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October 2005

Clear and Present Absurdity

AMN logoOver at AMN we've been listening to self-appointed anti-game crusader Jack Thompson as he sends out wave after wave of press releases, and now AMN's Casey Ayers has refuted Thompson's talking points in his latest editorial, Clear and Present Absurdity.

The point of today's article is to show just how wrong the approach he is taking is and to show that no matter how absurd this all may seem to those of us in the gaming world, his actions and those of others like him stand poised to potentially destroy our industry.

The gaming community has watched in amazement as Thompson lashed out at game publishers, developers, and even players.  His supporters are beginning to desert him, his detractors are starting to laugh at him instead of fight him, and his habit of treating anyone not in a position to boost his image with absolutely no respect is well known by now.  I sincerely hope that this editorial can help bury Thompson's unruly tactics once and for all.

Who Wants To Buy An Empty Box?

Xbox 360 boxThere's a few words over on Joystiq about the practice of people listing empty game console boxes for sale at online auctions and then selling those empty boxes for what an actual console might earn.  The catch is that the sellers list the empty boxes as empty boxes, but the bidders apparently don't read the description text before bidding.

This kind of thing has been going on for years and today's article reminds me of my favorite box sale.  Back when the Microsoft Xbox was the hot holiday shopping item, eBay was full of Xbox auctions as well as Xbox box auctions.  One of these listings went above and beyond the concept of selling an empty box.  Someone tried to sell one of the shipping crates used to transport Xbox consoles to retail stores.  It was empty, of course, and listed for sale as a Xbox box box.  As I recall, it sold for nearly $500.  At least, that was the final bid. 

Track Details For Mario Kart DS Revealed

Mario Kart DSWith the launch of Mario Kart DS and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection less than one month away (in North America, at any rate) Nintendo has released a few details on the new racetracks that Mario and friends will face.  The final track count remains at thirty-two, sixteen of which are fresh tracks.  AMN has the details.

Yoshi Falls is set at the bottom of a waterfall-filled valley equipped with two in game levels, an upper and a lower. The upper portion of the map will feature a flat surface filled with dash panels, but as expected, racers can fly off the surface if caution is not taken. The map's lower level is set on a 45 degree angle and against the current of gushing water.

I believe that Yoshi Falls is one of the tracks I played back at E3.  If it's the same one and hasn't been changed much, I can say that we're in for a treat.  The waterfall track was my favorite of the ones available in the demo.  I'm also intrigued by the pinball track and the raceway involving Isle Delfino.

Weekly Poll: Lights, Camera, Press Start!

Weekly Poll for 10-9-2005So much for disproving the stereotype.  Rather than dwell on the fact that most of us are currently not in a relationship, let's just move on to this week's poll topic.

Making movies based on video games is all the rage in Hollywood these days, as games such as Doom and Halo are getting the all-star treatment.  The problem is that movies based on games almost always, well, suck.  There's really no way to be nice about that.  This week let us consider which game you want to see turned into a movie, although to spare us from the horrors of another director who has never played the source material, for this poll I want you to assume that the movie would be done well.  Assume the best possible movie given the source material.  I listed a few of my favorite picks for such a film for choices, but feel free to write in your own choice below.

Matt's Day Off

Dr. MarioNothing new today due to illness, I'm afraid.  Check back tomorrow.  In the meantime it's a beautiful day outside, so turn off the computer, go out, buy a new video game, bring it home, and play it.  It's such a shame to waste good weather.

Pokémon XD Review At AMN

Pokémon XD: Gale of DarknessI've finally finished my work with Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness and I'm glad to have this game behind me.  As you'll read in my review over at AMN, the game comes off as an uninspired rushed cash-grab of an adventure.  Fans of the series may get more out of it than I did, but my experience with Gale of Darkness just puts me off of the Pokémon franchise yet again.  I think I need a week of a solidly entertaining RPG to wash this horrible taste out of my mouth.

