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August 2005

Mario Superstar Baseball Impressions At AMN

Bowser Jr. catches the ballMy first hands-on impressions of the new Nintendo GameCube title Mario Superstar Baseball have been posted over at AMN.  The full review will be up later this week, but for now you can get a taste of the Challenge Mode and some of the little details found during a game of Mushroom Kingdom baseball.

I've also explored the Exhibition Mode, Toy Field, and Mini Game Mode and from the looks of things this will be another must-own title for Mario's sports fans.  It's very addictive and would be even more enjoyable with additional players.  Playing against the CPU just is not the same.

Game FAQs Go Portable On PSP

PSPThanks to Jacob Metcalf for sending along his new tutorial that walks users through the process of saving and formatting video game FAQs directly to the Sony PlayStation Portable for use while out and about in the real world.  The next time you're in the middle of nowhere and need some help on Lumines, you'll be all set.

Now that Sony added a decent web browser to the PSP with the 2.0 firmware update it could be super cool to use the PSP as a PDA text browser to read HTML documents saved to the Memory Stick Duo. This could be super cool if you put a couple FAQs and walk-through guides on the PSP so you could use it as a hand held reference when you are playing other game systems or if you are between PSP games.

This is an excellent idea and the directions are simple enough that even those without HTML experience can follow along.  Load up on FAQs and walkthroughs before you next long trip and you'll never have to worry about a puzzling maze or impossible boss encounter again.  Well, at least until your batteries die.  No FAQ can help with that, I'm afraid.

Nintendogs Event Podcast Now Available

Nintendo's Dog DayDid you miss out on this past Sunday's Nintendogs event in New York at the Nintendo World Store?  Don't worry, Nintendo has you covered.  The company has created a little eleven megabyte audio experience for Nintendogs fans everywhere to enjoy.

This on-the-scene account of the event offers insight into this one-of-a-kind gaming experience through interviews with girl gamers, consumers, Nintendo Public Relations Manager Amber McCollom, Teen People Trendspotters and Nintendogs experts.

From the sound of things, girls love Nintendogs.  Dog training tips are exchanged, fans are briefly interviewed, and even a parent weighs in now and then.  Ms. McCollom's segment goes in to why girls are apt to love raising portable puppies and just how the Nintendo DS's wireless mode enables gamers to meet new players and their dogs.  Teen People even proclaims the experience "better than Barbie", so if that's not a young girl stamp of approval, I don't know what is.  It certainly looks like Nintendo is well on its way to capturing that elusive girl gamer demographic.  Nintendogs has already conquered Japan, North America is falling for it now, and Europe is up next.  I wonder how the Europeans will react to the game...

(Picture courtesy Nintendo of America)

Remembering Do-It-Yourself Sonic Lock-On

Sonic and KnucklesEmulating classic video games on modern PCs has come a long way in the past decade.  Back then the emulation community focused on emulating games from older consoles and not aiming to simply play the newest games for free.  Today the emulation world is filled with children begging for "teh romz" and websites that claim to have every video game ever made (and some that aren't even finished yet) up for free download in exchange for passing through a barrage of pop-up ads and banners for illegal software and pornography.  It wasn't always this way.

In the late 1990s when accurate Super NES and Sega Genesis emulation was all the rage in the emulation world, emulation enthusiasts ran into a problem when they attempted to dump the contents of the Sonic & Knuckles lock-on cartridge when it was joined to Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.  The copying tools could not handle the large size of the combined games.  It took some ingenuity to figure out just how to join the two games on a computer, and while today playing these games is as simple as purchasing Sonic Mega Collection or illegally downloading the full versions of these games from one of those aforementioned archives, back then people had to lock the games together themselves as data.  Relive those old days with the Lock-on Technology Hacking Guide which explains just how the old lock-on technology works.  There are no downloadable ROMs at the end of the rainbow here, just an interesting technical article.  Freebie-beggars need not apply.

