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June 2009

PS2 Capabilities May Be Returning To PS3

PS2 busts outThe Internet is buzzing with news that Sony has filed a patent regarding the method used to make the PlayStation 3's mighty cell processor interpret directives originally designed for the PlayStation 3's Emotion Engine.  The upshot on this is that the PS3 could soon be able to play PS2 discs without the need for the extra PS2-related hardware that Sony removed from later models of PS3 consoles.  Backward compatibility could be within sight once again.  Siliconera has the news.

PlayStation 3s without PS2 backwards compatibility are missing the Emotion Engine, a chip Sony designed as the PS2’s CPU. What if the PS3’s cell processor could emulate the Emotion Engine? Theoretically, all PlayStation 3s would be able to play PS2 games even if a console didn’t have the proper hardware. According to a recent patent filed by Sony Computer Entertainment in the US, Sony has the code and technology ready to do this.

There are two main ways to emulate hardware. Interpretation is when target code is decoded and converted into a language the host can understand. The other strategy is to decode and recompile programs in the host’s language.  Maybe the concept is better explained another way. Interpretation is like having someone constantly translating English to Japanese for you, non stop, twenty four hours a day wherever you go. Decoding and recompiling is like someone translating a sets of words and putting them in a dictionary you can reference.

Sony developed a way to translate instructions from an Emotion Engine chip into chunks that can be referenced.

I'd love to have PS2 abilities in my PS3 even though I barely have the time as it is to play all of the PS3 games in which I have an interest or a review assignment.  I still have a small stack of PS2 games that I want to explore at some point (and the PS2 to play them on, but that's beside the point).  However, that Sony would add PS2 backward compatibility into the PS3 with something as simple as a firmware update has not been confirmed.  I sincerely hope that is how the company plans to unleash this new feature, as it would benefit all of us out there with newer PS3s, but there's also a rumor going around that the upcoming "slim" model of PS3 would support this new technology exclusively while the rest of us are left out in the metaphorical rain.  By the way, I'm assuming that this feature is meant to read data from actual discs and not just some sort of paid PS2-on-demand service via the PlayStation Network.  So, even though I don't have any immediate plans to play PS2 games on my PS3, I still would like the option.  How's that for mixed-up priorities?

(via Kombo)


Wii For One Hand

Sonic the Hedgehog Suppose you're an video gamer who just broke a wrist.  You'll be out of the game until it heals, right?  Not necessarily.  The Nintendo Wii library features many games playable with only a single hand and the folks of Ask MetaFilter are listing their recommendations.

Endless Ocean lets you swim around the open sea, caverns, and sunken ships. It's a little "non-gamey" in the sense that you cannot die and you cannot fail. You can move it's limited plot forward at your own pace, but the meat of the game is just swimming around and seeing different types of fish and sharks. As far as controls, movement is controlled by the IR in the remote (swim up by pointing up, swim down by pointing down (or can inverse that with a settings toggle)). Also, you can shake the wii remote to pet fish, if you'd like. I liked it, and my girlfriend loved it, but YMMV.

Zack & Wiki is a point-and-click adventure style game that is chunked into a number of levels, with each level being centered around an environmental logic puzzle. It's a very cute game, but unlike a LucasArts type adventure game, timing becomes pretty central and you will die frequently. Although a character's on-screen movement is controlled by pointing the remote and pushing a button, there are some segments were wii remote movement is involved. I forget most of them, but one of the early ones has you move the wii remote back and forth horizontally to saw down a tree; I don't think any of these segments would be difficult to accomplish with one hand.

I know I've played plenty of Wii remote-only games, but I can't think of anything worthwhile at the moment that relies on just the pointer functionality that hasn't already been mentioned in the Ask MeFi topic.  Remember that a broken wrist means that it's not practical to use the controller in the old fashioned Nintendo Entertainment System configuration.  We're talking about just point-and-click here. 


Amazon Corrects "Slimer Edition" Ghostbusters Box Art

Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Slimer Edition)The release of Ghostbusters: The Video Game has come and gone in North America, but Amazon isn't finished offering goodies for it.  The company sent out an e-mail to customers who bought the limited "Slimer Edition" of the game to apologize for a tremendous oversight: the box art that shipped with the game was not the actual "Slimer Edition" artwork.  Oops.  Amazon wants to make it right, however, so they're offering a PDF download of the special Slimer artwork to print and slip into the Ghostbusters case.

The Amazon Video Games team thanks you for your order of Ghostbusters the Video Game Amazon.com Exclusive Slimer Edition . It has come to our attention that the box art on the Exclusive Slimer Edition was the same as the standard edition, and not what we had pictured on the website. The Exclusive Slimer Edition box art is now available in the form of a PDF, which you can download and print out.

