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May 2007

Sixaxis Rumble Rumor Shakes Loose Again

SixaxisThe ever-present rumor that Sony will add rumble features into the Sixaxis controller for the PlayStation 3 continues to linger, this time popping up on a message board at GameFAQs.  According to the rumor, the company plans to announce the news at E3 in July and then release the new technology in November.  Now, setting aside the fact that rumors posted at GameFAQs without hard evidence tend to be as reliable as messages scrawled on a gas station restroom wall somewhere off Interstate 95, I'd just like to remind people out there who, like a certain person I know who shall remain nameless, believe that Sony can add rumble functions into the existing Sixaxis controller with a firmware update that such a thing is just not possible because the Sixaxis currently on the market (and in your game room) does not have rumble motors inside.  Firmware updates can't turn on components that are not present.  If rumble does return to the PlayStation world, then you'll all have to buy new Sixaxis controllers if you want to shake and rattle while you roll with the controller's tilt functionality.

(via Joystiq)

Yo Joe! M. Bison Meets Cobra Commander

M. Bison Video game characters have been transplanted into the world of action figures for years, but how often do gaming characters muscle into someone else's action figure property?  Back in 1993 Hasbro tried to make their G.I. Joe line of toys relevant once again, and one of these attempts was to bring Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, and the rest of the Street Fighter 2 team into the Joe team.  Some of the action figures even feature "martial arts action", e.g. springs that let the characters punch and kick.  And guess what?  They even come with accessories! has photos and information on each toy (look under the column on the right marked "Street Fighter 2").

M. Bison came with two black rifles, a black pistol, a green missile launcher (spring loaded, actually fired), two black missiles, an orange grappling hook, a black string, and a black figure stand.  Some versions of M. Bison came with silver shoulder pads.  The grappling hook can be pulled apart into two component pieces.

Hasbro captured the character likenesses for the most part, but some of the toys just don't look quite "right" because most of them were crafted from existing torsos and other body parts that were already in use for other figures from the Joe world.  When Street Fighter: The Movie was released, Hasbro took another run at the characters, crafting variations based on the film's interpretation of the famous figures.  These action figures aren't part of the G.I. Joe line, however, so pitting this version of M. Bison against Cobra Commander for a battle royale is strictly forbidden.

Smash Bros. Blog Is Required Reading

Super Smash Bros. Brawl The Internet is buzzing today with the news that the official website for Super Smash Bros. Brawl has been relaunched.  The new site will feature new information as presented by the game's creative mastermind, Masahiro Sakurai.  Most people will be reading to learn of the new characters and stages to be found in the upcoming Nintendo Wii game, but I believe there's more going on here than just a simple reveal of information.  We can get that kind of thing from press releases and news reports.  I think the real value of the Smash Bros. blog is the stories that will be told and the rationale about the decisions Sakurai and his team have made during the development of the game.  The first update explains the whole Smash concept and lists a bunch of popular game music composers that will be working on the game, but stay tuned for some deeper tales as time goes on.  I know I'll be reading, especially since unlike last time the development news website is in English.

Lost Planet, DirectX 10, And You

Lost Planet Capcom's popular Lost Planet: Extreme Condition for the Microsoft Xbox 360 is on its way to Windows XP and Windows Vista in versions for both DirectX 9 (that's the XP version) and DirectX 10 (for Vista).  Demos of the two versions were released last week, giving hardcore hardware hobbyists their first look at a game that demands the Vista-exclusive DirectX 10.  The verdict from Extreme Tech?  Lost Planet on Vista needs work.

Simply put, this demo was not ready for release. The menus are awkward for a PC game and still include console button identifications, and the performance is simply not there yet. Capcom should have worked more with both Nvidia and ATI to improve performance in both DX9 and DX10 modes, and the whole interface needs an overhaul.

Clearly, a lot of work needs to be done by all parties involved. Capcom needs to optimize their code further. Nvidia needs to improve its performance in DirectX 10—if the whole point of the DX10 version is for it to look the same but run 10% to 20% faster than the DX9 version, it had darn well better run 10% to 20% faster. Even if that were achieved, and so far it isn't, that would be a pretty unimpressive debut for DX10. If you upgraded to Vista and bought a DX10 card just to have your game look the same while running 10% to 20% faster, you'd be right to be upset.

I downloaded the demo for Vista last week but haven't found the time to do anything with it yet.  Based on this I may just hold off for a better demo somewhere down the line.  What's the point of having state of the art technology if it doesn't work quite right yet?  Sure, I could try the DirectX 9 version, but what's the point of having state of the art technology if I don't actually use it?  I call this disparity "The Lost Planet Conundrum".

