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June 2006
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August 2006

July 2006

Asustek To World: "Stop Talking About PS3 Shipments!"

Sony PlayStation 3It's so cute when companies think they can control how and when regular people talk about their products.  Remember when Sony tried to silence talk of the PlayStation 3 last year?  Or when Capcom told people not to watch the Resident Evil 5 trailer?  Or when Square demanded nobody talk about Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria until the appointed time?  Add Asustek to the list of those who think they can stop the rumor flood.  Apparently we weren't supposed to find out that the company has begun delivering PS3s to Sony and is making threats to anyone who continues to blab (oops!).

Via Taiwan's financial hub, the company yesterday issued a sternly worded warning to the media about the reports, stating that it would sue any outlets that had damaged relationships with its clients.

It amazes me that there are still people out there who believe they can make news and discussion on the Internet just "go away" when something breaks that they don't want made known.  Consider whatever analogy you like: stuffing the genie back in the bottle, taking pee out of a swimming pool, etc.  Once talk is out there, it's there to stay.  Besides, it's not like someone leaked the schematics to build your own PlayStation.  At best we had a rumor that Asustek had begun producing finished PS3 consoles.  Doesn't the fact that the company acted so quickly to silence that rumor lend some weight to the idea that it's true?  Maybe this is why so many companies have a policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation.  Attempting to silence people is a virtual confirmation of truth in this day and age.

Sega 32Xcitement

Virtua Racing DeluxeRetrogaming has compiled a list of the best games for the Sega 32X that... wait a minute.  Games?  Games?  Plural?  I find it hard to believe that there's enough decent 32X material out there to put together an article on a single stellar 32X game, let alone a whole bunch of 'em.  We all know the 32X was a stopgap project killed off by rapidly approaching superior hardware, expensive costs, and customer apathy.  Which games could possibly be on such a list of defining titles?

  • Virtua Racing Deluxe (Hmm, that was pretty good for it's time.  OK, I'll concede that one.)
  • Knuckles Chaotix (Not as good as the Sonic titles, but I have spent more time playing it than any other 32X game.  OK, it gets a pass.)
  • Star Wars Arcade (Well, it was pretty close to the arcade version as far as these things go.  Alright, it's in.)

So, how about that?  I guess there were some fairly good games for the 32X after all.  Check out the full list for a few additional titles I've never played and therefore cannot comment upon and some honorable mentions.  Meanwhile, over at Sega-16 there's an intriguing list of canceled 32X games that had some nifty potential.  I still have a soft spot for the idea behind Virtua Hamster.  It still surprises me that nobody else has picked up the idea of a video game featuring hamster Habitrail racing.  Another game concept lost to the ages, I suppose.

Pick Up Narbacular Drop

Narbacular Drop The gaming community is in the process of going nuts over this trailer for Portal, an expansion for Half-Life 2: Episode 2 that is supposed to ship next year.  We're crazy for it because the gameplay allows players to place portals on walls that lead to other player-created portals.  Imagine being able to bend space however you want at a moment's notice.  It's hard to describe with words, so I am hereby ordering you to download the playable concept demo Narbacular Drop which is from the same group of developers.  Gamasutra had a few words with the group of students behind the game not too long ago in which the demo is described thusly:

"Narbacular Drop is an environmental puzzle game in a fantasy setting, where the player navigates a dungeon with two interconnected portals. The dungeon has a series of traps and puzzles, which the player must solve by moving around objects in the environment using the portals. The key feature of this game is the Portal System. The game will be developed for the Windows 2000/XP PC. The game is non-violent and would receive an E for Everyone rating. The target audience is young casual gamers and hardcore gamers."

This PC demo features the same portal gimmick but without the ticking clock element seen in the Portal trailer.  It's pure puzzler which I have to admit I like over ceilings that crush and platforms that fall.  If I'm playing a game that takes logic and creativity to solve beyond just running and jumping, I don't like having to rush through the thought process because spikes are about to drop on my character.  There's a great lightbulb-over-the-head "Eureka!" moment when I come up with the solution to an obstacle, and that moment is ruined when I have to outrun the horrible danger coming up from behind.  Portal looks great, but Narbacular Drop seems more fun.

As a final thought, after playing the demo think about how well this game could work with the Nintendo Wii's freehand controller.  Imagine the possibilities.

BugMeNot is your friend.

(via GameSetWatch)

Sometimes A Sound Fantasy Is All You Need

Sound Fantasy You all should know by now that I'm fascinated by completed console games that are shelved instead of released.  The latest rediscovery in that genre is Nintendo's unreleased Sound Fantasy, a music game that aimed to do for music what Mario Paint did for artistic creativity.  Although the game was all set for a Super NES release back in 1992 with the Power Mouse as a pack-in, for whatever reason the game was sent to the legendary Nintendo vault instead of the production line.  SNES Central offers some information about the lost gameplay via what sounds like a text snippet from old marketing material.

Now you can unleash your inner composer thanks to Sound Fantasy for the Super Nintendo. Comprised of four unique games, this software package will have you creating beautiful music in no time, thanks to its intuitive interface and simple premise. Craft exciting melodies and interesting illustrations with Pix Quartet, play against the clock and beat out the music in Beat Hopper, create beautiful harmonies with the stars in Star Fly, and use Ice Sweeper to improve your coordination skills. No matter which game you choose, the power to produce original music is in your hands with Sound Fantasy.

Another game lost to time.  Nintendo recently trotted out the old bones at a celebration honoring the game's creator, Toshio Iwai, as part of the launch of the Nintendo DS music title Electroplankton.  The original unused box art was plentiful at the event, but there was no sign of the game.  Add another title to the list, collectors.  There's another Triforce piece out there to find.

