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January 2007

Prince of Persia: Rival Swords Preview At AMN

Prince of Persia: Rival Swords Last year during the Wii pre-launch media circus a few notable developers were said to be tinkering with the idea of adding the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities into certain key Nintendo GameCube titles and then re-releasing them for the new console. While there has been much speculation on just which games would be upgraded, the gaming community is starting to see the idea put into practice. Ubisoft is in the process of giving last year’s Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones a little nunchuk action for the upcoming Prince of Persia: Rival SwordsOver at AMN my latest preview has been published in which I ruminate on how a successful "Wii-make" could shake the marketplace just as one would shake a nunchuk controller.

Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game Explained

Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game Way back when Capcom had the Street Fighter money-making machine cranking along at full power there was a little movie called simply Street Fighter.  You may remember it as the story of General Bison's plans for world domination peace known as the "Pax Bisonica" and the efforts of a multicultural fighting force to bring down his war machine.  Seeing as how the Street Fighter II line of games were enormously popular at the time and that a lot of movies often turn up as licensed video games, it was only natural for Street Fighter: The Movie to spawn Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game.  Unfortunately, anyone who has played the game can tell you that the overall quality just isn't up to the usual Street Fighter standards.  How did it all go wrong?  How did so much potential turn into what wound up in the arcades?  Alan Noon (one of the game's co-designers, actors, and artists) has turned up on the Shoryuken forums to dish the dirt and tell the tale.

Perhaps this is all my perception, but looking back, I remember that there was some amount of confusion as to what it was we were making exactly. It could have been the international game of “Telephone,” but somewhere along the communication chain from the Capcom Japan guys to the Capcom USA guys, to our management, down to the team, there seemed to be mixed signals. I distinctly recall that originally during the pitch process the game was billed as Street Fighter 3. We were to pull out all of the stops and make the greatest Street Fighter ever. More characters! Digitized graphics! New combo system! The works! We set about writing up all kinds of great stuff to include in the final product. One of those things was even Sheng Long.

The story is still ongoing as I write this, but it's well worth your time to read through it all.  So far I've been more entertained by the stories than I've ever been by the arcade game.  Noon answers questions you never knew you had and explains why some of the rather, er, wacky aspects of the arcade game turned out how they did in between chronicling just what went into making the game of the movie based on the game that was a sequel to another game few people ever played. 

(via NeoGAF)

Weekly Poll: This Is WiiNN

Weekly Poll for 1-22-2007 While I do like the original Wario Land I'm surprised that it seems to be the preferred game in the series.  You all have played the others, right?  My vote goes to Virtual Boy Wario Land for building on the original formula with some nifty 3D gimmicks.  Then there's the fact that, like every Virtual Boy game, playing it means becoming completely immersed in Wario's world. 

Moving on, late last week Nintendo and the Associated Press launched the Wii News Channel.  Now Wiiers around the world can check out local, national, and international news.  Have you tried the new channel yet?  What are your impressions?  Do you see yourself reading the news via Wii often?  I look forward to your thoughts.

Fear-Induced Gaming Purchases

Psychonauts As we watch the GameCube/PlayStation 2/Xbox generation of gaming fade into the sunset a lot of retail stores are marking down these "old" games and clearing their inventories in favor of games for the Wii/PlayStation 3/Xbox 360.  It's a great time to pick up some recent classics for low prices.  However, as some games become harder to find there's always the temptation to buy a bunch of about-to-be-rare games just because someday it'll be difficult to find a decent quality copy.  The gang at NeoGAF are discussing this phenomenon.

Right now I see stores everywhere getting rid of their products as fast as they can, and so I have the Fear. Not the MGS3 variety, but the fear that I won't be able to buy the last gen games that I haven't gotten around to yet, and that they'll simply disappear. I'm scared that in a few months I'm not going to be able to find them again, outside of maybe getting lucky at a flea market somewhere.

