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January 2006

If You Have To Ask, You'll Never Know

Speak no evilLet's just all agree that major game publishers don't want to talk about their next-generation launch titles.  Earlier in the week Sony let loose a list of supposed Sony PlayStation 3 launch titles, but then quietly withdrew the list.  The gang at Kotaku e-mailed Sony for a comment on the matter, and this is the reply:

These were titles we already disclosed at Tokyo Game Show last year, as titles being developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan for PLAYSTATION 3. We do not disclose further details.

Translation: "There is nothing new to see here.  Stop asking."  I know the gaming media is supposed to question publishers on these kinds of things, but it seems that an auto-responder could do the job of certain PR contacts ("We do not comment on rumors").  I especially like Sony's use of the words "do not", as if Kotaku should have known that since there'll be no useful information forthcoming, why even bother to ask?  Just once I'd like to see a publisher offer a meaningful reply to this kind of question without politely telling us to buzz off.

Sonic Team Supports Revolution?

Sonic the HedgehogIt's time for the daily rumor, this time courtesy of IGN where it's reported that Sega's own Sonic Team is working on a unique Sonic the Hedgehog title for the Nintendo Revolution, a game that is not the next-generation Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3.  The idea is that this new game makes use of the new Revolution controller.  Now I am a fan of the Sonic games so I'm pleased to hear this (if it's true), but I still have my concerns about playing a platformer title with the "wave, point, and click" functionality of the controller.  I still can't quite understand how platforming is supposed to work without a control stick, and until I get the chance to try it out for myself I probably will continue to show concern.

IGN also tosses off that old rumor that Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto and Sega's Yuji Naka want to do a Super Mario / Sonic crossover title which I suppose if that's ever going to happen, then the time would be now.  What better opportunity to combine two popular gaming mascots and friendly rivals than at the dawn of a new generation in gaming?  Can't you almost picture Bowser riding in one of Dr. Robotnik's wacky machines?  Or Sonic collecting a super mushroom and growing to twice his size?  I think it could work.

Uh Oh! Looks Like He's Been Using Brand X

Love that Joker! We all know that there's a dark side to the world of video games, and I'm not talking about Ganon or Mother Brain.  Counterfeit video game products hurt everyone in the industry, from the talented folks who develop the actual games to those of us who just want to buy a used game from eBay without being sold a cheap inferior knock-off of a real game pak.  Several years ago Nintendo set out to educate their customers (both retailers and end users) by providing photos of authentic and counterfeit Nintendo products set side by side.  Although the site hasn't been updated since the dawn of the Nintendo GameCube, it remains as an interesting archive that allows us to see just how closely (or just how horribly) counterfeiters attempt to duplicate authentic products.

All of your old favorites from the late Game Boy Color and early Game Boy Advance eras are here: Metroid Fusion, Wario Land 4, Super Mario Advance, Pokemon Blue and Red, Mario Kart Super CircuitF-Zero Maximum Velocity, and many more.  There's even a few issues of the 2001 and 2002 anti-piracy newsletter up for grabs.  Remember not to be duped by cheap auction prices or fishy labels.  Always demand authentic video game products.

The Excitability Factor

Gran Turismo Vision Today's office conversation snippet is between an avid gamer co-worker and myself in which I tell him of the list of Sony PlayStation 3 launch titles:

MattG: "So did you see where there's a list of supposed PS3 launch titles?"
Co-Worker: "Nah, what are they?"
MattG: "The Eye of Judgment..."
Co-Worker: (silence)
MattG: "Angel Rings..."
Co-Worker: (silence)
MattG: "Genji 2..."
Co-Worker: (silence)
MattG: "Monster Carnival..."
Co-Worker: (silence)
MattG: "Everybody's Golf 5..."
Co-Worker: (silence)
MattG: "and Gran Tur-"
Co-Worker: "Gran Turismo Vision?!?"

Something tells me that Sony can count on at least one sale there.

Resident Evil For Revolution?

Leon S. KennedyLet's get the bad news out of the way right now: it looks as though Resident Evil 5 will not appear on Nintendo's next-generation console.  However, here comes the good news: the Revolution may well get an exclusive Resident Evil title that takes advantage of the console's unique controller.  AMN has some quotes from the producer behind Resident Evil: Deadly Silence for the Nintendo DS who says that while his team is working on a Revolution game that is not related to the famed horror series, his team loves the new controller and sees an opportunity to create a Resident Evil title for it.

According to Nakai, the technology offered by the forthcoming Nintendo platform could potentially serve as the catalyst for a big of a change in the Resident Evil series as the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4 did one year ago. Nakai has stated that "Even if the playability of Resident Evil 4 thus remains very led to my taste. We would clearly like to use the potential of the controller, because the players could end up wearying themselves of this style of gameplay."

As much as I'd like to see Resident Evil 5 land on the Revolution (since I plan to snap one up as soon as they're available), I'd love to see an installment of the series that uses the new controller.  As you may remember, I'm not much of a fan of gory violent games that are gory and violent just for the sake of being, well, gory and violent.  I picked up Resident Evil 4 on a whim last summer and was quickly sucked in by the suspense and mystery of the storyline as well as the puzzle elements that are mixed with the shooter requirements.  I'm eager to revisit the Resident Evil world in the next generation, although someday I really must go back and finish Evil 4.  That's the downside of reviewing video games on a deadline.  No matter how much I love a particular game, I have to move on to the next thing on the list all too quickly, leaving little time to go back for the pure fun of it.

Can Sony Avoid Microsoft's Mistake?

