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March 2009

Proving The Colorful Awesomeness Of Kirby's Adventure

Kirby's Adventure is awesome Crossing the finish line at the end of the Nintendo Entertainment System's life, Kirby's Adventure brought Kirby out of the monochromatic world of the Game Boy and into a full adventure that defined his character and his unique abilities in ways that still live on in modern Kirby titles.  Over at GameSpite, Loki has put together a charming comic in which a walking and talking game cartridge reviews what makes Kirby's Adventure such a great game and why its Game Boy Advance remake, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, fails to live up to the original game's potential.

And then we have Loki's look at Kirby's color debut, which is pure love and happiness distilled into something like a review...but far more wonderful. You will become a better person for having read it.

I missed Kirby's Adventure when it was new (I'd moved on to the Super NES by then), but I did finally discover what makes the game such a triumph when I bought the Virtual Console version for the Wii a while back.  It's definitely one of the better Kirby games and despite being technologically inferior to the more recent Kirby outings, somehow it manages to ooze much more personality than its younger brothers.  If you've never played it, consider it highly recommended.  I find it fascinating to think of how far the NES hardware came during its lifetime.  When I think about how deep Kirby's Adventure (the last great NES game) is compared to Super Mario Bros. (the first great NES game), well... excuse me, I seem to be getting misty-eyed for some reason.

PS3 Version Of Wii Remote Ready To Wave?

Wii remote meets PS3 Say what you will about the Nintendo Wii's motion control capabilities, but the little remote that started out as a gimmick has kickstarted competition between the major console producers in ways beyond finding new places to jam control sticks or buttons.  Waving controllers around like a madman or madwoman is big business, but so far Sony has seen mixed results with their Sixaxis contraption found in the eponymous controller and DualShock 3 variation for the PlayStation 3.  Rumors have been stirring for a while that the company was working on its own Wii remote clone that aims to ape Nintendo's take on a one-handed controller, and now Kombo has word that this PlayStation remote is finished and ready for a little love from game developers.

We've heard the whispers and hints for quite a while now, but we can finally lay the doubt to rest. Our source, which has a superb track record for accuracy, has informed us that Sony is not only developing a PS3 motion sensing remote to combat Nintendo's Wii Remote, but it's already finished. In fact, our source has informed us that Sony is reaching out to key third-party publishers and asking them to implement last minute functionality into their soon-to-be released games and of course compatibility with select future games.

It is unknown as to whether or not Sony's "Remote" will be superior in any way to the Wii Remote. Will it mirror the functionality of the existing Wii Remote or rather the upcoming Wii MotionPlus? Needless to say, this certainly goes against the early criticism Sony had for Nintendo when they first unveiled the Wii Remote. First they released the Sixaxis controller (DualShock 3) with limited built-in motion sensing functionality and now a full-blown PS3 Remote. Please note that this will not become the new standard for PlayStation 3 games, but rather an added option for select games.

I'm curious about what Sony hopes to gain with this new controller.  Do they think that producing its own version of the Wii remote will win over the casual market that has made the Wii such a success?  Are they trying to keep PS3 owners from crossing over to the world of Wii by offering a similar control method?  My hope is that the company actually have some innovative gaming ideas in mind that would only work as intended with a Wii-like remote.  Jamming motion controls into games where they don't belong is one of this generation's greatest issues (Wii and PS3 libraries alike).  I can see a Wii-like remote update of High Velocity Bowling working very well, but not so much for games like, say, Street Fighter IV or Uncharted.  There could be a bright future ahead for a Sony version of the Wii remote that is applied wisely, but my dark fear is that we're about to start down the road leading us to Killzone Tennis, Ratchet and Clank Rhythm Party, and God of War: My Pet Kratos.

Time For Another Big Wii Sale At Today Only

Buy somethin' will ya!UPDATE: The sale has been put out of its misery, thank goodness.

There's another big limited time sale on Nintendo Wii games over at today where the deals come and go every few hours or until a product sells out.  Same routine, different day.  Today's sale items include Wii Music for $30.  Hey!  Where are you going?  Come back and at least finish reading the list of discounted games.  Other titles included in the sale are Animal Crossing: City Folk, Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party, some sort of cheerleading game, a, um, fitness trainer of some sort... you know what?  Never mind.  You were right.  Move along, gang.  Nothing to see here.

Mega Man 2 Sort Of Comes To iPhone

Mega Man 2 for iPhone When it comes to the original Mega Man games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the second installment in the popular franchise has held up remarkably well over the years and manages to be a fan favorite even today with its perfect mix of solid gameplay, engaging characters, and memorable music.  Blue bomber fans everywhere would probably relish the opportunity to carry the game around in their pockets for some quick Metal Man mayhem on demand, but the recently released version of the game for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch is not the way to achieve this goal.  IGN's Mark Bozon reviewed the game and came away thoroughly disappointed.