Is anyone else feeling the same thing? There aren't too many retailers that feel like keeping old stock around. EB and Gamestop are too small to be able to keep last gen stock , and larger stores like Best Buy don't seem to think there's any point in it. At this point, in my town, it's rare to find any Dreamcast games around and I would even say it's rare to find good PS1 games around. The gaming retailing industry has a bad habit of getting rid of their stock quick, and I feel like I lost out in the PS1/DC gen by not getting some of the games I wanted, and now they're seemingly impossible to find.

I'm slightly guilty of this.  Over the holidays I picked up a few critically acclaimed yet unpopular games at bargain prices just so I wouldn't have to deal with hunting down the games on eBay in five years for inflated prices.  Some are still sealed in plastic with the promise that I'll get around to them "someday".  How about you all out there?  Anyone buying up cheap games out of the fear they'll be hard to find later?

Wario: Master of Disguise Import Preview Looks Good

Wario: Master of DisguiseThe team at has gone ahead and imported the Japanese version of the upcoming Wario: Master of Disguise for the Nintendo DS in order to check out what North America will be playing come March, elaborating on those touch screen abilities at long last.  It seems that this latest Wario adventure is part traditional platformer and part Kirby Canvas Curse in terms of stylus action.

Wario quickly puts the touch screen through its paces; as per usual, transformation is his greatest weapon. Unlike previous adventures, though, it's not collisions with bad guys that allow Wario to change shapes but rather a magic wand that he swipes from an elderly magician. (No one ever said Wario was nice.) The wand enables seven different transformations acquired gradually over the course of the quest. Changing forms is simply a matter of drawing the appropriate symbol over Wario; there's no magic meter to worry about, no limited allocation of points or consumables. It's possible to change at any time, provided you can scribble the necessary symbol in the heat of the moment.

I'm still looking forward to this one, although there's one issue on which I can no longer remain silent.  I alluded to this the last time I wrote something about Master of Disguise, but now I'm just going to outright ask you all for your opinion on the matter: doesn't it look like Wario stole Darkwing Duck's mask?  Check out the purple mask attached to the game's Japanese logo up there.  Doesn't it look just a little too familiar?  Hmm?

Sony Fixes Backward Compatibility Problem

PS2 busts outI've had my fair share of (well deserved) complaints about how Sony has handled the development and launch of the PlayStation 3, so it's like a breath of fresh air to be able to compliment the company for actually fixing a problem that its customers have been complaining about.  The latest firmware update for the PS3 takes care of that nasty little backward compatibility problem in which PS2 games looked rather blurry and unattractive when played on the new console.  I really don't have much else to say about this, as I mainly just wanted to say something positive about the company's handling of the PS3 after months of disdain.  So, once again: good work, Sony.  Keep it up.

Brand X Strikes Back

Senator VreenakA while back I warned about the dangers of counterfeit Game Boy Advance game paks that have flooded eBay and other such online flea markets (and even used game stores).  Nintendo hasn't been keeping up with their anti-piracy website that points out how to spot the fakes, but Pocket Gamer has done some investigating and worked up a handy list of things for which to look when identifying counterfeit Nintendo DS game cards.

The first thing to notice is that while the fake says 'NTR-005 PAT(ent) PEND(ing),' it doesn't have an individually printed number beneath. The back of the cart is smooth, not indented like the real game, too. And finally, although impossible to see on this resolution of image, the bottom of the PCB board on the fake says 'Nintendo 001-01' instead of a more complex manufacturer code (in the case of Pokémon Ranger, it's I N-5 003-10).

Something I found interesting is that the fake game Pocket Gamer purchased did not include an instruction manual and came with a review of the game from a website instead.  If you ever spot one of my reviews packaged with a counterfeit game please let me know so that I can experience that unique combination of flattery and rage ("flatterage").

(via 4 Color Rebellion)

Castlevania Movie Update

CastlevaniaThe previously announced Castlevania feature film is still on the march, as director Paul W.S. Anderson has explained to IGN about the fascinating process of arranging financing for the movie.  Location scouting has also taken place from the sound of things, as most of the movie will be shot in Transylvania and Budapest.