Was anyone losing any sleep over this?  Still, it's a nice gesture from the company.  It'd be even nicer if the art didn't say "This image does not reflect the final package" on the front of the box. 

This image does not reflect the final package

Personally, I'll just stick with the non-Slimer art that originally came with the game.  The disc itself is identical to the standard retail release, so without special built-in Slimerness, it seems a bit ridiculous to swap out the art.  Still, thanks to Amazon for going the extra mile on this one.


Don't Expect New Mega Man Legends Anytime Soon

Mega Man Legends Capcom is specializing in breaking hearts and squashing dreams today as another older Capcom game has been denied the chance for a re-release or sequel.  The game in question?  Mega Man Legends from the Sony PlayStation era.  I direct you to GamingUnion for the paragraph in question.

GU: Is Capcom planning anything new with the Mega Man Legends series such as a 3rd installment or us getting the PSP ports of the 1st two games from Japan?

Seth: After
Marvel vs Capcom 2, MM Legends is probably one of our most fan-requested games. MM creator Keiji Inafune is certainly aware of the fans' request—his office is basically a shrine to the stuff he’s gotten from fans over the years. There are no plans right now, but Mega Man 9 came totally out of left-field, so you never know with that guy. If he gets inspired, and things can happen very quickly.

I have to agree that a sequel is pretty far-fetched at this point as is a UMD release of either game in the series for the PlayStation Portable.  However, once again I see an opportunity for digital delivery to come to the rescue.  If Capcom is uncertain if a new Mega Man Legends game would perform in the market, then why not bring the original game to the PlayStation Network?  Sell it for $6.99, make it playable on both the PlayStation 3 and PSP, and see what happens.  Moreover, Legends hero MegaMan Volnutt is coming back into the spotlight in North America in the upcoming Tatsunoko vs Capcom, and if Super Smash Bros. Melee taught us anything, it's that players are interested in the history of unfamiliar characters (hello, Marth from Fire Emblem).  Volnutt's appearance in Tatsunoko could be just the springboard he needs to make a proper return in a new adventure.

(via Protodude's Rockman Corner)


Don't Expect HD Remix Of Street Fighter III Anytime Soon

Street Fighter III: Third StrikeWith the recent successes of Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, one might think that Capcom would want to bridge the gap and revive Street Fighter III for a HD Remix of its own.  One might think that, yes, but one would be wrong.  Kombo summarizes for us.

The question now presented before Capcom is "will you make an HD version of Street Fighter III?"  That is what one user in Capcom's "Ask Capcom" forums laid before the company, and to which VP of Strategic Planning & Business Development Christian Svensson soon answered.

"An HD Remix on
SF3 would be a challenge in and of itself given the number of frames of animation and effects that would have to be redone, especially in light of what we learned onSSF2THDR," Svensson reveals. "As such, the very nature of the project you're suggesting is somewhat unlikely."

Street Fighter III certainly has its fans, but after finally playing the game for the first time not too long ago, I came away from the experience, well, just not feeling it.  There's plenty of Street Fighter material available for modern powerhouse consoles this generation already, so personally I don't see the need to oversaturate the market with yet another installment of the franchise.  Let Capcom spend the time and resources HD Remixing something different.


Weekly Poll / In Search Of...: Storage Solutions

Weekly Poll for 6-22-2009It would seem that warmer weather doesn't impact the playing time of the majority of you out there.  As for me, living in the grand humid heat as I do, I try to avoid being outside at all.  I fall apart quickly in the presence of the afternoon sun, so I turn my weakness into a strength and spend more time in front of the air conditioner vent.  I can't wait until cooler weather comes and I can open a window at home without choking on the incoming moisture.

Moving on, exactly one month ago today* I moved out of the one-bedroom apartment I'd lived in for the last ten years and into a comparatively larger two-bedroom townhouse in a nicer part of town.  This gives me some extra space for my toys home entertainment equipment, particularly for storage.  I now have an entire walk-in closet to keep my video games, movies, and other forms of media that come on cartridges or discs.  Unfortunately, this means I need a new storage solution for my beloved game cartridges.  My first thought was to simply pick up a trendy game pak rack from the golden age of 16-bit gaming on eBay or Amazon's marketplace, but I cannot find any that are in good condition for a fair price.  I'm not going to pay $60 for someone's cracked plastic rack that has MARCUS written all over it in permanent marker.  This led me to wondering how all of you out there store your games.  Are they in a random pile?  Stacked on a shelf?  Arranged carefully in alphabetical order in a professionally lit custom storage case?  Let's hear about how you keep your games in good condition, and if you know where I can find a snappy-looking storage rack for my beloved Nintendo games, please let me know.  I cannot tolerate the random pile method for much longer (even if it is a neatly arranged random pile).

