Previous month:
January 2006
Next month:
March 2006

February 2006

Sony Fans Demand Free Games, Ponies

Sony PlayStation logoOnline petitions never work.  Or, at least, that's the general stereotype.  If you're ever looking for the poster child of failed online petitions I believe I have the group for you.  Here's the gist: a group of Sony fans are demanding that the entire Sony PlayStation back catalog be released for free on the Internet by Sony in order to "make this legacy games available for future generations" [sic].  Later they want the PlayStation 2 catalog to be up for grabs, too.  How's that for naive optimism?

This page is dedicated to organizing an official request from the world's gaming community to release the legacy PSX and, eventually, the PS2 games to be freely distributed through internet and supported by future PS consoles. For now, the idea is to gather "signatures" to present an official proposal to Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. to resolve all the licencing issues for this to be able to happen. Once aprooved, we will move on to asking the developer companies to release their games for free distribution.

If ignorance is bliss, then these must be the happiest people in the world.  This has to rank up there with young wannabe game developers who vow to "finish" games like the canceled Sonic X-Treme.  Keep reaching for that star, kiddies!  Maybe someday you'll make it!

Weekly Poll: Movie Sign

Weekly Poll for 2-14-2006 So Link and Princess Zelda make the ideal gaming couple, eh?  Despite the fact that they hardly spend any time together during the various The Legend of Zelda games?  Aside from quick meetings in A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, the most time they spend together is during The Wind Waker, particularly near the end of the game.  Perhaps one day they'll get together for good, but in the meantime they go on being star-crossed would-be lovers.

Moving on, I love a good movie just as much as a good game.  Unfortunately, some of the greatest movies of all time were in the limelight long before video game technology could accurately capture the essence of those films.  Today studios license this week's flash in the pan film to Electronic Arts and end up with... well, we all know the stigma of being a movie-based game by now.  I'd like to see a developer acquire the rights to a beloved film classic and make a stellar game.  I want to drive the DeLorean time machine through Hill Valley, I want to bust ghosts with a proton pack, I want to outsmart the mogwai, and I want to outrun the iconic boulder before it squashes Indiana Jones.  How about you?  Any older films you'd like to see reborn as good games?

Time To Play Nintendo

NES clock People love to take the hollowed out shell of a Nintendo Entertainment System and do neat things to it.  This time around someone has turned the case into a digital alarm clock.  Pretty neat idea, I say.  I have to wonder why Nintendo isn't selling such vintage items themselves.  I mean, the company has dabbled in the non-gaming electronics market before, but they merely license the rights to Mario and friends to third party manufacturers that create phones and clocks that look like Mario.  I want to see actual console-based items.  I'd suggest building them a little smaller than the real thing, of course.  While this hobbyist clock is a great little gadget, it's too big for my nightstand.  Oh, and the alarm sound should include my choice of either Super Mario Bros. coin collecting or The Legend of Zelda sword shots.

(via BoingBoing)

PSP Mega Man Gets Additionally Powered Up

Cut Man, Fire Man, and Elec ManCapcom and Sony are conspiring to take three hundred of my dollars.  The new Mega Man: Powered Up is only one month away now and new information about the Sony PlayStation Portable remake of the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System is trickling out.  According to GameSpot, the game now includes the ability to play as any of the game's classic Robot Masters (Cut Man, Fire Man, Elec Man, and the rest) and a new one hundred level challenge mode in addition to features already announced, such as new bosses Oil Man & Time Man and a custom level editor.

If there was ever a game that would motivate me to buy a PSP, it'd be this one.  Actually, that's not entirely correct.  Mega Man: Powered Up certainly looks like a stunner of a showpiece, but if Capcom goes ahead with the tentative plans to continue on to Mega Man 2: Powered Up and Mega Man 3: Powered Up, I'm definitely going to find myself $300+ poorer.  Don't do this to me, Capcom!

Super Architecture Brothers

Tetris blocksAs the gamers grow up and gain influence in the business world it's inevitable that we'll start to see architecture that seems to be inspired by game-related elements.  Joystiq has a keen observation regarding a tower that looks like a Sony PlayStation 2, for instance.  I can certainly see the resemblance, and furthermore I have to admit I'm guilty of planting game-inspired designs in my own work.

My day job involves creating computer models of proposed construction projects, and in the past my team and I have had fun with "familiar" designs.  The trick is not to make the inspiration stand out.  If you're not looking for it, you shouldn't see it.  For example, today I'm working on a new building that if you were to look down upon it you'd see the familiar formation of Tetris blocks: two squares and a T-bar stacked together.  Unfortunately I can't share any photos of the proposed building here today, but the gamers in the office always get a kick out of referring to a beloved game.  In the past we've had fun with camera angles from Super Mario 64 and a building design that, from the correct angle, looks like the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.  Most folks don't catch the references, but those people "in the know" always smile when they see our work.

Solving The Wrong Problem

UMDSony is disappointed in you.  Apparently you haven't been buying enough movies on the UMD format.  You've gone and upset a multi-billion dollar company.  Are you happy now?  'Cause Papa Sony has had enough of your unruly behavior.  Yes, the company isn't pleased that we haven't dashed out to Best Buy and bought UMDs by the armload.  As a response the company has decided to scale back its UMD movie operation.

Apparently, comedy is what sells on Sony's handheld, but not much else. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video have announced cancellations of certain movies, such as Warner's Goodfellas.  "We're looking at this on a case-by-case basis," said Warner senior VP Jeff Baker. "We're disappointed with consumer demand at this time."

