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June 2008

The Last Days Of Dr. Wily

Dr. Wily One of the easiest (and best) ways to get a laugh is to try and apply real world logic and order to a villain's evil master plan.  Take the world of Mega Man, for example.  Who builds all of those levels?  How much does it cost to construct big spikes?  Can one add ice blocks to the magnet level without violating a building code?  And how much does it cost to design new Robot Masters?  Here's a short sketch that's making the rounds online that shines a little light on what it takes to be in the Dr. Wily business.

This gag would grow old very quickly if it were applied too often, but I would like to see how Sonic the Hedgehog's nemesis, Dr. Robotnik, would handle similar frustrations.  Can you imagine the permits he'd have to get just to build Oil Ocean Zone?

Weekly Poll: 8-Bit Blue Bomber

Weekly Poll for 6-16-2008I left the last poll open for an extra week because I believe the question — all things considered, are you satisfied with the video game industry? — to be an important topic worth pondering.  The end vote is a very close split.  As for me, I am satisfied overall.  Sure, I'd like to see hardware and software prices drop and for the overall quality of products to increase, but one could say the same type of thing for any industry. 

Moving on, Mega Man 9 is coming up with some lovingly-crafted 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System-style visuals.  Do you like the retro take on the blue bomber?  Have you been transported back to 1990 in a whirlwind of pixelated joy?  Or were you hoping for something a bit more modern?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Castlevania Judgment Announced For Wii

Castlevania Judgment UPDATE: On second thought, have you seen these character renderings yet?

Wii-owning Castlevania fans have been clamoring for a new home console adventure for quite some time, and while Konami is finally ready to bring the Belmonts to everyone's favorite little white box, we're not getting the game we had in mind.  The time has come for Castlevania to branch away from its roots, it seems, as Castlevania Judgment is on the way, and — guess what? — it's a fighting game.

Castlevania Judgment appears to be a 3D fighter, at least graphically, which will be controlled by the nunchuck, while the Wii remote performs basic attacks. Classic Castlevania tunes will be remixed and played in the background as well.

Players can use special items, such as the classic boomerangs, daggers, holy water, and even magic spells, all powered by hearts. Plus, you can set traps, while avoiding attacks from monsters in the background. But what monster would dare to attack the evil Count?

Well, can't speak for the monsters, but on the more human side of things, he'll have to contend with the likes of series legends Simon Belmont, Alucard, Maria Renard, and newcomer Shanoa, from
Order of Ecclesia.

This just might work.  Imagine if Judgment took the Super Smash Bros. route and featured memorable environments from previous Castlevania titles instead of generic horror-themed levels.  I can see fights taking place in the castle clock tower, the familiar castle entryway, the Hakuba shrine, Berkeley Mansion, the town of Veros, the haunted ship of fools, and, of course, Dracula's inner sanctum.  Then there's the character roster.  I'm sure the legendary Belmonts will appear (Trevor, Simon, and Richter) along with partner characters such as Sypha Belnades, Maria Renard, and Alucard.  Then there's the many memorable Castlevania monsters to consider such as Death, Medusa, the dark priest Shaft, and, of course, Dracula himself.  The more I think about it, the more exciting Castlevania Judgment becomes.  Yes, I do believe this could work. 

Big Nintendo Sale At Today

Buy somethin' will ya! is holding another big Friday video game sale, and today's selection of games looks to be worth examining.  Today's theme revolves around Nintendo icons, meaning that this is the perfect time to pick up that Super Mario or Legend of Zelda adventure you may have missed.  The deals seem to be substantial, too.  Super Smash Bros. Brawl costs a mere $25 today.  Here's the guidelines for the other sale items:

On Friday, June 27, 2008, for the first time ever, Nintendo video games will be featured as the top nine deals in the Gold Box. The identities of each deal will be revealed one at a time.

