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July 2007

June 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For, Nintendo

Manhunt 2 So Manhunt 2 has been branded with the notorious "Adults Only" AO rating in North America and outright refused a rating in Great Britain.  Poor Nintendo, saddled with this kind of ratings and content controversy right in the middle of Wii-mania.  I bet the company is wondering who on Earth planted the idea in Manhunt publisher Take-Two's head to publish violent games for the Wii.  Someone out there has a lot to answer for!  Oh, wait a minute...

Talking to MTV this week, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime revealed that Nintendo is in talks with Take-Two Interactive about potential support for the Big N’s upcoming console, Wii.

Fils-Aime told MTV, "We're reaching out to every publisher, frankly every day. I'll be spending some time later today with the folks over at Take Two to see what type of support they can give our console... The fact is there will be M-rated content on the Wii console. EA has already announced that they're bringing 'The Godfather' to our console. And we want every single best-selling game to be available on Wii. Whatever that content is."

Well, Fils-Aime wanted Take-Two's and Rockstar's unique brand of violent mayhem to be developed for the Wii and it looks like he got his wish.  It looks like the developer overshot a little though, as Nintendo refuses to license AO-rated games.  Perhaps he came across a little too enthusiastically at the meeting with Take-Two last year.  Oh well, he has plenty of time to replay the meeting over in his mind while Manhunt 2 undergoes a little censoring and editing. now lists the game's release date as September 2007.

Spore Delay Is For The Best

Spore Will Wright's magnum opus project Spore has been delayed into - get this - as late as 2009.  Hold on there now; pitchforks down.  This is for the best.  While I'm one of the first to fume when an anticipated game slips off into the future, I'm willing to wait patiently for Spore.  When I salivate over delayed games such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or Super Mario Galaxy it's because I want to get right into the stories they present and solve the puzzles therein.  I crave the action and mystery.  Spore, on the other hand, is a totally different animal.  There's no story.  No outright action.  It's more of a cellular SimCity.  It's so completely open-ended that it doesn't matter how long we have to wait for it.  The longer it stays in development, the smoother and more engaging the simulation experience will be.  Spore just needs more time to gestate.

Manhunt 2 Told Us It Was Hardcore

Manhunt 2 With the (still planned) upcoming release of Manhunt 2 for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 2, and Sony PlayStation Portable just weeks away, the time has come for the outrage and the bannings over the content found within developer Rockstar's latest game to spring forth.  There have been two major issues developing over the last few days regarding Manhunt 2, the first being how the game is being marketed to children despite its inappropriateness and the second regarding the game's banishment from the United Kingdom.  I'd like to take a moment to speak my mind on the issue.

I cannot see how Manhunt 2 is supposed to be geared towards children.  See that box art over there?  That's not Pikachu on the case.  Neither is it Spongebob Squarepants or a ninja turtle.  It's an extreme close-up of a battered eye.  How many games aimed at children feature a battered eye in horrific detail on the box?

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EA Reaches Critical Mass, Ruptures

EA shattered And lo I did behold the day that the mighty video game publisher and developer Electronic Arts grew too large to be self-contained, and it did burst and sub-divide into four distinct separate units: EA Sports, EA Games, EA Casual Entertainment and The Sims.  The prophecy has been fulfilled!

Nancy Smith will lead The Sims label; Frank Gibeau will head up EA Games, which will manage titles including—but not limited to—Need for Speed, Medal of Honor, Spore, Battlefield, Burnout, Command & Conquer and The Simpsons; Kathy Vrabeck will head up the recently announced EA Casual Entertainment unit, which houses Harry Potter, Boogie, EA Mobile and; and EA executive VP Joel Linzner will lead EA Sports until a president is appointed for that label.

I believe this is a good thing for EA and for their customers.  Now each head of the beast can concentrate on one specific area of the gaming market instead of trying to hit all targets at once, fortifying profits and allowing each segment to focus tightly on each fan base.  I'm surprised that The Sims is large enough to justify becoming its own unit, although I'm reading that as The Sims as opposed to the Sim series of games (SimCity, SimFarm, etc).  Good luck to you, EA.  Now don't screw it up.   

Weekly Poll: Macro Madness

Weekly Poll for 6-11-2007Everybody needs a little trash now and then.  How do you know what tastes good if you don't have something foul with which to compare?  The next time you go in search of an original Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse for the Nintendo Entertainment System, pick up Back to the Future II & III from the bottom of the bargain bin.  You'll be glad you did.  Eventually, I mean.  The first few years will be full of regret and buyer's remorse.

I've been building up my custom Akuma character in Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX's World Tour mode recently, but after playing the game for nearly two weeks straight I decided to finally have a look at the instruction manual.  After all, it's Street Fighter; what's there new to learn?  Imagine my surprise when I read that I can configure the controls to map special moves and super combos to a single button.  No more memorizing complicated button combinations.  However, I can't help but wonder if this is a form of cheating.  This is an option offered by the game, mind you, and not something hacked together with a custom controller or Action Replay-type device.  What do you all out there think?  Are these kinds of controller macros considered cheating?  Cast your vote and leave some comments. 

Old Back To The Future Game Is Compellingly Terrible

Back to the Future II and III It should come as no surprise by now that I love the Back to the Future trilogy.  My love for the films leads me to find a good video game based on the movies, but after all these years I'm sorry to say that I'm still waiting.  As a child I was so eager to strike gold that I became fascinated by one particular game based on the movies.  Publisher LJN and developer Beam Software teamed up in 1989 to create the Nintendo Entertainment System adaptations of the popular films Back to the Future II and Back to the Future III. Unlike other games based on the hit film trilogy, this game pak contained two games. After completing the BTTF II portion of the game, the BTTF III portion becomes available. Unfortunately Beam took an excellent license opportunity and created a sub-standard platform game. Yet, for some reason, I find it strangely addictive.

