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November 2008

Mirror's Edge Contest Winner Announcement

A winner is youThe results are in and we have a winner of a Mirror's Edge prize pack that includes a copy of the game for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the game's soundtrack album courtesy of Press The Buttons and Filter.  Congratulations to Al Corbo on winning the contest.  Check your e-mail, Al, for instructions on what to do next.

Speaking of Mirror's Edge contests, how are the winners of the previous contest for the game's soundtrack enjoying your prizes?  I'm still waiting to hear back from some of you about a mailing address.  Check your e-mail for instructions and get back to me soon or else I'll have to choose different entries to win the prize.

Weekly Poll: Unleashing Sonic

Weekly Poll for 11-17-2008I'm glad to see that the original Mega Man is, for most people, the one true incarnation of the character.  To be honest, I was surprised that the other options besides Mega Man X have their devoted fans.  Well, almost.  Poor MegaMan Volnutt received zero votes.  Fans of Mega Man Legends often wonder why Capcom won't return to that series, and maybe his poor showing here compared to the other Mega Men has something to do with it.    

Switching characters, Sega is starting to release the latest attempt at bringing the speedy fun back to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic UnleashedSupposedly Sonic Team has finally got it right this time.  Are you going to try it?  Or have you given up hope on a new Sonic game approaching the fun and spirit of the original 16-bit adventures?  Let's hear your thoughts. 

Tomb Raider: Underworld Knows Its Focus

Tomb Raider: Underworld Forgive me for saying so, but despite all of the exploring of caves and shooting of pistols and raiding of tombs, Tomb Raider just can't move beyond the core concept that seemingly drives the franchise: it's nice to watch an attractive digital woman move around a variety of environments.  Still, can't we at least pretend that there's something more to the Lara Croft experience than the jiggle factor?  Put her front and center on the box art, sure, but don't cut off the top of her head in order to zoom in on the good stuff.  I don't care if those digital eyes are dead inside by this point; I still want to see them! 

Pushing Digital Daisies

Pushing Daisies The facts are these: one day, fifteen hours, and thirty-seven minutes ago television's Pushing Daisies aired its lowest rated episode ever, and as the show had been on the bubble for a while now, these poor numbers led to ABC declining to order any additional episodes, effectively canceling the series.  The show's story of a humble pie maker with the ability to bring the dead back to life and his detective adventures with his formerly deceased girlfriend, private investigator buddy, and pie shop waitress has been a consistent televised treat on Wednesday evenings.  The network does plan to air the remaining seven episodes that are already completed, meaning that the big cliffhanger at the end of Episode 22 is left to be resolved in some other form of media.  Series creator Bryan Fuller has comic book and film aspirations to complete the show's ongoing storylines, but I say why not bring Ned the pie maker to the world of video games?

I envision a RPG for Pushing Daises's second life that revolves around solving the quirky murder mysteries that have become the signature element of the series.  Place us in control of main characters Ned, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (his girlfriend), Emerson Cod (the detective), and Olive Snook (the waitress), let us use their special talents to search for clues, talk to witnesses, and briefly reanimate the murder victims for interrogation in order to track down the culprits.  Add in plenty of the show's fun dialog, endearing one-shot & recurring characters, vocal performances from the cast (including the narrator!), and the vivid high definition visuals that give the television show such a bright, vibrant setting, and I bet the show's creative team could come up with something special for the home consoles if teamed with a talented developer and a publisher with the confidence needed for reviving the Daisies brand.  Yes, seeing new life for Pushing Daisies as a video game (even if only for one minute) would be fantastic.   

Capcom Wants Your Input

Darkwing DuckCapcom has enjoyed a great year with blasts from the past remade for modern tastes and technologies.  Bionic Commando: Rearmed is a triumph, while Mega Man 9 hits the 8-bit sweet spot.  Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is poised to break free next week.  This is a company that knows how to reinvent their beloved franchises (and you still haven't played Mega Man: Powered Up, Maverick Hunter X, or Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins, have you?).  Now the company is reaching out via its community blog to ask what old Capcom game/franchise you'd like to see given new life.

ScrewAttack put together another of their always-great Top 10 lists, this time focusing on games that need to be brought back.

After giving Capcom the props for revisiting games like Bionic Commando and of course Street Fighter, he mentions a few things I'd personally like to see (like Starfox!), as well as a bunch of choices from the Capcom stable, including Power Stone, Strider, and... I won't give away their #1 choice.

But really?  People want that?  We had no idea!  Anyway, tell us, what games do YOU think Capcom should revisit?

There plenty of easy answers to that question (most of which involve things like Strider), but I'm going to reach back to 1991 with my answer, licensing restrictions be damned: bring back Darkwing Duck.  That's been a dead Disney franchise for years now, so why not hand it over to Capcom again and let them update it for my generation, a generation that fondly remembers the character from our childhoods and would like to see something new with him and his world that's been updated for our grown sensibilities and tastes?  I think it could be done well.  They could start by giving him a bionic arm...

Just kidding about the bionic arm.

(via Kotaku)

There Goes The HD Neighborhood

Sony PlayStation 3 160 GB bundle You may have seen this coming (I've mentioned here and there in the past month or so about plans to play games that are most definitely not available for the Nintendo Wii), but I finally pulled the trigger on buying a Sony PlayStation 3.  I went for the new 160 GB bundle package that includes the console, a DualShock 3 controller, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and a voucher for the downloadable game Pain.  I even sprang for the HDMI cable.  So here I go then, fully immersed in the HD gaming era.  I have a list of PS3 games released over the past two years that I want to play, of course.  Mirror's Edge is up first, but then there's titles such as Dead Space, Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (and the downloadable semi-sequel, Quest For Booty), Sonic Unleashed, LittleBigPlanet, next week's Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and even Grand Theft Auto IV.  Am I missing anything?  Is there anything else I need to add to my list of games to try?  Platformer titles are preferred over most shooters and fighting games, but I'm open to suggestions from any genre.

