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March 2010

New Super Mario Galaxy 2 Power-Up Details Revealed

Rock Mario Nintendo hasn't told us everything about the upcoming Super Mario Galaxy 2, of course.  The company has earned its reputation for taking secrecy to unheard levels.  Some of the Super Mario franchise's newest power-ups are still secrets to everybody, but Wired GameLife's Chris Kohler had a sneak peek at one of Mario's new enhancements: the Rock Mushroom.

The first thing I did was pick up the new Rock Mushroom, which turns Mario into a rolling boulder of death. The boulder smashes into things and destroys them. Like big giant red crystals that have things inside them. Once Mario smashes something, he reverts to walking around, and you can turn into a rock again by shaking the Wiimote. You can jump while in rock form, which I am pretty sure will translate into some really hard levels that will involve rock-jumping. At any rate, this isn’t one of those. It’s pretty much just an introduction to smashing things, one that culminates in a boss battle versus an adorable giant baby armadillo, who you have to bash in the ass three times.

I'm getting a Spring Mushroom vibe from the Rock Mushroom in that it sounds like a power-up that could be really useful if only it weren't so difficult to control.  I sincerely hope that I'm wrong because that character artwork of a stony Mario is too amusing to dislike (particularly the rocked-out hat action).  Other new power-ups include a special glowing berry that causes Yoshi to light up in order to illuminate dark areas.  I know it sounds like standard Super Mario equipment, but it still makes me eager to explore.  Come May 23 I believe that Nintendo will have ensnared me all over again. Here's a trailer that shows off some of the aforementioned new power-ups via Joystiq:

Leaked Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Video Looks Promising

Sonic the Hedgehog 4It would seem that Sega has a preliminary version of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 circulating in that online testing netherworld, as someone out there is leaking its assets.  Last week the game's entire soundtrack escaped into the wild, and this week we have a video of Splash Hill Zone, Act 1 in its entirety.  Sega has been removing YouTube clips of the footage, so you'll have to head over to TSSZ|News to check it out.  Go watch and then come back here.  I'll wait.

The video is a mostly clear (but not direct) and complete view of Splash Hill Zone, Act 1, and we can only assume it’s another PartnerNET leak.

I really like what I see here.  Brown checkerboard ground?  Check.  Classic badniks from the early Sega Genesis days?  Double-check.  Springs?  You know it.  The only thing that caught my eye in a less than positive way is that when hit, Sonic's collected rings do not fly outward from him.  Instead they just seem to drop to the ground and bounce a few times.  That makes them easier to recollect, yes, but I always liked how stray rings rocketed away violently whenever Sonic took damage.  This is not a Sonic 4 dealbreaker nor do I intend to start a petition, but it is something that I noticed.  If you're still hungry for new Sonic media, there are also a few alleged screenshots of the Lost Labyrinth Zone floating around.

More Mayhem In Panau With Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2Citizens and military of Panau, beware!  I am continuing to work my way through your island to unleash my one-man wave of terror against your water towers, fuel tanks, propaganda trailers, oil derricks, airports, and any other structure marked with a white Panuan star.  Don't take my word for it though.  Check out these videos of me in action as I shoot guns and detonate high-end explosives in the recently released Just Cause 2 for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  For the glory of Panau, indeed. Don't miss the first set of Panuan mayhem videos from last week, too.

The easiest way to destroy oil refinery infrastructure is aboard a stolen military helicopter. Stick around to the end to hear the official Panuan response to my campaign.

After hammering away at this offshore oil derrick, it's time to end things. However, I can't find the final fuel tank that needs to explode! Time to take to the air for a little fancy grappling action...

Rapid vertical ascent is possible by grappling onto a propane tank, then shooting it. Up, up, and away!

A quick stop to pick up a stray Ular skull artifact turns into a race against time as my helicopter starts to slide off the mountain. Hey, get back here!

Just Cause 2 may just be the ultimate sandbox game. There's hundreds of settlements to discover and thousands of objects to destroy, yet it never gets old. I'm eighteen hours into the adventure with only 18% of the game completed, so I think I'll be at this for quite a while yet.

