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November 2009

October 2009

Arranged Castlevania Musical Moment

Castlevania It's become an annual tradition that on each Halloween I share something related to Konami's seemingly immortal Castlevania franchise, and this year is no different.  Several years ago when the company released Portrait of Ruin, it packed a little something extra in the box for those who preordered.  Along with an art book, a Nintendo DS game card storage case, and a fancy stylus was a CD packed with the more memorable selections of music from the series to celebrate the franchise's twentieth anniversary.  At the end of the disc are two tracks that aren't ripped directly from a game, but are actually arranged versions of iconic franchise melodies.  Allow me to share the next-to-last track from that disc, a truly rocking version of "Beginning".  Enjoy, and have a happy Halloween.


Ghostbusters Slimer Edition Is Priced To Move must have a warehouse full of the limited Slimer Edition of the fantastic Ghostbusters: The Video Game, because for today only the Microsoft Xbox 360 version of the package is priced to move at an astoundingly low $44.99.  Wait a minute... $44.99?  Has Amazon gone mad?  I guess so, because this is the box that was originally priced at $109.99 back in June when it was a new release and comes with the big Slimer statue, Ecto-1 keychain, and other goodies.  Heck, it's worth $44.99 just for the game alone and from what I've read, the Xbox 360 version of the game doesn't suffer from technical bugs like its Sony PlayStation 3 cousin.  Now there's a ringing endorsement!

Kombo Breaker - Episode 49: David Ellis of 1UP and Video Games (Go figure...)

Kombo BreakerOne episode shy of our big Special Fiftieth Episode Grand Celebratacular, it's time for episode #49 of the Kombo Breaker podcast.  This week we borrowed David Ellis away from his duties at 1UP and its new podcast, 4 Guys 1UP, to discuss what we've all been playing as October winds down.  Listen to us go on about Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, Need For Speed: Shift, Bioshock 2 (say what?), Guitar Hero, and more.  Kombo's own Sean O'Neill sits in as well to talk about getting reacquainted with the original Modern Warfare in advance of the sequel's upcoming release.  Download this week's episode directly from Kombo or subscribe via iTunes.  It's the perfect say to spend an hour and six minutes of your time.

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X Back For An Encore, So You'd Better Buy It This Time

Mega Man X We need to talk.  See, a few years ago Capcom updated its classic title Mega Man X into a modernized action platformer adventure complete with remixed music, updated visuals, recurring nemesis Vile as a playable character, and a bonus animated prequel movie.  This Maverick Hunter X for the Sony PlayStation Portable was fantastic, but you didn't buy it, meaning that those of us who did are now stuck in limbo waiting for a sequel that may never come.  Everybody is entitled to a second chance though, and considering that Capcom is re-releasing the title as a downloadable game for the PSP and PSPgo today in North America via the PlayStation Network, you have the opportunity to right your grevious wrong.  In order to kickstart your Maverick Hunter X experience, allow me to share some of my favorite selection from the game's soundtrack.  How can you possibly resist such musical awesomeness?   

Nintendo Announces New Large Screen DSi XL

Nintendo DSi LLContinuing to tinker with its flagship handheld product, Nintendo has announced another revision to the Nintendo DSi hardware that sports a pair of screens that are 93% larger than its predecessor.  See that little dotted line square in the image to the right?  That's the size of the standard DSi's touchscreen.  Say hello to the Nintendo DSi LL and its 4.2" screens which are coming to Japan in late November with a price tag of ¥20,000 and to Europe as well as North America (rebranded as the DSi XL) early next year at a price yet to be announced.  What say you, Kotaku?

The DSi LL is geared for those who want to use their Nintendo handheld for internet and as a music player as the larger screen is able to display letters and characters in a bigger font.  The DSi LL is bundled with two touch pens: one shorter and one longer touch pen (129.3mm), and comes will three DSiWare titles pre-installed: Two brain training games (one for humanities, the other for sciences) and DS Easy Dictionary. Releasing in three colors, the DSi LL will be available in Dark Brown, Wine Red and Natural White.

I'm really surprised by this news because this seems like a rare instance in which a portable game system's hardware has grown larger from one revision to the next.  For years we've watched the original big gray Nintendo DS slim down into the DS Lite, the metal chassis Sony PlayStation Portable shrink into the PSP-3000, and — if you want to reach far enough into the past — the iconic Game Boy compressed into the Game Boy Pocket (not to mention the Game Boy Advance's evolution into the Game Boy Micro).  I'm actually kind of interested in the DSi LL with its larger footprint.  The admittedly limited time I've spent with the DS Lite and DSi has made me yearn for the original DS in terms of being comfortable to hold while using.  I'm not so thrilled with the price ($220), but if this product makes it way to North America, I'd be willing to consider it if I had a little extra cash to burn.  I know that it's meant for people with bad eyes, but I bet there will be a healthy secondary market thanks to those of us with large hands.

American Link Is Hardcore

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Remember the special limited edition tin case and character figurines offered in the United Kingdom for The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks that we saw last week?  Kombo has word that it's the real deal, although still no word on if we'll see anything similar in North America.  That's alright for now though, as the report also has some information on the Nintendo DS game's plot and where it falls into the convoluted ever-branching Zelda timeline.

Nintendo's Kit Ellis tells us that Spirit Tracks takes place 100 years after Phantom Hourglass, so you know what that means: new Link! Or so he says; Nintendo seems to be rather back-and-forth on the concept, but for all intents and purposes, this guy is different.

