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February 2006

Bad Cheese On The Loose

Cheese the ChaoLeave it to the gang at UK Resistance to spot the fake Sonic the Hedgehog merchandise.  Apparently there's a key chain of Cheese (Cream the Rabbit's chao buddy) sold as part of a line of Sonic X items.  However, the chao in the package isn't wearing Cheese's trademark bow tie and is stamped as being created in 2000 which, as I'm sure you all know, is several years before the character's debut.  The verdict is that these are unsold generic chao figures created in the days of Sonic Adventure rebranded in new packaging to ride on Sonic X's coattails.

Cheese wasn't even born (invented) in the year 2000, and he was born in Mobius not China. This has been sitting in a warehouse for six years waiting to be resold. They're pulling the wool over the eyes of consumers. This is a simple warning to all Cheese fans out there.

I know that many of you out there have been eager to get your hands on a Cheese key chain, so consider this your public service announcement.  But seriously, if these keychains are left over from the Sonic Adventure marketing push then we have to face the fact that six years ago someone at Sega thought that everyone would want a chao key chain, so they manufactured more than they could sell.  Now, after all these years, they're eager to be rid of this unsold stock.  There are many gaming elements I'd like to have in key chain form just for fun, but I can't say that a chao (Cheese or not) is anywhere on my list.

Poisonous Snakers

Wario in his kartI just finished a brutal online match of Mario Kart DS, and I say it was brutal because I had my first encounter with a snaker; that is, a player who makes use of the "snaking" technique to boost kart speed and generally leave every other player in the dust.  Imagine lining up at the starting line at Isle Delfino and when the green light hits, the snaker is already up ahead at the large Pianta statue just as you press the accelerator.  It's a horrendous display of disrespect for the other players, and in fact the two other folks in the match dropped out during the first lap of the first race after it became obvious there was a snaker among us.  I stayed for all four races because the way I see it I lose if I drop and lose if I don't, so I might as well stick around to watch the snaker get his ego boost for the day.

I can understand the use of snaking if it's just one of many tricks and techniques in use during a race.  Balanced out with item use and skillful driving, I can see how it can be used in a clinch.  However, to snake all the time on every lap of every race is not only frustrating to other players who want a clean match, but also has to be downright boring for the snaker.  What's the point in playing the game if you know you'll win every time by a wide margin?  This particular snaker had racked up over 500 wins, so it seems obvious that this person races like this often.  Why keep coming back if there's no challenge?

3D People In A 2D World

New Super Mario Bros.As I catch up from a bad bout of poor health why not take a moment to check out this discussion over at Ask Metafilter about the best 2D games that make use of 3D elements, such as Viewtiful Joe, Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter, and the upcoming New Super Mario Bros.  You should know by now that I'm a 2D gamer junkie and any game that takes the risk of being 2D these days is alright with me.  In a world where it seems like every game to hit store shelves must be x-treme and cinematic and 3D, it's always great to see the old classic 2D style of gameplay remain strong. 

Xbox Live Gold Free Weekend Coming Soon

Xbox 360UPDATE: The April dates are tentative.

In the grand tradition of offering the first taste for free, Microsoft and Verizon are teaming up to open the Xbox Live Gold service up to the unwashed, unpaying masses for a free weekend.  For three days beginning April 1, 2006 every Microsoft Xbox 360 user can enjoy Xbox Live's Gold service for free.  That's right, now you can play with even more trash-talking preteens than usual!

But seriously, free samples are always a good way to snag new customers.  Cable channels such as HBO and Showtime have been offering free weekends for years (not so much anymore though, but it used to be done all the time).  It'll be interesting to see just how many people decide to subscribe to the Gold level of service after this free weekend passes.  Don't expect too many free rides though.  No future freebie promotions have been announced at the moment.

Tetris DS Has Retro Flair

Tetris DS A whole slew of new screenshots of Tetris DS for the Nintendo DS have appeared online that seem to fully reveal the various game franchises that will spice up the Tetris experience.  The standard old reliables are there, of course: Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Metroid are prominent.  What surprises me are the inclusion of both Yoshi's Cookie and Balloon Fight, two games that few people seem to remember these days.

