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August 2008

The Godfather 2 Poised To Pull You Back In

The Godfather 2 I was surprisingly pleased with Electronic Arts's take on The Godfather, so now that a sequel is on the way I find myself wondering how the development team plans to top their previous effort.  The new game is headed for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, and PC (no Nintendo Wii version?  How will I gleefully choke the life out of my enemies?).  Executive producer Hunter Smith explains the process of deciding which aspects the world of The Godfather need some special attention.

When I think about games I focus on two things - what is the fantasy I'm after, and what is the actual game I'm playing.  What are the tools, short and long term goals, mechanics, cycles and pathways to success, to the end game that are designed and built into the fabric of a game experience.  It seems obvious, but often in our industry, we get stuck at the first section so we can market the product and then reuse old tools to try and make it a game without often thinking about how the experience needs to have both questions answered.  For me to want to play, I need t he same motivation I get from playing anything  -  whether it's Freecell, a video game, sports - what are my goals, what are my tools , and how do I win ?   When we applied this thinking to doing a sequel to The Godfather I , it helped us focus beyond the property to the essence of the world behind it, to look for that something that we thought we could turn into a compelling game.

The game is currently set for release in February 2009.  Y'know, I really need to go back to the first game and finishing clearing it out.  I left behind a few loose ends that need to be tied up (if you know what I mean).  Now, where did I leave my piano wire Wii remote?

Last Minute Conflict Steams Bionic Commando: Rearmed Fans

Bionic Commando: Rearmed At last, the blessed day is here and Bionic Commando: Rearmed has hit the Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade, Sony PlayStation Network, and a few PC distribution sites.  I've been waiting all day for the game to come up for sale on my download service of choice, Valve's popular Steam, only to find out that if I wanted to stick with Steam I would be waiting quite a long time.  Apparently there's been a breakdown between publisher and distributor because Rearmed is no longer bound for Steam.  Capcom-Unity forum moderator Sven has the bad news.

Actually, I do have some bad news on the Steam front. At the last minute, we've been unable to reach mutually agreeable terms with Valve on BCR, so they won't be carrying it (unfortunately you'll have to get it elsewhere). I won't get into the details but we do continue to have a good relationship with Valve and future Capcom titles we expect to be carried on Steam.

You'll find BCR available tomorrow on Direct2Drive at 8AM PST. Other sites (like our Capcom e-store and will come on shortly thereafter.

Within a few days (or perhaps sooner, just waiting on some package tests), you'll find it at more than a dozen other sites (including,,, etc.).

Desperate for my Rearmed action, I skipped across the metaphorical street to Direct2Drive.  I don't know what went down between Capcom and Valve, but it's a shame that the two couldn't see eye to eye.  Ah, the download has finished.  Hang on, Super Joe, I'm-a comin'!

Alleged Sonic Unleashed Box Art Simple And Effective

Sonic Unleashed Say what you will about this alleged box art for the upcoming multiplatform Sonic Unleashed that's started floating around the Internet, but at first glance I have to say that I like it.  It's simple, yet effective.  Those of us familiar with Sonic's better days can gravitate towards the left half of the image, while those of you out there who want a grittier, darker blue blur can focus on the right half.  Then we can all meet up in the middle for bitter disappointment.  No, wait, I promised I'd stay optimistic about this one. 

(via Kombo)

New Celebrity Sports Showdown Boggles Mind

Celebrity Sports Showdown In what has to be an example of a solution in search of a problem, Electronic Arts has announced Celebrity Sports Showdown for the Nintendo Wii in which players can take on the role of nearly a dozen pop culture figures and rush them through various sporting events.  If you've ever wanted to see animated renditions of Nelly Furtado and Avril Lavigne playing a round of beach volleyball for some reason, here's your chance.

The game is expected to release this winter exclusively on the Wii, and will include 10 celebrities to choose from and 12 events to compete in.

Celebrities featured listed below:

  • Fergie
  • Avril Lavigne
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Keith Urban
  • Nelly Furtado
  • Paul Pierce
  • Mia Hamm
  • Kristi Yamaguchi
  • Reggie Bush
  • Sugar Ray Leonard

Games featured listed below:

  • Beach Volleyball
  • Inner-Tubing
  • Wild Water Canoeing
  • Hurdle Derby
  • Slalom Showdown
  • Cliff Hangers
  • Smash Badminton
  • Rapid Fire Archery
  • Joust Duel
  • Curling
  • Arena Dodgeball
  • Air Racers

There has to be an audience somewhere for this title, but I'm not so sure I'd want to meet it. I know the idea behind these casual-market games is to eventually turn the casual players into core gamers, but I wish we could speed that process along to the point where empty calorie games like Showdown are no longer needed.

