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September 2005

New Earthbound Being Developed Secretly?

EarthboundAs the old X-Files adage goes, "I want to believe".  There's a flurry of rumors regarding Mother 3, also known as the sequel to the classic Super NES RPG EarthboundMother 3 has quite the rocky history, if you'll recall.  It started as a Nintendo 64DD project, then dumped the 64DD features to become a pure Nintendo 64 game, then became dormant for several years before allegedly jumping to the Game Boy Advance.  Now there's word that the series creator, Shigesato Itoi, is secretly at work in Japan on Mother 3 for the Nintendo DS.  A Flash movie from developer Brownie Brown has surfaced (in Japanese, no less, so why not view the unofficial English translation instead) that features many stylistic elements from Earthbound, while over at developer Marvelous there is this countdown featuring a fellow who looks a lot like Earthbound's Dr. Andonuts Marvelous is actually working on a Nintendo DS RPG currently known as Contact.

It's all terribly circumstantial and may not amount to anything, but after waiting more than ten years for a follow up to Earthbound, I'm ready to believe.  If this sequel does see the light of day, Nintendo had better release it in North America.  I'd even spend a few dollars extra to get the unreleased-outside-of-Japan Mother 1+2 game pak for the Game Boy Advance included in the same package.

(via 4 color rebellion)

Weekly Poll: Reservations

Weekly Poll for 9-18-05It turns out that a lot of you out there are on board for the Nintendo Revolution.  I still want to see some games in action, but I've been buying Nintendo products for nearly twenty years and I'm unlikely to stop anytime soon.

As for this week's poll, it would seem that you all are quite unimaginative because only one person had any ideas for a next-generation Pilotwings.  Putting that idea aside for now, let's focus on a different question: have you preordered a next-generation console?  Pick an option and leave some comments below.  While you're voting the rest of us will be in line to reserve a console.  More for us!

Madden Bug Shrinks Player To Seven Inches Tall

Tiny Michael KingIt seems that a recent update to Electronic Arts's Madden had an unintended side effect: Michael King of the New York Jets has been shrunk to a mere seven inches in height.  How that one slipped by the development team and the testing division I'll never know.  Am I the only one have a Tiny Elvis flashback right now?  "Hey man, that football is hu-u-uge!"


n-Space Bound For Japan

GeistA little birdy tells me that game developer n-Space is heading to Japan next week to get their first hands-on experience with the Nintendo Revolution controller.  You may remember n-Space from such games as Bug Rider and Geist.  From what I'm told, the n-Space team is excited about the controller and is looking forward to getting a handle on it.  The company has already sold Nintendo on another idea, so perhaps this is the next step in developing that idea.

While we're on the subject of n-Space, I suppose I can tell a funny story about the company and the controller now that the Revolution's secret is out.  About a month ago I was talking to my n-Space source and he mentioned in passing that n-Space knew what the amazing Nintendo secret was all about and that his person in-the-know had told him the secret controller information.  Of course I pressed him to find out just what Nintendo had planned, but the horrible truth was that my source really doesn't know much about video games beyond what his n-Space source tells him.  He knew the secret, but he didn't know how to explain it to me because this business of controllers and pixels and rendering might as well be a foreign language.  He stumbled around the concept for a while, but we eventually gave up because he just didn't know enough about the topic in general.  So close to knowing the secret, and yet so far away...

Meet Shigeru Miyamoto In New York City This Weekend

Shigeru Miyamoto Are you interested in meeting the creator of Super Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong?  Nintendo fans who make the trek to the Nintendo World Store in New York City this weekend just may get a chance to engage in Nintendogs's "Bark Mode" with Nintendo's own Shigeru Miyamoto.  He'll be at the store to sign autographs and meet fans this weekend as part of the Nintendogs Doggy Fashion Show.

On Sunday, September 25th, Shigeru Miyamoto, the world famous game designer from Nintendo (Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, etc.) will be visiting the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Center from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm to sign autographs and help continue the amazing momentum for his latest creation, Nintendogs.  The first 200 people in line are guaranteed to get an autograph.  The first 10 people in line with a DS and Nintendogs game will get a chance to do “Bark Mode” with Mr. Miyamoto.

There will also be some prize giveaways related to the Nintendo DS and Nintendogs, such as a DS skin that comes complete with Miyamoto's printed signature.  These skins were given away to the press back at E3, and let me assure you that they turn heads when playing against those who do not have a living legend's signature printed on their DS. 

Other events this weekend include a Saturday doggy fashion show sponsored by the ASPCA featuring canine clothing designer Little Lily at Riverside Park.  For more information regarding event dates and times, give the store a call at (646) 459-0800.  Nintendo has asked that people do not call the store for event information.  The full schedule for both the fashion show and the meeting with Miyamoto is below.

Continue reading "Meet Shigeru Miyamoto In New York City This Weekend" »

Talk Is Cheap On Satellite; Not-So-Much On DS

Mario Kart DSSome of the technical details regarding just how the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection works are starting to appear in the press and amid the talk of buddy lists and USB dongles and transparent connections is the news that Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World will not support voice chat despite Nintendo's showcase of a DS-based IP telephony tech demo back at E3.  The reason for cutting chat?  Safety reasons, of course.  We can't have pedophiles grooming innocent children during a K.K. Slider concert or nasty language overtaking a race through Moo Moo Farm.

