Previous month:
January 2011
Next month:
March 2011

February 2011

Yo, Mario Raps!

Super Mario Compact DiscoI've heard a lot of unusual video game music remixes over the years, but this 1993 release from Simon Harris and the Ambassadors of Funk, Super Mario Compact Disco, takes things to a new level.  What we have here are rap and funk arrangements of music from Nintendo titles such as Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and Super Mario Land intermixed with some heavy rapping of nonsensical lyrics.  Did I mention that this is an officially licensed Nintendo production released in Europe, Australia, and Japan?  And that it charted on the Top 10 in Europe?  I can't imagine why it didn't make it to North America.  The target Nintendo demographic in the United States would have eaten this stuff up in the mid-1990s.  Normally this is where I'd share one track from the out-of-print album with you, but Super Mario Compact Disco is so bizarre and catchy that I have to offer up two tracks.  Here are the Ambassadors of Funk mixing it up with arrangements of the themes from Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins.

"Super Mario USA"

"Six Golden Coins"

You Can't Play The Complete L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire Rockstar's L.A. Noire is on track for a May release for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 which must mean that it's time for various retailers to start promoting store-specific exclusive preorder bonuses.  Like Red Dead Redemption before it (among many, many other games), Rockstar's latest project has a bunch of content available that varies by store.  If you want to get the complete L.A. Noire experience at one store... well, you can't.  Not unless you preorder from four different places in order to collect everything.  Normally we're just talking about some special clothes that add a little cosmetic upgrade to the protagonist, but for L.A. Noire we're also looking at special missions that you'll never get to play under normal circumstances.  Joystiq has the list.

  • Amazon: "The Broderick" Detective Suit boosts your fist-fighting capabilities and resilience to damage. Throughout L.A. Noire while working cases, you'll encounter quite a few suspects and persons of interest who prove to be resistant to arrest. Your hand-to-hand fighting skills will be called into action on these cases – the Broderick suit with its enhanced fighting abilities may be that edge in helping make that collar.
  • Best Buy: "The Sharpshooter" Detective Suit enhances your aim with rifles and pistols. Always a worst case scenario for any detective working a case, there are of course those occasions for Cole Phelps when pursuing a suspect escalates to gunfire. In these tense shootouts, the Sharpshooter suit provides that extra aiming precision to take the criminal down.
  • GameStop: 'The Naked City' Vice Case -- In this bonus case from L.A. Noire's Vice Desk, detective Cole Phelps investigates the supposed suicide of a stunning fashion model. Can you help Cole unravel the truth in a city blighted by drugs, corruption and greed, where the death of a beautiful woman is never as straightforward as it seems?; The Badge Pursuit Challenge -- Hidden around L.A. Noire's beautiful recreation of 1947 Los Angeles are 20 police badges to find and collect. If you can find all 20 of these badges, the dapper Button Man suit will be unlocked which provides extra ammo for all weapons. Each badge also provides 5 additional XP which will help further unlock Intuition Points – special credits that can be used to give Phelps a key investigative insight when you need it most.
  • Wal-Mart: "A Slip of the Tongue" Traffic Case is a bonus case from the Traffic Desk in which a seemingly run of the mill car theft ends up sparking an explosive investigation into the largest auto fraud racket the city has ever seen. With the stolen cars piling up and questionable characters at every turn, can you help Cole Phelps crack the biggest case so far in his career?

I typically order my games from Amazon for the convenience factor (and sometimes they tend to run a little cheaper there; right now the retailer is offering a $10 with each preorder), but GameStop has the better bonus this time around with a bonus mission and extra objective (I'll take extra gameplay content over a costume any day).  Heck, it seems that GameStop always has the better preorder bonus.  Remember Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's extra playable character and access to the multiplayer beta?  How about Batman: Arkham Asylum's extra challenge map?  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves featured an early unlock for the revenge attribute and early multiplayer beta access.  The list goes on.

Continue reading "You Can't Play The Complete L.A. Noire" »

Weekly Poll: Ahead Of The 3DS Game


There's a lot of love out there for Ocarina of Time as the most favored Legend of Zelda title, but I'm more partial to A Link to the Past.  That game was mind-blowing at the time (in some ways, it still is) and I think it's aged better than Ocarina.  When I think back on Past, I think of escaping from Hyrule Castle with Princess Zelda, climbing Death Mountain, cracking the Helmasaur King's helmet with the hammer, discovering the secret of Blind the Thief, completing the fifth and sixth dungeons in reverse order to make things much easier, opening Turtle Rock, and exploring Ganon's Tower.  When I think back on Ocarina, I remember the Water Temple and that damn owl that never shut up.   Here's hoping the Nintendo 3DS remake of Ocarina fixes those problems.  Some of my other favorite Zelda titles are the original game (of course) for its unique presentation and the outside-the-box thinking required to get anywhere with it, The Adventure of Link for its platforming elements and catchy palace theme, Link's Awakening for its surreal qualities and quirky humor, and I've already explained why I have a soft spot for The Wind Waker.  Oh, and Spirit Tracks has that awesome train-based overworld theme.  Getting back to the poll results, there's no love out there for Phantom Hourglass, it seems.  Considering all of the slams it took for its radically un-Zelda control scheme, maybe that's understandable.  Perhaps it was unfair to put minor Zelda games like Hourglass up against powerhouses like Ocarina and Past, but that's Hyrule polling justice for you.

