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September 2008

Yet Another Big Wii Sale At Amazon.com Today Only

Buy somethin' will ya!These big video game sales over at Amazon.com are becoming a regular event, it seems.  Today the store is offering limited time deals on the following games at various times during the day:

All day: Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (Wii) - $13.98 (Reg $29.99)
6AM PDT Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 (Wii) - $19.97 (Reg $39.99)
10AM PDT No More Heroes (Wii) - $19.98 (Reg $27.99)
11AM PDT Mercury Meltdown: Revolution (Wii) - $9.98 (Reg $16.99)
12PM PDT My Word Coach (Wii) - $9.98 (Reg $14.99)
1 PDT Ferrari Challenge (Wii) - $29.98 (Reg $46.99)
3PM PDT Fishing Master (Wii) - $19.98 (Reg $29.99)
6PM PDT Little League World Series Baseball '08 (Wii) - $29.98 (Reg $49.99)

So we start the day with mildly interesting games and then descend into the dark realm of the casual gamer.  Oh well, they can't all be AAA+ core blockbuster titles.


Robot Chicken Targets Excitebike

Excitebike When you want action figures to skewer pop culture elements of the past twenty-five years it's best to turn to Adult Swim's Robot Chicken.  The series has been parodying video game elements for quite some time, and this past Sunday's new episode featured an Excitebike sketch.  I talk a little bit about it over at Kombo or you can just see the clip in question right here.

But why stop there?  Read on for some of my other favorite Robot Chicken gaming segments.

Continue reading "Robot Chicken Targets Excitebike" »


Penn And Teller: Bullshit! To Cover Game Violence

Penn And Teller UPDATE: The episode has aired.

They've debunked all kinds of pseudoscience, exposed fallacies, and even taken a swing at bottled water, but now skeptical magicians Penn and Teller are apparently going to take a look at video game copycat violence on their Showtime television series, Bullshit!.  I've raised the issue today over at Kombo.

I've been waiting for this show to take on this topic for quite a while now. The duo have a knack for interviewing people from both sides of a hot button issue (past episodes have explored things such as global warming, Wal-Mart, exorcisms, and expensive trendy bottled water) with the catch that "wrong" side is usually represented by kooks whose incendiary methods override their messages. The show also uses excessive profanity in place of claims and statements that could be considered libelous.

The gaming community's self-appointed nemesis, Jack Thompson, claims to be part of the episode.  He ceased to be relevant a while ago, but I must admit that I'm looking forward to hearing Bullshit! host Penn Jillette introduce him with the recurring line "And then there's this asshole..."  Consider it a guilty pleasure.


Mega Man 9 Gets A Cartridge And A Box

Mega Man 9 It's almost time for Capcom to unleash Mega Man 9 for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360, so that must mean that the review copies of the game have been sent out to the world of gaming journalism.  What better way to make a game created in the spirit of 1987 ooze that authentic Nintendo Entertainment System flair than to send out old fashioned game paks complete with box

When we came up with the concept of a "box art" for Mega Man 9, we thought it was kinda funny, since there would be no real retail box for a dowloadable title.  The premise of our marketing concept for the game was to promote this title like it was 1987, complete with cheesy art and game descriptions (read the back of the box) that had little to do with the actual game.

We then started to think, well why not?  Why don't we recreate an old NES package complete with a real NES cartridge?  So, here it is.  What do you think?

Unfortunately, we weren't able to put the full game on these cartridges (the licensing and legal issues were a headache and not worth the trouble), but I agree, it would've been cool.  Instead, these carts contain a small CD with artwork, game information and screenshots.

This is the most fantastic thing I've seen from a press kit in a very long time.  Capcom is apparently planning to make a very few of these nostalgia-in-a-box kits for sale to the general public in the future.  I bet there are superfans out there who would pay a lot to own one of these faux game paks.  As much as I'd like to own one, somehow being able to just buy it doesn't seem quite as special as getting a review copy surprise in the morning FedEx delivery.  There's a certain specialness to this press kit that seems diminished if it's available to anyone who wants one.

That reminds me, I really do need to reach out to Capcom's media relations department...


Mini-Review: Video Games Live - Volume One (CD)

Video Games Live - Volume One Near the beginning of the year I bought a ticket to a Video Games Live concert, a one-night-only performance that had finally scheduled an evening near my home.  I had a seat all ready to go, front row center, but ultimately missed the show thanks to an unexpected last-minute long afternoon and evening at my doctor's office.  As excited as I had been to experience the raw power and raging volume of some of video gaming's most timeless tunes performed orchestrally, in the end my poor health won out and I found myself wondering just what I'd missed that night.  Time heals all wounds, however, and now eight months later a copy of the concert's first album, Video Games Live - Volume One, has landed on my doorstep.  This CD may not be a front row seat, but it's got to be the next best thing.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Video Games Live - Volume One (CD)" »


Charles Martinet Dishes On Mario, Luigi, And Wario

Charlesmartinet_3 Anyone who has played a Super Mario game in the past decade has certainly heard the familiar "Woo-hoo!" of Charles Martinet, the voice behind some of Nintendo's most iconic characters.  David Oxford over at Kombo recently had the opportunity to speak with him and learn the origin of all those seemingly random Italian exclamations.

Kombo: Okay, now a couple of weeks ago, on one of the Kombo podcasts you described how you got the part of Mario, can you briefly recap that for us?

