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April 2005

March 2005

PSP Web Browser Discovered

PspwebNow this is interesting.  It turns out that the new Sony PlayStation Portable game Wipeout Pure uses a little web browser to access downloadable content.  As was bound to happen, someone figured out how to gain access to the browser outside of the Wipeout menu structure and is able to surf the web.  It's a very basic browser (no frames support, text must be entered via an onscreen keyboard, etc.) but it gets the job done.

What I'm wondering is how Sony is going to react to this.  After all, since the PSP was released two days ago people have found ways to load TiVo To Go content on the unit, copy e-books, and use standard Memory Sticks instead of the more expensive and required Memory Stick Duo.  Will Sony be silent on the issue, will they crack down with the Fist of a Thousand Hammers, or will they simply say "Hey, you figured it out.  Good job!".  Past precedent suggests the hammers or, at the very least, an "update" that breaks this little trick.

But now I wonder what the Nintendo DS has hidden inside...

"Touch", "DS" Are The New "64"

TouchdsTake a look at the list of current and upcoming games for the Nintendo DS and you'll see a familiar pattern:

Remember in the days of the Nintendo 64 when just about every game released had the number "64" slapped on it?  Super Mario 64, Star Fox 64, Mario Kart 64, Donkey Kong 64, etc. all had a "64" on them and by the end of the console's life a lot of people (myself included) were sick of seeing "64" everywhere.  Now history is repeating with the Nintendo DS as Nintendo is branding releases with either a "DS" or some derivation of the word "touch".  It's such an insignificant issue to bring up, but Nintendo, if you're listening, let's not go down the "64" path again.  "64" became a cliche long before the Nintendo 64 was phased out and "DS" and "touch" are headed that way already.  The DS has a touchscreen.  We get that.  Let's move on already.

Namco Announces Worthwhile Compilation Set

RidgeracerIt looks like another company is getting on board the PSOne-games -released-for-the-PS2.  Last week Capcom made news with its collection of retro classics and this week it's Namco's turn.  Namco has announced Nam Collection, a compilation of five classic Sony PlayStation games re-released as part of the company's fiftieth anniversary.  IGN has the news that Ridge Racer, Mr. Driller, Tekken, Ace Combat 2, and Klonoa are on their way back to stores on a single disc.  Japan gets it this June.

Namco has the right idea here.  While Capcom's compilations have been a single disc full of what is basically all the same game (all Mega Man or all Ghosts 'n Goblins), Namco's adding a little variety to their set.  Namco's also including a Museum Mode for good measure, although apparently it includes gameplay movies of experts having a turn at Ridge Racer, etc.  No making-of materials?  No advertising galleries?  C'mon Namco, I'm praising you on this decision and you drop the ball in the "extras" department?  Step up and show Capcom how it's done. 

The Forgotten: Vectorman

Everyone loves an established video game franchise. After all, some of gaming’s best loved characters have been going on adventure after adventure for years, prompting players to line up to reserve the next installment of Super Mario, Link, Samus Aran, or Sonic the Hedgehog. Over the years, however, some games just haven’t struck gold; they’ve been overshadowed by more popular fare that shares the store shelf or are even passed over due to something as petty as unimpressive box art or an unusual premise. They deserve to be remembered and revived, but instead they are The Forgotten.

Developed by Sega/Blue Sky Software
Released for Sega Genesis (1995 and 1996)

Sega struck gold with their new mascot Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991 and spent the rest of the Genesis era searching for another character that could be fashioned into another hit game franchise. Ecco the Dolphin, Streets of Rage, Eternal Champions... the list goes on and on. One of the characters created in this search was Vectorman, a robot who took it upon himself to save humanity from the scourge of evil robot Warhead. The character himself was composed of green spheres assembled into a humanoid shape, enabling him to animate fluidly has he ran, jumped, and shot energy weapons at the enemies in his pseudo-rendered side-scrolling world. Vectorman was a modest hit for Sega at a time when the company needed all the hits it could get, and so a sequel to the game was released in 1995 featuring more of the same action, gameplay, and storyline of the first game. Since then the character has been mothballed and lost to the mists of time as Sega struggled to keep its financial head above water with the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast.

Continue reading "The Forgotten: Vectorman" »

There Can Be Only One... Right?

DsvspspShawn Sinclaire of PSP Advanced has come forth with an actual unbiased comparison of the Nintendo DS and the Sony PlayStation Portable.  That's the shocker: it's actually unbiased.  There's no fanboy whining or unsupported claims here.  No blind devotion to one system over another.  Each unit it evaluated on aesthetics, functionality, ease of use, and overall enjoyability of the available games which, to me, is the way it should be.