The core design is the same, offering the Eight Master Robots, the blue bomber himself, and some of the similar music and sound effects, but the gameplay has been completely screwed with, including everything from control to jump height, frame drops, and complete inconsistencies between this and the original NES source material.

On the control front,
Mega Man 2 uses an on-screen joystick and two buttons, all done via touch. Unfortunately the control stick is far from accurate or intuitive, making moving, climbing, or – I shudder at the thought – boss fights nearly impossible. If you thought Quick Man's stage was tough on NES, imagine it with control suddenly going chaotic and losing your point of contact. The jump control has completely changed as well, now allowing Mega Man to jump about 75% or so across a standard play screen in one bound, and also jumping higher in the process, allowing for access to areas he shouldn't be able to go, or bypasses of pull platforms completely. It's a complete mess. Enemy spawners pump out two, three, or four baddies at a time at random intervals, holding down fire can automatically spew a continuous stream of bullets onto the screen, and all the while you deal with small frame pops and slight slowdown, complete with missing audio for seemingly random sound effects.

Surely it can't be that bad, right?  Have a look at this YouTube video of the game in action from and judge for yourself.

This isn't the first pathetic traditional Mega Man game to crash land in the market, but the surprising thing here is that this port of Mega Man 2 is actually a Capcom-designed production.  There's no blaming Hi-Tech Expressions this time.  What happened, Capcom? 

(via Protodude's Rockman Corner)

Burnout Paradise DLC Voucher Code Contest Winner Announcement

Burnout ParadiseThanks to everyone who entered the contest to win either a Legendary Cars or Boost Special Cars voucher code for the North American version of Burnout Paradise for the Sony PlayStation 3.  The winners are:

  • Manuel Bisonó (Legendary Cars)

  • Karen den Broeder (Boost Special Cars)

Congratulations!  The voucher codes have been sent via e-mail.  Enjoy your new rides and I'll see you on the streets of Paradise City!

Weekly Poll: Pages Of Untold History

Weekly Poll for 3-23-2009Last week's revelation about downloadable Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games for the new Nintendo DSi did little to sway most of you about purchasing one, but some of you were won over by the news.  As for me, I'm still on the fence about buying one.  I like the idea of being able to store multiple games on a SD card instead of having to keep track of loose game paks when I travel, but I'd have to buy all of the games I already own in the new format.  I just can't justify that $200 price (DSi price plus the cost of a few downloadable games) in the name of convenience.  The DSi's cameras and limited music playback abilities aren't doing anything for me either, although I do like the better screens.  As long as my original 2004-era DS works properly, I don't see myself upgrading to the DSi without a must-own DSi-only game drawing me in.

Speaking of new and old consoles, at last week's Game Developers Conference, Nintendo design director Masato Kuwahara showed off a few prototypes of hardware that would go on to become the backbones of the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS's touchscreen.  Like I said at the time, I love hearing about these predecessors and would eagerly read a book that details some of these rarely seen pieces of technology.  How about you?  Would you read a book about video game console predecessors and prototypes?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Captain Qwark Wants You (To Design A Weapon)!

Shard Reaper Have you ever played a Ratchet and Clank game and thought that you could create an awesome weapon worthy of the Gadgetron name?  Here's your chance to prove it as developer Insomniac Games is holding a contest for fans of the franchise to design a new weapon to be included in the recently announced Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack In TimeThe official Sony PlayStation blog has the details.

We also know many people have asked for some advice, so the Weapons team here at Insomniac came up with a few additional guidelines to help you on the path to winning the contest.

  • Don’t simply take the Morph Ray and have it turn enemies into a new funny animal like green bunnies.
  • Be practical with the visual effects - a gun that fills the
    screen with a thousand flaming rockets will be hard to implement.
  • We are looking for innovation, humor, and fun factor - not just total destruction.
  • Make sure you take a look at previous Ratchet games so you don’t copy an existing weapon.
  • Keep it clean and avoid overly gruesome effects - this game is likely to be rated E for Everyone.
  • Try to stick to a one or two-handed gun or grenade weapon form (though if you have something really cool in mind, share it!)

And what's the prize for your creative hard work, you may ask?

The winner of the top voted weapon concept will have his/her weapon included in Ratchet and Clank® Future: A Crack In Time, be flown to and housed with a guest to Comic-con 2009, and presented a full-size replica of their weapon, signed contest poster by the development team at Insomniac Games, a $200 Sony Style gift card, and sent a copy of the Ratchet and Clank® Future: A Crack In Time video game when available this Holiday 2009.

It's great to see developers embracing the fan community with contests like this one, and this sort of interaction really should be encouraged.  Hurry though, as Insomniac is only interacting with fans about this until April 10, 2009.

