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October 2008

E3 2009 Open To The Public

E3 2005UPDATE: We may not know the entire story yet...

For all of you out there who've always wanted to crash the Electronic Entertainment Expo without the proper journalistic credentials, this one's for you: E3 2009 will be open to the public.  Say what?  The ESA is letting the unwashed masses behind the curtain next year?  There goes the neighborhood.

According to a source close to the process, the convention floor and meeting rooms will open on Tuesday June 2nd to media and industry professionals. On Friday June 5th and Saturday June 6th, however, the show floor will open up to the public.

So, come on out and take early versions of Mega Man 10 and Super Kirby or whatever else is on tap for 2009-10 for a spin.  Just be sure to keep out of the way of those of us attending the show for important serious business reasons of great urgency (e.g. having a blast under the guise of working ourselves into a pixelated frenzy).  You there, get to the end of the line!  I have a deadline to meet!

Weekly Poll: 2D Or Not 2D

Weekly Poll for 10-13-2008Free Nintendo Wii space is becoming a precious commodity at my home, but I soldier on.  I've moved as many save files of games that I'm not actively playing to the SD card and I've cut back on Virtual Console purchases to ensure that when something amazing from the world of WiiWare appears, I won't have to make space and decide which game data lives and which game data dies.

As I've said previously, this is a fantastic time to be a fan of 2D gaming thanks to recent releases such as Wario Land: Shake It!, Mega Man 9, Kirby Super Star Ultra, and now, this week, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.  Why, all of this 2D joy reminds me of the old days when 2D wasn't so much an option as a rule.  Now I love 3D as much as the next gamer, but most of the time, for me, 2D is where it's at.  How about you?  Do you prefer 2D games or 3D games?  And no, you can't claim your old Atari 2600 games as 1D.   

Extra Mega Man 9 Robot Master Revealed

Fake ManUPDATE: Fake Man On Parade

So, you've cleared out all eight Robot Masters and sent Dr. Wily back to prison in Mega Man 9.  You've dabbled in the game's Endless Attack mode, donned Proto Man's helmet, and done your best speed runs through Concrete Man's stage.  What could Mega Man 9 possibly have left to show you?  How about an extra Robot Master?  Get ready for the next round of extra downloadable content and the coming of Fake Man.  GameSpot has an interview with Capcom's Hironobu Takeshita that discusses the origin of the eight new Robot Masters we know and the one we don't.

GS: Are there any robot masters that didn't make the cut that you can share with us?

HT: I don't mean to evade your question, but there is one boss we'd love to introduce to the fans in this occasion. His name is Fake Man. He appears on the special stage available in downloadable content. He also makes a small appearance in the main content. This is a big hint! Some of you might have already gotten it by just telling you this. The special stage will be very challenging for most of you, and you may not be able to see him often. Don't be discouraged. He is waiting for you, to battle you!

I finally finished the game over the weekend and have come away from the experience extremely impressed.  Mega Man 9 is the best game in the original series since Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3.  I'm eager to take on Fake Man, but I can't help but wonder if he gives up his weapon when defeated and if — if, mind you — that weapon fills the single empty space on Mega Man's weapons and items screen.

(via The Mega Man Network)

Wii Music Puts The Boom-Boom Into Your Heart

Wii Music I wasn't impressed with Nintendo's Wii Music back at E3, but I may have to take back a few of the negative things I've said about it now that I've seen the list of licensed songs that are included in the North American version of the game.  Yes, mixed in with public domain nursery rhyme songs and familiar Nintendo tunes are actual pop and rock songs that once graced the FM dial.  That's nothing new for the gaming industry these days (Rock Band and Guitar Hero say hello), but there is one song in the list of fourteen licensed tunes that made me sit up and take notice: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!.

OK, now I'm mildly intrigued.  I may have to rent Wii Music sometime after all.  If it can take the gray skies out of my way and make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day, then I don't want to miss it when the game hits that high.


It's Finally Time To Play Earthbound 2

Mother 3 The prophecy has been fulfilled!  The translation team that has been working so hard on translating Mother 3 / Earthbound 2 from Japanese into English over the last two years has finally finished their task.  The English translation patch is now available.  Thanks to everyone that made this project a success.  Your efforts are extremely appreciated!

After more than 13 years of waiting, the sequel to EarthBound is now in English! I hope fans of the series, new and old, will find MOTHER 3 to be just as unique and interesting as its predecessors. We tried our very best to make a worthy translation, and I think we came close to hitting that mark. With any luck, the translation will seem just as "strange, funny, and heartrending" as the original Japanese version.

MOTHER 3 is filled with secrets and rarities. Characters say new things after even the tiniest of events. Take your time to explore the game's intriguing world - you won't be disappointed! And when you're done, be sure to come back here, because we've prepared many more goodies for fans to check out and enjoy post-game!

Enjoy your time in the world of MOTHER 3!

I've also said a few things about this topic over at Kombo today.  Somehow I think I know what I'll be doing this weekend.  I'm coming for you, Cattlesnake!

Mega Man 9 Musings

Mega Man 9 Ever since there has been the World Wide Web, there has been The Mega Man Homepage.  Well, maybe not quite, but it certainly seems that way.  I've been an avid fan of the site ever since I first stumbled upon it years and years ago, so you can imagine how much I've anticipated site creator Miranda Paugh's thoughts and analysis on the new Mega Man 9.  She's finally made her usual hints page for the game available in which she discusses some of the neat little details most players probably missed while exploring Dr. Wily's latest plot for world domination.  Note the spoilers, natch.

