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September 2009

Kombo Breaker - Episode 45: Heavy Rain Interview

Kombo BreakerA storm is on us this week on Kombo Breaker as Brad, Joey, and I spend thirty-four minutes with producer Petro Piaseckyj of Sony Consumer Entertainment talking about next year's Sony PlayStation 3 interactive drama adventure coming from developer Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain.  Four characters in search of a serial killer with an origami fetish work their way through 2,000 pages of script: what could possibly go wrong?  Over-reliance on excessive quick-time events, you say?  We're set to diffuse that as Piaseckyj sets the record straight once and for all.  Download this week's episode directly from Kombo or subscribe via iTunes.

New Rock Band Game Announced On Tonight Show

LaBamba: Rock Band I don't usually turn to The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien for my video game news, but sometimes the nightly talk show manages to somehow scoop all of us in the gaming media.  Consider the announcement of a new Rock Band game that has largely gone unnoticed with The Beatles: Rock Band driving the current interest and sales in the musical performance franchise.  Check out this clip of the new Rock Band installment in action:

There's no news yet on new songs available through downloadable content, but with the robust track list of LaBamba: Rock Band, why would you need any additional music?

EarthBound Player's Guide Revisited

Earthbound Player's Guide Part of the wonder of owning Nintendo's Super NES RPG classic EarthBound involves the full complete Nintendo Player's Guide that came with the game inside that really big box.  There aren't many games that come with essentially the complete solutions to all of the adventure's puzzles, and it just goes to show how much Nintendo of America really wanted EarthBound to make it big in North America at the time.  You had no excuse to give up the game in frustration since you had all of the maps and answers right there at your fingertips.  These days it's difficult to acquire a used copy of EarthBound along with an intact guide for a reasonable price, but EarthBound Central has word that the old guide has been scanned as a high resolution PDF file by the team at Retromags.  Relive the glory days of Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside!

The guide was a big temptation back in the day, but I made a point of not relying on it too much.  After clearing a major area I would refer to the guide to see if I'd missed any interesting side quests or special items.  Basically, the guide was used to play clean-up on stray quirkiness.  The speed and convenience of the Internet has rendered these kinds of books obsolete, but it's fun to refer back to them sometimes.  In addition to the basic maps and hints, there are loads of fun character artwork (and you know how much I love classic character artwork) and trivia lurking on almost every page.

Bowser's Insides On Parade

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside StoryIt's been a long wait, but the North American localization of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has finally arrived courtesy of Nintendo, and with it comes a new collection of character artwork for us to study and adore.  Mario and Luigi are back to deal with the latest threat to the Mushroom Kingdom, this time teaming up with traditional antagonist Bowser to drive Fawful, the Engrish-cackling sidekick villain from the original Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, out of the kingdom once and for all.  The catch?  Bowser has inadvertently shrunk and swallowed everyone's favorite plumbers, sending the brothers on an Innerspace / Fantastic Voyage riff as the leader of the Koopas and self-proclaimed king of awesome handles things out in the conventional overworld.  Let's take a tour (with just minor story spoilers of around the first hour or so of the game) of some of the colorful cast of characters that populate Bowser's world (both inside and out) in this installment of Artwork On Parade.

Continue reading "Bowser's Insides On Parade" »

Unofficial Donkey Kong Sequel Wants Nintendo's Blessing

Donkey Kong II: Jumpman ReturnsFan-made hacks and conversions of beloved video games are nothing new, but typically it is console games that get a reworking.  How often do we see an arcade game changed to incorporate new levels?  Not often enough, comparatively.  It's a rare treat to consider the case of Jeff Kulczycki and his new levels for Nintendo's original 1981 arcade hit, Donkey Kong.  His creation, Donkey Kong II: Jumpman Returns, sports new challenges for Mario and an interesting opportunity for Nintendo.  See, unlike many game hackers out there, Kulczycki has actually approached Nintendo to see about making Donkey Kong II an official sequel.  Kombo has the details.

In an interview with (with a transcript available at Rotheblog), Kulczycki is asked if he had "any conversation with Nintendo about using the characters, code, etc. in a game you intended to sell for profit, and if so, did you have their blessing?"

"Good question," he says. "I can share some details. Yes there was contact with Nintendo… I did send them the game and a 'promo package' with artwork and concept sketches and a bunch of stuff… Things seemed positive at first but unfortunately nothing ever came of it. They have strict policies about accepting outside submissions."

He adds, "If you all like the game then let Nintendo know… It would be nice to get them on board 'officially'."

It would certainly be interesting to see, especially if Nintendo decided to use it for Virtual Console Arcade or WiiWare. However, I have my doubts about such a thing happening. But you heard the man: if you like what you see, let Nintendo know!

Am I the only one that finds the original Donkey Kong basically unplayable these days?  I recognize and appreciate all that the game has done for both the platformer genre and the video game industry itself, but once I played the 1994 Game Boy update of Donkey Kong that fleshed out the controls and added puzzle elements to the game, I just couldn't go back.  2004's Mario vs Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance just cemented that notion further.  The old arcade game feels absolutely archaic to me now, and it's one of the very few old classic Nintendo games that I seldom revisit for that reason.  Still, it's nice to see new quality content for it after all these years, official or not.

