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March 2008

FoxTrot's Ancient Brawl Preorder

FoxTrot Have you picked up your Super Smash Bros. Brawl preorder yet? FoxTrot's Jason Fox has.  In fact, he preordered the game so long ago that... well, that would be spoiling the joke, wouldn't it?  Click on over to the FoxTrot website to get this latest in a long line of gaming in-joke punchlines.  The comics just haven't been the same since this strip stopped publishing daily installments.  Considering the age of Jason's preorder receipt, I'm going to assume that he's at a GameStop (for obvious reasons, of course).

Knightro Kneeds You

Knightro Imagine my surprise to learn that my alma mater, the University of Central Florida, is in the running to be honored on the upcoming NCAA Football '09 box.  UCF's sports mascot, Knightro, is one of the mascots under consideration by Electronic Arts regarding an appearance on the cover of the Nintendo Wii version of the game.  If you have no other voting plans for this contest, why not throw your support to Knightro?  Head over to the game's website and follow the prompts to vote.  You'll find Knightro in the Conference USA division.  Rumor has it that he's currently in the top ten, too.  Everyone loves to support a winner, especially if that winner is a golden knight without a face.  You can't dispute that logic.  Polls close March 14, 2008, so vote early and vote often.

WARNING! Challenger Approaching!

Super Smash Brothers As we wait for the imminent North American release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii there are lots of people who are reaching back to the two previous games in the series for a little practice and training.  With only two options for some pre-Brawl Smash action, some people are wondering which game is better.  Is the original Smash for the Nintendo 64 the ideal experience, or does the GameCube sequel best it?  The debate rages on at Ask Metafilter.

Do you like the original Super Smash Brothers, for Nintendo 64, more than the sequel, Super Smash Brothers Melee? If so, why?  With the release of SSB Brawl just days away and my desire to play the game having reached epic proportions, I've been reading any information I can find on the game. One thing I've noticed is a decent camp of people who think that Melee was disappointing and hope that Brawl is more like the N64 original.  I loved the original game back in the N64 days, but I've always thought that Melee improved on it in just about every way imaginable. So I'm posing the question here: if you liked the N64 version of Smash Brothers more than the GameCube version, why do you feel that way?

How could anyone possibly like the original game over Melee?  I mean, just look at this video tribute to the original Super Smash Bros. that PTB reader and Smash devotee Guy Perfect created.  Could someone really love a game like this?

The answer?  You'd better believe it.  I've even softened my take on the original Smash over the past year.  What can I say?  I'm a pushover for the old 3D polygonal Mario model.  Ah, memories...

Panic And Chaos At Retro Sabotage

Pac-man panic Don't you just hate it when you're playing Tetris and the dog from Duck Hunt keeps getting in the way?  Or when Pac-Man chomps on too many power pellets and starts eating the maze?  Or when the invaders from space in Space Invaders don't respect your really big gun?  If so then you should definitely not check out Retro Sabotage.  This collection of familiar classic games with a tweaked twist would drive you to drink.  A new fractured take on a beloved game appears every Thursday.  Take a few minutes to play through an old favorite, but be sure to bring your sense of humor and expect the unexpected. 

China Warrior's Hollow Promises

China Warrior You all should know by now how much I treasure my beloved old video game cartridges and the stories behind how I acquired each of them.  I'm not the only one who waves the flag for cartridge stories, however.  Benj Edwards over at Vintage Computing and Gaming has come forward to tell the tale of how he once traded one of the best video games of all time for the deplorable China Warrior.

One weekend, my father took me and my brother to the local flea market. It was there, at a video game sales booth, that I first saw China Warrior’s shiny jewel case in the flesh. Luckily for me (or so I thought at the time), the seller offered TurboGrafx-16 games with the trade-in of two NES games. In my zeal to possess the ultimate in video game entertainment, I foolishly traded in Super Mario Bros. 3 and another NES game (I can’t remember which) for China Warrior. That had to be — and I say this with no reservation, sarcasm, or irony — the worst trade of all time.

This is why I never let any of my old games go.  I could have traded Mario Is Missing for something better (or even just perceived at the time as better), but then there'd always be that "one that got away" sensation clouding over any mention of that game.  I feel less devotion to modern day game discs however, and I can't decide if that's because of my increasing age, the fact that games aren't as costly to me anymore (purchasing them with meager allowance savings versus a little bit of my ongoing income), or the idea that I just play so many more games these days than I did as a child or teen (thanks to my Kombo reviewing duties).  I could let Frogger: Ancient Shadow for the Nintendo GameCube go without a second thought, but you'd have to pry A Boy and His Blob for the Nintendo Entertainment System from my cold dead hands.  I'd love to spend more time on this self-analyzation and introspection stuff, but I have to go hug my Game Boy games now. 