Inside The EA/UCF Game School, Phase 2

Eaucf08Back in April I went on a tour of the new UCF School of Digital Media, Film, and Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, also known as the "video game school" that is a joint venture of Electronic Arts and the University of Central Florida.  Phase II of the renovation of the old Orlando Expo Centre was completed in time for the building's official opening day last week, and just prior to that I was invited to tour the completed phase and take a look at the yet-to-be-renovated Phase III.  This latest phase contains classroom space, student lounge areas, and a large "cube farm" of student workspace.

Continue reading "Inside The EA/UCF Game School, Phase 2" »

New On PTB: Recommended Games And Matt's Portfolio

Bub presses the buttonOver the weekend I changed the sidebar around a little here at Press The Buttons, reordering some things and adding a new section, "Recommended".  As you know, products purchased via Press The Buttons help keep this place running, and up until now I've put a single Amazon product on the sidebar that changed automatically according to the company's top sellers.  I felt that since I am a product analyst, after all, I should be promoting video games that I have played and find favorable and not just what is selling well at Amazon.

I'll be changing the featured titles every week or so and selecting five games for the various consoles, portable systems, and computers that I have played and enjoyed.  Sometimes you may even see a game-related book that I've read or a game-related DVD that I've watched.  Rest assured that everything appearing in the "Recommended" section has the MattG seal of approval on it.

I've also made a small change to my own biography page.  My portfolio is now listed on the page, so now you're just a few clicks away from the reviews, previews, and special articles that I've written for AMN and beyond.  As time goes on and I write more material, you will find fresh links to that material on my biography page.

Thanks for making Press The Buttons a part of your daily online travels.  I have some interesting ideas for the future, so stay tuned and keep reading!

Cheaters Want To Prosper

Wario's victoryWhile checking to see just what people were looking for using PTB's site search, I found that a lot of people are searching for game cheats and walkthroughs.  Those of you searching for those things aren't necessarily going to find them here because I don't post much in the way of cheats and walkthroughs.  There are plenty of websites out there that do that already, but that's really part of the problem, isn't it?  So many sites out there look like cheat sites, and yet don't actually have anything useful to say.  Typically these sites are just set up to lure in eyeballs to see their advertisements.  Shameful business, that.

While I won't be giving the would-be cheaters any tips, I can point them to where I turn when I need a map or a code.  These are trusty sites for any gamer's bookmark list when the going gets tough.

  • GameFAQs for your walkthrough and push-button code needs
  • Cheatzilla for your Game Genie / Pro Action Replay requirements (primarily for older games)
  • GameXplain for video walkthroughs of difficult portions of new games (a division of AMN)

If there's a challenging game out there, chances are at least one of these three places will offer up some help for it.

AMN Celebrates First Anniversary

AMN logoIt was one year ago this week that the old standalone gaming website GameCube Advanced spawned a number of related websites all connected by the same team of staffers and management, creating the Advanced Media Network.  All of the current staff have written about how they came to work at AMN, so be sure to join the celebration and read the remembrances and origins of the network.  Congratulations and happy anniversary to all of my AMN co-workers.

Prepare Yourself For Duck Doom Deluxe

Duck Doom DeluxeI love a good parody video game, so you can understand why Duck Doom Deluxe caught my attention.  A game fan out there who goes by the name of HelpTheWretched has merged classic elements from Nintendo's Duck Hunt and id's Doom.  Now the creator has upgraded last year's original Duck Doom to the new Deluxe version in which you can shoot at those damn ducks with a shotgun, chaingun, and even the BFG 9000.  The laughing dog is back, as is Doom's famous imp.  It's Windows-only, but certainly worth checking out.  Take that, feathery scum!

(via Metafilter)

Weekly Poll: PSP 2.0

Weekly Poll for 8-21-05There's certainly not a lot of love out there for Microsoft, or at least not the upcoming Xbox 360 variant.  Most people either don't plan to buy the Xbox 360 or want to wait for the prices to drop.  I'm with you all out there.  If I do ever get the new Xbox, it won't be on launch day, that's for sure.

Shifting platforms, last week Sony finally released the North American version of the version 2.0 firmware for their PlayStation Portable.  The new firmware boasts an official web browser, but it also breaks all of those unsanctioned homebrew applications and classic console emulators created by fans.  This week's poll asks if you upgraded to the new version.  If you didn't upgrade, why not?  Vote in the poll and leave your comments below.