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August 2008

Mega Man 9 Rises Above Technical Limitations

Mega Man 9 After Capcom revealed the upcoming retrotacular Mega Man 9, fans began to clamor for some specific old fashioned gaming goodness.  Would the game respect the technical limitations of the original Nintendo Entertainment System hardware?  Would sprites flicker when the screen fills up with too many enemies?  Would the action slow as the console became overtaxed?  Could Capcom produce a limited edition working Mega Man 9 NES game pak just for kicks?  Gamasutra recently sat down with Capcom's Hironobu Takeshita and asked all kinds of questions about the little technical details behind creating a modern NES game.

This couldn't fit on a [NES] cartridge. It's too big. It's too much for that. It's really emulating the old style of games. But we're hoping that when people play, they feel the same nostalgia that they have when they play the original games.

There were some things, like you couldn't have more than three enemies on the screen at once, so we had to make sure that that's how it stayed in our game. In the part with the dragon with the flame, [there should be] flickering, and whatnot.  In the options of this game, you can adjust that, unlike the old games. We purposely put some of those old-school bugs into this game, so it does recreate that feel.

I always thought the collectible game pak was a long shot, but I am glad to see that the old fashioned quirks of the original game engine will be an optional element.  While the slowdown and flicker would be a fun and memorable moment at first, it wouldn't be long until the annoyance and irritation set in. 

AMN Launches Sports Joystick

Sports Joystick The Advanced Media Network (you know, Kombo's parent company) is expanding in a new direction today as we launch our latest initiative, Sports Joystick.  This new site has an aim on sports video games and covers everything from the hardcore Madden crowd to the casual Wii Fit player.

On behalf of the Advanced Media Network and in partnership with, I would like to introduce the Beta launch of Sports Joystick. Sports Joystick is a sports-gamer's dream come true. As a fully focused informational portal that gives sports fans and gamers in-depth news, previews, reviews daily,'s unique perspective on coverage allows our specific audience to fully appreciate their needs and anticipations at the same time.

Put down the ball, step off the balance board, and check out AMN's new endeavor.  Today's stories include news from the world of soccer, summer games, football, extreme sports, and other digital recreations of activities that lead to broken bones and injuries.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I shall retire to my comfortable recliner and sip from a cool glass of ice water.  Outside is overrated anyways. 

Exploring The Earthbound Localization

Earthbound It's been a little while since I dragged the Super NES RPG Earthbound into the spotlight, so it seems like a good time to direct you to an exhaustive list of game elements that were altered or removed when the original Japanese version of the game (Mother 2, as I'm sure you recall) crossed the seas to North America.  It's Mother 2 to Earthbound and Back Again.

In Earthbound, after you first see Paula in the cabin, you'll run into Pokey. He'll say that Carpainter made him an important person in Happy Happyism.

In MOTHER 2, he actually says something more literally like, "And just when it looks like I'm going to be able to be a big shot in Happy Happyism thanks to Mr. Carpainter..."

Obviously, that's a mouthful and it'd need to be trimmed down a LOT to sound more natural. But the difference in nuance here is that 1: Pokey ISN'T an important person in Happy Happyism yet, he's only about to be; and 2: Ness' meddling is getting in the way of Pokey's hope for becoming a big shot in the cult. In other words, this is one of the very first times Ness has messed things up for Pokey. I bet Ness regrets it by the end of the game.

You have played Earthbound by now, right?  I've been very patient with you up until now, but I won't wait around forever.

Conquest Of The Coliseum Of The Apes

Tomb Raider: Anniversary And now, a brief conversation snippet from my office this morning in which I explain a weekend adventure from Tomb Raider: Anniversary.  We join the scene as I explain to one of my game-playing co-workers how I guided heroine Lara Croft through ancient Greek ruins and into a large amphitheater-type environment guarded by fearsome beasts.

MattG: "... and so once I made it into this coliseum place, two large angry gorillas come at me, so I start shooting and then there were two panthers coming at me, so I shot at them too."

Game-playing co-worker: "What about the bats?"

MattG: "I'd already taken care of them."

Confused co-worker, approaching the conversation: "What game is this?"

MattG (without missing a beat and with a deadpan expression): "No game.  This was my weekend."

Confused co-worker: *stunned silence*

Game-playing co-worker: "Nice!"  *high-five*

What can I say?  I have my moments.

Weekly Poll: Where Do W-E3 Go From Here?

Weekly Poll for 7-28-2008Yes, I too am a longtime fan of the familiar reliable ABXY button setup.  I remember when I first wrapped my hands around the Super NES controller and marveled at how Nintendo's engineers had added more buttons to the gamepad experience.  A and B, sure, but an X and a Y?  And L and R to boot?  That had to be the end of the road though.  No way could anyone cram any more buttons into a controller.  Nope, never.  Nuh-uh.

Before we finally put E3 2008 to rest, let me pitch you one last question about the event.  Based on how this year's summit turned out, what form should E3 2009 take?  Another small invite-only affair?  A large bright loud blow-out for industry people as in days of yore?  Or maybe you'd prefer a large bright loud blow-out open to the public?  What about no E3 at all?  Let's hear your thoughts.

The Joyfulness Is Over; Ghostbusters Game Delayed To 2009

Gozer the Gozarian and Vigo the CarpathianMother pus bucket!  With the sudden derailment of plans to publish the upcoming Ghostbusters game thanks to the Activision and Blizzard Entertainment merger, Sony Pictures (that's the key Ghostbusters license holder) has decided to use the confusion to bump the game into next year to coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the original film. Variety has the unfortunate details.

I got some answers today from Sony Pictures, which of course owns the rights to "Ghostbusters" and licensed the IP to Vivendi last year. The studio gave me official word that it is working with Activision Blizzard "to evaluate various options surrounding the release of the 'Ghostbusters' video game." That's obviously vague, but it does contain an important nugget: it wants the game to be released, one way or another.

Sony goes on to state that "this has presented [Sony Pictures Consumer Products] with an opportunity to reevaluate the game release marketing strategy to potentially coincide with the 25th anniversary of the original film in '09."

For whatever reasons, call it... fate, call it luck, call it karma, I believe everything happens for a reason.  As much as I hate to accept it, giving the developers more time to work on the project can only help the quality of the finished product.  Now, I went around and around while writing this here article and wrestled with dozens of Ghostbusters dialog-related references to include, but there's just not enough time to run through them all (three are included here), so instead I direct you to this discussion thread over at which covers the bulk of the available material.