So we're moving on from UMD movies.  What's Sony's next project, you may ask?  It's UMD movies!  Specifically, there's plans to create a UMD-to-TV adapter so that all those UMDs you and I didn't buy and that Sony is going to cut back on producing will play on our televisions instead of the (comparatively) tiny Sony PlayStation Portable screen.  It seems to me that this device is Sony's next attempt to get the UMD market moving.  If we won't watch UMDs on our PSPs, maybe we'll watch them on television instead.  Being able to put a small disc into a machine that can then display a movie on my television has long been a dream of mine.  I'm shocked that another group hasn't come up with the idea already.

Continue reading "Solving The Wrong Problem" »

Bomberman, What Have They Done To You?

Bomberman to the extreme!Remember Bomberman?  That cute happy-go-lucky Hudson Soft mascot?  Sure you do.  Everybody loves Bomberman and his many adventures.  That means, of course, that he has to die.  Take a look at the next generation of Bomberman.  Yes, that's him in the picture there.  Introducing Bomberman: Act Zero for the Microsoft Xbox 360.

The latest issue of Japanese game bible Famitsu displays screens from the upcoming Xbox Live Bomberman title. The game originally appeared twenty years ago and became a cross platform game. The cute character looks to have been injected with steroids and pumped full of plutonium. While the scans may say “First Person Bomber,” the game is still a third person point-of-view title. Bomberman: Act Zero debuts May 25th on Japan’s XBL.

Normally this is where I'd rail against tarnishing a classic character, but in this case I have a better idea.  I'd like to assume that this Act Zero subtitle means this is a prequel to the Bomberman we know and love.  At the end of this game there should be some event that causes the violent gritty world to transform into the happy cartoon playland that Bomberman and its sequels established.  That'd really tweak the dark and gritty crowd, eh?  I also think that if the gritty crowd gets one of our cartoon heroes, we should get one of theirs in return for re-imagining.  How about if Halo 3 becomes an animated hop 'n bop adventure?  You just know that Master Chief has the most adorable smile under that helmet.

Mini-Review: Drill Dozer

Jill and her drill dozer Meet Jill.  She's your average girl living in your average city who goes to your average school.  Oh, and she's also the leader of a gang of thieves and an ace dozer pilot.  When rival thieving gang puts Jill's dad in the hospital and steals her precious red diamond, Jill climbs into her custom drill dozer and screws off for revenge.  It's Drill Dozer for the Game Boy Advance from Nintendo and it's a breath of fresh 2D gaming air.  Aboard the drill dozer Jill has two high-powered drills at her disposal, allowing her to drill right through walls, small objects, air ducts, and rival thieves.  In a time when the Game Boy Advance library is rapidly becoming loaded with ports of old games and cheaply-made budget titles based on childrens' animation, Drill Dozer provides some great action with just the right amount of challenge.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Drill Dozer" »

Nintendo Wants To Be Disruptive

Reginald Fils-Aime Have you ever met Nintendo's executive vice-president of sales and marketing, Mr. Reginald Fils-Aime?  I mean, in person?  I nearly bumped into him at E3 last year (and I mean that literally - a few more steps in the wrong direction and I'd have bumped right into him on the show floor) and take it from me, the man is tall and intimidating in person.  After all, this is the man who (according to Nintendo fandom) is here to "kick ass and play games".  So when I read that part of his strategy for Nintendo in the next generation of gaming is to be disruptive, I get a different mental picture than I think he wants to convey.  For some reason I picture him going from door to door with a baseball bat and beating the hell out of competing products.

Nintendo's counterpunch is disruption. We've determined that the video game market is ripe for revival—and we're looking to make it happen by reaching out to the millions of players still on the sidelines, including those over the age of 35.

I'm interested in seeing specifically what Fils-Aime and Nintendo as a whole have in mind for disruption.  Of course, I also want new versions of my favorite game franchises.  It remains to be seen if the company will dive into disruption 100% or if it'll split the difference and try to keep everybody happy in the next generation.  Chances are they'll eventually go where the money lies.  Let's hope the money lies with fun (no matter what form fun takes).  When it comes to Nintendo though, I'm the eternal optimist.  Unless, of course, Mr. Fils-Aime shows up at my door with a baseball bat.

Mario Super Show DVD Review Appears

The Super Mario Bros. Super ShowThe first volume of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show won't be unleashed on DVD until next month, but already the reviews are starting to trickle out.  DVD Verdict takes a look at the DVD set, explaining just what fans of the old cartoon show can look forward to once the package is opened, such as 1980s pop culture that hasn't really aged very well.

And then there's the live segment's guest stars—oh, the guest stars! Besides a few notable names like Cyndi Lauper , Nicole Eggert, and Magic Johnson (via blue screen!), The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! featured a veritable parade of C-list flavor-of-the-months like The Wonder Years' Danica McKellar, walking, talking action figure Sgt. Slaughter, and even Fight Back! consumer crusader David Horowitz. It's definitely a blast from the kitschy past seeing these personalities back on TV, and if the prospect of watching Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo star Shaba-Doo teach Captain Lou Albano how to breakdance excites you, then I must inform you that you're not alone. No, with juvenile humor and near-forgotten celebrities, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! hasn't aged very well at all, but that's probably the best reason for modern viewers to pick up the set.

You hear that?  Shaba-Doo!  And David Horowitz!  Kids went nuts for David Horowitz back in the 1980s.  This is an interesting review and if you're on the fence about buying this set when it hits stores, this may be the text that tips you over the edge (one way or the other).  I'm curious what today's kids will think of the program.  Will it entertain them the way it entertained my generation almost twenty years ago?  The answer: of course it will.  It has David Horowitz fer cryin' out loud, and kids of any generation love David Horowitz.