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September 2008

Robot Chicken Welcomes Pooka and Fygar

Another week, another new episode of Adult Swim's Robot Chicken. This week's episode featured another video game parody sketch, this time based on the classic arcade game Dig Dug. Get your bicycle pumps ready!

Ah, Pooka and Fygar. Now there's a duo that deserves an RPG buddy cop adventure action game. Of course, you'd spend all of your time trying to level up Fygar's flame breath because, really, what amazing skill does Pooka bring to the party? Aside from his ability to burst when overinflated, I mean.

Weekly Poll: Carded

Poll092208I hope that you're all enjoying Mega Man 9 regardless of which console you're using (or will use) to play it.  Like most of you, I went with the Nintendo Wii version.  Turn the Wii remote on its side and suddenly it's 1987 all over again.  I'm still working my way through the adventure and I'm in no hurry to finish.  I've cleared out all of the Robot Masters and am working my way through the first of Dr. Wily's Skull Castle stages.  Damn those horizontal magma beam traps!  Now that I know their secret, however, it's only a matter of time before I find some other frustrating obstacle to temporarily halt my progress.

Moving on, have you seen where Nintendo has reprinted and re-released Clubhouse Games for the Nintendo DS?  Surely you remember the game.  It's the collection of card and board games that you most likely passed over when it was new.  I don't understand why the game did not sell better the first time around.  I mean, it's all classic card games.  People love card games!  After all, they wouldn't pass the time with Microsoft Windows's included solitaire diversion, gather virtual friends for Xbox Live Arcade poker night, or gamble away small fortunes at online blackjack if they didn't enjoy it on some level, right?  So, what about you?  Do you usually play card video games?  By yourself?  Online for fun?  Online for money?  Let's hear about it.  Say, do you think they fixed the static bug for this reprint?

New Nintendo DS Rumors Solidify

Yoshi's coins Rumors that Nintendo is hard at work on another Nintendo DS hardware revision have been with us for a while, but lately the rumor mill has been working overtime on insisting that Nintendo is days away from announcing a new model of DS.  Fact or fiction?  You be the judge.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd plans to launch a new model of its DS handheld machine that can take pictures and play music by the end of the year, the Nikkei business daily said on Sunday.

The move would pit the top-selling portable game gear with Apple Inc iPod and camera-embedded cellphones in general.

The price for the new machine, which will also be equipped with advanced wireless communications functions, is expected to be below 20,000 yen ($189) in Japan, compared with 16,800 yen for the current model, the Nikkei said.

There is a rather sudden and semi-large Nintendo press conference scheduled for later this week, and the topic to be discussed is still unannounced.  Could this be the new DS's grand entrance?  I suppose we'll find out in a few days.  In the meantime, if this is true, I hope Nintendo knows what its doing if it plans to compete against the iPod and/or cameraphone world in general.  Aside from the whole "jack of all trades, master of none" cliche, Nintendo may be profit king of the gaming industry, but there's a much larger playing field out there with its own rules and bullies.  Personally, all I want from a DS revision is the ability to transfer some of the less processor-intensive Virtual Console games to it.  Give me Mega Man 2 on the go and I'll be happy.  That's right, I'm prepared to pay more money to play the same games again and again in new places.  Admitting the problem is the first step towards solving it.

(via Kombo)

Robot Masters On Parade, Part 5

Mega Man 9 Capcom cranked out one last Mega Man game before the Super Famicom was completely replaced by the Nintendo 64, although it took several years for that game to make it to North America (and when it did, it arrived as a Game Boy Advance title).  Mega Man and Bass included two returning Robot Masters from Mega Man 8, but the remaining six robots really didn't bring anything new to the series.  Cold Man follows in the footsteps of characters such as Ice Man, Blizzard Man, Freeze Man, and Frost Man, for example.  The original Mega Man series went into hibernation for a few years, returning with Mega Man 9 and eight new Robot Masters that try to break new ground.  Splash Woman is the first female Robot Master in the series, proving that even rebelling robots can break through the glass ceiling.  Bonus points to Capcom and developer Inti Creates for not giving into stereotypes by assigning the female role to Jewel Man.  Still, some of the new designs are derivative of older creations.  Tornado Man looks a heck of a lot like Gyro Man, while Magma Man has a lot in common with Needle Man and Napalm Man.  Still, after all this time it's nice to have some new Robot Masters to observe, so in the end I say we go easy on the similarities and just enjoy the ride.

Cold Man
Cold Man

Continue reading "Robot Masters On Parade, Part 5" »

Robot Masters On Parade, Part 4

Mega Man 7 Capcom finally left the 8-bit Mega Man world behind in 1995, and with extra power at the heart of the Super NES, Sega Saturn, and Sony PlayStation, the Robot Master designers went a little overboard with adding new details and attempted realism.  More colors, larger canvases, and less personality were hallmarks of this era, almost as if the developers were trying a little too hard to show off the latest iteration of "next generation graphics" at work.  The character artwork created for Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 bring us to the penultimate part of Robot Masters On Parade. 