* Yes, I moved two days before leaving for Los Angeles to attend E3.  That was a very busy week.


Sega Introduces Robot Girlfriend

Futurama Never one to be satisfied with merely producing video games, Sega has unveiled its latest toy: a robot girlfriend that can kiss on command for lonely adult men.  Seriously.  I can't decide if this is cutting edge, over the line, or the way that humanity will endFun-On has the news and the photos (relax, the pictures are not entirely inappropriate).

Sega, best known for its home video game consoles, has introduced a 15-inch tall robotic 'girlfriend' that kisses on command, with a target market of lonely adult men.  The robot, named "EMA", which stands for Eternal Maiden Actualization, is designed to pucker up for nearby human heads, entering "love mode" using a series of infrared sensors powered by battery.

"Strong, tough and battle-ready are some of the words often associated with robots, but we wanted to break that stereotype and provide a robot that's sweet and interactive," said Minako Sakanoue, a spokeswoman for the maker, Sega Toys to Reuters news agency.  "She's very lovable and though she's not a human, she can act like a real girlfriend."

Sure, this looks like fun now, but as time goes on Sega will start adding insufferable robot friends to the product line until the whole thing implodes on itself under the sheer weight of extra robots that nobody wants to kiss. We want to make out with EMA, not all of her worthless friends!

EMA was announced last year, but I felt the punchline was too much fun to not take advantage of it.

(via MetaFilter)


Uncharted Film Begging For A Crossover

Nathan Spencer and Nathan Drake The latest video game franchise to want to become a big Hollywood film is the Naughty Dog-developed Sony PlayStation 3 hit Uncharted: Drake's Fortune as producer Avi Arad plots to bring Nathan Drake to the big screen.  The Hollywood Reporter has the log line for the proposed movie.

The story follows a descendant of explorer Sir Francis Drake, a treasure hunter named Nate Drake who believes he has learned the whereabouts of El Dorado, the fabled South American golden city, from a cursed golden statue. The search becomes competitive when a rival hunter joins the fray, then is ratcheted up several notches when creatures -- actually mutated descendants of Spaniards and Nazis -- begin attacking those hoping to learn the treasure's true secrets.

There's potential for an interesting and entertaining film there, but it's coming up just short of the mark.  I read the line about mutated Nazis and suddenly a brilliant idea popped into my head.  This movie needs another Nathan: Nathan Spencer, the bionic commando.  The two heroes team up to put a stop to a revived Master D and his Imperials who are searching for El Dorado.  They can call the whole thing Bionic Commando: Uncharted and then develop a hell of a tie-in game.  You would see that movie.  Admit it.  I know I would.

If they do make that movie, I want an "Inspired By" credit.

(via Ain't It Cool News)


Beyond Beeps: Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Moonwalker The online gaming community has zeroed in on Michael Jackson's gaming career in the past day as fans of the King of Pop remember his musical legacy when it comes to video games.  The 1990 Sega Genesis title Michael Jackson's Moonwalker has been name-checked quite a bit during these discussions, but nobody seems to mention the game's soundtrack.  It's loaded with some of Jackson's most memorable songs of the era converted into 16-bit chiptune equivalents.  I can't let this event pass without highlighting the game's surprisingly memorable soundtrack, so let us dive right into this special edition of Beyond Beeps and explore the music of Moonwalker.  You probably know all of the songs featured, but have you heard them rendered by a Z80 processor and YM2612 FM processor before?


"Another Part of Me"

"Billie Jean"

"Beat It"

"Smooth Criminal"

"Bad"

But wait a minute!  What about "Thriller"?  Surely "Thriller" has to be in the game, right?  Well, some versions of the game include it as a secret song, while others do not.  This YouTube video attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery.


Well, That's Retroactively Inappropriate

Dancing ZombiePlenty of people have been enjoying PopCap's Plants vs Zombies for PC and Mac since it released in May 2009, but today it's gaining some extra attention due to a joke character that has gone from being a cute gag to being in very poor taste in the past day.  Consider the sad plight of the Dancing Zombie, an undead fellow who looks a lot like the recently deceased Michael JacksonWikipedia defines the character for us.

There is a zombie type named Dancing Zombie, whose appearance resembles Michael Jackson from the music video Thriller. He summons an army of backup dancer zombies, while the game's almanac entry for Dancing Zombie states "Any resemblance between Dancing Zombie and persons living or dead is merely coincidental", both references to the music video.

How long until PopCap patches the Dancing Zombie into someone a little less retroactively inappropriate?  Or does it ultimately not matter?  After all, the Dancing Zombie disclaimer clearly states that any resemblance with anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. 

(via Reddit)