Interestingly enough, take note that the Yoshi's Cookie elements are based on the classic Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game and not the more colorful Super NES version.  Why is that, you wonder?  Yoshi's Cookie is actually a Nintendo-branded version of a puzzle game called Hermetica.  Nintendo had the rights to produce NES and Game Boy versions of the game, but the Super NES rights were gobbled up by Bulletproof Software.  In order to keep the games unified, Nintendo licensed Mario and Yoshi to the company.  However, even all these years later, Nintendo does not own the Super NES version or its various elements (beyond what was originally licensed, of course).  I'm confident that is why the NES version is depicted in Tetris DS instead of the more advanced Super NES version.  Nintendo doesn't have the rights to use the brighter, more colorful character models that it did not create.

(via 4 Color Rebellion)

Meet Your New Addiction (Please!)

Puzzle League's many facesFirst there was Tetris, and we all know that massive success story.  Then came Dr. Mario which did very well for itself.  Puzzle League is the third jewel in Nintendo's puzzle crown, selling well enough in its many iterations over the years.  Casual gamers love puzzle games, right?  And Nintendo pitches to casual gamers these days, right?  So we need more puzzle games, stat!

Game developers love to release a best-selling puzzle game.  The development costs are lower compared to a RPG or platformer game.  The only sprites or 3D objects that need to be created are the actual puzzle pieces and game board, right?  So it only makes sense that Nintendo (who hasn't had a major puzzle game hit in a while) is foaming at the mouth to snag that sweet profitable portable puzzle market. 

Continue reading "Meet Your New Addiction (Please!)" »

Fun With A Coworker, Zelda-style

Master using it and you can have this.The twentieth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda is still on my mind this afternoon.  A coworker and I had talked a little bit about the milestone this morning, but here we are hours later and memories of Zelda are still circulating in my brain, so when this same coworker came to me and asked for the office camera to take some photos, I held the camera bag out to him and said "Master using it and you can have this."  He just gave me a blank stare of confusion in return.  Folks today have no recollection of the classics!  Maybe I should have warned him that it's dangerous to go alone or offered to play money making game instead.

Happy Ghosts Love Mother 3

Mother 3It's Tuesday which must mean it's time for another look at the upcoming Game Boy Advance sequel to Earthbound, Mother 3.  I won't be commenting on each and every screenshot that appears on the Mother 3 teaser site, but you have to understand that these little glimpses are the equivalent of offering a sip of water to a desert tourist.  After all these years, I'm pretty thirsty.

I don't know what's going on in this image, but I do know that I love the artwork for the ghosts.  Have you ever seen such joyful ghosts?  Particularly that little guy in the corner swishing the wine in his glass.  I also get a kick out of the ghost standing at the table and munching on... well, whatever that is on the plate.  This is the great kind of 2D character design that we just don't see much of anymore.  I know nothing about how these ghosts fit into the Mother 3 world, but I find myself hoping we see a lot of them.  I like them already.

Legend of Zelda Celebrates 20th Anniversary

LinkAccording to Internet lore today is the twentieth anniversary of the first release of the original The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Yes, it was twenty years ago that we were first introduced to the heroic Link, the missing Zelda, the twisted Ganon, and those damn Moblins.  While Mario is your gaming buddy who's always around for a new adventure, Link is like the old friend who only passes through town once in a while.  Whenever he shows up it's an event; the two of you hang out and smite evil for a few weeks, and then he goes away for a few years until next time.  Take a moment today to take your favorite Zelda game out of the box and run through a dungeon or two.  Pick up a Magic Boomerang or Silver Arrow for old time's sake.  After all, classic adventures never grow old.

Zelda: Twilight Princess Delayed One More Time

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess You've probably heard by now that Nintendo's Reginald Fils-Aime has let it slip that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has been delayed yet again, this time until the end of 2006.  As you'll recall, the game was the highlight of E3 last year in the Nintendo booth and was promised and hyped for a November 2005 release.  Then it was bumped to April 2006 so the creative team had more time to beef up the game.  Now here we go again to November 2006 with the rumor (again) that the game might now include some Nintendo Revolution-exclusive extras.

I think by now it's evident how much Zelda fans are anticipating this game.  I also think I've made my thoughts on Revolution extras clear as well.  Now that we're delayed one more time I am concerned that the overall hype and legend of the game (no pun intended) could reach unsatisfiable levels.  As many times as the game has been dangled in front of us teasingly I'm ready to demand that when I first turn the game on I should fall to my knees and weep at the beauty and splendor of the overall Twilight Princess experience.  Any further unexpected delays will lead us down the ritual sacrifice path, and I don't think anyone really wants that.

And yes, I know Shigeru Miyamoto's thoughts on delayed games, but his words don't help soothe the sting of having to wait seven more months.