Freeze Man
Freeze Man

Continue reading "Robot Masters On Parade, Part 4" »

Limited Edition Packages Are Too Much, Too Soon

Mirror's Edge bundle In the old days a game series had to have some history and longevity in order to spawn spin-off merchandise.  It had to earn a devoted audience over the course of several years and a sequel or two.  Then, eventually, fans had the chance to take home, say, a piece of Castlevania in the form of a Simon Belmont figurine or a Halo 3 Master Chief helmet.  Now it seems as if it's not enough to produce merely a single video game.  No, the real money is in owning franchises, and we've reached the point where publishers can force new franchises into existence in a single blow.  Why wait for fandom to steadily build for a while when a new upcoming game like Dead Space can emerge into the market fully synergized with animated prequels and comic books and lithographs and a book of concept art all for the low price of $150?  Maybe the new Mirror's Edge is more your style.  $130 will get you the game and a messenger bag emblazoned with related artwork for some reason. Both games are from Electronic Arts.  I'm really curious if gamers will bite on these the way that Electronic Arts seems to believe they will.  Dead Space and Mirror's Edge both have some positive buzz around them, but it just seems too soon to be pushing tie-in merchandise as if these titles are beloved gaming icons worth all the extra attention and money.  Not everything needs to be an instant franchise or come in an overpriced bundle. 

Robot Masters On Parade, Part 3

Mega Man 5 The fantastic Robot Master character artwork created for the Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6 portions of Rockman Complete Works are the focus in this installment of Robot Masters On Parade.  As ideas for physical objects on which to base new Robot Masters starts to run short, the developers have started turning to abstract concepts such as gravity, acceleration, and yamato.  There's even a tour guide robot built in the form of a centaur for some reason.  These Robot Masters prove that there is no "off" position on the genius switch.

Gravity Man
Gravity Man

Continue reading "Robot Masters On Parade, Part 3" »

Game Over For Jack Thompson

Sub-Zero wins The day that plenty of armchair legal analyst gamers have been awaiting is here.  Anti-gaming attorney Jack Thompson has been officially disbarred by Supreme Court of Florida.  Kombo has the story, while Kotaku has a response from the former lawyer, and I'd love to link to GamePolitics which has been following the Thompson saga for a very long time, but their server seems to have imploded at the moment with what are undoubtedly the responses of plenty of overjoyed gamers.

The Court approves the corrected referee's report and John Bruce Thompson is permanently disbarred, effective thirty days from the date of this order so that respondent can close out his practice and protect the interests of existing clients. If respondent notifies the Court in writing that he is no longer practicing and does not need the thirty days to protect existing clients, this Court will enter an order making the permanent disbarment effective immediately. Respondent shall accept no new business from the date this order is filed.

It's tempting to raise the specter of Nelson Muntz and his familiar "Haw-haw!" laugh, but the more I think about it, the more I remember that Thompson's ongoing tilting at windmills slid from semi-legitimate concern into crazy humor territory down to pitiful, unbalanced rambling long ago.  Maybe now that he has some extra time off he'll get the kind of help he seems to need.   

Robot Masters On Parade, Part 2

Mega Man 4 Continuing on with a look at character artwork from the Rockman Complete Works series, today's collection of Robot Masters come from Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 4.  Some of the character designs are beginning to flare towards the unusual, as there are only so many ways one can reuse basic elements such as fire or sharp blades.  This is the era that gave us Robot Masters based on things such as tops, toads, twins, and trash.  Still, some of the concepts are inspired.  Check out the way that Top Man's evil glare forms the rest of the top embedded in his head, for example.

Top Man
Top Man

Continue reading "Robot Masters On Parade, Part 2" »

Welcome Back, Greedy Wario!

Greedy WarioI happily brought Wario Land: Shake It! into my home yesterday, and although I have a feeling that the main adventure will be over within a week (I'm already into the third of five areas after about two hours worth of play), I'd just like to commend Nintendo and developer Good-feel for bringing Wario back to his greedy selfish roots.  We've watched the anti-plumber slide increasingly towards gross-out toilet humor over the past few years, but Shake It! has (so far, at least) done away with the nose picking and flatulence that was becoming the norm.  Instead the action revolves around greed.  Wario's motivation for taking up this latest quest is all about the money.  Sacks of coins are everywhere for the shaking and taking.  It just feels right to have Wario back how he belongs: greedily chasing down every single last coin for his own selfish benefit.  Welcome back, Wario!