Here's how it will work:

  • At 12:01 AM PST the first deal will be the Gold Box Deal of the Day. Its special discounted price will be available all day only on Friday, June 27 (or until we run out.)
  • Starting at 6:00 AM PST, the second deal will be featured as a Lightning Deal. This special price will be available for the following two hours.
  • Each of the seven remaining deals will also be Lightning Deals. Starting every two hours that follow at 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, and 6:00 PM PST, and 8:00 PM each deal will be available for two hours after it begins.
  • Discounts on each deal will be available only while supplies last.

Judging the various clues for each mystery title yields a few guesses on my part.  I believe that the games on sale include Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Mario Kart Wii, a Pokemon title of some sort, Yoshi's Island DS, and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, among others.  Best of luck snagging a deal!

Mega Man 9 Finally Revealed; Looks Fantastically 8-Bit

Mega Man 9 Quick, take a guess which Mega Man game is shown in this screenshot.  It looks very 8-bit, doesn't it?  But yet, somehow, it also looks new and unfamiliar, yes?  What we have here is Mega Man 9, Capcom's upcoming blue bomber adventure for Nintendo WiiWare, Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade, and Sony's PlayStation Network.  Kombo has all the details.  READY?

Further, the rumors of an 8-bit artstyle were not only true, but quite literal: So far, this looks just like one of the NES games, rather than the later fare of Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8, each of which has its fans and detractors.

So what's the story? Apparently the rumor of a more "standard" story holds true as well, as robots are on the rampage, and Dr. Wily is back; only this time, he says that the robot attacks are the fault of Mega Man's creator, Dr. Light. And so it falls to Mega Man to prove his creator's innocence.

So who are the bad boys of metal musculature causing this high-tech havoc? The roster reads thusly: Magma Man, Galaxy Man, Jewel Man, Concrete Man, Hornet Man, Plug Man, Tornado Man, and Splash... Woman?

They each inhabit a trap-filled lair that reflects their respective themes, leading to Mega Man traversing molten material in Magma Man's domain, while Tornado Man's stage features spinning magnetic platforms which allow the Blue Bomber to defy gravity. And Plug Man's stage features certain walls that will force the Titanium Titan to square off against shadowy doppelgangers when he walks past.

I never thought we'd see a game from the glorious pixel generation ever again.  This looks like the Mega Man we all loved in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Say what you will about 3D visuals and realistic physics, but there's just something so pure and pleasant about this comparatively simple presentation style.   

Mom Conquers The Universe In Lost Futurama Game Episode

Futurama One thousand years ago (give or take a millennium) FOX Interactive unleashed Futurama: The Game for the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 2.  Critics looked down on the mediocre gameplay, but the real appeal for fans of the television series came from the animated clips concocted by the show's creative staff that drove the story between levels. The game has been out of print for years, so some fans (such as myself) had been forced to acknowledge that this material would go unseen and forgotten.  Now that Futurama has come roaring back from cancellation in the form of new direct-to-DVD movies, however, the lost episode has been compiled into a special bonus feature for the second film, The Beast with a Billion Backs.

The evil businesswoman Mom has bought Planet Express Deliveries from Professor Farnsworth. By doing so she now owns over fifty percent of the Earth, making her the supreme ruler. Her first step is to enslave all humanity and turn the planet into a gigantic warship to conquer the known Universe.

What, that's not impressive enough for you?  Don't you realize how difficult it was for the producers to compile the lost material?  The DVD commentary tells the story of how the actual original 3D game data had been lost when the game's developers and publishers went out of business and/or were absorbed into other companies.  Thankfully, Futurama executive producer David X. Cohen had played through the game on his Xbox several years ago, so armed with his old memory card and a $50 Xbox component cable (plus a few helpful cheat codes), the production crew was able to record the clips directly from the console's video output.  The sound team then cleaned up some of the effects and music to better fit the Futurama universe, and a few graphical touch-ups were added to help fill in the gaps left in the plot once the gameplay elements were removed.  The result is surprisingly watchable and entertaining.  Best of all, now that I've seen the lost video footage, I find that I no longer have an interest in actually playing the game.  Everybody wins!