Metroid Prime 3's Amazing Arm Action

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Nintendo has revealed some new screenshots of the upcoming Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Nintendo Wii.  Something tells me that this is one of those games that looks much better in motion than it does in a single image, but after studying the new images I can't help but notice how much heroine Samus Aran's arms seem to be in nearly every screenshot.  I know that we'll be able to control Samus's arms with the Wii remote and nunchuk, but will we have to deal with her limbs getting in the way of the camera all the time?

Something else I noticed that I haven't seen anyone else pick up yet is that according to the information that accompanies these images, Samus's ship will be used in active gameplay for the first time in the Metroid series.  Here's hoping we get the chance to climb aboard the ship and use it to strafe enemy squadrons on the ground in a single attack run instead of having to pick off Space Pirates one at a time on foot.

Weekly Poll: Master Of Robots

Weekly Poll for 5-14-2007 Old gaming hardware lives on!  It warms my heart to see that most of you still have your original gaming goods from so long ago.  I still have all of my old stuff, including games, boxes, manuals, and so forth.  I don't have space in my entertainment center to have them all out on display, but the cables are connected properly so that at a moment's notice I can pull the Super NES out of the cabinet, plug it in, and challenge a friend to Kirby's Dream Course.  The library of magazines are long gone, but I did save a few for nostalgia purposes.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Over the years the blue bomber has starred in over one hundred games, but there's always room for more.  What Mega Man project would you like to see released to mark this momentous occasion?  Is it Mega Man 2 Powered Up?  An actual Mega Man 9?  How about that canceled Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Game Boy Advance?  Let's hear some thoughts after you cast your vote.

For The Tennis-playing Nail Groomer In You

Tennis and pet grooming, together at last I love shopping at, but sometimes the magic algorithms that suggest other things I may want to buy leave me with a question mark over my head.  I expect to see a suggested purchase of a memory card while browsing for, say, digital cameras, but today's video game "Deal of the Day" suggestion has me downright puzzled.  Today's deal is Top Spin 2, a tennis game.  The suggested related purchase?  A cordless pet nail grooming tool.  I've seen my share of bizarre game controllers, but this is just ridiculous!  Click the image to see the strange combination preserved for posterity in case the Amazon server gremlins decide to change this to a more reasonable suggestion.

Capcom Ready For Downloadable Wii Content

See you soon, Wii While the Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade and Sony PlayStation Network have been feeling (or are about to feel) the downloadable Capcom love, Nintendo's Wii Shop Channel is so far limited to Virtual Console goodness.  Virtual Console stuff is great, but what most of us are really waiting for involves new stuff from our favorite publishers.  That's why I became excited when I read that Capcom is almost ready to go when it comes to digitally distributed goodies for the Wii, but of course Nintendo is dragging its feet again.  According to AMN, the company has yet to finalize the pipeline for bringing new stuff to the shop channel.

Capcom says they are looking for other ways to bring content to Wii owners while waiting for Nintendo to start approving and putting a pipeline in place for downloadable content. "We’re still thinking about ways that we can get that content to them, perhaps not downloaded, but perhaps with a consolidated retail SKU," said Christian Svensson, Sr. director of strategic planning & research for Capcom. "We’re still just tossing around ideas in our head."

Some gamers have been impatient with Nintendo when it comes to dealing with third parties.  We've already heard how the company has yet to provide technical information allowing other publishers to add Mii interaction to their games, plus the story is that the data needed to add online features to games is still either under development or just locked away for the immediate future.  Now the company is hesitating to open the Wii Ware section of the shop channel.  C'mon, Nintendo!  Fans of Wii Sports won't keep you afloat forever.

There Goes The Handheld Neighborhood

Sony PlayStation PortableI've gone and done it again, welcoming another new video game system into my home.  This time I've acquired a Sony PlayStation Portable, as I could no longer resist the lure of Mega Man: Powered Up and the other games for the unit that I've wanted to explore.  A good opportunity came up and I took advantage, netting me the system and enough games to keep me busy for quite a while.  Now I'm turning to you all out there for recommendations for other games I just have to try.  Here's what I have already:

Already on my shopping/rental list are:

So what else do I need to check out?  Platformer titles are preferred over shooters and most fighting games (I have a Street Fighter weakness), but I'm open to suggestions from any genre.  How about it, gang?  Recommend more ways to eat at my gaming time.

Secret Origins: Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga Considering that this week would have been the week of E3 2007 had the grand event not been scaled down to the new "business summit" format, it seemed only appropriate to share the story of the game I bought to play during my week in Los Angeles back in 2005.  You see, as a child it was a family custom that my parents buy me a new Game Boy game to play while riding in the backseat on our family road trip vacations.  Each year while tagging along with my parents while they bought vacation supplies I was allowed to pick out the game of my choice to enjoy during those long stretches of endless interstate highway.  The practice came to an end when I became old enough to drive and, appropriately, didn't have the opportunity to save the princess while taking the wheel myself.  For our final family road trip in 1999 I didn't even bother to bring the Game Boy.  It seemed that the traveling game tradition was dead.

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