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October 2007

The Return Of Belmont: Choosing The Next Castlevania Chronicles

Castlevania Konami has taken the Castlevania series in a number of different directions over the years, producing games for popular and obscure hardware alike.  2001's Castlevania Chronicles and, more recently, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles have made some of the dustier adventures of the Belmont clan available for contemporary audiences.  Now that the coveted Rondo of Blood has been revived it may seem as though there are no more games left to be Chronicled.  Don't be fooled; there are still plenty of fantastic games to remake and package with the original version on a single disc.  Here are my five picks for future installments in the Castlevania Chronicles series.

Continue reading "The Return Of Belmont: Choosing The Next Castlevania Chronicles" »

Weekly Poll: Preorder Patrol

Weekly Poll for 10-22-2007 I find myself reading gaming instruction manuals less and less these days, although mostly that's because, for the most part, play one Sonic the Hedgehog or Castlevania game and you've basically played them all in terms of objectives and control schemes.  There'll be dashing, jumping, whipping, Chaos Emeralds, red skeletons that get up after being attacked, and whiny secondary characters that prattle on and on and on.  I know the routine.  Turn me loose on something entirely new, however, and I'll do my homework every time.  Plus, games today tend to have little tutorials or explanations in them whereas in the old days we were pretty much on our own thanks to the limitations of the technology.

Speaking of new games, publishers and retailers seem to be teaming up a lot these days to offer goodies and bonuses to eager gamers who preorder new titles.  Buy early enough (or spend enough money) and there's a whole world of art books, commemorative coins, figurines, and other stuff to be had based on elements of beloved characters and franchises.  Do you get swept up in the preordering bonanza?  Do you just have to have that limited edition thingee?  Let's hear some of your thoughts on the matter.

Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles Goes Extra Mile With Obscure Unlockable Content?

Stage X Let's recap.  Konami has just released Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles for the Sony PlayStation Portable.  The game features a new rendition of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood as well as the original TurboCD game plus the PS1 sequel, Symphony of the Night.  This much we knew, right?  Well, it seems as if Konami may have sneaked a hidden fourth game into the set.  Don't get too excited though; it's merely a consolation prize relic from a bygone era.  According to GameFAQs (that bastion of truthful information), completing the game's Boss Rush mode under special conditions unlocks, well, this.  I haven't checked this out for myself yet (I'm nowhere near meeting the supposed in-game requirements), but it seems worth mentioning in the hopes of getting a little confirmation.

Many PC Engine Super CD games had little screens that popped up whenever you tried to play it in an older system (i.e. a Version 3.0 game with a 2.0 card) Well, Dracula X actually had a whole new level, named Stage X. It features very stupid looking South-Park characters and it let you play for a little while, jumping and whipping stuff. When you reach the end, a screen pops up that tells you that you need the System 3.0 card.  Cute.

Provided that this little short segment is actually in Dracula X Chronicles, it's a hell of a nice gesture from Konami to throw it in for the sake of completeness.  Hmm, I wonder what else could be buried away on that little UMD...

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connector Finally Supports Windows Vista

Nintendo Wi-Fi ConnectorIt's taken about a year, but Nintendo has finally updated the software that drives the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connector so that it now works with computers running Windows Vista in addition to Windows XP.  You remember the connector, right?  It allows gamers without a wireless network to use a PC to act as a bridge between Nintendo Wii and DS consoles and the Internet.  Is anyone still using this connector?  Was anyone ever using it?  Besides me, I mean.  After my Windows XP PC died earlier this year I bought a new machine that came with Vista installed, but the incompatibility between the operating system and the connector pushed me into the world of wi-fi routers where I find I'm much happier (especially considering the headaches I put up with trying to get the connector to play nice with the Wii).  I wound up giving my disused connector to a co-worker last month to pass on to her preteen son.  Someone should be getting some use out of it.  Or trying to get some use out of it, anyways.

(via 4 Color Rebellion)

GameFly Tells Patient Futurama Fans To Bite Its Shiny Metal Ass

Futurama Ever since Futurama was sent away back in 2003 I've been scajumming all over to find little bits of new content from the year 3000.  Sure, there's the deleted scenes on the series DVDs (tease!), the comic books (not the same), and that advertisement the Futurama team created for Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, but still my soul cries out for new adventures.  Last year when I welcomed the Sony PlayStation 2 into my home I began trying to track down the Futurama video game for the Sony PlayStation 2.  Apparently it didn't sell very well and wasn't scored highly by critics and gamers alike, but it has new humor from the show's writing staff and new content from the original voice actors.  Finding a reasonably price copy of the game for sale in good condition is next to impossible, so I turned to rent-by-mail service GameFly.  They've had the game in their database for quite a while now and it's been in my GameQ for about a year.  The game has never actually been available for mailing, however, and a few days ago the service sent me this e-mail:

We have removed Futurama for PlayStation 2 from your GameQ. There are two possible reasons for this removal:

(1) For released titles, we no longer carry the game and do not know if or when we will acquire new copies.
(2) For unreleased titles, the game has been cancelled by its publisher.

We apologize for any disappointment this may cause. If you have any questions, please contact us.

So much for that then.  I guarantee that whomever had the game last decided to keep it since it is so hard to find and rather pricey these days, and most likely declared it "lost".  Since no more new copies are forthcoming to GameFly, the game has been stricken from their database of available games.  So there will be no Futurama for PS2 in my home anytime soon, it would seem.  No matter.  Six months ago this would have been a fatal blow of horrendous proportions, but considering that we're less than a month away from the release of the new Futurama movie, I think I can muster up my coping skills until then.