Just Cause 2 Video Mayhem

What The BEEP Is That? #2 At Kombo

What The BEEP Is That?Following on from last week's debut, this week's installment of our new game/contest at Kombo — What The BEEP Is That? — marches on with a new theme.  If you can figure out some or all of the eight sound clips that all relate to in-game death, you have a shot at winning a download token for Buzz! Quiz World for the Sony PlayStation Portable as well as the Space Quiz Pack to go with it.

This week's theme: "You died" jingles! No matter what console generation, every gamer of every age knows the frustration that flows when you hear that little jingle which plays once your character meets their untimely demise. Maybe he/she fell into a bottomless pit, or perhaps exploded in space. There's countless ways to die in a video game, and these familiar little jingles remind your of that fact constantly.

I wrote the clues for this week's sound clips, so feel free to let me know if you think I'm being too difficult or too easy when it comes to providing little hints.  We're trying to ramp up the challenge level on these sounds, so don't feel bad if we leave you stumped.  It's not supposed to be a cakewalk!

Weekly Poll: Smother OS

Weekly Poll for 3-22-2010The majority of you who played God of War III for the Sony PlayStation 3 enjoyed it, and I'm certainly part of that majority.  I find that it isn't a memorable experience though.  I finished the game in just under eight hours of gameplay, and now that I've moved on to other games, when I think back on my time with Kratos, there's not much that I can recall.  I remember the big set pieces such as Hera's gardens and the labyrinth, but not much else.  The game just moves so quickly that there isn't a chance to bond with the scenery or the environments.  Trying to write a mini-review didn't work out as I couldn't remember enough about the experience beyond ripping off the heads of the gods and climbing around on the mighty titans.  Oh, and there were topless women and a sex mini-game featuring Aphrodite.  I do remember that!

Speaking of the PlayStation 3, remember last year when the new slimmer PS3 models were revealed to not feature the OtherOS option that allowed users to install alternative operating systems such as Linux?  And do you remember that Sony stated it had no plans to remove the OtherOS option from existing PS3 consoles?  Well, plans change.  A new firmware update for the PS3 is due shortly that will remove the OtherOS feature (due to nebulous "security reasons") from any PS3 that still has it.  This is a presumed response to Apple iPhone hacker George "geohot" Hotz targeting the PS3 in his latest cracking activities which uses the OtherOS option as a way into the system's alleged backdoor.  By removing OtherOS entirely, that backdoor closes.  Does this matter to you?  Have you used the OtherOS option before?  Will you miss it?  Or does this not impact you at all?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Metroid Prime: Hunters Monday Makeover At Kombo

Samus AranSamus Aran's first-person shooter/adventures in the Metroid Prime sub-franchise went handheld back in 2006 with Metroid Prime: Hunters for the Nintendo DS, but I have to admit that the game didn't meet my expectations at all.  I bought it at release on faith, but wasn't rewarded for my assumption that it would actually be enjoyable.  I'm not the only one that feels there's room for improvement, as over at Kombo we have one of our roundtable discussions about how a potential sequel could be improved.  Everyone has ideas about how to fix Hunters.  Here's mine, for example:

I was completely disappointed with Metroid Prime Hunters, so a lot would have to change for the sequel if I were going to come back for a second round. The single-player adventure was much too frustrating for me, as I had problems mastering the controls when it came to aiming and shooting. I gave up early out of pure anger at being blasted apart from incoming fire that I couldn't locate quickly enough to retaliate again and again. As for the multiplayer, the online cheating runs rampant, making the game unenjoyable for those us who stay honest while competing. Winning or losing doesn't matter to me, but when opponents hide inside walls and never take any damage, playing the game becomes completely pointless. In order for me to buy into the sequel, I'd need the controls overhauled and better enforcement of cheat-proof multiplayer.

The game is still sitting on my DS game shelf with a lowly 4% completed.  I just couldn't muster the patience to plug ahead with it.  The next time that the Metroid franchise goes into the portable realm (hello, Nintendo 3DS) I'd really like to see it stick to its 2D roots.  Keep the 3D action blockbusters for the Wii and beyond, please.

Next Round Of PS3 Greatest Hits On The Way


UPDATE: The official announcement includes even more titles such as God of War Collection and Resident Evil 5.