Mega Man 9 Achievements Revealed

Mega Man Considering the multiplatform nature of the upcoming Mega Man 9, deciding which version of the game to buy can be somewhat vexing.  Should you go with the Nintendo Wii version so you can play with the classic Nintendo Entertainment System controls?  What about the Microsoft Xbox 360 version and its various Achievements? Then there's the Sony Pla— hey, wait a minute: Achievements!  Kombo has the list of Achievements that Xbox 360 players will struggle to earn.

  • Jitterbug: Clear the game in 60 minutes or less (20 points)
  • Invincible: Clear the game without dying (30 points)
  • Almost Invincible: Clear the game without continuing (20 points)
  • No Coffee Break: Clear the game without using any Energy or Mystery Tanks (10 points)
  • Peacekeeper: Clear the game by defeating the fewest number of enemies possible (20 points)
  • Conservationist: Clear the game by using the least amount of Weapon Energy possible (20 points)
  • Gamer's Day: Clear the game 5 times in 1 day (20 points)
  • Whomp Wily!: Clear the game once (5 points)
  • Destroyer: Defeat your 1000th enemy (20 points)
  • World Warrior: Defeat every type of enemy (5 points)
  • Trusty Sidearm: Defeat the 8 Bosses with the Mega Buster (20 points)
  • Blue Bomber: Defeat a Boss without getting damaged (10 points)

Anyone looking to earn all of these points needs to have serious skills, plenty of patience, and lots of free time.  Did you see the requirement for the Gamer's Day goal?  Mega Man 9 is definitely trying to capture the spirit of the original NES games, as it's been fifteen years since I've had the free time necessary to beat a Mega Man game five times in a single day.

Original Bionic Commando Rejected For Virtual Console

Bionic CommandoAfter resting for so many years, the Bionic Commando franchise is swinging back with not one, but two new adventures currently in development.  There's the new big 3D Bionic Commando and the modern 2D remake of the original Nintendo Entertainment System game.  It seems like this would be the perfect opportunity to bring the original 8-bit game to the Wii's Virtual Console, but alas, it is not meant to be.  Capcom wanted to offer the game, but Nintendo put the kibosh on that idea.  Capcom's Ben Judd explains:

I can't say why. I can just say that we tried to get it to work. We're huge fans of the game. When you think about it, it totally makes sense as a strategy to have the original game out there in some format that people can play and see what was so great about it. But we were told no.

I can understand Nintendo's position from a business point of view.  Both new Bionic adventures are for non-Nintendo hardware.  Why would Nintendo want to help promote the competition?  Sure, the company would get some of that sweet, sweet Virtual Console revenue, but Nintendo isn't exactly aching for income right now.  It can afford to not bring in this money if it helps from sending more money to competiting products.  Maybe we'll see the game again somewhere down the line when either the new Bionic games are old news or if Capcom decides to develop a Bionic title for the Wii or Nintendo DS.  Either way, I wouldn't expect to see it anytime soon.

The Scandalous Hobbies Of Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru MiyamotoIt's become a known fact that Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto draws inspiration for new video games from his various hobbies and experiences.  For instance, when his family adopted a puppy, he came up with Nintendogs.  Gardening led to Pikmin.  When he started to mind his weight, he struck upon Wii Fit.  Why, even his childhood adventures of exploring caves and running from large animals sparked both The Legend of Zelda and the fearsome Chain Chomp enemy from Super Mario Bros. 3.  Now there's a report floating around out there that Miyamoto's hobbies are no longer something he can discuss with the press lest a competitor figure out the gaming idea connected to his latest pastime.

According to sources at Nintendo, the games designer has been banned by the company from speaking publicly about his hobbies.  It's not that they are naughty, illegal or even nerdish, it's just that any glimpse inside his head could be worth billions. Particularly so now: the Wii still sells strongly around the world, but its successor is the talking point. Unfortunately, the only place where the discussion has any grounding is inside Mr Miyamoto's head.