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TurboGrafx-16 Crash Course

TurboGrafx-16 You know your plumbers from your hedgehogs and your control pads from your analog sticks, but can you recite the history of the HuCard?  How about the TurboTap?  Can you spot a Super CD-ROM2 System from a mile away?  No?  Then perhaps you should go back to school with Retrogaming's TurboGrafx-16 101 educational guide.  After reading through this crash course you'll be thoroughly versed in Hudson and NEC lore.  You still won't be able to explain Johnny Turbo though.

NEC America really mishandled the American debut of the TurboGrafx-16. Marketing was weak, game selection was poor, and the original pack-in, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones, was a joke. Add that to Nintendo’s illegal stonewalling of many developers and you have a recipe for failure. 3rd parties were reluctant to support the system in the US initially because of pressure from Nintendo, but even after Nintendo’s threats subsided they remained leery. Working Designs was one of the only licensees to continue localizing games in the US after the demise of the TG-16.

I never had a TG-16 as a child thanks to its high price and lack of Super Mario.  Bonk's Adventure and its sequels were intriguing as was the TurboExpress portable system with its TV Tuner, but in the end I just never got around to picking the console up.  My patience was rewarded over the years, however, as first Bonk came to Nintendo consoles (I still have fond memories of playing the Game Boy version of Bonk's Adventure on long car trips) and then later the TG-16 library itself began to trickle onto the Virtual Console.  The final piece of the puzzle comes together later this year when Konami digs into the TurboCD vault to bring Castlevania: Rondo of Blood to the Sony PlayStation Portable as The Dracula X Chronicles.  Yup, I think my TG-16 needs have been met after all this time.

Once you finish the introductory class, feel free to graduate up to the advanced level with these thirty-seven TG-16 secrets.

H.A.M.M.E.R.time Stopped?

Project H.A.M.M.E.R.Here's hoping this rumor isn't true, but IGN seems to think that Nintendo has brought the hammer down on Project H.A.M.M.E.R. for the Nintendo Wii, dooming the game to "whatever happened to that, anyway?" status by suddenly canceling the project into oblivion.  Remember last year at E3 when the company touted this game as one of its two new properties (the other being Disaster)?  Well, so much for that.

Our sources were unable to provide a reason for the alleged termination. However, IGN Wii has heard separately that Nintendo is actively re-working some traditional games so that they are more accessible by casual players. If it is truly canned, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. may have become a casualty of Wii's newfound success in the mainstream market.

So, Hammer Training, anyone?  Or maybe Project H.A.M.M.E.R. Party?  Ooh, ooh, Nintentools!  But seriously, if this is true then I hate to see H.A.M.M.E.R. goAs you'll recall, I had the opportunity to play the demo last year and really enjoyed it.  There was a lot of promise and potential in the concept.  Canceling it is bad enough, but canceling it so that Nintendo can focus resources on another mini-game collection or "lifestyle" game is even worse.  Both kinds of games can co-exist in Wii World.  If this is the last we see of the game though, I can take comfort in knowing that I got to play the game and you did not.  Don't look at me like that.  I can be a real jerk when an anticipated game drops off the face of the planet.

*cough* Human Assisted Mallet Mechanical Emergency Response *cough*

(via NeoGAF)

Secret Origins: Bubsy in Claws Encounters Of The Furred Kind

Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind I'm ready to admit it: I once clamored, begged, and schemed to acquire Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind for the Super NES.  I'd read the Nintendo Power and Electronic Gaming Monthly previews and reviews of the game just before June 1993 hit, and as the sixth grade at elementary school was coming to an end for me, I began calling local stores and scouring shop shelves for the game.  I'd gathered up all my loose change and allowance savings into a $50 pile and gave standing instructions to my parents that if they found Bubsy in their travels, they should buy it and I'd pay them back.  I even had the Nintendo Power character poster hanging on my wall next to all of my other gaming decorations.  All of this fuss over a game that just about everybody decried as yet another animal mascot platforming rip-off, but so what?  I knew I was destined to save mankind from the Woolie invasion. 

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Mini-Review: PSP Quickies

Now that I've been exploring the Sony PlayStation Portable library for the first time and have spent some quality time with a stack of fun games, I figured I'd share my thoughts on the matter with these quickie mini-reviews.  Get comfy, because we're jumping right into the one game that had me pawing for a PSP for over a year now.  READY?

Mega Man: Powered UpMega Man: Powered Up

Take everything great about the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, create all new levels based on the original stages, add two new Robot Masters to the original roster, and pack in tons of fan service to create the best Mega Man game in ages.  Fantastic quality 2D gaming is becoming harder to find these days, but by sticking to the original Mega Man formula, Capcom has put together an attractive package for long-time fans of the character (such as myself).  You could play through the game as just Mega Man, sure, but the best part of the game comes from playing as each of the eight Robot Masters.  That's right; Cut Man, Guts Man, Elec Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, Bomb Man, Oil Man, and Time Man are all fully playable characters, each becoming the hero of their own adventure.  Roll and Proto Man even put in playable appearances.  Each level comes in Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties, meaning that to fully complete the game one must play through each stage three times (once for each challenge level) for each of the eleven playable characters.  Yes, I think there's replay value here (and that's without even mentioning the recreation of the original NES game, the hundred level challenge mode, and the construction mode where players can create their own levels and trade them online).  I cannot recommend Mega Man: Powered Up enough.  It's everything I hoped it would be and more.

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