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June 2007

New Bonk Game Could Be Gussied Up Old Bonk Game

Hudson Selection Vol. 3: PC Genjin The gaming world is abuzz this week thanks to some photos of a Hollywood Video sales terminal that reveals a listing for "Wii-Bonk" in the product database.  Lots of folks believe this is the coming of a brand new Bonk title for the Nintendo Wii, but I'm going to take an educated guess and say that this isn't a new Bonk title, but a North American release of the upgraded and updated Bonk's Adventure that hit Japan back in the days of the Nintendo GameCube.  Remember that oft-overlooked adventure?  NFG Games has a grand look at the revival you've never played.

The graphics are, of course, all new. Utilizing polygon player and enemy characters the range of expression from every creature in the game is thrilling. A serious danger of making the move from 2D to 3D is losing the charm and character that makes hand-drawn sprites so appealing, and in this respect Hudson has not by any means let us down. Bonk's moves are now gloriously animated, with delightfully deranged expressions for everything he does. Indeed, the new Bonk has been carefully crafted by artists who know exactly how far to push the angry cross-eyed lunatic look without making it ugly or  unappealing - a line Bonk 3 crossed. Everything is happily animated, from the enemies to the now fanged smiley-faces Bonk collects on every stage.

I'd love to see a new proper modern Wii-centric Bonk's Adventure, but I'm betting that this project is just another "Wii-make".  Granted, it's a Wii-make of a game hardly any of us outside of Japan have been able to enjoy, so for that $15 budget price I'll gladly pick it up, but why would Hudson develop an all-new Bonk game when it has one unplayed by so many fans already finished and sitting in the vault?  Prove me wrong, Hudson.  Prove me wrong.

Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree Preview At AMN

Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree Another week, another preview at AMN, this time for the new Nintendo Wii title Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree.  Train your brain with fun mini-games in this multiplayer yadda, yadda, yadda.

Wii Degree's brain training activities are divided up into five categories: Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize. Each category contains a number of mini-games designed to strengthen the various parts of the human brain. For example, the Art Parts challenge (part of the Visualize category) requires players to complete a painting by stamping missing pieces into the picture. As time goes by the painting flips over, increasing the difficulty and requiring more brain power to complete. One of the Compute challenges, Balloon Burst, calls upon players to pop numbered balloons in proper numerical order. As time passes more and more balloons appear on the screen (some with negative numbers), upping the difficulty. Then there's Fast Focus, a Identify mini-game in which players must study a distorted image and deduce what the image would look like if it were displayed normally. Later levels feature heavier distortions.

I'm sorry, but these brain games just don't excite me like they probably should.  Spot the hidden Maniac Mansion reference in the preview and you'll win a heartfelt congratulations from me. 

Weekly Poll: You Know Your Culture From Your Trash

Weekly Poll for 6-05-2007I knew that the new Smash Bros. would come out on top, but my vote went to Super Mario Galaxy.  I'm hooked on the spotlight Super Mario games.  They're always fun and always a great escape from the annoyances of my day.  Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to Brawl, but Galaxy is my most anticipated game for the end of the year.

Now for this week's question.  Do you seek out critically panned video games just to see how bad they are?  Do you revel in seeing for yourself just how horrible games such as Superman 64 or Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing truly are?   How much gaming crud is there in your library?  Cast your vote and leave some comments before you go another round with E.T. for the Atari 2600, and just remember that you're reading the blog of a man who willingly bought Mario Is Missing for the Super NES back in the day.

Great Scott! Here Comes GTA: Hill Valley

Grand Theft Auto: Hill Valley I've been clamoring for an honest to goodness modern Back to the Future game for ages, but it looks like this mod for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City may be as close as we're going to get to such a thing.  That's right; a modding team somewhere out there is actually creating a series of Hill Valley levels for Vice City along with hoverboard rides and a DeLorean that can travel through time.  This is heavy!

Back to the Future: Hill Valley is a full conversion Mod, being made for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. BTTF: Hill Valley will allow the player to re-experience all the great moments from the films. It’s the modders goal to not stray too far from the original story line; while still adding in new content to the game that enhances the game experience. You can relive one of the best movies of all time, in the outstanding game play of the Sandbox hit, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. This mod is sure to bring countless hours of fun to anybody who enjoyed the movies.

Some of the Features that will be in BTTF: Hill Valley are:

  • 5 different eras of Hill Valley: 1885, 1955, 1985, Alternative 1985, and 2015.
  • Played in Real Time
  • New Vehicles to correspond to the times.
  • New Pedestrians to correspond to the times
  • Instant and Realistic Speed Based Time Travel
  • New Effects and Graphics
  • Flying Hover mode for the Cars and Trains of the future.
  • Refueling feature for the plutonium chamber/Mr. Fusion unit on the Deloreans
  • Gas Stations
  • Custom Radio Stations
  • Reenactments of scenes, from the films.
  • Remote Controlled Deloreans
  • Build-a-time-machine garage
  • Working calendar

If this turns out to be as promising as it seems I know I'd pick up Vice City just to give it a whirl.  Check out the end of the above-linked hoverboard video to see the DeLorean flying over the city as it accelerates to 88mph before vanishing into time (leaving only the familiar twin fire trails behind).  Who could possibly not want this?  Other than the legal team at Universal Studios, of course.