There are a couple of extra touches here and there, one of which I want to note here specifically. Later in the game the good guys watch a video taken from the memory of one of the Robot Masters. Because this scene is being viewed through the eyes of the last Robot Master you defeated, the resulting scene shows only the other seven Robot Masters. If you look carefully, the one you just defeated is always the one that’s missing. This is a nice touch. (They did, however, forget to change the “his” to “her” if you defeated Splash Woman last. See, this is why it’s a bad idea to have a female Robot Master!)

Now, if you're really reading to dive into the deep end of the Mega Man 9 plot pool, move on to her musings on the game's storyline and how it fits (or does not fit) with the other games in the original Mega Man series.  She especially takes issue with the notion that Robot Masters have arbitrary expiration dates.

It doesn’t make logical sense in any way to arbitrarily destroy robots that are functioning perfectly well, particularly when you consider the investment that probably went into building them.

If this is really a law, why haven’t Mega Man and Roll been scrapped? They’ve been around longer than any Robot Master. And what about Auto? Auto has existed since before the Mega Man 9 Robot Masters were created. If the Mega Man 9 robots are past their due date, then Auto should have been scrapped by now as well.

I'm really surprised that I've yet to see anyone invoke Blade Runner when discussing Mega Man 9's plot.  I can't be the only one that's noticed the parallels between expiration dates for Robot Masters and limited lifespans for replicants.

Earthworm Jim Explored, Remembered Fondly

Earthworm Jim 2 Out of all of the new characters introduced to video gaming lore during the 16-bit generation, Earthworm Jim has a lot of staying power compared to failed counterparts such as Bubsy or Plok.  Lots of folks remember Jim and his absurd games, wacky cartoon, and other tie-in media.  Unfortunately, Jim's bright star was extinguished after his first sequel when a mediocre 3D game and a drab Game Boy Color adventure used up the last of his audience's patience.  Hardcore Gaming 101 has taken a fond look back at Jim's antics, tracing his work from the very first Earthworm Jim game (which was released for a mind-boggling nine different systems) straight on into character oblivion.

The story of Earthworm Jim begins with the toy manufacturer Playmates, who, back in the late 80s and early 90s, was rolling in dough thanks to the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. Seeing the success of the franchise, they decided to start their own. But rather than creating a toy line and cartoon simultaneously, as most companies did, they took a different route. Upon seeing the success of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, they decided to produce their own video game, which would eventually lead into a blitz of licensed products. They got together with Dave Perry, a programmer at Virgin Interactive, and gave him the money to create Shiny Entertainment, the team that designed and created Earthworm Jim. This isn't exactly the first time this happened - Tradewest and Rare attempted the same thing a few years before with Battletoads, and Accolade did the same with Bubsy. But Earthworm Jim succeeded where these others did not, for any number of reasons. Perhaps the most prominent was its bizarre sense of humor, loosely inspired by Chuck Jones and Tex Avery cartoons, combined with its own unique brand of madcap lunacy. Or possibly it was also the fact that the Earthworm Jim games were also quite good - Battletoads was ambitious but monstrously difficult, and Bubsy struggled to be defined as anything but mediocre.

I had rented Earthworm Jim for the Super NES back in the day, and while I liked it, I didn't like it enough to warrant a $50 purchase.  Instead I went with the $30 Game Boy version in the misguided delusion that it would basically capture the tone of its console cousin.  That's about where my love affair with Earthworm Jim came to an end.  Every now and then there's a rumble that Jim may return, but so far the circumstances just haven't been right.  I think the property could do with a relaunch, but any new Jim title needs to have lots of solid gameplay to back up the bizarre gimmicks that had a tendency of bogging down the action. 

Dan Aykroyd Assures Us That Ghostbusters Game Is Still Coming

Ray Stantz and Vigo the Carpathian Plenty of Ghostbusters fans (myself included) have worried about the fate of the new Ghostbusters video game ever since Activision dismissed the project after acquiring the game's developer.  Word is circulating that the game is back on track for a release next year courtesy of its new publisher: Atari.  That may sound odd and foreboding (when is the last time Atari had a AAA+ hit on their hands?), but apparently this statement comes from Dr. Raymond Stantz himself, Dan Aykroyd, and I'm ready to believe him.  Kotaku has the story.

We know, he's not your usual source for hot gaming news, but Dan Aykroyd's got a trusting face. That and he's, you know, closely involved in this whole Ghostbusters thing. Speaking with Dallas radio station 105.3 KLLI this morning, the Ghostbusters star said that the currently in-limbo game has been picked up by Atari, and is about "a year away" from being released.

As much as I'd hoped to bust some ghosts before the end of the year, I can wait for the end of 2009 if it means that the game becomes even better than it already appeared to be.  The Ghostbusters franchise celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary next year, so I understand the need to hold the game until then to maximize the buzz and fervor for new Ghostbusters material.  I hope that Atari is up to the task.  In fact, the more I think about it, maybe it's for the best that Activision let this one go.  After all, we all remember what happened the last time they published a Ghostbusters game, right?