Charles: Sure, that was a lot of fun. You know, I was... I think if I recall right, I was lying on a beach somewhere, when a friend of mine called and said "hey, you should go and audition for this Italian plumber for a trade show, you know?" and I said "Oh, I don't want to crash an audition, I've never crashed an audition in my life..." And of course, what do I do? I go anyway, and I knock on the door and open it up, and there's the producer there with the camera, and it's already put away, and I said "Can I just read for this?" and he said "Oh, alright. You're an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, you're gonna have these face-things on your face, and everything's gonna be glued on, and we don't even know if it's gonna work... but you're going to move your mouth and face, and this character is going to do the same thing. Now, he's an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, so do that... and make up a video game."

So long story short, it just popped into my head "Hello! It's-a me, Mario! Okie-dokie, let's make a pizza pie together! You get some sausage, and... *goes into whole pizza schpiel*" ...and I just, I don't know what I did, but I just kept talking and talking until the tape ran out, and they're just "Stop! Stop! Stop! The tape is gone! Thanks, we'll be in touch." Which, of course as you know is the kiss of death for an actor. But I walked out of the room, and he called up Don James and said "I found our Mario." And mine was the only tape that he sent, of the many, many tapes that he had made. So... yaaaay!

That was... 19 years ago, I think it's going on 20 years ago... *laughs* It's amazing how time flies.

Normally this is where I'd trot out my story about the time that I beat Charles at Mario Kart DS a few years ago, but I think we've all heard that one enough times.  I really should get a fresh Charles Martinet story.


Weekly Poll: Series Of Tubes

Weekly Poll for 9-08-2008Most of you out there have two controllers for your primary game console.  This could have been an open-ended question depending on which console you own.  I consider my Nintendo Wii to be my primary console right now, but while I only have a single Wii remote, I also have a nunchuk and a classic controller.  So does the classic controller count as another controller even though it must connect to the remote in order to function?  Do I count my two GameCube controllers that some games support?  What about the DK bongos and action pad for Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix that are both compatible?  One thing is for sure, however: I need more storage space for all of these input devices.

We've finally reached the era where connecting game consoles to the Internet is expected of us.  Be it for online multiplayer, downloadable games, or just browsing the web, game publishers just assume that we've plugged our consoles into that great big series of tubes that we call the Internet.  How do you have your primary console connected to the online world?  Wi-Fi?  Old fashioned network cable?  Or are you not online at all?  Let's hear your thoughts. 


Cramp Your Fingers With Samba De Amigo

Samba De Amigo Once upon a time there was a little music/rhythm game from Sega called Samba De Amigo.  Players were cast as a smiley monkey named Amigo and tasked with shaking special maraca controllers to the beat of the latin music.  Think of it like a Dance Dance Revolution experience that involves moving your arms instead of your legs.  Amigo stood out as one of the Sega Dreamcast's popular titles, but aside from cameos from Amigo in a variety of other Sega games, the series itself has largely been dormant for nearly a decade.  At least, until now.  Samba De Amigo is headed for the Nintendo Wii later this month, and while the maracas have been traded for the Wii remote and nunchuk, the core gameplay supposedly remains the same.  You say you can't wait that long to get your monkey music going?  Check out this little web widget game that not only familiarizes the concept for new players, but also will cause finger cramps after a few rounds.

I would think this new Amigo title would sell well on the Wii considering that the casual audience loves music games and longtime Amigo fans are eager to dive in all over again.  One would hope that the game is actually fun, too.  Lots of folks had high hopes for the return of NiGHTS this generation and we remember how that one turned out...

If you're interested in the songs that will be available in the new Amigo, then read on:

Continue reading "Cramp Your Fingers With Samba De Amigo" »


Family Guy Creator Targets Mario, Princess

Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Comedy Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and American Dad fame has a new animated project that offers short scenes that lampoon elements of popular culture.  Essentially, it's the cutaways from Family Guy that stand on their own instead of being set up by "This is like the time that I..." dialog.  The first target for Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Comedy involves Mario's quest to rescue Princess Peach and the disappointment that follows.

I'm impressed with how on-model Mario and the Princess are depicted (minus the missing M on Mario's plumber's cap).  They remind me of the old Super Mario Bros. Super Show at times, and of course that's MacFarlane himself providing Mario's voice.  It seems to me that the best way to launch a new Internet cartoon series is to parody a video game as soon as possible.  Players love to spread solid game-related humor from the mainstream, so why invest in a massive advertising budget when gleeful fans will freely promote the project?


Mega Man 9 Downloadable Content Discussed

Magma Man We haven't even had the chance to explore the upcoming Mega Man 9 for Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox and there are already rumors buzzing about the nature of downloadable content that would extend the experience.  Kombo has a list of supposed gimmicks and modes that we'll be able to download sometime in the not-too-distant future.

  • Buster Shot Mods: Buster can fire different kinds of pellets such as a three way spread buster and a homing shot. No weapon energy used.
  • Shooting Star Rockman: Rockman from the Shooting Star series is a playable character. Once downloaded, you can equip him in the Costume menu. (Japan only)
  • Remixed Music: Download remixed BGMs, replaces 8-bit music.
  • Title screens: Download new title screen images. One in particular, features Rock and friends "jumping for joy."
  • Blues (Editor's Note: That's Proto Man, for the uninitiated): Yes, Blues is playable. Has his own set of moves/attacks. (Actually, he kinda sucks. Controls too loosely.)
  • Auto messages: At some point in the game, Auto converses with Rock. This download changes what he talks about. One message featured Auto giving Rock his horoscope .
  • DLC may or may not be "free." Capcom is considering options to make DLC redeemable. Wants to reward players for hard work.

Anything that expands on the basic game is fine with me.  I'd hope that Capcom would support Mega Man 9 just as it did with Mega Man: Powered Up for the Sony PlayStation Portable.  As you may recall, Powered Up featured frequent new downloadable content for about a year after the game's release.  Mega Man 9 is supposedly due to hit the download services the week of September 22, so start saving your points for the outlet of your choice.