(via MetaFilter)

Escape From Bug Island Preview At AMN

Escape From Bug Island The bugs are coming!  Are you ready to do some squashing?  AMN has just published my preview of the upcoming Nintendo Wii game Escape From Bug Island, a would-be survival horror clone packed with campy B-movie traits, giant bugs, and not much else.

Taking hold of the Wii remote and nunchuk, players move the main character around the island in search of his missing companions while avoiding and engaging the insects. Attacking a giant bug with a whacking stick is as easy as whipping the remote, while giving the nunchuk a jiggle allows the character to roll safely away from danger. Sometimes smaller bugs will swarm, and all it takes to knock them away are vigorous shakes of the remote and nunchuk. Various combinations of control stick movement timed with proper attacks allows for a range of various effects, plus it's possible to zoom into a first person perspective in which the remote's pointer abilities act as a camera control. Along the way players will find clues that lead to new locations and point the way to specific places, but all of that supposedly takes a backseat to killing bugs. Early reports would have us believe that this game is all about the squashing.

So, yeah, bugs.  From what I've seen so far, Bug Island wants to pass itself off as intentionally bad in the spirit of cinematic Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder, but the early word is that the game is just plain bad, and that no amount of thematic retconning can help it.  We'll find out for sure when the game is released at the end of the month.

Help Save Rock Band From Crappy Songs

SportsArise, my Internet minions, and take heed!  Harmonix and Electronic Arts are hard at work on the spiritual successor to Guitar Hero, Rock Band for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, and the developers want your input.  Specifically, they're looking for suggestions on songs to include in the game.  This is our chance to save Rock Band from crappy music.  How much derivative loud screechy screamy metal rock can the world possibly stand?  Let's suggest something different (yet still good).  As for me, I made a pitch for some of my favorite music from Huey Lewis and the News, Phil Collins, and Billy Joel.  There's plenty of other great musicians out there who should fit into the Rock Band experience.  Give me Eric Clapton, Elton John, maybe a little 1980s era Chicago for a ballad or two... anything but more generic songs where the lead singer shouts gibberish from the throat and calls it "singing".  Stuff the suggestion box with good music and make me proud.

(via Joystiq)

American DS Web Browser Underwhelms

Nintendo DS Browser The long-awaited Nintendo DS web browser has finally come to North America (Japan and Europe have had it for some time now), but the rumors that the American version would include Flash and Java capabilities aren't true.  Such a shame, as the browser seems more like an afterthought now more than ever.  MikeTheBSG over at NeoGAF took the plunge and has this to say on the matter:

I know that some of you were interested in the US version of the DS web browser. Well I happened to pick it up a few hours with it. Unfortunately the rumor that the browser supports Flash and Java are incorrect. It's the exact same browser that was released in other territories. Though it takes sites that are image heavy a while to load it's not as long as previously mentioned, probably because the US network is up. CNN took a little over a minute to load and NeoGAF was less than half a minute. Probably the best way to browse is to turn off the images, then once you're where you want to be, turn it back on.  Like the PSP, it's a nice portable free browser you can use in hotspots or you're at home and too lazy to get to the computer, or just some quick info.

I was looking forward to getting the DS browser, but knowing now that it's such a lackadaisical effort and considering that I now have a Sony PlayStation Portable that includes a much better browser in terms of features, I'm going to pass on this one.  Can't win 'em all, Nintendo.

Weekly Poll: Big Budget Holiday Wonders

Weekly Poll for May 28, 2007So many of you have tried Nintendo's brain games?  I'm surprised.  I'll be honest, I really don't see the appeal.  I play video games to relax and not think.  Well, check that, I play them to think, but to think outside of the box.  I can quantify and qualify traditional data in my daily life if I want that kind of thinking.  How often during my day must I come up with a way to reassemble the Triforce, climb to the top of a tall tall mountain, or covertly maneuver past Space Pirates?  That's what I'm after when I play.  I solve enough business-type problems at my day job, thanks.

Looking ahead, the major publishers are setting up release dates for their big holiday season releases.  There's a big crop of heavy-hitters on the way in the form of Super Mario Galaxy, Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, and Devil May Cry 4.  Whew!  Who has time for all of that?  Moreover, who has the money for all of that?  You've got to make a choice.  Which one of the major holiday-scheduled games are you anticipating the most?  Which one above all others will get your precious spending money?  Help those lurking analysts craft their reports by casting your vote and leaving some comments. 

Mini-Review: Waterfield Designs PSP Gear Pouches

PSP Gear Pouch and PSP Mini Gear PouchI hadn't realized how much stuff one accrues when acquiring a Sony PlayStation Portable.  Aside from the system itself are the headphones, remote control, multiple memory sticks, those fragile UMDs, and various other trappings.   I went looking for a handy storage bag for my new toys and the folks at Waterfield Designs heard my cries; the company was nice enough to provide their PSP Gear Pouch and PSP Mini Gear Pouch for review.  After spending a week hauling them around and testing them out, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the bags.  Click on the photos for larger images, too.

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