magazine.  Kombo explains the deal with the photo.

Nintendo Power promises big things to heat up their pages, things like Ghostbusters, Sonic Chronicles, and Time Hollow. "We may even have a surprise or two," they say. "Can you find the clues we've hidden in the moon?"
On some boards, there are some pretty strong hunches about what it could be. And dare I say it, they seem too good to be true. But this is where you come in: What do you think this moon alludes to?

Earthbound logoThe more I gazed at the moon, the more familiar it seemed.  I knew I'd seen this image before.  That's when it hit me.  Recognize this moon icon?  You should — it's the icon used in Super Smash Bros. Brawl to identify characters and elements from the Mother / Earthbound series.  Now let's enlarge that tiny icon to be the approximate size as Nintendo Power's moon.

Earthbound logoMoon

Tell me that I'm only seeing what I want to see here, but these two moons appear to be a lot alike.  Do you see the similarities?  Next, let's take Nintendo Power's moon, turn it to greyscale, and shrink it down to the Mother icon's approximate size. 

Earthbound logoMoon

Could this be a hint that an actual North American release of Mother 3 is finally in the works?  I know that I'm probably jumping to conclusions here, but I'd really like to believe in this crazy idea.  Besides, Earthbound fans are used to disappointment after all these years, so one more letdown won't be too hard to stomach if it turns out this is actually a clue about something like another Harvest Moon game. 

The Daily Show Covers Grand Theft Auto IV

Leave it to the champions of fake news over at The Daily Show to not only cover yesterday's release of Grand Theft Auto IV, but also tie it to coverage regarding Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's remarks regarding torture and how it's not technically punishment.  Let's watch.

I usually don't dwell on mainstream politics and serious news here, but I just have to say how much I admire the creative team behind The Daily Show for being able to take two seemingly separate and unrelated topics and make a relevant point about our mad world by using one to comment on the other.  In the end we get something important to think about and a cheap laugh.  You can't ask for much more than that while falling asleep at the end of a long day.

Ghostbusters Needs To Be Good

GhostbustersIt's time for more Kombo blogging, and today I make the call that the upcoming Ghostbusters video game really, honestly, and truly needs to be good.

Granted, the previous games were mostly created during the 1980s when the game industry hadn't yet found the magic formula for successfully turning a movie into a comparatively decent game. Today's movie-to-game projects typically benefit from the input of the creative crew responsible for the film. The participation of Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray put the new Ghostbusters game a step ahead of any of the previous titles before a single screenshot hit the Internet. The horsepower driving the modern consoles goes a long way towards bringing the experience one would expect from a proper Ghostbusters game. Legitimate thrills just weren't possible from the old 8-bit generation of hardware.

Hopefully if Ghostbusters lives up to its potential then we'll start to see more modern games based on classic films.  I still have high hopes for an eventual Back to the Future game that honors the film trilogy instead of misunderstanding it completely.

Sega Vows Not To Screw Up Sonic Unleashed

Sonic UnleashedIt seems that Sega may really try to get things right this time with the upcoming Sonic Unleashed for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii.  Sonic's long painful fall from AAA+ gaming grace is well known to us all by now, so it's only natural that the developers behind Unleashed would promise to actually produce a solid adventure.  However, when I read comments from Sonic Team's Yoshihisa Hashimoto, I find myself feeling more optimistic.  Kombo has the details.

Regarding gameplay, Hashimoto confirms that the stages of Unleashed will feature both traditional 3D gameplay and sidescrolling in a 3D environment, with transitions occurring seamlessly, with the ratio of the two being about half and half. "We understand Sonic fans truly love classic sidescrolling Sonic gameplay. Sonic Unleashed should be the Sonic game that finally fills that void."