"Gamers who can get both systems should definitely get both systems, as each one has its own unique set of characteristics to offer. If you're stuck choosing only one or the other, then go where your interests lie. If the only reason you want a handheld machine is for gaming in ways previously impossible, then get your DS. If you like the ability to play solid video games and then switch to MP3 music as you're doing your homework, PSP would be your choice."

Most every aspect of video game discussion from the fans to the media seem to have this idea that one system and/or one company must crush its competition to be worthy.  This attitude is one of the biggest problems in the world of video games today and it's refreshing to see a media outlet understand and respect that there is room for more than one major player in the gaming industry and that both the DS and the PSP have their place both in the market and on gamers' shelves.

Wario Would Be Proud

ShadowIGN has some actual nailed-down information on the recently revealed Shadow the Hedgehog, Sega's latest spin-off.  Sonic's non-Eggman arch-nemesis finally gets his own game in which he... well, I think IGN can explain it better than I can:

Shadow, tormented by the mystery of his own past, is caught in the crossfire between aliens, the G.U.N. army, and Dr. Eggman. The game will offer multiple paths and multiple endings; the choices you make in the game determine the truth of Shadow's past. 

Continue reading "Wario Would Be Proud" »

Another Sonic Collection?

SonicgemsSega has filed for a new trademark for something called "Sonic Gems Collection".  Could this be another Sonic Mega Collection?  There are a few Sonic games that haven't been released on a compilation disc yet, although most of them were worth skipping the first time around.  Sonic CD is probably the most infamous unreleased game mainly because it was supposed to be a part of Mega Collection but was removed before release due to emulation issues.  Knuckles Chaotix from the 32X days is another name that gets tossed around a lot, but typically during conservations about some of the worst Sega games ever made.  Is there a demand out there for revivals of Sonic R, Sonic Shuffle, or Sonic Jam's 3D features?  No word on what console this title is going to land on just yet.

Harvest Moon: Adam's Wonderful Life

HarvestmoonAdam Manthes is writing entries in his blog regarding his adventures with Harvest Moon: It's A Wonderful Life for the Nintendo GameCube.  There's something special going on here and although I've never been a fan of the Harvest Moon series, I'm actually tempted to check this one out now; I mean, for $20 why not? 

"After reading the manual it was apparent that I had to marry one of three girls in the town. "SOUL MATE QUEST. One is shy and traditional, another is looking for a man and the third one is intelligent and anything but predictable. Choosing the best wife depends on your personality, so pick the one you like the most-- before someone makes the choice for you!"

I simply don't have the temperament right now to deal with a soul mate quest, and besides, I like the cute archaeologist girl in glasses best, but she's not an option."

Don't waste more time reading my thoughts on this one, just go read his: parts 1, 2, and 3.

Oh Snap! DS Camera Debunked

SnapdsSometimes you just have to love those Internet rumors.  Last week's speculation regarding a camera add-on for the Nintendo DS that was fueled by this little Snap DS! logo turns out to be the work of, as says, "some punk kid with a copy of PhotoShop".  There's a reason why Spong isn't known as a very reputable news source in some circles, but do you know why we keep coming back?  Because we want to believe.

The hoaxes and fake news can be annoying, but it's fun to imagine... um, I mean to say that a good hoax can fuel the imagination to... no, that's not right either.  Aw hell, let's just admit it: hoaxes are damned irritating and chip away at the credability of online journalism in the eyes of the established media.  Thirteen-year-olds with access to Photoshop aren't doing anyone any favors when they pull tricks like this one.

Time Picks Five

Time032305 This week's issue of Time features an article titled "5 Video Games Worth Sore Thumbs" in which columnist Lev Grossman picks five video games, well, worth sore thumbs.  God of War, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, and The Matrix Online are three of the games spotlighted.  Another article in this issue, "The 'Gotta Have It' Gadget", highlights the PlayStation Portable and how the kids are just loving it.

It's refreshing to see a respected publication such as Time cover video gaming without resorting to mania over video game violence and children killing other children "because of Grand Theft Auto".  The five games and the PSP are covered in such a way as to promote enjoyable entertainment without resorting to shock tactics and poor reporting (even if the PSP article is a little heavy on the pro-Sony gushing).  Kudos to Time for not forcing an issue where it doesn't belong.