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August 2005

Nintendo Celebrates Girl Gamers, Nintendogs In New York

NintendogsAttention young ladies of New York City: are you hooked on Nintendogs?  Do you want to be?  If so, then consider heading down to the Nintendo World Store on Sunday afternoon for the Dog Days Of Summer: Girls' Gaming Event in which Nintendo is giving away free copies of the game to contest winners, offering copies for sale to everyone else, teaching proper care of your Nintendog, and generally providing a large pool of Nintendogs and their owners with which to meet and interact.

Bring your portable puppy and let him or her mingle in the massive virtual puppy park.  If puppies aren't your thing, then Nintendo will have a bunch of non-canine-related games to sample as well.  The action takes place between two and four o'clock tomorrow afternoon.

Namco And Bandai Choose New Identity

Bandai NamcoRemember a while back when it was revealed that the newly-merged Namco and Bandai were considering a new name for themselves?  Well, it seems that they've made their decision.  The combined entity is to be known as Bandai Namco.  I hate to see Namco take the second position there.  After all, they're the group that brought us Pac-Man.  Creating the world's first video game hero has got to give a company corporate street cred.

Bandai gets top billing in the arrangement because the old Bandai group will have majority control of the new company.  You know what this means, right?  Prepare yourselves for Mobile Suit Ridge Racer Gundam!  Kidding aside, I hate to see the old solo Namco name disappear.  Namco was always a quality publisher from which I could expect great things.  What they will become now that Bandai is calling the shots remains to be seen.

PTB Atom Issues Resolved

Mario approvesThanks to PTB reader Kevin and the Typepad support staff for helping to fix the PTB Atom feed.  I believe that everything is back in working order now, but if you experience odd formatting issues with the feed (as in, you see an entire block of unformatted text complete with HTML code), please let me know so that I can annoy the Typepad support staff one more time.

- MattG

Free Legal Online Super Mario Bros. Super Show Episodes Available

MarioTired of waiting for the DVDs?  Then step right up to Yahoo!'s Yahooligans section and stream some free licensed episodes of the old Super Mario Bros. Super Show, complete with opening theme song ("Do the Mario!"), bizarre live-action segments featuring Captain Lou Albano, and the actual cartoons themselves.  Eight episodes of Super Mario are currently available for your viewing pleasure, depending on how much retro pain you can withstand.  There's also eleven episodes of the corresponding The Legend of Zelda cartoon up for grabs if you search the Yahooligans section for other programs.

(via 4 Color Rebellion)

Metroid Prime Hunters To Go Online

Samus AranA few days ago I remarked that if the reason for the delay of the Nintendo DS title Metroid Prime Hunters was not to add Wi-Fi abilities to the game's multiplayer mode, then I would be disappointed.  Guess what?  I'm not disappointed.  Nintendo has officially announced that the game will include an online multiplayer mode when it launches next year, hence the delay.

Since the Nintendo DS™ first launched with demo versions of Metroid® Prime Hunters, fans have been clamoring for the completed version of the game. Their patience has paid off. Metroid Prime Hunters will launch in the first quarter of 2006, complete with access to Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection, Nintendo’s upcoming online gaming service.

Thank you, Nintendo.  All is forgiven, although someday I'd like to hear the whole story behind the trials and tribulations of creating this game.  As long as Mario Kart DS stays on track for a 2005 release, we're golden.

Inside The Mind Of Ubisoft

RaymanEver wonder how game developer and publisher Ubisoft manages to survive in a market dominated by the Electronic Arts and Konamis of the world?  Business 2.0 did, and there's an interesting profile of the France-based company in this month's issue of the magazine (reading it online requires a subscription to the magazine, unfortunately).  It includes a few things I was unaware of, such as how management once assigned development of a racing game to a Shanghai-based studio where the employees did not know how to drive and how the company first opened for business in a rented European castle.

Each studio, regardless of locale, operates according to the same creative credo. It starts with a collaborative environment where a team of 80 or 90 employees, including managers, work together in a single "war room" to create a game's core technology. The collaboration extends between studios too. For Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a game produced in Montreal, the core software came from a studio in the French Alps, while the top programmer in Canada was on loan from Ubisoft Shanghai.

Ubisoft's goal is to launch three new properties every two years in an effort to combat companies such as Electronic Arts, where most development time and effort is spent on sequels to licensed properties and revisions of the same football game year after year.  What lies ahead for Ubisoft?  Let's just say that Russian developers may want to start preparing job applications.