If you've been dragging your feet on picking up LittleBigPlanet, Killzone 2, Resistance 2, or inFamous for the Sony PlayStation 3, then your procrastination is about to pay off.  Word is circulating that these four games are the next additions to the Greatest Hits line of discounted titles with each game selling for a mere $29.99 starting next week.  CheapAssGamer has the rumor and supposed evidence.  Cheaper quality titles are always welcome, and inFamous and LittleBigPlanet are certainly recommended.  What, you need more proof?  Well, RedFlagDeals has an early scan of an upcoming Zellers ad that promotes the same titles at the same discounted prices.  Short of a concentrated hoax effort, I'd say we're looking an imminent price reductions.

(Thanks to PTB reader Karen den Broeder for the tip!)

Super Mario Bros. Super Show Now Streaming On Netflix

The Super Mario Bros. Super ShowHey, paisanos!  Have you wanted to relive those Nintendo Entertainment System glory days of old with the animated adventures of everyone's favorite plumber, but haven't wanted to invest in a set of Super Mario Bros. Super Show DVDs?  Starting today, Netflix members can stream the first volume of the four-disc DVD set.  Prepare to flashback to 1989 with the Mushroom Kingdom crew and guest starts such as Cyndi Lauper, Sgt. Slaughter, Danica McKellar, Joe Piscopo and Magic Johnson.  The live action segments with Captain Lou "Mario" Albano and Danny "Luigi" Wells are included, too.  Nostalgia never gets old, but somehow I doubt that these episodes have aged well.  I think I'd prefer to keep my childhood memories intact rather than be disappointed by what I used to think was entertaining, although if you'd like to dim the lights and do the dance, I won't judge you.

Defunct MMORPG On Sale At Walmart

Tabula Rasa Hey, how'd you like to score a sweet deal on the special collector edition of the MMORPG Tabula Rasa that comes with the first month of play for free?  Your local Walmart may just have it in stock for a mere $25.00.  The catch is that Tabula Rasa — which requires connection to a master server to play, naturally — went offline forever just over a year ago, meaning that the discs for sale here are unplayable.  The Consumerist has the story.

Saying that Walmart is ripping people off is harsh. The $250 they would take in by selling these games is minuscule in comparison to even the daily gross from that store alone. We're going to be generous and assume that this is a mistake on the part of Kain's local store. He should have alerted a manager — even if the store didn't listen to him, at least he would have done his part to protect other shoppers who might pick up the games.

Here's the thing: this is Walmart we're talking about.  They don't have to care about things like this.  It would be nice if they did, and maybe one would expect them to keep dead titles off the shelf, but in the end it's just not important enough for management to worry about or, at worst, understand.  However, now that public Internet shaming has begun, perhaps someone at Walmart HQ will put the word out to pull this defunct game from the catalog.  In the meantime, let the buyer beware.  Besides, has the same Tabula Rasa collector edition currently in stock for just $23.20.

Mayhem In Panau With Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2There seems to be a complicated tale of political intrigue running underneath Square-Enix's new Just Cause 2 for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC that I'll have to reconcile sooner or later, but for now I'm enjoying myself by being an instrument of chaos that blows up as much property of the Panuan government as humanly possible.  The PS3 version of Just Cause 2 has a nifty video capture option which allows players to record their exploits and optionally upload them directly to YouTube from the game itself (although I can't get that to work, as I get a mysterious error code every time), so it's only natural that I capture my terroristic exploits for posterity's sake.  Here are a few of my recent greatest hits.

Normally I lay grenades at the base of water towers, but in this instance I just didn't feel like making the long trip.

Panau is home to many tall skyscrapers. I climbed all the way to the top of a nearby radio tower and took a leap of faith, freefalling a great distance before opening my parachute and landing off the coast in the sea. That tower I look back on at the end is where I started.

Anything with the Panuan star is fair game for demolition. Here I take down a pair of smokestacks and deal with army soldiers that attempt to ambush me by boat.

Movement is key in Just Cause 2. Here I base jump from a tall building, open my parachute and glide for a while before landing atop a passing truck. Then I hijack the truck, crash it into a wall, and escape via parachute before tethering a statue of the local dictator to a passing car, causing it to come crashing down.

I'll be posting more of my adventures in Panau in the days ahead, so be sure to check out my YouTube channel for the latest and greatest.

Just Cause 2 Video Mayhem