Both will lack voice communication, for safety reasons - "we need to be entirely confident that there can be no untoward activity," the supplement quotes a Nintendo Europe product manager as saying, with the emphasis on "pure gameplay".

It's probably for the best.  Every time I've ever played an online game that allows voice or text chat, nobody ever says anything of value.  It's all insults and immature taunts.  If voice chat was actually beneficial in online gaming I'd probably be disappointed in this decision, but somehow I don't think I'll be missing anything by remaining silent online when playing against random strangers.

As far as that tech demo goes, Nintendo's PR people have said that they don't want to get into the IP telephony business.  Nintendo must have plans for voice chat somewhere though, otherwise why would the company have spent time and resources to develop it?  I'd like to see voice chat included when playing against people that I actually know.  I travel in a circle of friends who can play a video game without unleashing a stream of insulting profanity.

Do Not Open 'Til May 2006: Nintendo Keeps Revolution Games Locked Away

Nintendo RevolutionOnce Nintendo revealed the Revolution controller last week my immediate response after picking my jaw up off the floor revolved around just when the company would reveal some of the games that the new fangled remote control can play.  Guess when that'll be?  Next Generation spoke with Nintendo senior director of corporate communications, Beth Llewelyn, and has an answer most of us don't want to hear:

Nintendo has not yet announced when we will debut software for Nintendo Revolution, but you should certainly stay tuned to learn more at the 2006 Electronics Entertainment Expo trade show in Los Angeles next May.

Eight months.  We have to wait nearly eight months to finally get a look at the complete Revolution package.  That's classic Nintendo though, spreading new information few and far between and tossing fans just enough of a bone to keep us speculating.  C'mon, Nintendo.  Show me the Mario!  I sincerely apologize for invoking the foul memories of that insipid Tom Cruise movie, but that's just how desperate I am to get a look at Nintendo's next generation titles.

Creator Of Oregon Trail Reveals Secrets, Explains "Inadequate Grass"

Oregon TrailAnyone who grew up in the mid-to-late 1980s in the American public school system most likely has fond memories of the Apple //e edutainment game The Oregon Trail, a RPG in which players lead a team of five pioneers across the untamed United States in the 1800s.  Now, twenty years later, the creator of the game is speaking out about how the game came to be, what ideas didn't make it into the final version, and what lessons the game was supposed to teach the players.

Some other versions of The Oregon Trail made hunting too simple and too easy – in my opinion. In my version, you could move the hunter around the screen in 4 directions and fire the gun in 8 directions – using various keys on the keyboard. Furthermore, I put obstacles on the screen that the animals could run behind. So it requires some practice to master the hunting skills and be successful. Consequently, some new players – and most adults – complained that I had made hunting too difficult. But a visit to any school provided ample evidence that legions of kids – mostly boys – had completely mastered the hunting interface.

Back in my elementary school days The Oregon Trail was the only computer game that my classmates and I were allowed to play in school.  Everybody took turns traveling the trail and dying of dysentery and the first time that one of us made it to the raft ride portion of the game everybody gathered 'round the black-and-green monitor to watch as the trail ride approached the end.

They don't make edutainment like this anymore; Oregon Trail's educational qualities revolved around logical decisions and careful planning, but today's edutainment is only "educational" if it involves bulk loading of "important" facts and dates.  I ask you, which is more important to learn: what combination of products are needed to cross the mountains in the winter or the exact date that World War I began?  Buffalo hunting is always tops in my book.


Capcom And Konami Next On The Merger List?

X and ZeroCompany mergers seem to be the new trend these days and now there's talk that Capcom and Konami may be the next two gaming companies to tie the metaphorical knot.  Neither company has commented officially on these rumors, of course, but the mere thought of such a merger does spark a lot of ideas.  How about Mega Man X joining the Belmont clan to battle Dracula?  Or a Metal Gear Solid title set in Resident Evil's Raccoon City?  Street Fighter meets Gradius?  The possibilities go on and on.  There's a lot of potential here, so here's hoping that if the merger does come to pass the newly combined company will take advantage and create some amazing crossovers.

Of course, reality shows us that gaming companies that have merged do not combine their properties and instead just function under the same financial umbrella.  Stockholders demand profits, yes, but they should also demand that Simon Belmont be able to steal weapons from Elec Man and Heat Man.  Not every gain in the world of business needs to be financial in nature.

Next-Gen Sonic Trailer At AMN

Sonic the HedgehogI mention this because I haven't seen another organization offering this video: AMN has the full video teaser of the upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 title Sonic the Hedgehog that was revealed at the Tokyo Game Show.  We've all seen the still shots by now, but this video is really something to behold.  Sonic's world is much darker than we're used to seeing (darker mood, not light level).

Near the end of the clip, for instance, a horde of badniks drop from the sky and surround Sonic.  Then these robots fire wave after wave of bullets, shooting Sonic dead.  Needless to say, that was a surprise.  Colorful cartoon mascots are supposed to dodge every attack and, at worst, drop rings or shrink in size.  Falling over dead is certainly... unexpected.