Just For Kicks

Mega kick! I've returned to Mega Man: Powered Up for the Sony PlayStation Portable recently and have been working to complete the levels I skipped the last time aroundAs you'll recall, this is the Mega Man game that features playable Robot Masters in addition to Mega Man, meaning that it's possible to complete the game with characters such as Cut Man and Elec Man.  Each character has a trademark special weapon or ability of some sort.  Even Mega Man himself is upgradable.  Complete all of Mega Man's levels on Easy Mode to unlock the blue bomber's sliding ability from Mega Man 3 and onwards.  Complete his levels on Normal Mode to unlock the chargeable Mega Buster weapon from Mega Man 4.  Complete the Hard Mode levels to unlock... a downgrade!  Yes, the game's final challenge is a playable Mega character who is essentially just Mega Man without the ability to collect special weapons or even use his own built-in arm cannon.  His only offensive maneuver is a wicked short-range kick.  While an interesting challenge, playing as this Mega fellow and attempting to kick the Robot Masters to bits has really made me appreciate special weapons and power-ups all the more.  I promise to never look down on the likes of seemingly useless weapons like Top Man's top spin or Toad Man's rain flush ever again.  At least they're more effective than Mega's kick.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

Bubble BobbleHow did you start gaming?  Did you receive a Nintendo Entertainment System at a young age?  Were you swayed into the fun by the Sony PlayStation?  Did Wii Sports charm your previously non-digital preferences?  There's plenty of reasons why we've fallen into our hobby and over at Kombo's forums folks are sharing the stories and telling the tales.

As much time as we all spend gaming and talking about games on these forums, I think it would be interesting to find out how each of us started gaming in the first place. Whether you began on a PC, a home console, a handheld, or in the arcade, give us a few details of your earliest gaming experiences so we can better understand each other's point of view.

You all know my gaming origin story by now.  What's yours?

Weekly Poll: Playing Favorites

Weekly Poll for 2-25-2008I expected the vote to go EA's way with last week's poll question about the proposed acquisition of Take-Two by Electronic Arts, but I really didn't expect much of a showing from the "nobody" option.  I tossed that choice into the poll as a last-minute pessimistic thought, but maybe there's something to the gloom and doom rumblings.  If nothing else, should this buy-out go through and Take-Two's products are run into the ground at EA's expense, I now have an excuse to run through the streets shouting "The prophecy has been fulfilled!"

Now, I don't know about you all, but I'm getting tired of waiting for Super Smash Bros. to be released for the Nintendo Wii.  No, I'm not talking about Brawl's impending release.  At least we have a date for that.  I'm talking about the the original Nintendo 64 game that started it all and its inevitable release to the Virtual Console.  One would think such a thing would have occurred today in North America with just one week to go until the sequel arrives, as Nintendo has used appropriately timed releases of classic games like the original Metroid and Super Mario Bros. 3 to help boost awareness of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Super Mario Galaxy.  So, with Brawl just one week away, what do we get today?  Super Turrican.  PTB reader Guy Perfect sums up his frustrations over this sort of thing thusly:

The waiting is the hardest part

The waiting is the hardest part

The waiting is the hardest part

The waiting is the hardest part

That's a long way to go just to get to this week's poll question, but here it is: which of the original twelve playable Super Smash Bros. characters is your favorite?  Are you a Mario man?  A Link lady?  A Fox fanatic, maybe?  Let's hear your thoughts while we wait for either the original game or Brawl (whichever comes first).

Wal-Mart Wants Street Dates Over Ship Dates

Wii Ship I never thought I'd find myself siding with Wal-Mart over something related to policy, but the gaming industry can make for strange bedfellows sometimes.  Consider this statement from the company's corporate buyer blog in which the need for consistent street dates (e.g. "New DVD Tuesdays") is emphasized over our current system of "well, the game ships on Sunday so you'll find it in stores on Monday or maybe next week sometime; I dunno, just whenever we unpack it from the shipping crate I guess we'll put it on the shelf if we have time."

Expect More Street Dated Releases – Here too, we have much to learn from our brethren in music and movies. You know that Tuesday is the day for big releases in movies and music. Even smaller releases are out on Tuesday. With some of the marketing and development costs we heard last week, there is no need to just ship date these titles. A street date serves as a call to action for the consumer. Hey, if I were spending $10 MILLION on just marketing a title, I would want a street date. Only one retailer does not want street dates, the other retailers want them. Seems that less than 30% of the industry is trying to have it their way. It just does not make sense to the industry or the consumers.

I've been hoping for street date announcements for years now.  Ship dates are nice, but just don't provide a definitive expectation for when I can expect to walk into a store and buy a game right off the shelf.  No preordering, no calling ahead, no pestering a salesclerk to find out if the game is even in the building yet.  If DVDs and CDs can pull off a unified release day, why not games?

(via MetaFilter of all places)

Great Moments In Muncher History

Shortpacked: Great Moments In Muncher History Today is my twenty-seventh birthday.  I find myself feeling a little nostalgic this morning for days gone by with respect to culture and media.  For as much as I love HD video, motion-controlled gaming, and the awesome power of high speed Internet, sometimes I miss the little simple things.  During my morning web rounds I flipped over to Shortpacked and found that I'm not the only one gazing into the past today.  I'm right on the cusp of not fully appreciating this particular comic tribute to the old Number Muncher edutainment game, but I'm just about the required age needed to feel that warm yesteryear glow.  It's great moments in Muncher history.  Suddenly I'm sitting back in Mrs. Hovis's third grade class circa 1989 and trying to coax one of the many Commodore 64 or Apple IIe computers to life before the morning bell rings.