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March 2007

Where's New Super Mario Bros. 2?

Wario in Super Mario Bros. 2It's time for another one of my gaming demands.  Today I'm demanding that Nintendo get to work on New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo DS.  Allow me to clarify, however.  I'm not insisting on a sequel to last year's fantastic New Super Mario Bros.  I understand that it's too soon to expect such a thing.  No, what I'm after is for the classic Super Mario Bros. 2 to get a dose of the New treatment, bringing the old turnip-throwing gameplay mechanic back in a new guise much how New Super Mario Bros. revisited the original Super Mario Bros. formula.  It's time to return to Subcon, the land of dreams.

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Hackers Don't Seize Control Of Xbox Live

Hans Gruber Hackers!  Horrible hackers!  They're coming to steal our Gamertags and our Microsoft points and our souls!  Raise shields and prepare the photonic cannon!  Oh, wait, never mind.  False alarm, it seems, according to Microsoft's own Major Nelson.  Yesterday's fears about hackers taking control of Xbox Live seem to have been allayed.

Despite some recent reports and speculation, I want to reassure all of our 6 million Xbox Live members that we have looked into the situation and found no evidence of any compromise of the security of the Xbox Live Network or Bungie.net. There have been a few isolated incidents where malicious users have been attempting to draw personal information from unsuspecting users and use it to gain access to their LIVE account. This is a good time to remind our members that they should never give out any of their personal information. Additionally it may be a good idea to download this free PDF file from Microsoft.com ' Help Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft’ that gives you some excellent information and tips on how to protect yourself. Hope that clears things up.

We may never know how this tempest in a teapot started, but hopefully this will be the end of it.  It certainly was a hot story though, wasn't it?  How could we not be drawn in by a security breach in one of online gaming's most popular and prominent services?  Such a thing conjures up images of Die Hard where a crack team of commandos take control of Nakatomi Tower.  The truth is likely closer to a group of Cheeto-stained teens with too much time and Mountain Dew on their hands than Hans Gruber, but that stereotype doesn't make for an exciting mental image.   


Hackers Seize Control Of Xbox Live

UPDATE: Or maybe not.

Xbox LiveThis is going to get worse before it gets better, I think.  Word is quickly going around that a group of hackers known as "Infamous Clan" have seized control of Microsoft's Xbox Live service and that the company can't do anything about it.  How is that even possible?  I'm sure there's a long technical answer involved, but such details won't do anything to help all of the gamers who woke up this morning to find their Gamertags and associated purchased Microsoft points stolen.  ZDnet has the story (with many other sources to follow soon, I bet).

"I have been involved with Microsoft Support for days on this exact issue and have spent many hours on the phone trying to prove to them that, first, my Windows Live ID was stolen and, second, the ID and password associated with my ID were changed; two actions that Microsoft swears can NEVER happen; and third that the thief was able then use my credit card information associated with one of my Windows Live ID accounts to purchase over $800 of Microsoft products."

Hack attacks seem to be part of our digital lives these days, but why in the name of Master Chief did Microsoft design the Xbox Live system in such a way that this kind of attack is possible in the first place?  This has got to be an unforeseen bug or glitch in the way the service stores personal data.  I really don't want to believe that Microsoft implemented whatever led to this issue on purpose.  Faults and blame aside, right now Microsoft needs to get the customer service machine in gear and start repairing the damage.  Get those stolen accounts disabled, reissue accounts and stolen points to customers, and get some of that hard-earned gamer good will back. 

(via Kotaku)


Weekly Poll: PC For Me

Weekly Poll for 3-12-2007I gave into the Virtual Console lure last week when I picked up two games I'd been meaning to get around to playing: Kid Icarus and New Adventure Island.  Was Kid Icarus this difficult back in 1987?  More than ten days later and I'm still stuck on level 1-3.  I remember being much better at the game back in the day when I borrowed it from a friend.  I must have been using one of the special ICARUS FIGHTS MEDUSA ANGELS codes that have been removed from the Virtual Console version.

Over the weekend my ailing computer decided to give it up for good, dying a horrible blue screened unrebootable death.  It's been acting strange for over a year now and no amount of diagnostics or tests can narrow down the problem.  While I may have been able to bring it back to life in a Frankenstein-like fashion for a few more weeks of life, I decided just to go ahead and buy a new computer.  Has anyone else purchased a new computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, whatever) in the past year?  Tell me I'm not alone on replacing stubbornly dead hardware.


Mini-Review: Captain N: The Game Master - The Complete Series (DVD)

Captain N: The Game MasterBack when marketers and programming executives first realized there was power in bringing popular  video game icons to television, an alliance between Nintendo of America, animation mainstay DiC, and broadcaster NBC wrought the first video game hero who was "one of us": Captain N.  Teenager Kevin Keene finds himself pulled into Videoland after the Ultimate Warp Zone selects him as the best video gamer in the world.  Now stuck in his favorite games, it's up to Kevin to lead the fight against the villainous Mother Brain (Metroid) and her cohorts King Hippo (Punch Out!!), Eggplant Wizard (Kid Icarus), and Dr. Wily (Mega Man) before they can destroy the Palace of Power and take over Videoland.  Kevin's not alone, however.  At his side are Princess Lana, Simon Belmont (Castlevania), Mega Man, Kid Icarus, and his dog Duke.  With the help of a guest star or two the so-called N Team clashes against Mother Brain's forces time and time again.  Now Shout! Factory has brought Captain N: The Game Master back on DVD for audiences to discover all over again.  Does the nostalgia hold up to nearly twenty years of gaming progress?