Regarding the infamous introduction of new characters with each Sonic title, specifically Silver in the 360/PS3 game, Hashimoto says that Silver will not be appearing in this game, and while he won't reveal too much at this time, they do have something "new and exciting" planned that will "challenge and extend Sonic and his world in ways never before seen." The story itself will revolve around Sonic and his travels around that world in a big adventure.

The team seems to understand what can make a Sonic game toxic and, from the sound of it, wants to avoid those problems in this latest effort.  I know we've all been led onward by this kind of thing before, but this time I really want to believe it'll all work out.  Speaking of potential pitfalls, I'm still waiting to see how Savage Sonic fits into the grand plan. 

Weekly Poll: Karts Or Kills?

Weekly Poll for 4-21-2008Like most of you out there, I prefer gaming on a home console.  Home console this gaming this generation is especially fantastic thanks to HDTV and a decent sound system backing up the little glowing boxes in my entertainment unit.  I have to give portable consoles credit though, as the best thing about the Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable is how it's so easy to pick one up, bring it out of sleep mode, play for a minutes exactly where I left off previously, and then put the system back into sleep mode and into my pocket when my few moments of spare time are up.  Home console gaming anymore requires a minimum time commitment thanks to boot-up sequences, console main menus, loading the game itself, speeding through logo after tedious logo, choosing which save game file to load, waiting for that to load... ah, darn it, there goes the oven timer already!  Maybe next time.

Moving on, this week is one of the bigger game release periods so far this year in North America as Nintendo releases Mario Kart Wii and Take-Two unleashes Grand Theft Auto IV.  There's something for everyone's home console this week.  Which release has you more excited?  Go-karts or gore-kills?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Rumors Abound For Metroid Prime Trilogy

Samus AranUPDATE: Rumor apparently killed dead

Rumor has it that Nintendo is working on some kind of Metroid Prime compilation that would see all three Prime games (remember, that's two GameCube titles and last year's Wii adventure) crammed into a single package known as the Metroid Prime Trilogy.  Rumor also has it that this set takes Metroid Prime and its sequel and rejiggers the whole experience with Wii motion controls in place of the original sticks 'n buttons motif.  Rumor, rumor, rumor...

Word has it that a certain retailer had a SKU pop up in their computer systems for a Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii. What could this title be? Well, I would expect it to be Prime 1, 2, and 3 all on the Wii… but Prime 1 and 2 with all-new Wiimote controls. I love Metroid, but I really don’t know if I would buy something like this. It would see a bit silly to pass it up, especially if you could get all 3 for $50.

So is this really happening?  I have no idea.  It seems to go against Nintendo's casual-focused gaming initiative that's about to shove Wii Fit down North America's gullet.  The hardcore gaming audience has already digested the Prime series and the casual gamers probably aren't ready yet to make the leap into Samus Aran territory.  On the other hand, it would be a quick and easy cash grab to take existing assets and give them a Wii makeover (all the cool kids are doing it, after all).  I have to admit though, I don't think I'd go for this if it were actually released.  While I did finish and completely enjoy Metroid Prime 3, the other Prime games just didn't really hit the mark for me, although that was due to the combination of complex controls (for me, at least) and nonstop action.  Even if Prime 3's superb controls were grafted onto the other games in the series, I think I'd rather explore something new in the Metroid world than revisit familiar territory so soon.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 HD Remix? Maybe...

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 HD Remix With beloved classics such as Street Fighter II and Bionic Commando getting a little remixed high definition love, what's to keep other classic 2D games from receiving a similar upgrade?  The fan community behind Sonic the Hedgehog has always been a rabid and enthusiastic bunch, so it shouldn't be a surprise that a group of Sonic fans wants to see the Genesis favorite Sonic the Hedgehog 2 revised for the HD era.  They're so hyped up about the idea, in fact, that they're aiming to create it themselves.