Incidentally, now that I'm a PS3 owner you can probably expect to see an upswing in PS3-related PTB content just as my attention towards PS2 and PlayStation Portable material was captured after acquiring those systems.  Some may say that this sort of purchase is what happens without a new big blockbuster first-party core gamer Nintendo Wii title for the holiday season, but this type of acquisition was inevitable.  It was only just a matter of time, cost, and value.  There's just too much quality non-Wii stuff coming out this generation for one to be restricted to a single console. 

2D Take On Mirror's Edge Is Intriguing

Mirror's Edge 2D As a fan of the 2D gaming genre I always like to see how creative folks can take a 3D game and reimagine it as a 2D adventure.  Mirror's Edge for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 is the latest high-end 3D game to get a little 2D Flash downgrade, and while the full version of the game won't be available until next week, Electronic Arts and Borne Games are teasing us with a one level demo/beta version currently available.  It's an intriguing take on the core game concept, although my fun came for a halting stop when I somehow managed to get heroine Faith stuck under an obstacle while attempting to slide.  Oh well, I suppose that's why this is just a beta teaser and not a full final complete product.

Oh, and speaking of Mirror's Edge, remember that tomorrow is the deadline for entries if you want to win a copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game that PTB is giving away courtesy of Electronic Arts. Preparing For Black Friday

Buy somethin' will ya!The big Black Friday holiday shopping day is coming up quickly, and with so many stores offering deals and bundle packages on video games, you'll probably have to crack some kneecaps and do a little pushing and shoving to buy something on sale at an actual retail location before those limited quantities sell out.  If your Mortal Kombat skills are confined to the digital domain, however, you may want to just stay home and shop online to avoid having to Finish anyone. is getting ready for the big sale day by offering some other deals in the run up to November 28.  Today, for instance, is a buy-two-or-three-get-money-off-next-time offer on a variety of games for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  Some are even discounted, too.  So go ahead and treat yourself or get your holiday shopping started early.  You've had your eye on stuff like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and LittleBigPlanet for a while now anyways.

Beaky Turtles Mark Dawn Of The Koopa Troop

Vintage Koopa Troop Before the era of affordable widespread computer graphics technology, Nintendo's Mario was at the mercy of whichever artist was drawing him that particular day when it came to promotional artwork.  The character's style and appearance changed numerous times in the 1980s and 1990s, and it wasn't until Nintendo began using a 3D computer model of the character during the GameCube era that everyone's favorite fictional plumber enjoyed some visual consistency.  Now when we see some vintage artwork from the dawn of the Nintendo Entertainment System period, we recoil in horror (or, at least, mild bemusement) at what are now horribly off-model renditions of the Mushroom Kingdom residents.  Consider this old piece of artwork that David Oxford of Kombo and Poison Mushroom dredged up from the memory hole, for instance.  Where did it come from, why is Bowser more of a dragon than a turtle, and why do the Koopa Troopas look like geese with shells?

The origin, as I knew it, was in the Christmas Sears “Wish Book” catalogs. At least, I think that’s what they called them; I think we got them from JC Penny’s, Belk, and Sears, and I’m not sure if they all shared the “wish book” nomenclature. In any case, as The Video Game Museum shows in its Game Ads section (right hand side), this was an illustration used over and over again of a very strange-looking Bowser and a squad of his Koopa Troopas chased after a very normal looking Mario. I never really understood just why they used that picture, thinking maybe it was done in-house by an illustrator who looked at some screenshots. And in that regard, it was very good, and rather true to the appearance of the first Super Mario Bros. title.

However, I recently stumbled upon the truth and realized that I was very, very wrong about this peculiar-yet-nostalgic artwork. Turns out that it’s actually official.

We've come a long way from some of the original art concepts that were, thankfully, discarded or improved over the years.  Would the Super Mario franchise have the same personality today if the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom had actually been a mushroom-person?  I recall artwork from a similar time that depicted Bowser as less of a reptile and more of a gorilla (perhaps the artist had Donkey Kong in mind?) and the princess as a wee little girl (an angle that puts a much different and quite disturbing twist on the Mario/Peach relationship).  Those retro Koopa Troopas do look much meaner than their tamer modern counterparts though.  They look as if they were more than happy to bite a stray hand, and when they did (not "if", but "when"), it would really hurt, what with those bird-like beaks and all.   

Wait Your Turn For Sonic Unleashed

Sonic the HedgehogIf you were hoping to get your North American hands on Sonic Unleashed this week you may have to practice the time-honored art of patience.  Sega is launching the game in waves for some reason.  Sonic fans aiming for the Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation 2 version can start their search tomorrow, but Microsoft Xbox 360 gamers will have to wait until next week.  Sony PlayStation 3 owners get the biggest kick in the Flickies though and will have to hold out until an unspecified date in December.  Joystiq has the bad news.

So why the delay?  This is just my own speculation talking here, but this is a busy time of year for producing and shipping discs.  The queue for printing up X360 and PS3 discs may be quite long right now and Sega may just have to wait its turn for time on the machines.  I'm actually OK with the delay.  I'm slated to review the Wii version for Kombo, so I can focus on that now and not worry about playing the PS3 version for my own amusement until next month.  Sometimes these scheduling snafus work out for the best.