GamePolitics says "It would be kind of amusing if it turned out that [Miyamoto's] new hobby was something either unmarketably freaky or irretrievably boring" which I think is an interesting point.  The last thing we need is a Nintendogs sequel born from Miyamoto's newfound interest in taxidermy.

(via Kombo)

Weekly Poll: Plenty Of Options

Weekly Poll for 8-04-2008I can understand why there's a popular sentiment to open up next year's E3 to the general public, but I'm going to have to selfishly disagree and wish that the expo would return to the old fashioned large bright blow-out that keeps the current invitation-only structure.  There's a lot to see and do in a flashy E3 and lots of work to be done.  Opening the doors to the public leads to jamming the Los Angeles Convention Center so full of people that it would be very difficult to complete assignments with any sort of punctuality.  Then there's general conduct issues to consider.  Have you ever tried to play a demo kiosk at Wal-Mart, Target, or other big box store?  The general public can't be trusted to treat shared property with any consideration.  It's a virtual guarantee that these demo units are damaged, vandalized, or otherwise destroyed.  I shudder to think of trying to cover an expo plagued with gouged touch screens, broken control sticks, and cracked casings.  I just don't see a general admission E3 working out for the best.

The time draws near, my friends.  In a month or two I shall take the leap into high definition gaming with the purchase of a Sony PlayStation 3, as even though Ghostbusters has been delayed into next year, I'm more than ready to finally take on Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.  This will be the second current generation console to be welcomed into my home.  How many current generation consoles do you own?  Just one?  Two?  All three?  Let's hear about it.

Nintendo Famicom Autopsy

FamicomWe spend so much time focusing on video games that sometimes we forget about the hardware that brings Mario, Ratchet, or Master Chief to life.  What goes on inside those mysterious plastic shells?  Are there little hamsters running on exercise wheels next to the processor?  Are the Pikmin hard at work coordinating the Wii's Wi-Fi capabilities?  Just as I learned about biology in middle school by dissecting a worm, the time has come to open up a vintage Nintendo Famicom (you know, the Japanese Nintendo Entertainment System,) and the disk system add-on to see what makes/made them tick.

The Famicom Disk System had one major Achilles heel: a rubber drive belt, which often broke or melted into a pile of gunk with the consistency of bubble gum. As a result, finding a working FDS today that hasn't had its drive belt replaced is impossible. Furthermore, finding replacement belts in the United States is also hard, due to the belt's unique size.

Something else that I learned back in middle school was involved writing a properly structured research paper (well, proper for middle school).  I was allowed to choose my own topic, so I set out to explore how the NES functions.  My primary resource was a then-current issue of Nintendo Power that diagrammed some of the chips and parts inside the beloved gray box.  The last page of the report looked ahead to the Super NES's hardware and included a small low resolution screenshot of the then-upcoming Mega Man X2 that I found on a very primitive gaming website.  I scored an A on the paper with extra credit for the screenshot, as the teacher was impressed that I'd managed to not only include an image in the paper, but the image was so clear that she couldn't figure out how I'd taken a photo of the television without distorting the picture.  Ah yes, those were the days when anything involving computers and the Internet were completely mysterious and magical.

Madden NFL '09 Box Out Of Date Already

Madden NFL '09 I know that they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but after reading about the calamity stirred up in the sports world today regarding Brett Farve, I'm starting to see the truth behind the aphorism.  Farve is the cover athlete on the Madden NFL '09 football game (which is due out next week), and up until this morning he was accurately depicted on the cover in his old Green Bay Packers uniform.  Now that Favre is bound to the New York Jets, the Madden cover is suddenly out of date before it even reaches stores.  What can be done to correct this act of maluniformage?  MTV digs deep into the panic that must be happening over at Madden publisher Electronic Arts today.

Here are the details we got from EA, in the words of a company spokesperson:

  • Madden NFL 09 will hit stores on Aug 12 with Brett Favre on the cover in his Green Bay Packers uniform.
  • We do not plan to re-issue packaging, but WILL offer a free downloadable cover in the coming days on featuring Brett Favre in a Jets uniform. Fans can print this new cover out and insert it into the case of Madden NFL 09.

You know, I think that if this problem is your largest issue right now, then maybe you need more to do with your days.