Here Comes Play-Yan Micro

Play-Yan Micro Nintendo has given the Japanese Play-Yan multimedia device for use with the Game Boy Advance SP a little revamp in anticipation of the coming of the Game Boy Micro.  The old Play-Yan is a thing of the past as the Play-Yan Micro pushes and shoves its way into Nintendo of Japan's online store on September 11, 2005.  IGN has the story.

Don't let the name fool you -- Play-Yan Micro is nearly identical to the standard Play-Yan, right down to the same dimensions. Nintendo has seen fit to include the latest firmware updates directly in the hardware, giving the device MP4 and ASF video support right out of the box. The user interface has been updated for Play-Yan Micro, making for a slicker interface when compared with the comical interface from the original device. Sadly, Play-Yan Micro is incompatible with the flash-based mini games that Nintendo has made available for Play-Yan.

So now the Play-Yan has entered the second stage of its life cycle and those of us outside of Japan have yet to taste the sweet multimedia treat.  C'mon, Nintendo, get moving and localize the Play-Yan for sale in the rest of the world already.  We'll provide our own content.  Give the rest of the world's GBAs and Nintendo DSs movie and music playback abilities.  I promise that we won't even complain about the missing mini-games.

Have A Question For Jack Thompson?

VG Cats: Coco Beans In Hot WaterLove him, hate him, or merely find his ramblings entertaining, it seems that everyone in the video gaming world has an opinion regarding self-appointed "anti-game crusader" Jack Thompson.  A lot of people have questions they'd like to ask him, but as many who have sent e-mails to his public e-mail address have discovered, he can be a loose cannon when it comes to giving civil replies.  Here's your chance to ask Thompson questions for a (hopefully) civil interview.

GamePolitics has convinced Thompson to grant an interview (or maybe it's the other way around) and is taking questions from readers.  Just post your question to the blog's LiveJournal post and the best questions will be forwarded to Thompson.  Want to know which games he likes?  Here's your chance.  Dying to know about his upcoming book?  Ask away.  Better hurry though - you only have today, Thursday, to get your queries into the pool.  Please, just keep it civil.  It remains to be seen how many people will read this interview and we don't want to help Thompson continue to give gaming fans a bad name.

Semi-Clever Subtitles The New "Touch", "DS"

The New '64'A few months ago I took issue with how then-new Nintendo DS titles were becoming a little lazy.  Remember when every announced DS games included the word "Touch" in some variant or merely took an existing title and slapped a "DS" on the end?  Someone out there is listening to me, as "Touch" and "DS" are largely on the decline when it comes to newly announced titles.

Now we're facing a slew of games that have subtitles that start with the letters "D" and S".  Consider these upcoming and released titles:

I have to admit, I don't mind this.  While "Touch" and "DS" were stagnant, these subtitles help me keep upcoming titles straight in my mind; I can just look for the DSed subtitle and know which games are DS titles which are not, and yet the titles aren't completely derivative.  After a while it'll probably start to grate as the subtitles become more and more forced, but for now I like to see how the letters are worked into the title.  Once we get to word combinations that make no useful sense whatsoever (Resident Evil: Drinkable Splatters), it'll be time to move on.

Xbox Bundling Gone Insane: GameStop Offers $1200 Package

Xbox 360How badly do you want the Microsoft Xbox 360?  How much money can you burn in a single transaction?  Topping the EBGames $700 bundle mentioned this morning is the GameStop $1200 Xbox bundle, netting customers/marks basically everything announced for the Xbox 360: console, controllers, eleven games, Xbox Live subscription, and so forth.  Next Generation has a few choice words on the matter.

Quite frankly, these bundles have made a mockery of the core pricing that Microsoft put forward at $299.  The fact that the "core" system at Gamestop, costs $699 is just plain silly. We question what consumer (any consumer) would spend such a sum and not get a hard drive?  While calls to real, local storefronts for Gamestop and EB have both confirmed that it is possible to pre-order these systems in the Microsoft prescribed core and regular bundles (for now anyway), the fact that there's no capability of doing so in the online stores seems almost tantamount to Ebay-robbery.

What makes this bundle all the more outrageous is the opening line on GameStop's Xbox page: "Don't overpay in online auctions for the latest in video game technology!"  So we should overpay in their online store instead?