(via GameSetWatch)

PSP, Your Angel Of Death Awaits

Sony PlayStation PortableThere's a reactionary editorial from Gameworld Network making the rounds today that declares the end of days is coming for the Sony PlayStation Portable.  The call is made for Sony to cut bait on the l'il device before more time and resources are spent on it.  I'm not going to say much about the editorial because it really seems to be trying to get a rise out of people above all else, but to be honest, I'd like to see the PSP meet its untimely end in the marketplace.  Not because I want it buried in a shallow grave, mind you, but because I'd like to pick one up and the two or three games I have wanted to play without breaking my bank account.  Dead-market electronics tend to be marked down at retail, after all.  Why are you looking at me like that?  I'm not cheap; I'm economical. 

(via Joystiq)

Nintendo Slips Smash Title Change?

Super Smash Bros. BrawlEarlier today Nintendo accidentally (or is that "accidentally"?) posted a couple of new pages to the Wii website before almost immediately yanking them off the Internet.  There wasn't much revealed that we didn't already know in some capacity, but something that caught my eye was the fact that there's mention of the previously unmentioned "Smash Bros Dojo".  Old information that wasn't updated or new information that was accidentally leaked?  You be the judge!

Smash Bros. Dojo?

There's no way Nintendo will clarify this since apparently the aforementioned web pages weren't supposed to go public in the first place.  We'll just have to wait and see what the future holds.  Still, I have to say that I prefer the name Brawl over Dojo.  "Dojo" conjures up images of trained fighters practicing their art, while "Brawl" brings to mind a couple of people beating the ever lovin' crap out of each other.  Overall, the Smash Bros. philosophy falls somewhere closer to the latter image than the former.  I've seen Bowser play for keeps.

(Thanks to Robert Juster at G4)

"Gentlemen, Let's Broaden Our Minds!"

Mario as an artist Fan-created comics based on video games are great, but sometimes I just want to take a step back from multiple panels and take in a single artistic composition.  It has been a while since I'd been back to Lifemeter Comics and I was surprised at how much the online art gallery there has grown.  There are clever and talented interpretations of such gaming classics as Bubble Bobble, Altered Beast, and even Parappa the Rappa.  Don't miss the sub-galleries of artwork based on Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the collection and the artist behind them listed in no particular order:

Kirby (Stephanie Yue)
Bubble Bobble (Matt Putnam-Pouliot)
Duck Hunt (Zack Giallongo)
Mario (Bill Mudron)
Toad (Debbie Huey)
Wind Waker (Bannister)
Mario (Matthew Armstrong)

And who says games are not art, eh?

Where EverybodWii Knows Your Name

Nintendo Wii controllersLast week new details about the Nintendo Wii controller surfaced and chances are you've probably read about it already.  If not then here's a recap from AMN.  It's information about battery life, battery type (AA), LED light functions, and other such trivial things.  Something I noticed in the list that I haven't seen mentioned much elsewhere is the 6KB of memory in each controller.  There's no mention of just how the memory will be used.  Most folks who do comment on it have said it's too little memory with which to do anything.  I can understand that.  When is the last time you saved a file on your computer and ended up with a file size of 6KB or less?  I've heard talk that the storage space is a buffer for the controller's internal speaker, but I have a better idea that I'd like to see happen, and it's something that has been touched on before.

Continue reading "Where EverybodWii Knows Your Name" »

Weekly Poll: Sending Things To Earth

Weekly Poll for 7-07-2006The failure of the Sega Dreamcast is the event that should never have happened in the video game industry.  The end of the Sega console line is the worst timeline-related tragedy since Biff Tannen took over Hill Valley and built his luxury hotel on the site of the dilapidated Hill Valley courthouse.  Even though I never owned a Sega console as a kid, I had a friend with a Genesis and between the two of us we had access to the best games of the 16-bit era.  There was nothing quite like an afternoon of Super Mario Kart topped off with a little Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Back in the present, I've recently discovered the quirky joy of Namco's Katamari Damacy.  Ever since the game was released a few years ago I've heard all kinds of good things about the game, seen the Prince of All Cosmos in all kinds of artwork, and found that the game is generally impossible to find these days.  So imagine my surprise after renting a copy that the people I've spoken with haven't played the game.  If "nobody" has played the game, from where are all the praise and empty inventories coming?  So my question to you all this week is: have you played Katamari Damacy or one of its two sequels?  I can only be expected to wait seven days for your answer.

Earth Really Is Full Of Things

Katamari Damacy I've finally been able to get my hands on the Sony PlayStation 2 title Katamari Damacy, the quirky ball-rolling action puzzler from Namco.  After hearing so many people sing the game's praises I decided to had to try it, but since it wasn't produced in overly mass quantities and few people want to give the game up, it's been hard to find.  I wound up renting the game and have finally been properly introduced to the King of All Cosmos and his assignments for the Prince.

I like the rolling.  I like rolling the katamari around to pick up things, and Earth really is full of things: coins, fish, eggs, beach balls, flowers, fences, people... the list goes on and on.  I like watching the katamari grow in size.  I hate how big people kick the katamari around and cost me precious time, but I like returning to those same people later with a larger katamari and rolling them up like they were a coin, a fish, an egg...

So what don't I like about Katamari Damacy?  I don't like to fail the King.  As video gamers we've all learned to shake off our digital failures.  I've been blown to bits and failed missions more times than I can count, but for some reason when I fail at Katamari, I take the failure personally.  Why?  Because the King of All Cosmos comes down from on high (all three kilometers of him compared to the little five centimeter Prince) and berates me.  The catch is that his insults are written in such a way that I feel bad for letting him down.  I feel like I need to try harder to win his favor, something that never seems to happen no matter how many things I roll up.  Say what you will about gameplay and graphics, but when a game character makes me feel like an incompetent failure, that game has to have something special going on at some level.