Mega Man Music Remixed In The Old Style

Mega Man It was a confusing concept to me at first.  Take some of the best old fashioned Nintendo Entertainment System music that the Mega Man series has to offer and remix it, but use the same styles and chip tune instruments as the original music.  Chip tune remixes of beloved chip tunes, basically.  What sorcery is this?  Capcom and IntiCreates are about to release a CD of Mega Man music remixed in the old style that has been drilled into the brains of a generation of gamers.  Protodude's Rockman Corner has the details.

 "Chip Tuned Rockman" by IntiCreates' III sound team, is a soundtrack devoted entirely to 8-bit, chip tune remixes of various Rockman songs, 20 songs in total. Full track listing and a sample track available here.

The CD will initially be available at the Tokyo Game Show (Sept. 25th), and will see a wide release on October 15th, 2009 for 3,000 yen (roughly $32).

The sample track is actually a compilation of about three seconds of each track from the CD, meaning that you'll most likely hear just enough of a brief snippet of each song to possibly recognize the original source material.  From what little I've heard, this sounds like an amazing idea that I'd love to see transplanted back into the old games somehow.  I'll definitely follow this project.

Somebody's Watching Me Kill Vampires

Rockwell So I was playing Castlevania the other day and enjoying the timeless soundtrack when I came to realize "You know what this background music needs?  More Rockwell!".  Thankfully, someone out there by the name of mikehondembroke has filled this need and created a remix of Rockwell's 1984 international hit song "Somebody's Watching Me" (featuring Michael Jackson) that crosses paths with Castlevania's recurring "Vampire Killer" theme.  The two melodies actually twist together quite nicely.  There is really no reason for this mashup to exist, but I am very pleased that it does.  The Internet truly is the gift that keeps on giving.  Now, let's see someone cross "Bloody Tears" with something from the Hall & Oates catalog.  

Batman Beyond: Arkham Asylum

Batman Beyond: Arkham Asylum The recently released Batman: Arkham Asylum already contains a rather nifty Batman, but he's not enough for some people.  After all, there have been many other designs for the iconic character that deserve an equal chance to stand with the conventional batsuit.  As it turns out, the PC version of the game allows creative people to tinker with Batman's data files, allowing them to change the batsuit in all kinds of inventive ways.  Would you rather explore Arkham Asylum as the futuristic Dark Knight of Batman Beyond?  Done.  Wish your Batman had the imposing presence of Batman Begins?  Not a problem.  What about the Justice Lord version of Batman from that one episode of Justice League?  We can do that.  Maybe you'd prefer to try pitting Captain America or the Green Lantern against the Joker instead.  The list of ideas (and screenshots) go on and on.

(via Joystiq)

Hammer Brothers Can't Play Card Games

Hammer Brother Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the most revered games of the Nintendo Entertainment System era, but it's not infallible.  There are any number of ways to screw things up, resulting in an unwinnable situation.  Sometimes, however, the fault lies with the game itself and not you.  Consider this example of the hammer brother who must desperately want to escape the lingering threat that is the N-spade card game, but, alas, cannot.  Here we have a situation in which the N-spade icon overlaps with the wandering hammer brother on the World 5 map screen, resulting in the two icons roaming the map together in perfect harmony, unable to escape one another or give the player a chance to sort things out.  The only cure?  The inevitable Reset button.

I don't know why this amuses me so much, but it does.  That poor hammer brother will never know the joy of flipping cards over in pairs in order to win valuable items.

Wii Price Cut Seems Likely

WiiPhotos of new North American Nintendo Wii display signage and advertisements are starting to circulate online that take note of a new lower price for the console, dropping from $250 to $200.  That price is apparently good for the same configuration of Wii that people have been buying since the console launched in 2006, so you'll still get Wii Sports in the box along with a white console, a sensor bar, and a single Wii remote and nunchuk.  There's nothing official yet, of course, but as Kombo notes, Nintendo is due to make an announcement around the time the signage supposedly goes into effect.

The Walmart ad was purportedly dated for October, but the tipster who reported TRU's price drop said their ad was supposed to run on September 27th. Kotaku expects that if this is accurate, we might hear something during the Tokyo Game Show, despite Nintendo not having a presence there. They will, however, be at the Kyoto Cross Media Experience 2009.

If this does turn out to be accurate, then I'd be surprised that Nintendo would cut the price of the Wii right before the holidays.  Don't get me wrong; the Wii is long overdue for a price cut, but I really believed that Nintendo would be stubborn and plow through one more holiday season at full price or, at most, swap out Wii Sports with Wii Sports Resort and throw in a Wii MotionPlus unit, making the $250 price tag a better value.  With Sony's relaunch of the PlayStation and Microsoft doing a little reconfiguration of their console offerings, I guess Nintendo realized they can't afford to continue playing price drop chicken for another holiday shopping season.