Kudos To Sony

DualShock 3I like to spotlight good behavior from a game publisher, developer, or hardware producer whenever one of them does right by me, so I want to take this moment to heap a little praise on Sony Computer Entertainment of America for honoring the warranty on my DualShock 3 controller for the Sony PlayStation 3.  After seventy-some days of moderate to heavy use, my controller began to malfunction.  The R2 button lost its springiness, resulting in a button that was always pressed no matter what.  That sort of thing works OK for games like Burnout Paradise where R2 is the accelerator pedal, but for games like Street Fighter IV, it means that poor Ken is locked in a neverending cycle of kicks.  Then the digital pad began to fail, causing the controller to think that the Down key on the control pad was always being held down.  Again, not a problem in Burnout Paradise, but now Ken was trapped performing crouching kicks forever and ever.  That was all followed by the sound of something rattling around inside the DualShock whenever the tilt functions were engaged.  Obviously, something had to be done.

I've had terrible experiences with trying to convince companies to honor warranties, so I dreaded what was to come.  The controller was still basically new in the grand scheme of things, and goodness knows I take superb care of my possessions so that they lost as long as possible, and yet there was something wrong with the unit.  So, gearing up for a fight, I contacted SCEA's support department and started the procedure to have the controller repaired.  After a little back-and-forth e-mailing, I agreed to ship the controller off to the company for repair along with all of the relevant paperwork.  I expected that weeks or even a month or so would go by before I heard back, so I went ahead and bought a replacement controller so as not to be out of the game for long.  Imagine my surprise today when a brand new still-in-the-box DualShock 3 landed at my door as a replacement for the broken controller.  Frankly, I'm amazed at the response and the service.  I never once had to escalate to the next level of customer support.  The company just replaced it without a fight.  I'm thoroughly impressed by SCEA's behavior on this issue, so it's a pleasure to say to everyone at Sony that did their part to make this issue right, "Thank you."  I would hope that this is the last item I would need the company to replace, but should something else in the PlayStation family fail in the future, I won't hesitate to get in touch.

And as for that second controller I now own?  Well, someday when I find that mythical Player 2, I'll be ready.

CONTEST: Win Burnout Paradise (PS3) Legendary Cars Or Boost Specials

Burnout Paradise Legendary Cars and Boost SpecialUPDATE: The contest is over.  Thanks to everyone who entered. 

By now I hope that you've read my list of awesome music to enhance your Burnout Paradise experience.  You've been screaming through Paradise City while rocking out at breakneck speeds in the game's original set of cars, but maybe the new downloadable content has eluded you for whatever reason.  Don't worry.  I'm here to help.  Here's your chance to win the Legendary Cars add-on or the Boost Specials add-on to the Sony PlayStation 3 North American version of Burnout Paradise.  Press The Buttons in coordination with Kombo and Electronic Arts is offering up voucher codes to the North American PlayStation Store for these add-ons.  Now you too can take a spin in the Jansen P12 88 Special or the Montgomery Hawker Mech.  Entering this contest is easy.  Just send an e-mail to [email protected] with the subject line "Burnout DLC Contest" and specify if you hope to win the Legendary Cars or the Boost Specials.  Entry deadline is 9:00am ET, Monday, March 30, 2009.  I'll pick two winners at random (one for each set) and send the voucher codes via e-mail.  Sounds simple enough, right?  See you on the road!*

* Disclaimer: if you win the Legendary Cars then where you're going you won't need roads.

New Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time Teased

Ratchet and Clank After leaving last year's Quest for Booty quickie-adventure open on a chilling cliffhanger, heroes Ratchet and Clank are coming back to the Sony PlayStation 3 in the next thrilling installment of the series.  Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time (how many more double entendre titles can there be?) picks up where Booty left off as lombax and robot try to reunite.  Oh, and there's apparently time travel involved.  Kotaku fills us in.

Some of the franchise's biggest questions will be answered in A Crack in Time, as Ratchet and Clank discover the truth behind their origins and their ultimate destinies as they struggle to reunite following Clank's kidnapping be the nefarious Dr. Nefarious. The official announcement teases us with the question: "Do Ratchet and Clank's destinies lie with each other? Or is it finally time for the universe's greatest duo to separate for good?"

The Ratchet franchise offered some of the best non-Nintendo platforming in years on the PlayStation 2, and the recent current generation adventures have been even better.  With so many high profile games scheduled to release in the spring and summer, it's nice to start penciling in titles for the fall.  Of course, I don't think for a moment that Ratchet and Clank will separate for good in the next adventure.  Gaming hasn't seen a heroic duo so perfect for each other since Banjo and Kazooie teamed up to kick Gruntilda to the curb.  I feel safe in believing that as long as there's money to be made, Ratchet and Clank will be sticking around.