Mini-Review: Yoshi Topsy-Turvy

YoshiIt's no secret that I love Super Mario games, so when Nintendo spun Yoshi off into his own series of games I happily followed.  Then the overly cute and simple Yoshi's Story left a sugary taste in my mouth as the developers behind the little green eating machine decided to skew Yoshi into a platformer apparently geared for younger audiences.  When this latest game to feature Yoshi as the star debuted with its motion tilt sensor shenanigans I was hesitant to dive into the adventure, and now after completing Yoshi Topsy-Turvy I see that my hesitation was justified.  It's a platformer game, yes, but it's lacking that certain something: that trademark Nintendo magic.  The game comes off as either a very detailed technical demo or a half-assed platformer game.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Yoshi Topsy-Turvy" »

Searching For What Doesn't Exist

PoppleI'm always checking the statistics gathered by PTB's web host and one of things I look in on from time to time is what people are searching for at Google, Yahoo!, etc. that bring them to this blog.  For instance, lots of folks find their way here while searching for terms such as "Nintendo", "used games", "Zelda news", and so forth.  One pattern I've noticed is that some people are hunting for video game ROMs and because I mention emulation from time to time, PTB is mixed in with emulation search results.  Based on some of the search terms that bring people to PTB I can see that most folks looking for ROMs are looking for ROMs of games that have not even been completed yet, let alone released.  These are obvious search results to peg: "pokemon torouze roms", etc.

To all of you out there skimming Press The Buttons in search of game ROMs: you will be disappointed.  There are no ROMs here.  There never will be ROMs here.  You shouldn't be downloading new games, but you should be supporting titles you like by actually purchasing them.  The morality speech probably won't do much good at this point, but I like to make the effort.  As sort of a "search results of shame", here is a brief list unfinished and unreleased games that people are looking to download based on search terms:

  • Pokémon Torouze
  • Super Princess Peach
  • Mario Kart DS
  • Sonic Rush (usually misidentified as "sonic ds")
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess ("zelda twilight rom", although this could also be the game trailer on a DS card)

Konami Joins A Gym

Mario busts a moveIn this age of continued "games make you fat!" and "games shot that man!" it's always nice to see a game publisher try to make a positive difference in the world.  Today it's Konami's turn to get a little spotlight.  The company has announced an agreement with 24 Hour Fitness to stock the Kids' Clubs areas with Dance Dance Revolution machines.  It's actually a good idea since many people have made DDR a part of their exercise regimes.

Clara Gilbert, director of business partnerships at Konami said, "Bringing the health and fitness benefits of DDR to 24 Hour Fitness is an unbeatable combination in helping kids and adults stay in shape while having fun. By placing DDR in 24 Hour Fitness locations we strive to help kids and adults achieve their fitness goals in an unintimidating and fun way."

I think limiting the machines to the kiddie zone is a poor decision though.  There are many adults who enjoy playing DDR and use it for exercise instead of just pure entertainment.  Placing the machines only in areas for children also enforces that games are just for kids.  As so many people have been trying to explain lately, people of all ages love video games.  I say put those DDR machines right out in the main part of the exercise center.  Invite everyone to climb aboard and bust a move.  Get fit and help boost the image of gaming in the mainstream.

Zelda DVDs Hit Stores

The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated SeriesThe on-again off-again DVD release of The Legend of Zelda portion of the old Super Mario Bros. Super Show has finally been released and my favorite DVD review site, DVD Verdict, has reviewed the collection.  Does the low budget cartoon series stand up to criticism fifteen years later?

The cartoon is good enough to stand on its own legs, so it's unfortunate that its creators insisted on adding video game sound effects at key moments. When Link and Zelda show up to save the day, they're accompanied by a rousing orchestral score; however, whenever Link zaps the bad guys with his magic sword, the sound is an unfortunately retro video game "bleep." This was meant to remind kids to go out and buy the game, of course, but all it does is distract viewers from the action on screen.

Generic game sound effects were a part of every game-related cartoon in the 1980s and 1990s.  People raised on Pokémon instead of Super Mario tend to be unaware that back in the old days every video game that appeared on a television show sounded like either Pong or Pac-Man.  Thank goodness those days are behind us.