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KatamarWii Coming Soon?

Katamari DamacyCould the legends rumors be true?  Is Namco readying a new Katamari Damacy title for the current generation consoles?  As in, all three of them?  Kotaku mentions a report about a rumor (so if that's not a confirmed report, I don't know what is), but I'm cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a new Katamari experience for the Nintendo Wii hitting stores later this year alongside Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 versions.

Aside from enjoying the original Katamari for the PS2, what excites me about this rumor is that motion controls are just crying out to be used for a Katamari game.  Tilting the Wii remote or Sixaxis controller to roll the katamari around the world seems like a natural gameplay evolution.  Here's hoping this rumor turns out to be true and that we'll all be rolling up major cities later this year.


The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros. 3 Coming To DVD

The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros. 3 Over the last year we've seen several DVD sets released that contain nostalgic video game cartoons.  The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and The Legend of Zelda have been among us for a while, while Captain N: The Game Master was just released and at the end of the month Sonic the Hedgehog will hit stores (I'm in the process of reviewing both of those sets, so stay tuned for more on that).  Up next from Shout! Factory is the popular 1990-91 Saturday morning NBC cartoon, The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros. 3.  Everyone thought that King Koopa had left the Mushroom Kingdom, but then his Doomship attacked.  King Koopa was back!

For the first time ever on DVD, The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros® 3 - The Complete Series 3-DVD box set contains the complete series (26 full episodes), plus a bonus disc full of great Mario extras!

BONUS DISC INCLUDES:

  • Interactive The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros.® 3 Writers Bible
  • Learn the backstory of The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros.® 3!
  • Meet the Marios & Koopas!
  • Visit the worlds!
  • View the artwork from concept to final!
  • Hear the original music!
  • ...And more!

The DVD set reaches stores in early June 2007.  It's good to see those old cartoons reaching DVD, as up until now Nintendo's management has been a little embarrassed regarding the shows.  Adding to the red tape involved with releasing the set is that nobody who worked on these shows is still employed at either Nintendo or animation studio DiC.  I don't know how Shout! Factory has managed to convince the powers that be to sign off on these discs, but I'm certainly glad that they did.


Castlevania Producer Talks Next Installments

Castlevania: Dracula X ChroniclesYou should all know by now that one of my favorite gaming franchises is Konami's Castlevania.  The series has a lot of history in it, and some of that history is getting a little more time in the spotlight with the upcoming The Dracula X Chronicles for the Sony PlayStation Portable.  Series producer Koji Igarashi sat down with Games Radar and dished the gossip on the upcoming title and answered some nagging questions that have been on the minds of many fans (and talked a little about what we might see for a next-gen Castlevania adventure).

So let me just say that I know that there are some voices that want some Sega Saturn [Symphony of the Night] content brought over to PSP. I would like to have it... I'm a perfectionist, sorry about it. I want to have quality that matches with the PSone SOTN. That's my standard with selecting all of these elements. So with that intent I would like to take every part from the Sega Saturn version... I would like to consider whether or not the Sega Saturn parts match with the PSone Symphony of the Night in quality. If so, then I will think about adding it on to my PSP SOTN. So please wait.

That extra Symphony of the Night content from the Sega Saturn version of the game has been spinning around in my mind since the Chronicles set was announced and it's nice to see that Igarashi is aware that fans would like to see it turn up for the re-release.  On the other hand, being a perfectionist and all, it seems that he's not too keen on inserting that material just for the sake of sticking it in there.  I have a feeling that we're not going to know exactly what's in the compilation until it hits shelves later this year.

(via NeoGAF)


"2006 Game Of The Year" Animated Special At AMN

2006 Game of the Year Better late then never, right?  During my recent stint in the hospital I managed to miss the premiere of AMN's animated special presentation for the 2006 Game of the Year.  Why mention it now, you ask?  The usual staff member that is responsible for writing these animated shorts was unavailable when this particular special was produced, so I offered to step in and write the script.  Most of what I intended made it to the screen, although the final Looney Tunes style of fight scene had to be cut due to animation issues.  Check it out one time, won't you?  Hit this link and look for GOTY 2006.  Pick your video format (WMV, MOV, Video iPod, or PSP) and enjoy!


Weekly Poll: Virtual Console Aftermath

Weekly Poll for 3-05-2007After continued used of the Everybody Votes Channel I have to say that while it's a neat toy, I don't see myself voting all too often in the future.  What's the point?  You all seem to like it though, so have fun choosing dogs over cats or whatever it is that Nintendo wonders about this week.

While we're on the subject of Wii channels, now that several months have passed since the debut of the Virtual Console I want to know how often you buy retro games from the Wii Shop Channel.  Do you always buy the new weekly releases or do you pick and choose from games you like?  Or maybe you don't buy anything at all.  Let's hear your thoughts.