Despite this, however, it is set in the same world, with homages to the past title appearing throughout the story. One such returning element, of course, is the Phantom, who aids Link in his journey.  Regarding the train, Ellis says "As with any Zelda game, exploration is a big part of it. And you're not just going from A to B on the train; you're uncovering secrets, finding new places, and the train, you can upgrade as you go along."  He adds that you will be able to lay your own track, and do a bit of exploration that way as well.

I keep forgetting that Spirit Tracks is due out in early December.  With so many major franchises making a semi-annual appearance this quarter (Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank, Mario & Luigi, New Super Mario Bros., etc.) this game has a habit of dropping off of my list of games to pick up.  Somehow I think that an offering of a limited edition set in North America would fix that little problem.

By the way, the Kombo article also has what is labeled as the European version's box art.  Compare this to the currently listed North American box art that Nintendo of America has made available on its press site.

American Link is hardcore 

So while the European version of the game is all about exploring the world aboard a lively train alongside a perky princess, the American version is all about slaying monsters alongside a warrior knight with a big-ass sword while a dark locomotive of the soul looms large over events. American Link is hardcore. Some things never change.

I Knew Ratchet and Clank Was Addictive, But...

GameFAQs There's something about the Ratchet and Clank series for Sony's family of PlayStation consoles that keeps me playing "just one more level" to find the next special item, upgrade, or mission when I really should go do something more productive, such as eat or sleep.  The folks over at must know of this addictive experience as well considering how the site truncates the title of the latest game, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, on the list of the top ten currently popular games in the site's PlayStation 3 division.  When I think of all the possible ways to weed down the list of potential abbreviated titles, I realize there must be a method to their madness after all.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play more Crack in the den.  There's just something about this game that won't let me quit.

Reborn Castlevania: The Adventure Looks Fantastic

Castlevania: The Adventure RebirthMost of us are still waiting for Konami's new WiiWare title Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth to show up on our local Wii Shop Channels, but lucky Japanese gamers have been enjoying the new game for a brief while already.  This modernized take on the flawed 1989 Nintendo Game Boy title Castlevania: The Adventure looks to have corrected what went wrong with the original game and added a healthy serving of experience gained from making Castlevania games over the last twenty years.  Have a look at this video clip of Stage 1 and then try to tell me that this doesn't look fantastic.

While the familiarly warm visuals and classic gameplay stand out right away, what really captured my attention are the audio elements.  I love the little "Vampire Killer" riff that plays to introduce each stage, plus a lot of the sounds are seemingly ripped right out of the original Castlevania for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Take special note of the sound of hero Christopher Belmont collecting hearts and collecting crucifix necklaces.  The level design shown here recalls some of the material from its older counterpart, too.  I never thought I'd be happy to see the return of the mudmen and rolling eyeballs, but here we are...

Do Not Taunt Club Nintendo Mario Hat

Mario's hat If you qualified for the coveted (and costly) Platinum status for the year over at Club Nintendo and you chose the free Super Mario hat over the free Wii title Doc Louis's Punch-Out!! then you should be receiving your hat any day now.  Zach Carmichael over at Kombo received his recently and has taken the time to share photos of the hat.  It even came with an instruction sheet.  Now that is detailed.

Mario Hat
Handling and Care Instructions

About the Mario Hat
This item was designed to replicate the shape of Mario's hat, and was created specifically for Club Nintendo Platinum members. Please be aware that this item is not designed to function as a hat for practical use.

Please enjoy this item as an interior accessory, a fun item when taking pictures, or to add to your collection of Mario related items.

Handling and Care

Do not machine wash or dry clean as it may result in loss of color and loss of shape. Color may rub off to other materials. Please use care when using hat with white and light colored clothing.

If color rubs onto clothing, please have the clothing cleaned as soon as possible. If the hat needs cleaning, wipe the area that needs cleaning with a damp fabric and dry well. (Color may rub off against the cleaning fabric. Do not use thinner, benzine, or other bleach materials)

Do not pull hard or handle roughly as it may result in damage. Stop using if item becomes damaged.

Never place near heat source.

Do not place under direct sunlight, or in places with high humidity.

Do not leave unattended if item gets damp by elements such as rain or sweat. Air dry in a cool place if it gets wet.

The plastic wrapping that the item is enclosed in may cause accidents. Please store in a safe place or dispose of to keep away from children.


Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball, either.  Zach has decided to keep his hat forever locked inside its plastic packaging so as not to diminish the collector value.  C'mon, man!  You have Mario's hat!  You'll never convince me that you didn't place the hat on your head — plastic-wrapped and all — and jumped once in front of the mirror.

Uncharted 2 DLC Is Coming

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves So you've finished the recently released Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for the Sony PlayStation 3 and have come away with the experience with a hunger for more content.  It's only natural.  Lucky for you, it's also natural for a major game to follow-up with some new material delivered via the PlayStation Store.  Developer Naughty Dog's Amy Hennig has spilled the beans on Uncharted 2's upcoming downloadable content, although she manages to side-step the question without answering it directly.  Kombo has the details.

"We're working on that now, and what we're prepared to say is that there will be DLC available before the end of the year," [Hennig] says.  "Without going into specifics, it'll involve new maps, new characters, things like that. Some of it will be free of charge and some of it will be purchasable. We've got a lot of people on the team working on this stuff, some really cool stuff that people will be excited about. So we're definitely taking it very seriously."

New multiplayer deathmatch maps seem inevitable in this instance (but no new co-op levels, sadly), but as someone who enjoyed the main single-player mode of the game over the chaotic multiplayer rooms packed with profane idiots, I'd love to see a few additional chapters that serve as an epilogue to Nathan Drake's latest adventure.  Think of it as Uncharted's answer to Half-Life.  I'd certainly buy an Uncharted 2: Episode 1 if such a thing were available.