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April 2005

What Does The GameStop/EB Merger Mean For You? has an interesting article about what the merger of GameStop and Electronics Boutique will mean for us, them, and the other guys.  More to the point, the article speculates that we the customer will have the opportunity to receive even more advertisements (watch for the use of terms such as "branding" and "channels" from the company's executives who apparently speak Marketing instead of English).  Meanwhile, the combined company will become filthy richer and will wield awesome power in the battle against game publishers for more favorable deals involving price and shelf space.  So basically the only people benefiting from the merger are the folks up on high at GameStop.

So basically what you're going to get out of this merger is more advertising.  No lower prices now that a competitor is out of the way, no increased selection as distribution methods combine, and no helpful customer service as the company passes over knowledgeable game-oriented employees for promotions within the company and instead hires retailers from Foot Locker to run the show.  After reading this piece I get the feeling that customers are just an unwanted necessity to doing business.  If GameStop could make money hand over fist without having to deal with a single customer I bet they would be much happier.

Mario To Dribble Again?

Mario plays ballGameFront is reporting (in German) that Nintendo has registered for a trademark for something called Mario Dunk Shot.  Could Mario be on his way back to the basketball court

Nintendo scheint an dem Spiel Mario Dunk Shot zu arbeiten. Das geht aus einem Markenschutzeintrag beim japanischen Patentamt hervor.

This kind of thing was bound to happen; Mario Baseball is on the way and the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf titles are already established.  Take basketball, bring in the Mushroom Kingdom cast of crazies, and toss in some power-up items.  Sometimes these games just trademark themselves.

Blingify Your GameCube

Gcmod11Do you suffer from excess cash falling out of your wallet?  Then my buddies over at GameCube Advanced have information you may want.  They've reviewed a series of aftermarket add-ons for the Nintendo GameCube including one that allows the console to glow in the dark.  Yes, you heard me: glow in the dark.

My question: why?  Why waste $20 on something like this ($28 if you get your Wavebird converted as well)?  Especially now when your GameCube is less than a year away from going into storage in favor of the Nintendo Revolution.  After all, $28 can get you a new Player's Choice game.

Nintendo Going 3D? Again?

NintendologoOver at Slashdot (among other places) there's a lot of discussion over a new rumor about the Nintendo Revolution that's popped up: the console will make use of 3D projection, possibly the same kind being used by George Lucas in his next Star Wars Even More Special Edition projects.  Yes, it's another rumor without any official proof behind it.  Must be Wednesday.

Based on this rumor I'm going to make a bold prediction: forget about 3D projection, I'm betting that the next Nintendo console will itself exist in the third dimension.  It will have a height, a width, and even - get this! - a depth!  It may even have some sort of mass if it's not too cost-prohibitive, perhaps even a weight.  I have nothing to back this up with, but it's the next logical leap in the rumor mill.  It's about time that we had a three dimensional console.  I'm so sick of losing my 2D consoles when they get turned on an angle and vanish.

Reflections on Zelda

ZeldaWith Nintendo preparing to knock our collective socks off at E3 with the new GameCube Legend of Zelda title perhaps it's a fitting time to take a look back at the games in the series that stole far too many late nights from a generation of gamers.  The gang over at Everything2 has written a lot of material on the subject.  The entire series is covered in some form or another, but what follows is the best of the best; part encyclopedia entry and part personal reflection, these entries in the E2 database represent far too much time lost in the land of Hyrule.

Inside The EA/UCF Game School

Eaucf01Electronic Arts and the University of Central Florida have entered into a partnership agreement to transform the abandoned Expo Centre in downtown Orlando, Florida into the UCF School of Digital Media, Film, and Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.  In short, EA and UCF have teamed up to build a college program to teach the creation of video games, animation, and other forms of digital entertainment.  The Expo Centre is still undergoing renovation and the program is only partially running right now, but I had the opportunity to tour Phases I and II of the construction today and UCF has kindly granted me permission to share the photos I snapped.  Be sure to click the thumbnails for a closer look.

Continue reading "Inside The EA/UCF Game School" »

Microsoft Works Overtime To Plug Leak

XboxFollowing this past weekend's leak of Xbox 360 photos has a story about how Microsoft is trying to contain the photos before they journey too far.  Nevertheless, the damage has been done.  So much for that "world exclusive unveiling" on MTV next month.  From Spong:

Speaking to Microsoft this morning saw the faceless glib response always trotted out by its PR team in times of catastrophic blunder: “Statement below as requested. Microsoft does not comment on rumour and speculation.”

Perhaps it's just as well that this leak happened.  Pictures (or video) of a game console can only captivate for so long.  Could Microsoft really have filled a whole half hour with footage of the Xbox 360 smiling for the camera intercut with swooning fans?  Now that the images are out in the wild Microsoft could spend more of their MTV time with footage of upcoming games.

Less hype, more information.  It's so crazy that it just might work.

Who Is Kazumi Totaka?

Mario PaintThe Nintendo Database has a special feature on Nintendo music composer Kazumi Totaka and his special secret tune that appears hidden in some of the various video games that he has had a part in creating such as Mario Paint and Animal Crossing.  Each game that contains the tune is listed plus there are MP3s of each occurrence for your listening pleasure.  You've probably heard the tune before and not even realized it.  Consider this a little light reading for your evening.

Xbox 360 Revealed has pictures of the Xbox 360 that aren't extreme close-ups of the device seen from bizarre angles.  Microsoft's North American PR team has been playing the alternate reality game in which photos of the Xbox 360 are revealed a piece at a time, although frankly I've seen photos of the Loch Ness Monster that are more revealing that the Xbox photos.  Spong claims that a European PR team has cut to the chase and outright revealed the console nearly three weeks before Microsoft's big MTV media-bypassing infomercial event.  The often-wrong website has also supposedly verified these pictures with a Microsoft publishing partner.  I'd still take these with a grain of salt, but it's quite possible that this is the real deal.

"The images have been spewing forth over the past few hours from various European online outlets, all of which were fed by the specialist press. In what has to be seen as a complete European PR disaster, the MTV showing penned for mid next month has had its trump card flipped over for all to see."

Kudos to the European media for finally revealing the damn console.  Microsoft has been getting far too carried away with viral marketing and alternate reality.  These marketing methods should only be used if there's actually some beneficial information revealed during the campaign.  Prolonged hype that shows nothing of value just serves to anger and frustrate the audience.

Why Can't We Have Nice Things?

SmbcapsSometimes it seems like everyone except North America gets all the cool toys.  Europe enjoys the Nintendo Stars Catalogue where players can earn points for registering new games and participating in web activities when can then be traded for Nintendo promotional items, new games, or game systems and Japan gets the neat knick-knacks like these Pepsi X Nintendo tape rolls of artwork and these Pepsi Twist bottle caps that feature 3D pixelfied enemies and items from the classic Super Mario Bros.

And why can't we have these things in America?  Because Americans would bleed Nintendo dry.  We'd stockpile points by the barrel and acquire promo items and extra copies of games to sell on eBay for pure profit.  We'd steal the caps off of Pepsi bottles just to try and collect the entire set... which we would then sell on eBay.  Japan and Europe have their share of unscrupulous folks, of course, but I really do believe that the number of greedy Americans taking advantage of the catalog program and stealing caps would outnumber the honest folks who play by the rules.  As much as I'd love to have neat items and catalog programs like these, America just isn't ready for them.