Anderson told IGN that Castlevania will be shot in Transylvania because it is the true birthplace of Vlad Tepes and the Dracula myth, and because of the natural landscape.  "It has some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen," Anderson told IGN. "It was like discovering Mordor as a real location -- epic, dramatic, and above all scary. These locations haven't been shot properly in a mainstream movie, so that is always extra exciting... to put something on camera that hasn't been seen before."

That's interesting, but when are we going to hear something more about the plot?  Doesn't Anderson know that Internet critics cannot begin to either gush unending praise or spew wretched bile about the movie until we learn more concrete details about the story?  I can't waffle on the fence about this project for much longer.

It's Fun To Play The Goonies 2!

The Goonies 2 Everybody raised in the 1980s must (by law) have warm fuzzy positive memories about The Goonies, a classic film about a group of children who go on a real life pirate treasure hunt in the various caves and traps beneath their damp hometown.  There were a handful of games based on the film back in the days of the MSX and Nintendo Entertainment System, and luckily for us Hardcore Gaming 101 has taken a look back at the collection.

Like many older action-adventure titles, The Goonies 2 is a bit obtuse when it comes to figuring out what to do next. Thankfully, you're given a map on the status screen, but it's awfully vague. Additionally, the Warp Zones tend to bounce you all over both maps, so it's hard to keep track of where you are. However, you can find transceiver which will help pinpoint the location of certain hostages. Much like the other Goonies games, you begin in the restaurant from the movie and move your way into the basement, but you later explore caves, put on some diving equipment to explore an underwater area, and fight Eskimos in an arctic cavern. While the variety of terrain is nice, if nonsensical, it feels even further removed from the Goonies movie.

As a kid I never had The Goonies 2 game, but I had neighbor that did.  I borrowed it, wondering why a) I'd never played the first Goonies game (answer: it wasn't released in the USA for home consoles) and b) why I'd never seen the actual Goonies 2 film (answer: they never made one).  The game was so incredibly baffling that I never made any real progress.  I spent most of my time in the game switching from the "Front" part of the map to the "Back" part and back again in a lost daze, occasionally stopping to punch the old man in the tunnels just to see him say "Ouch!  What do you do?"  It was all worth it one evening, however, when I came across the legendary Konami Man in one of the tunnels.  His words of wisdom to all us neighborhood kids gathered in the room in front of the TV?  "It's fun to play The Goonies 2!".  If you say so, Konami Man.

(via GameSetWatch)

Party Planning: WarioWare Edition

WarioWare: Smooth Moves Perhaps you're thinking of a way to combine your love of video games with your habit of hanging out with friends.  The challenge here is that for some bizarre reason your friends may not necessarily feel as passionate about gaming as you do.  So how can you expect to pull off a little party that is centered around a video game?  Over at Ask Metafilter the question has been raised regarding throwing a WarioWare: Smooth Moves party with guests who aren't avid gamers.

I recently bought WarioWare: Smooth Moves for the Wii, and I am really excited about having a crazy-fun tournament night where married couples will enjoy themselves.  I want everyone invited to have an equally fun time, even if they don't like video games all that much. Any ideas, from those who know anything about the game, how to organize it and what sort of game modes or events I should include? Should I do the bracket system or some sort of elaborate point system, or a hybrid of both?  Also welcome are ideas for luring skeptics who may balk at the idea of a party based around a video game.

The initial answers involve forgetting about a scoring bracket and just having fun for the sake of having fun.  A few folks even suggest ditching WarioWare and focusing the party on Wii Sports instead.  It can be quite difficult to rope non-gamers into a playing a game (especially one as wacky as WarioWare), so watch your guests for that dead-eyed glaze of boredom.  If you see that then it's time to turn off the game and suggest something else, lest the party break down to just you and your Wii remote.