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September 2007

Dracula X Still Looks Great

Castlevania: Dracula X ChroniclesThe October release of Konami's Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for the Sony PlayStation Portable is drawing every closer, meaning that we'll start seeing more previews of the game pop up. takes a crack at it today, revealing something new at last.  Wondering just how much the original games have changed for this new compilation?  Wonder no more.  Consider the alterations to Symphony of the Night, for example.

Maria was previously playable in the terrible Saturn port of the game, but everything from her controls to her animations to her weapons felt off, and poorly-considered. This time around, she's ditched the kung-fu fighting in favor of her repertoire of moves from Rondo of Blood. For her her basic attack, she flings up to three small owls which fly forward and arc upward before returning; her subweapons are grown-up versions of her original Chinese zodiac beasts. These have slightly different effects -- the phoenix, for instance, is no longer a pair of tiny birds that quickly dart up at 45-degree angles but rather a pair of fiery wings that mark the same path but last longer.

I can't wait to get my hands on this game again.  I had the chance to play the two levels on display back at E3 a few times and I've been hungry for more ever since. 

Smash Bros. Brawl Includes Online Play

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Put your doubts to bed, folks, because the wishing and hoping is over.  The Smash Bros. Dojo developer blog revealed this morning that Nintendo's upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl will include Wi-Fi play, meaning that we can finally beat up on people from across state lines via the magic of the Internet.  The ubiquitous Friend Codes are still in effect, mind you, but who cares?  Woo hoo!  It's Wi-Fi!

If you’re registered as friends, you can check each other’s status. If a friend is online and you earn his or her consent, you can enter a battle. You can change your icon... And even send short messages during brawls! These short messages are entered in advance, and you send them by taunting. There are four messages for the four directions on the + Control Pad: Up, down, left and right.

I call dibs on a taunt of "Mushroom Power!" when using Mario.  I look forward to challenging each and every one of you out there come December (or next year, depending on your home country and game release date).

EA's Prank Wars

EA's Prank Wars If you had a stressful job at Electronic Arts, how would you relax and blow off steam?  How about an old fashioned prank war?  EA Tiburon (the division that brings you the many Madden and Tiger Woods titles year after year) recently spoke with the Orlando Sentinel and outlined all kinds of crazy shenanigans that go on during hectic times (there's video of the crazy capers, too).

Hyder and a few colleagues planned to make their boss' door disappear by putting foam in the doorframe and over the window, and painting it to match the wall.

Holt wanted Hyder to think bigger. So he proposed placing drywall over the wall. Holt called his neighbor, the owner of a construction company, and a short time later, a contractor came by to pop the door out, frame it up and drywall it.

The group placed a rolling white board in front of where the door had been, so the boss wouldn't immediately notice the missing door. "He just stood there dumbstruck staring at the place where the door should be," Hyder said. "We were laughing hysterically. We had the door back within an hour and a half. But it doesn't close properly."

No worries; I'm sure they'll fix that door for next year's prank war.

Corrupted And Loving It

Dark Samus After years of hope and optimism I'm happy to say that I'm finally living the dream: I've found a Metroid Prime game that I really like.  Nintendo's new Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has firmly ensnared me with its fantastic controls, slimmer difficulty, and engaging puzzles.  My issue with past Prime games have revolved mostly around the control scheme.  Using control sticks and buttons I find that I just cannot run, jump, turn, and fire simultaneously, something that past Prime games require quite a bit of in later stages.  Corruption's unique Wii controls do away with this problem.  I have no problems maneuvering Samus Aran through the various environments.  I understand now the praises that the game's controls have received.  This is the way first-person shooter/adventure games are meant to be controlled on a console. 

Continue reading "Corrupted And Loving It" »

Link's Crossbow Tech Demo

Wii Zapper Didja hear?  When Nintendo unleashes the Wii Zapper later this year the peripheral shell will come packed with a game, Link's Crossbow Training, that takes elements from last year's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and uses them to make a shooting game, or some such thing.

Players assume the identity of hero Link, who progresses through a series of tests to perfect his crossbow marksmanship. Start with stationary bull's-eyes and graduate to moving targets before defending Link against all kinds of enemies.

I get the sour feeling that this is more of a tech demo than a full game, as Nintendo says the title will be a "perfect demonstration of the way the Wii Zapper could be used in other games".  At first I wondered why Nintendo was going to the Zelda well for this one.  After all, there are a bunch of other franchises that are more gun-friendly.  Metroid BlasterSuper Duck HuntYoshi's Safari 2?  Then it occurred to me that considering that Nintendo spent several years and a lot of money on the Twilight Princess creation process, the company would be eager to reuse those assets for another project at what must be a comparative minimal cost.  Maybe we'll see Yoshi's Safari 2 someday, but not right now.

Weekly Poll: Social Networking

Weekly Poll for 9-04-2007 I know I certainly want more time to play the video games I already have.  I have a small stack of games that I actually do want to finish, but who has time for that with Metroid Prime 3 taking my attention?  And if I don't hurry and finish it, something else will swoop in and knock Samus into the "to-do pile" alongside such heroes as Link and the name of the guy from Elebits.

Multiplayer player gaming is all the rage lately as it seems most every game that comes out these days has multiplayer options of some sort.  I'm at a slight disadvantage with that, as I don't have any local friends who enjoy gaming.  If I want to play against other people then I have to turn my attention to online gaming.  How about you?  Do you play mostly single-player games or do you have local friends to engage in a match?  Or, like me, must you turn to the online world for a little action?  Let's hear your thoughts.

