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September 2007
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November 2007

October 2007

All Our Questions Will Be Answered

Castlevania III: Dracula's CurseUPDATE: Poison Mushroom has some answers to my unexplained questions.

2007 is turning out to be a fantastic year for finally getting solid answers to some of gaming's most pressing questions.  First Super Paper Mario explained just why there are tons of coins scattered around the Mushroom Kingdom, then Metroid Prime 3: Corruption revealed the origins behind Mother Brain, and now Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi has shared just why items fall out of Dracula's candles when whipped.

WN: Last question. Why does Dracula keep putting meat inside the walls of his castle?

KI: You should ask, why do they eat it! I've thought about this stuff. I've actually thought about the candles. The candles are people's souls that were taken by Death or by the vampires. In Japan there are candles that represent life. So, when you release the souls from the candles by whipping them, they give you a "thank you" present. Thank-you hearts, or thank-you holy water.

The meat, I have no idea.

Still unexplained: why Mega Man begins each new adventure without his previously gained abilities, why Sonic the Hedgehog can't hang on to the Chaos Emeralds each time he collects them, and the final fate of Timber the Tiger.

Don't Play Sony's Fear Game

Sony PlayStation 3When the Sony PlayStation 3 launched last year I decided to hold off on buying one until some truly amazing games made the high price of the console worth the purchase.  Then Sony began to tinker with the PS3's hardware configuration, removing hardware-based backward compatibility in favor of software emulation.  That was disheartening, but still I held off.  It's going to take more than just the new Ratchet and Clank adventure to get me to take the PS3 plunge.  Now here comes the latest PS3 variation, and this one lacks PS2 compatibility and forgoes some of the various memory slots and USB ports.  Gosh, I'd better hurry up and buy a PS3 before Sony removes even more features.  But wait!  Joystiq makes this excellent point:

If you're going to buy a PS3, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Make sure you're buying it for Warhawk or Everyday Shooter or high-def movies or any of the many perfectly valid reasons to buy one. But don't buy it out of fear. Don't buy it because you're afraid that when you do want one the system will be even worse, or missing some other key feature that you care about. You're too good for that, and you work too hard for your money to be bullied into spending it. You already know that Sony dropped backwards compatibility to make you buy more PS3 games, you don't need to let your hand be forced. Remember, you're the one with the power. They have to make it compelling for you.

Well said.

Google Exploring Ads In Games?

Cingular Wireless presents Battlefield 2142I'm no fan of advertisements, but they seem to be a necessary evil in today's modern digital age.  I use Google's AdSense ads here on PTB to keep everything running, for example.  For the most part Google's ads have been fairly unobtrusive, and now the company is allegedly exploring the possibility of taking AdSense ads into the gaming world.

There have been rumors that Google was casting a covetous eye on videogames at least since Google bought Adscape back in February. Now the picture is getting a little less murky, it seems, as Google heads out to make contact with videogame developers, publishers, and trade organizations.

If anyone can do this whole advertising-in-games thing right, I think it's Google.  The best ads (now there's an oxymoron) are the ads that don't steal focus from the content they support.  They keep quiet, stay out of the way, and don't require punching a monkey or voting in some asinine opinion poll.  Can that sort of advertising work in video games?  Sure.  Will advertisers want to spend money on advertisements that don't push their brands or messages in a hardcore in-your-face manner to the gaming demographic?  That remains to be seen.  Keep the ads out of the way and we'll probably learn to live with them.  However, as I've said in the past, the moment the ads impede the gaming experience is the moment I turn the game off and find other activities on which to spend my time and money.

(via Download Squad)

Nintendo To Press: "Stop Exploring Our Demos!"

Battalion Wars 2 As much as we all want to believe that our favorite gaming companies exist to provide us with fun happy joyful times, it's important to remember that they're all committed chiefly to profits and the marketing message (and if we still manage to have fun afterwards then, hey, good for us).  MTV's Stephen Totilo was recently caught at a Nintendo media event straying from the intended message by enjoying the forbidden fruit that is Battalion Wars 2.  Yes, the game was on display for the press to play, but apparently the press wasn't supposed to play it.

See, when he and I sat down to play the game, no Nintendo reps were looking. We went to a menu screen that would have allowed us to play the single-player campaign, but I told him that Nintendo didn’t want us playing that. Let’s be good sports and just try the multi-player stuff, I suggested. So we clicked the multiplayer options. Available to use were Co-op, Skirmish and Armada... So I said we should play [Armada]. We booted it up. We read on-screen directions that instructed us to steer our respective fleets of battleships and destroyers into conflict. I started chugging the ships into motion. And then… a Nintendo rep came over and told us to stop playing.

We were told that the company only wanted people to play the Wi-Fi options. I explained that we were. But, actually, the company only wanted people to play the Wi-Fi Skirmish options. I protested: isn’t this game coming out in two weeks? Doesn’t Nintendo want people to know about this? The Nintendo rep apologized and told me he was only going by the instructions that had been written down for him.

Once again I'm forced to wonder why companies make game demos and information available to the press if they don't want us to play and discuss them.  There's a history of this kind of behavior from companies such as Sony, Asustek, Capcom, and Square-Enix in addition to Nintendo.  Let me say it one more time: if you don't want the media to see something, don't show the secret material at a media event!