The Wii Gift That Keeps On Giving

Donkey Kong Jr. Math This holiday season it's important to remember your friends, particularly your friends who just bought or were given a Nintendo Wii.  They have a whole year's worth of gaming to catch up on and that's just considering new Wii games.  There's nearly two hundred Virtual Console games through which to pick the goodies from the gunk.  Now you can help your friends wade through the Virtual Console swamps in search of, um, swamp diamonds, I guess.  Soon you'll be able to pay for a Virtual Console game and send it to a friend.

Nintendo also unveiled a function Friday that allows users to send each other games over the Internet using the Wii's shopping channel.  With a few clicks, a user will be able to select a game to send as a gift to another user online, Iwata said. When the recipient accepts, the Wii automatically launches the shopping channel and begins the download.

"We think this will be a breakthrough in encouraging customers to spread news of fun games word of mouth," Iwata said. "We also hope to spur more users to connect their Wiis to the Internet," he said.

At last!  Now I can force people to play underappreciated gems like Kirby's Dream Course and Earthbound!  Or, at least, force those games into the list of Wii channels.  But still, that's a step up from where we were yesterday.  On the other hand, I suppose one could use this new service to send the worst gaming has to offer to one's enemies.  Yes, yes, soon I'll inflict the madness of Donkey Kong Jr. Math on those who oppose me.

(via Kotaku)

Spot The Fakes: Memory Card Edition

Senator VreenakBack in the days or yore when our bits were a mere eight we didn't need no new-fangled external memory storage devices.  No sir, we had our password and our battery-backed saved games directly on cartridges and we liked it!  But then when cartridges gave way to unwritable discs we were forced to adapt to spending extra money when purchasing a console in order to acquire memory cards with which to save our game progress.  Now we're bitter.  But beyond bitterness we're also cheap thrifty, so when the Nintendo Wii demands a SD card for freeing up internal flash memory or the Sony PlayStation Portable needs more than a few megabytes for video content, we like to get good deals on memory cards.  Unfortunately there's a whole sea of counterfeit memory cards out there.  Can you spot the fakes?

As fake memory cards have now proliferated throughout the marketplace, it is important to be able to spot a fake.

Why should you care?

  • Inferior quality card - you're not getting what you paid for
  • No warranty - when the card fails, you're out of luck
  • Fake cards sometimes have invalid partition sizes, making it likely to fail
  • It will drive costs of genuine cards up

As if counterfeit games weren't enough, now we have to watch out for counterfeit memory cards.  Is nothing sacred anymore?

Final Fantasy VII Remake Patiently Waits

Final Fantasy VIIThere seems to be a lot of pent-up demand for Square-Enix to put Final Fantasy VII on the list of franchise games to be remade.  The original Sony PlayStation version of the game certainly has a loud and ardent fan base, and while the company has teased the idea of a new generation remake of the game, so far the project isn't officially in development.  Gamer's Block takes a look at the idea of remaking the game and puts forth the idea that the time for such a project is now.

There is a large market out there for this game. The PlayStation 3 has not been doing as well as expected and a game that has had such a commercial success in the past is perhaps an answer to that problem. If Square were to release the game, it would be sure to make millions, as well as help to generate sales for the PlayStation 3. If the game looks as good as the two minute demo looks, then it would be sure to truly show off the capabilities that are present on the PlayStation 3. There is such a tremendous amount of memory space available to achieve an ever greater look to the game than what was available on the original PlayStation.

To sum it up, if the company does not want to be harassed then they shouldn’t tease gamers with the possibility of an actual release. Has there ever been a game shrouded in so much secrecy that the very creation of the game is a mystery?

Personally, I believe that we will see a Final Fantasy VII remake eventually.  When, you ask?  Someday Square-Enix will find itself on hard times and will require a rapid increase in revenue.  That's when we'll see the game reborn (and not a minute before).

Weekly Poll: Manual Labor

Weekly Poll for 10-15-2007I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my game training efforts.  I'm brushing up on my Super Mario skills in preparation for next month's Super Mario Galaxy, but instead of returning to one of Mario's 3D adventures I finally went back and finished off Super Paper Mario, defeating Count Bleck and conquering the Flipside Pit of 100 Trials.  I'm working my way through the Flopside pit now, plus I have to go back to Chapter 6 and finish off the Sammer Guys.  I did find the last of the Pixls though, so now I'm running with a full crew (including Piccolo, Barry, Dashell, and Tiptron).  So yeah, I'm ready!

Another important part of buying a new video game is, of course, tearing away the plastic wrapping and breaking the seal.  Inside those cases we find our beloved game discs, yes, but also included is the precious instruction manual.  But are they really so precious?  How do you handle your manuals?  Do you read them cover to cover before starting a game or do you just refer to them after getting stuck?  Or do you just throw them away entirely?  As always, cast your vote and leave some comments.

And My Sega Dreamcast Discs Don't Work Either!

Turbo CD Wii I love reading interviews in which the interviewer asks unusual and seldom-asked questions.  Anybody can ask about a developer's next major project, but it's the questions about minutiae and quirky topics that often make for the best reading.  Unless, of course, the questions lack a certain, oh, how to say it... common sense.  Consider this interview with Hudson Entertainment's John Lee regarding Turbo CD games coming to Nintendo's Virtual Console.  Everything's going great up until this gem of an inquiry:

NWR: Is there any chance of a special Wii channel where we can play our original Turbo CD game media on the system?

JL: There are no plans for the Wii to be changed so that it will play any of the original Turbo CD games.

Now there's a Wii feature that I'd never even considered.  Someone should get to work on fixing that right away.  And maybe they should widen the Wii's disc slot a little while they're at it so that my old Super NES game paks will fit in there.  I've had a hell of a time shaving away the plastic to get them to fit inside properly.