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November 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Yoshi feastsHere's wishing everybody a Happy Thanksgiving as I take a day off from PTB today.  Go get something nice to eat and then settle in for plenty of after-dinner video games.  At least until all the tryptophan puts you to sleep until sometime tomorrow afternoon.  Just remember that falling asleep during a multiplayer game counts as a forfeit.  Always has, always will.

New Mario Movie Not Happening After All

Club Nintendo retractionRemember the news that Nintendo was working on films based on Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Bros.?  Well, it turns out that the news isn't completely true.  Club Nintendo (the official Spanish Nintendo-sponsored magazine) published a retraction (seen here on the right; click on it to enlarge it) that states the news was the result of a misunderstanding.  The revised news is that while a Metroid movie is in the works, no films based on Link or Mario are underway at this time.  So there will be no Super Mario Bros: The Movie 2.  Now suddenly the world makes a little more sense again.  Thanks to AMN's crack Spanish translator for providing the scan of the retraction.

Xbox 360 Line Ends In Violence

Xbox 360It was bound to happen sooner or later.  A man waiting in line for a Microsoft Xbox 360 at a Best Buy in New York felt that the people in front of him had cut in front of him, so he did what any greedy uncivilized person would do.  He punched one of them in the head and shoved the other to the ground.  He ran off after that, but Best Buy and the local police worked together using the store's list of people who signed up for the Xbox 360 and through the process of elimination found the culprit.  They then called the man at home and told him the store had an Xbox 360 for him after all.  When Todd Coulter came to the store to pick up his prize, he was identified and the police arrested him.

You'd think that after centuries of human development we'd be beyond beating the snot out of someone over a video game.  If this case goes to court and Coulter is found guilty, part of his punishment should be that he never gets to play another video game.  He's obviously shown that he cannot handle living in a civilized society, so there's no way that he could possibly interact politely in a virtual society.  I can almost imagine this man shouting "Mine, mine!" as he punched and shoved the people around him.

Anticipating The Mario Kart DS Expansion Pack

Wario in his kartAfter spending one week with Mario Kart DS I can proclaim that it's very enjoyable, offers a lot of ongoing replay value thanks to online racing, and offers plenty of tracks and drivers.  In fact, I bet that the game will wind up as one of my picks for the best Nintendo DS games of the year.  However, the game is lacking a few things in my opinion.  They're minor issues, but knowing that Nintendo has the ability to release expansions for DS games that make use of the DS's Game Boy Advance slot, here are a few things I'd like to see in such an expansion if Nintendo were to produce one.  Let me preface this with the fact that no such expansion has been announced.  This is just my own little wish list.

Continue reading "Anticipating The Mario Kart DS Expansion Pack" »

No Sympathy For Xbox 360 Campers

Xbox 360 boxThey started lining up early last night.  With news that there was high demand and short supply for the new Microsoft Xbox 360, gamers started gathering in front of stores before closing time to wait overnight for the time to come for the Xbox 360 to officially go on sale.  I've never understood the desire to camp out for a video game.  I'm about as dedicated as video game fans come, but even I have my limits.  How do store staff feel about people camping out for a chance to spend hundreds of dollars each?  A Target electronics manager friend of mine who shall remain nameless had this to say:

There were 50! people lined up out front of [the store] tonight for the Xbox 360.  We only have 40.  Suckers.

Nobody actually told the campers how many consoles were available, of course.  It seems to me that if I were going to camp out for something, I'd call ahead to see how many consoles are going to be available.  If I show up at the camp site and find eighty people in front of me and I know there's only twenty consoles to go around, I'd turn around and head home to my warm bed.  I'm honestly surprised that Xbox-hungry fans don't just smash the store windows around two o'clock in the morning and storm the storeroom.  Yes, they'd be caught eventually thanks to video surveillance and dozens of witnesses, but I'd think that anyone who sleeps on the pavement out in the cold for the chance to pay $400+ for a video game is already crazy enough to take a wild chance.

Dishonorable Disconnect

BowserAfter playing Mario Kart DS online now for nearly a week I've run into my share of people who disconnect from the game the moment someone outscores them.  It's very frustrating to get a game together and then, halfway through, two people quit the game because they're losing.  The fun of Mario Kart is not who wins and who loses, but the act of driving those karts around the wacky tracks and using items to knock off the racer in first place.  Note that I did not say "knock off the racer in first place in order to win".  Whomever is in the lead will be beaten up by blue shells and lightning bolts.  That's just how it is and it's really part of the point of the game.  We try to win, but winning is more of a journey than a destination.

Disconnecting during a game deliberately is downright dishonorable.  I've noticed a pattern when it comes to these disconnectors, and that has led me to be able to identify people who will disconnect before the game is over.  My hope is that in sharing my observations you too will be able to pick out likely candidates for disconnection.  You won't be able to do anything about it, but at least you'll see it coming.

Continue reading "Dishonorable Disconnect" »

Plan Your Hunt With The Xbox 360 Inventory Locator

Xbox 360 Golden TicketSometimes the fusion of databases and Google Maps yields truly beneficial things.  Today's example of such a combination is the ability to peek in on which Best Buy stores in your North American area will sell Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles tomorrow and how many consoles (both Premium and Core packages) each store will have.  Jump on over to the BestBuy/Xbox Inventory Locator and plug in your ZIP code.  Google Maps and a nifty database of inventory stock will do the rest.  Don't wait out in the cold for too long tonight.  Being an early adopter means nothing if your fingers are too numb to play from the cold.

Get To Know Lakitu

LakituWe all know the Goombas and the Troopas and the Bullet Bills, but how often do gamers stop and think about that turtle in the sky, Lakitu?  Once the bane of visitors to World 4-1 everywhere, Lakitu has become the keeper of Mushroom Kingdom sports, managing race tracks, golf courses, baseball fields, soccer stadiums, and tennis courts.  His fishin' poll offers both power-ups and dangerous enemies.  Sometimes he's in the way, other times he's in the right place at the right time.

Love him or hate him, Lakitu has always been there for us in one form or another.  Now he's there to tell you if the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is up and running.  PTB reader Josh Buhler has put together a Max OS 10.4 widget in which Lakitu checks the status of the network and reports back to you, the user, using his familiar and traditional Mario Kart traffic signal.  It's cute, it's useful, and it's free.  I think Lakitu himself would approve.

Presenting A Guide To TV On UMD

LostPopular television DVD database is about to expand.  Although the site has covered television shows released to Sony's PlayStation Portable UMD format, soon the new web address will lead to a variation of the site aimed at UMD editions of popular television fare.  In the meantime the site has put together a guide of each television release currently available on UMD.  From Lost to Family Guy to Beavis and Butt-head to South Park, it's an extensive list perfect for those seeking to bulk up on UMDs this holiday season.

Weekly Poll: Nintendo WFC Impressions

Weekly Poll for 11-14-05People love Mario Kart 64 and I admit that I'm one of them.  There's something about that particular iteration of the series that just gets so many things right, from track design to music to character models to the race gameplay itself.  Later games in the series are special in their own ways, but I know for me Mario Kart 64 is Mario Kart.  The new Mario Kart DS is a lot like it, and it's quickly becoming my favorite game in the series.  It'll be interesting to see how well (or not) it ages over the years.

And speaking of Mario Kart DS, now that the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection has launched, what do you think of it?  Is online play on the Nintendo DS everything you thought it'd be?  Are the player match-ups fair and fun?  Is the network reliable?  Or do you think Nintendo has a lot to learn about online gaming?  Vote in the poll and leave your comments below.