The purpose of the S2HD project is to remaster Sega’s classic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in high definition graphics, whilst at the same time precisely preserving the original gameplay. New features that were not present in the original will also be made available. The S2HD project is always searching for new talent to aid us in our endeavor to resurrect and improve a timeless gaming classic. All of those significantly involved with the S2HD project readily understand that the birth of this venture was entirely due to enthusiastic individuals showcasing their artistic talents in the Sonic community. Collaboration rather than competition and encouragement as opposed to derision are therefore our most central philosophies.

So is this just another lofty unrealistic goal from obsessive fans or could this actually work as an unofficial project?  The preliminary artwork the team has put together looks smooth and impressive, but as much as I'd like to see something like this come to fruition, I have a cynical feeling that it will end the way that most failed fan-type remix projects do: 1) internal team meltdown or 2) sued out of existence.  Still, keep reaching for that gold ring, guys!

Big Nintendo DS Sale At Amazon Today

UPDATE: And the sale is over.Buy somethin' will ya!

I don't know about you, but I keep coming out of these one-day-only video game sales at with mixed feelings.  Take today, for example.  The big sale today is for Nintendo DS gamesAdvance Wars: Days of Ruin is on sale for half price with four other to-be-announced DS games added to the sale throughout the day.  Sounds good, right?  If the past big Wii game discounts are any indication, however, then we're looking at sales on two different types of games: big name blockbusters I already have and cheap knock-off titles that Amazon is desperate to clear out of the warehouse.  Maybe today will be different.  If you do find something you just have to have, I'd appreciate it if you'd use that green link up there to buy it.  Every purchase you make through one of those green links here at PTB helps to keep the lights on. 

Link At Sea Means Illness For Me?

Link and Linebeck I need more data points to be sure, but I'm starting to believe that whenever Link sails the seas in The Legend of Zelda, I become horribly ill.  You may recall my story about how I spent months confined to my bed while awaiting surgery and how I played through The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to pass the time and give me a reason to wake up in the morning.  At the end of that article I said this:

I haven't returned to Wind Waker, however.  There's a whole second quest to explore now that I've finished the first quest, but I just can't get myself to go back.  The game is so intertwined with the dreadful memories and painful feelings of the time that, two years later, I'm not ready to go back just yet.

Someday I'll sail the seas again, but not today.

I still haven't been back to Wind Waker, but recently I finally got around to picking up the direct sequel to Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS, in which Link once again goes to sea.  A day or two after starting the quest and sailing around Hyrule, my health crisis from last year flared up again after several weeks of smooth sailing.  Resting at home today, I'm propped up in my recliner and plugging away at the Temple of the Ocean King when I realize the connection: here I am with health problems again and I'm using Link's maritime adventures to pass the time.  I can't decide if this is an amazing coincidence, something that was bound to happen eventually, or just another case of events coming full circle.  Just to be on the safe side, however, I think I'll stick to Link's land-based adventures for a while.

There Shall Be No Crime Before it's Time

Grand Theft Auto IV Grand Theft Auto IV is coming for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 next week.  Are you ready?  Can't wait to get your hands on it?  Prepared to buy it early if you find it on the store shelf ahead of its official release date?  If so, then you'd better be aware of developer Rockstar's plans to do nasty things to whomever takes the game online before the actual official release date.  Kombo has the details, but better yet there's also a little commentary on the matter from — who else? — me.

Now, I can understand the need for publishers and developers to do what they can to discourage unauthorized downloading of their latest game. My hope here is that the trackers-that-be differentiate between illegal downloads and early legitimate purchases. Stealing a game from the back of a delivery truck somewhere? Then, yes, that's not right. Downloading a pirated game isn't doing anyone any favors either. If GameStop or Target sets a game out on the shelf three days before the official release date, then where's the harm? I've never understood the need for any store to hold back content just for the sake of an arbitrary calendar date.

As part of Kombo's ongoing evolution I'll be sharing some of my commentaries at the Kombo hub in addition to here at PTB.  Like everything that I write at Kombo, my material will also get a mention here to point you over there, so don't worry about missing out on anything.