New Call Of Duty Aims For Grit

World War II ended a very long time ago.  At least, that's what they tell me, but if one were to take a look at the various military-based shooters in the gaming market, one might think that the conflict has yet to come to a definitive end.  Now here comes Call of Duty: World at War which promises to take some of the rah-rah-can-do spirit out of the equation and replace it with "Oh god, I can't feel/find my legs!"

Toss some grit and grime on the starched and pressed uniforms, eh? Heller explained, "It's about getting rid of some of the old trumpets and patriotism of classic WWII games and getting into the gritty realism. Not 'Hey Sarge, shall I take that hill?' 'Go Get it boys!' but rather 'Get up on that f**king hill because that gun's ripping us to shreds.'"

A change in tone may be just what the genre needs.  Personally, I'd like to see a Call of Duty title take things a decade or two into the future.  I want to see the military hardware of 2025 hard at work.  We don't need an alien invasion or anything too sci-fi in tone, mind you.  I just want to attack with weapons that are a generation or two ahead of the current technological standard.

Rumored Mega Man 9 Screenshot Is Fake

Not Mega Man 9 There's an image making the rounds online that purports to be a leaked screenshot of the upcoming Mega Man 9.  The story behind the image involves a supposed Capcom "beta tester" who managed to sneak a cell phone with a camera into the testing center.  Blurry as it is, it's not the real deal.  Leave it to the NeoGAF forums to debunk the story and find the original non-Capcom-created image.  Personally, I believe that it's for the best that this image is a fake.  I don't know about you, but when I imagine Mega Man's glorious return to his roots on a home console after so many years away from us, I don't picture something as bland as what this screenshot promises.

Playing In The Sim Sand

SimCity 4 The simulation gaming genre has seen an explosion of titles in the past few years (tack a popular industry or place in front of the word "Tycoon" and chances are you'll come up with a valid game title), but for some of us, SimCity will always be a cut above any mall or zoo simulator.  SimCity 4 is still a favorite among the fans, but it's not always as open as one may think.  What if you want to skip the actual objective portion of the gameplay and just play in a sandbox?  Leave it to the user community to come to the rescue in this Ask Metafilter discussion.

What frustrates me about SimCity 4 is that there is no way to have a true 'sandbox' mode. [Rollercoaster Tycoon] allows a sandbox mode that lets you do whatever you like, unlimited funds, but doesn't count towards scores or whatnot. Is there any way to get this in SimCity 4? Yes, I know all the cheat codes.. but pasting in 'weaknesspays' a few bazillion times is just no fun. All I want to do is play in a sandbox!

I'm behind on my favorite Sim series releases.  I drifted away after SimCity 3000, spent a year or two with the first two Rollercoaster Tycoon titles (and their expansion packs), and then just haven't really been back.  SimCity 4 looks like a slice of enjoyable and complex fun, but I've yet to find a Sim game that can capture the experience of SimCity 2000 in which I could export my cities out to Streets of SimCity and SimCopter and see the world through the eyes of my simulated citizens. 

Weekly Poll: Satisfaction

Weekly Poll for 6-09-2008Hmm, there's not as much Solid Snake love out there as I'd thought.  I know these results are from a comparatively tiny sample compared to the overall gaming population, but sometimes I wonder just how successful the major blockbuster titles may actually be.  The four of my non-gaming-industry  co-workers that own Sony PlayStation 3s aren't planning on taking in Metal Gear Solid 4 at all.  Again, it's a small sample size, but it does make me wonder...

Let's talk in general terms this week.  All things considered, are you satisfied with the video game industry?  That's a very open question, so feel free to answer it with whatever criteria you like.  Just be sure to elaborate on your thoughts in a comment below after you cast your vote.