We're Not Missing Much With Castlevania: Order Of Shadows, It Seems

Castlevania: Order of Shadows When I found out that Konami had a non-ported all-new Castlevania title for mobile phones, I was disappointed.  You see, I don't play games on my mobile phone.  I'm not against that sort of thing, mind you; it's that I don't have a high-tech superphone that can play games and take pictures and play MP3s and display video snippets and bark asinine ringtones.  I have a simple cell phone that makes phone calls.  End statement.  The way I see it, when I make and take phone calls I'm either at home or in the office, and if I'm not at home or in the office it means I've gone somewhere to do something fun (or at least necessary) and don't particularly want to be disturbed.  That's the long way around to say that I have a cell phone, it's very basic, and I mostly keep it on me for emergencies.  I did have a rather fancy phone last year provided by Sprint for eight months so I could review the product for them, and while I did like some of the things it could do, I came to the conclusion that it was primarily a money drain.  Every damn thing on that phone cost another microtransaction, and had I been paying for the service (free perks of reviewing and all) I'd have dropped it like a poison mushroom.

Sorry, what was I going on about?  Oh, right, an original mobile Castlevania game.  Chris Kohler at Game|Life has taken Castlevania: Order of Shadows for a pre-release spin and doesn't have much of anything positive to say about the experience.

There are, however, a whole mess of weapons, sub-weapons, magic spells, and items. That's the way in which Order of Shadows seeks to position itself as a game in the Symphony milieu -- by giving the enemies hit points, giving you equippable items, "leveling up" your character as the game goes on, and giving you an inventory screen full o' stuff. These are the physical trappings of an RPG indeed, but they do not an RPG make when 99% of your time is spent just blazing through the levels whipping everything in sight. I only needed to use healing items when fighting (spoilers!) Dracula because he was so overpowered, in a last-ditch attempt to make you work a little.

So yeah, I don't think I'm missing much.  This is a dangerous precedent though.  Sooner or later some company is going to produce an original title based on a classic franchise that will be worth playing.  I have this horrible feeling that Capcom may surprise us all someday with a fantastic yet mobile exclusive Mega Man 9, forcing me down the money drain if I want to join the fun.

If Man Is Still Alive

Futurama It's not uncommon for parents to dish out punishments to their children that consist of "no video games for a week", or even "no video games for a month" for the larger infractions.  Now imagine just how bad you'd have to be to have your games taken away for the next eight thousand years.  Yup, it looks like some poor sap out there accessed Halo 3 for the Microsoft Xbox 360 through Xbox Live without permission and, as punishment, is now blocked from the service until December 31, 9999.  That's not a typo.

The gamer in question goes by the gamertag "| SCAR |" and he posted a bit about his adventures on the Xboxic forums. Now first of all, this wasn't a retail version of Halo 3. Scar was playing the Halo 3 Epsilon. You may have heard of it. Thing is, the Epsilon is very similar to the Halo 3 Beta we all took part in. And as you'll see in a minute, also very similar to the COD4 Beta. So, it wasn't a matter of the person being able to play with the 360 disconnected. The fact is that the Epsilon sends a constant stream of data back to Bungie HQ for processing. Also, it should be noted that this means the console did not need to be modded for this banning to happen. The Epsilon was not a backup or copy. It was legitimately downloaded.

There shall be no Halo 3 until it's time, I guess.  On the other hand, seeing as how they say that good things come to those who wait, I'd expect that waiting 7,992 years to play Halo 3 would turn the gaming experience into some kind of nirvanic euphoria.  Provided that the Xbox of the future is backwards compatible, of course.

Weekly Poll: Time Enough At Last

Weekly Poll for 8-27-2007 Microsoft Xbox 360?  That's what you want?  Even with its known hardware issues?  I'm wary of getting involved with a 360 because I don't want it to up and die before the year is out, and even with the free repair and what-not I just don't want to have to deal with the potential hassle.  I suppose I'm leaning towards a Sony PlayStation 3, although that's mostly because I want to play the new Ratchet and Clank game and I think it'd be nice to link the console to my PlayStation Portable for all of those Remote Play options and stuff.  But still, that's a ways away for me.

Now it's time to go all Henry Bemis on you.  Which would you rather have: more video games or more time to play the video games that you already have.  I know it's not fair, but you have to choose one.

Don't Be A Sloucher, Send Me A Metroid Friend Voucher

Samus Aran So, are you enjoying Metroid Prime 3: Corruption?  I'm still early on in the adventure (having just acquired a certain frozen projectile weapon), but I've already been awarded a few Friend Vouchers.  You know about Friend Vouchers, right?  Doing the Galactic Federation's dirty work awards players with special tokens that are used to purchase bonus unlockables.  Red tokens are gained from scanning creatures, blue tokens come from reading lore, yellow tokens appear after defeating bosses, and green tokens... well, when it comes to green tokens, I'm at the mercy of other Metroid players.  See, green tokens begin life as Friend Vouchers that are awarded for completing special unannounced tasks.  Now, I cannot use these vouchers myself.  I have to send them to other Metroid players in my Wii's address book.  Those vouchers show up in a friend's inbox as green tokens.  Likewise, my Metroid-equipped friends in my address book can send me their vouchers which turn into green tokens that I can spend.  Got it?

That's a long convoluted explanation that ends with this pitch to send me your extra friend vouchers.  Give a little and you'll get a little, as I'll be sending out vouchers as I collect them as well.   Feel like being generous?   Send me your Wii Friend Code, register my code (6772-9850-9752-7247) on your Wii, and then we'll get down to business.  As for the game itself, I find that I'm actually enjoying it.  The new control scheme beats the old control stick hands-down.