Sony PlayStation 3There's an interesting article at Next Generation today that takes a look at the implications of Sony failing to put a lot of PlayStation 3 consoles on the shelf come launch time.  We all remember the dark Christmas '05 Xbox 360 Massacre; its depressing images of empty shelves and angry people in line still echo when we collectively close our eyes.  The optimist in me hopes that Sony doesn't repeat this scenario, but the realist in me has seen the stampede of anxious gamers and knows what evil lurks in the hearts of desperate fans.

[Microsoft's] Peter Moore told us that, y'know it's a complicated thing launching a major piece of hardware that's made up of loads of different bits, all over the world. And we sympathize, really. But it's a bit like Asafa Powell telling us that sprinting is tough work; even so, we still expect you past the line in under ten seconds, pal. Hardware shortages at launch used to be something that companies talked up, in order to generate interest in their boxes. These days, the interest is already there. Shortages don't equal success; they equal bad planning.

As the article says, the gaming landscape has changed so much in the past few years.  In the old days a shortage was almost "needed" to generate buzz about a new product.  Things are different now though and the PS3 has a lot of buzz and demand behind it.  My advice to Sony is to cut back on spending millions of dollars to promote a product that "everyone" wants and "everyone" knows is coming and instead spend that money on increased production.  Get more PS3s into the hands of customers.  That way "everyone" wins.

What Do You Do With Your Hands?

Black This dates back to last month, but I found it to be worth highlighting.  Vicejoy ponders when the gaming industry will grow up, as in offering innovating gameplay elements and not just caveman smashy-type thrills.  In this case the criticism is tossed at IGN's preview of Black, the upcoming shooter from Electronic Arts for the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox.  It's a valid point to make; after all this time and for as many shooters that have been developed and sold, when is the genre going to evolve?  When is it going to grow and change?

Despite all the technological advancements in today's gaming, we still haven't seen a character turn on a light switch with his hand, much less pick up ammo by actually bending over and grabbing it. You can use your hands to hold guns, pull triggers, toss grenades, punch, stab, but God help you if you actually wanted to use them for something other than killing. We're using ours to yawn. How about you?

No comment today.  Just food for thought.  Is there room in the marketplace for a "smart" shooter that places realism, interaction, and attention to detail above "KABOOM!!"?

Pikachu, I Eat You!

PikachewAsk your average gamer what they believe Nintendo's Pokemon franchise is missing and you'll almost always get the same answer: "cheese".  Well, now an enterprising gamer/chef has found a way to remedy that, bridging the gap between digital and dairy.  With the aid of a special Hasbro Play Doh character mold, Alan Turner creates his own Pikachus made out of cheese.

After testing an assortment of soft cheeses (Laughing Cow (TM) triangles, port wine spread, Velveeta (TM), "brie without the rind" (imagine a brie Velveeta), brie still remains the best Pikachu molding foodstuff.  The Laughing Cow (TM) didn't conform to the mold well, the port wine spread didn't release from the mold well no matter how well the mold was oiled, the rindless brie molded well, but sagged after a few minutes. The Velveeta (TM) molded well and held its shape, but, well, it's Velveeta.

Alan may be on to something here.  We've seen licensed food products on the market for years (ice cream sandwiches, fruit snacks, soup, juices, and so on) but it's very rare that we see licensed food actually shaped like whatever property has been licensed.  If cheese isn't your thing then Alan also has a recipe for Pikachu tater tots prepared with the same methodology.  I can almost see a bag of Pikachu tater tots in the freezer case at the grocery store.  That may mean that it's time to go lay down for a while.

(via Metafilter)

When Rare Isn't So Rare

The rarest Virtual Boy games of all: Virtual Lab, Space Invaders, Virtual Bowling, and Gundam Dimension WarLike a lot of game fans, I collect video games.  Unlike a lot of collectors though, I collect games so that I can play them.  I do not keep games sealed for eternity, nor do I scour the Internet for expensive rare games to add to my collection.  My collection is whatever I buy or otherwise acquire.  While it's fun to think my Virtual Boy library may be worth "something" someday, I'm not planning my retirement based on how much a used copy of Jack Bros. is worth to someone on eBay.

Now here comes Game Quest Direct.  This company is reprinting rare games legally and for profit, but is charging less for a new copy than one would end up paying for a used copy.  Sounds good, right?  Turns out the hardcore/serious collectors don't like the idea of their rare collectibles becoming worth less because more copies of a game suddenly appear in the marketplace.

Continue reading "When Rare Isn't So Rare" »

The World Of Nintendo, Remixed

Nintendo catalog Back in the late 1980s when Nintendo ruled the playground we all wanted products with Mario's smiling face on them.  We didn't even really care just what those products were, in fact.  They just needed to feature Mario.  Link would have been alright, too.  Some products (bedsheets, t-shirts, and baseball caps) make sense in a child's world.  Other products (ice cream sandwiches, suspenders, and a desk) are just odd curiosities.  Progressive Boink has uncovered a catalog of Nintendo products that originally appeared in a 1990 issue of Nintendo Power and has removed the original captions and replaced them with hilarious text snippets.

As a child I too fell into the Nintendo web of licensed products.  I had the bedsheets, the trash can, the game watch, the storage trunk (still have that, actually), the water bottle, the towel, the t-shirt,  the drinking glasses, the cup & cereal bowl set, the pencils, the stuffed Mario toy, the notebooks, the folders, the kite, the calendars, the board game, the birthday cake, the comic books, the figurines, the trophies, and the game pak storage case.  I ate the ice cream sandwiches, the ice cream bars, the fruit snacks, and the cereal.  I drank the soda.  Keeping all that in mind, even I think most of the merchandise in this old catalog is as odd now as it was then (although the ice cream was pretty tasty).

(via Boing Boing)