Now that Nintendo has officially launched an online gaming network the time has come not only to play, but to consider the code of ethics and principles that come with playing online in a civilized community. The gang over at Nintendojo have put together eleven basic rules of courteous online play, and while they may be obvious guidelines, they are worth repeating. The online gaming community is what we all make of it, and it's important to keep it fun, fair, and enjoyable. Nintendo's done their part. Now it's up to us. I go by Matt-AMN while playing Mario Kart DS, complete with AMN decal. Maybe we'll cross paths sometime.
There's a bit of Nintendo lore that says that certain Nintendo Entertainment System game paks manufactured in 1985 and early 1986 contain that holy grail of adapters, the Famicom to NES converter. For you see although the NES and the Famicom share the same hardware principles, the different shape of their respective game paks and internal circuit boards makes it impossible to simply plug a Famicom game into your beloved NES. However, at the start of the NES generation Nintendo decided against manufacturing unique NES game circuit boards and instead just slapped Famicom boards and the Famicom to NES converter into your standard issue game pak.
Now, all these years later, retro gaming fans have discovered that it's possible to pop the converter out of these early game paks and use it to play Famicom titles on NES hardware. The problem with doing so is that game paks containing the converter aren't exactly labeled as such and later manufacturing runs of the games that did include the converter do not include that blessed piece of hardware.
So how does one find game paks that contain these converters? Redwolf over at Vintage Computing has a few interesting observations regarding the old NES title Gyromite and how it's possible to detect which old game paks have the converter inside without having to pry open the game pak right in the middle of your local used game store.
If you happen to have a scale that can read in ounces, you’ll find that a regular Gyromite cartridge weights about 3.5 ounces, and a FA Gyromite weighs about 4.5 ounces. The extra ounce comes from the converter hardware inside, which you’ll see in a minute. I tested my other early NES games and they all weighed 3.5 ounces, telling me they don’t have adapters inside.
Interesting stuff! Gyromite's finally good for something after all these years.
Remember how the new Mario Kart DS includes a decal creator so that players can keep track of who is who on the multiplayer track? Well, AMN is holding a contest this week challenging the creative folks out there to create striking decals for the new Mario Kart DS. Prizes include Nintendo DS units and Mario Kart DS game cards. Feeling creative? Then get your talent together and enter. The deadline is November 24, 2005. The entries will be judged by the AMN staff after the deadline and then the three prize packages will be awarded. There's some great entries out there already, so get to it!
Consider for a moment how simple it is to find a new DVD for sale in North America. Every Tuesday all of the new releases for the week land on store shelves. Now consider the release of new video games. Shipping dates can occur on any business day of the week, and even then those dates signify the date that new games leave the publisher, not the day that those games appear on store shelves. These games reach the retail shelf anywhere from the next day to the next week depending on how far one lives from the publisher's warehouse. They reach stores in a scattershot fashion where Store A may have the game that shipped on Monday on the shelves by Wednesday morning, but Store B across the street won't have the game in stock until sometime Friday night. Why does it have to be this way? This isn't a rhetorical question. I really want someone to tell me why there isn't an organized "new game day". Please, someone explain to me why the system works the way that it does.
What happened to you, Mega Man? You used to be so reliable. It seems that the Mega Man X Collection for Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 has quietly slipped from a November 2005 release to January 2006 (what, did Capcom lose the source code to this one too?). Granted that it's not much of a high profile title, but some people (myself included) were looking forward to it.
Capcom's really done a disservice to Mega Man this console generation; it's as if the company just doesn't care about the property anymore. Yes there are the continued yearly installments of the Battle Network and Zero lines, but nobody ever talks about Mega Man's new adventures with excitement and fervor. Everyone always remembers the glory days of Mega Man 2 and Mega Man X. In the old days a schedule slip like this would have brought out some disappointment and renewed anticipation. Instead it just seems to have occurred in a commentless void. Such a shame. Mega Man deserves better.
So you all want new games for the holidays. I can't say I blame you - I'm right there with ya! There's some great stuff on my list this year: Mario and Luigi: Partners In Time, Super Mario Strikers, Shadow the Hedgehog, and maybe a few other things with all is said and done. What can I say? I can still be a kid at heart.
Something not on my list because I'm picking it up this week is Mario Kart DS. It's the fifth in the kart racing series as we all know, but this week's question asks which iteration of the game so far has been the best. You know the drill. Vote and leave comments.
"Better late than never," I always say. For a variety of reasons it's taken seemingly forever to finish my review of the new Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, but it's finally complete. Most of the delay stems from the fact that a misleading onscreen hint had me stuck on the same training mission for a week. An entire week. I typically blast through games that I'm reviewing in only a few days and actually have the final review written before one week is up. The review goes into detail on just what had me performing the wrong skater trick for all that time, proving once again that the road to Hell is paved with misleading in-game hint systems.
Get out your wallets and your broadband connections, folks, because it's time. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connector that enables Nintendo DS units to connect to non-wireless Internet connections is now available for sale directly from Nintendo. For now Nintendo will be the only place to buy one, as the connectors won't be on store shelves at least until January (rumor has it they'll be available at retail when Metroid Prime Hunters ships). Hop on over to the Nintendo store and get your $35 ready (plus $5 for shipping). You'd better do it sooner than later, as there's no way of knowing how many are available and the demand will probably be rather high. I've already ordered mine. See you on the network!
Have you seen these "golden claim tickets" that are to be handed out to people who have preordered a Microsoft Xbox 360? What about the "Zero Hour" launch party in the desert? Are you tired of the pushy salesclerks? Am I the only one getting sick of all this pre-release hype involving flashy parties and status indicators and pretty much every marketing promotion designed to make the Xbox 360 as important to the human race as clean water? I know that companies can't launch a product these days without colossal fanfare, but enough is enough. Just sell the damn Xbox already, Microsoft. People want it and they'll pay big money for it, so just ship it and get it on the shelves. I've had enough of the theatrics and the "Isn't it great? You cannot have one!" attitude.
Sega is feeling confident this week. Producer Takashi Yuda has announced that the company is already hard at work on Sonic Riders 2 for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. Recall, if you will, that the original Sonic Riders for this generation's game consoles isn't even finished yet, let alone on store shelves.
Sequels and continuations of successful video game franchises are nothing new. Everyone knows that there will always be another installment of The Legend of Zelda or Grand Theft Auto. What strikes me as unusual is that I can't recall a company announcing a sequel is in the works for a game that isn't complete to begin with. It's like saying "Not only are we working on a game that is so damn great, but we're already working on the sequel to it because the first game won't be enough!" No, wait, I do remember the last time this happened. Remember when Sonic the Hedgehog 3 left a bitter taste in gamers' mouths when it was revealed that the last half of the game would be available in the "sequel", Sonic and Knuckles? I wonder if history is about to repeat yet again.