Nine Years After Yoshi's Story

Yoshi's Story Once upon a time there was a little Super NES game called Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, and its bright colors and fantasmic art style were joyous and fun.  Then, one day, there came word of a spectacular sequel called Yoshi's Island 64.  The villagers rejoiced, as one of the best games of the 16-bit era was getting a 64-bit update.  But then the dark times came, and by the time the game renamed Yoshi's Story arrived in stores, the villagers were less than impressed.  The nearly fifty levels of the original game had been chopped to a mere twenty-four, and players only had to complete six of them to win the game.  Moreover, completing a level no longer involved reaching a goal point, but instead required Yoshi to eat thirty pieces of abundantly placed fruit.  Throw in a heavily decreased difficulty level, a cloyingly dumbed-down storyline, and a chorus of singing dinosaurs that can't carry a tune, and, well, you can see how the villagers were not pleased.  Most of them turned their back on the Yoshis and the $60 game pak in which they lived.

Ask most of the villagers who lived during the late 1990s to pick their favorite Nintendo 64 game and I bet that few will defend Yoshi's Story the way others would defend something like Super Mario 64.  For a long time I was one of the villagers dismayed in the Yoshis, but nine years after the game's original release I'm starting to come around.  Yoshi's Story is available on the Wii's Virtual Console now, and even though the game floundered for $60 in 1998, it's surprisingly enjoyable for $10 in 2007.

Continue reading "Nine Years After Yoshi's Story" »

Metroid Sighting #1017

Metroid jellyfish Still think the interstellar adventures of Samus Aran are pure fiction?  Then take a look a this newly discovered jellyfish with its energy-sucking tentacles, distinctive red coloring, and clear top protecting a brain-like mass.  Look familiar?  Listen closely and you can already hear the horrifying "Screee!" shriek of impending doom.

This handout photo made available in Manila by the University of Alaska shows a deep sea jellyfish found by a US-Philippines underwater expedition in the Celebes Sea.

Up next: the discovery of a large spiny Kraid-like lizard.  Say, I wonder how close these Metroid jellyfish are to a certain tourist island in Dubai.  Surely there's a mascot opportunity waiting to happen.

Bionic Commando Swings Back

Bionic Commando Hold on a minute!  Capcom is bringing back the beloved Bionic Commando franchise and nobody told me?!  Despite the snub I'm glad to see the bionic arm making a comeback for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  GameSpot has the exclusive news and media this time around.

Simply called Bionic Commando, the new game will bring back the original game's hook (pun intended), with players able to use the main character's bionic grappling arm not only to navigate levels but to take out enemies at close range, rappel down sheer surfaces, or toss objects (like cars) at enemies.

It's about time this franchise made a new appearance, and although there are a ton of ways that the developers could screw this one up, I'm going to try and be optimistic about it.  After all, there are also a ton of ways that the new Bionic Commando could go ridiculously right.

Super Mario Galaxy Special Preorder Bonus Coin Status Update Report

Super Mario Galaxy special preorder bonus coin A week or so ago Nintendo put out a press release announcing that people who preorder the upcoming Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii at participating retailers would receive a special preorder bonus coin that features artwork from the new game.  Such a neat collectible, right?  Sure would be nice to know just which retailers are participating so I knew where to preorder the game because Nintendo sure isn't telling us in that press release of theirs.

Now through Nov. 11, stop by a participating retailer and place a deposit to reserve your copy of the magnificent Super Mario Galaxy™ for Wii™. Your cosmic bounty will be great: When you return to retrieve your game on its Nov. 12 launch, you will claim a limited-edition shimmering silvery Mario™ coin, an eternal testament to your foresight.

Fortunately for us, someone out there apparently e-mailed Nintendo for more details and posted the reply at of all places.  According to this unverified message the participating retailers include AAFES,, Circuit City, Fred Meyer, Fry's Electronics, Game Crazy, GameStop, Kmart, LaCuracao, Marines, Meijer, Navy, Nintendo World Store, RC Willie, Sam', Sears, ShopKo, Target, Toys R Us, Transworld, and  If that's not enough proof for you, Amazon has updated their Super Mario Galaxy catalog page with word of a "special bonus" included with the game.  That was enough for me; I preordered it last night.  Here's hoping all the fuss over this coin turns out to be worth it.

Improve Your Street Fighter III Skills

Street Fighter III: Third StrikeFor as much as I enjoy a rousing round of Street Fighter II (or one of its many variations) and Street Fighter Alpha (or one of its many variations), I've never gotten around to playing Street Fighter III (or one of its many... you get the idea).  "One of these days..." I tell myself as I look at the non-literal stack of games I keep meaning to try at some point.  I may have to get moving now though because a PTB reader sent in a link to this guide about how to improve one's Street Fighter III: Third Strike skills and I figured it was worth a mention.

I remember when I was a kid and Street Fighter II swept the home console scene when it debuted on the Super NES in 1992.  I had a subscription to GamePro at the time and over a four issue period the magazine included supplements that mapped out each world warrior's techniques and skills.  I wasn't into fighting games at the time, but a friend of mine convinced his grandmother to spring for the game (and she wasn't all that pleased when she found out about the violent content a few days later).  Between the two of us we had everything we needed to slam each other to bits over and over again across the world stage, he with Ryu and I with Blanka.  Good times.

Weekly Poll: Practice Makes Prequel

Weekly Poll for 10-08-2007 There's so much untapped potential in the world of sci-fi television shows.  I'd love a Stargate game too (a non-MMORPG one, thanks), but I'm also interested in digital installments of Firefly and Doctor Who (as I've said before).  It's a shame that most video games based on licensed properties fail to capture the spirit and soul of the characters and storyline.  Instead it's all about the cheap cash-in (always has been) and I'm sick of it.

Looking ahead, we're coming into the big holiday gaming season which means it's time for sequels, sequels, and more sequels.  Super Mario Galaxy, Ratchet and Clank Future, Halo 3, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles... the list goes on and on.  My question for you this week: do you train for new sequels by replaying the previous games in the series?  Did you prepare for Halo 3 by replaying Halo 2?  Have you returned to Super Mario Sunshine while awaiting Galaxy?  Cast your vote and leave some comments.