Moving on, we're just about a month away from the launch of the Nintendo 3DS in North America.  Have you preordered a system yet?  Are you planning to preorder at all?  Are you sitting this launch out?  Maybe you went the extreme route and snagged a Japanese 3DS (assuming you don't live in Japan, natch).  What are your 3DS launch plans?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Monsters Just Want To Help Lara Croft

Tomb Raider's Lara Croft has a habit of shooting first, shooting again, shooting once more, and then maybe thinking about asking a question or two later.  Adult Swim's Robot Chicken takes a look at an average Lara Croft encounter from the point of view of the monsters and ancient traps guarding the unholy prize.  After watching this video clip, I think you'll find why it's obvious that the monsters are so eager for Lara to cart away their relic.

Arcade Donkey Kong Reworked In 16-Bit Style

Before you get too excited, note that this video isn't a trailer for a fan-created game or an official Nintendo production.  It's an animation created by Mass Panic Productions frame by frame that reworks the original Donkey Kong arcade style of gameplay with a Super NES aesthetic by lifting character imagery and objects from Nintendo's own Donkey Kong Country trilogy and the Nintendo/Square co-production of Super Mario RPG.  Still, it's an impressive jolt of "what if?" and really has me wanting to see a true sequel to Mario vs Donkey Kong that doesn't involve marching mini toys and Lemmings-style puzzle elements.  Imagine what Nintendo's developers could do with some of the elements on display in this video such as the magnets playing havoc with steel barrels and the inclusion of traditional Super Mario power-ups such as the Fire Flower.  There's so much potential here that somebody needs to pick it up and run with it.

(via Reddit)

Dust Man Rejected From Marvel Vs Capcom 3

Dust Man
There are dozens of characters on both the Capcom and Marvel sides of the business that were left out of the recently released Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, but Dorkly has listed six whose absence is conspicuously noticed.  I don't know about you, but I'd totally play as Mega Man 4's Dust Man if he were in the game.  It's all in jest with this article, but if you'd like to possibly have a more useful say in which characters could be added to the game as future downloadable content, head over to the Capcom Unity site and vote in an unofficial poll that the higher-ups are apparently watching, but aren't guaranteed to officially notice.  How's that for a noncommittal response?  If you want to follow my lead, I voted for Classic Mega Man, Mega Man X, and X's nemesis Sigma on the Capcom side and Rogue, Silver Surfer (that one's for you, Joey Davidson!), and Squirrel Girl on the Marvel side just for the hell of it.  Sadly, Dust Man isn't on the poll. 

Say, now that I think more about it, I'd really like to see a Mega Man: The Power Battle sequel that updates that series to Marvel Vs Capcom levels of presentation and that features three dozen or so Robot Masters as playable characters in addition to Mega Man, Proto Man, Bass, etc.  Oh Capcom, I think I have your next project...

A Musical Visit To Hyrule Castle

Hyrule CastleFans of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past love to praise the Overworld and Dark World themes, but I've always been partial to the theme from Hyrule Castle.  It's steady beat and imposing instrumentation paint the royal seat of power as a place that means business full of forces with which to be reckoned.  It's really a shame that Link spends so little time there in the grand scheme of things considering the impressiveness of the song.  On the occasion of The Legend of Zelda's twenty-fifth anniversary, let's all take a few minutes to enjoy a striking arranged version of the tune. Here's "Hyrule Castle" from the 1994 Japanese album The Legend of Zelda Sound & Drama.

Sony Cuts Prices On Many Things

Uncharted 2Sony has gone crazy with price cuts as the company has announced new low prices on both hardware and software.  The on-the-way-out PlayStation Portable is now a respectable $130 provided you're in the market for a handheld that's had an unofficial expiration date for some time now, while a variety of PlayStation 3 and PSP games from yesteryear have entered the Greatest Hits and Favorites line of red cases and cheaper prices.  If you've dragged your feet on picking up Uncharted 2 or Daxter and aren't saving up for 2011's ever-increasing number of must-play games, here's your chance to stock up.  Here's the complete list of price cuts courtesy of the PlayStation Blog:

New PS3 "Greatest Hits" Titles ($29.99)

  • God of War III
  • Heavy Rain
  • ModNation Racers
  • UFC Undisputed 2010

New PSP “Greatest Hits” Titles ($19.99)

  • Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
  • Resistance: Retribution
  • Toy Story 3: The Video Game

New PSP “Favorites” Titles ($9.99)

  • Daxter
  • Monster Hunter Freedom Unite 
  • Killzone: Liberation
  • SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fire Team Bravo
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary

Some of those games were long overdue for a price cut.  If you're looking for my recommendations from this list, I say that you can't go wrong with Uncharted 2 and Ratchet & Clank: Size MattersGod of War III is a great ride that stops after eight hours, give or take.  Heavy Rain is a worthwhile way to spend time, but I can't say that I ever really found it fun.  Intriguing, maybe.  Something about Daxter rubbed me the wrong way and I never got around to finishing it.  That should be enough to get you started. 

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Da Vinci DLC Looks Promising

Assassin's Creed: BrotherhoodI hate being nickel-and-dimed when it comes to pointless add-on DLC for major titles, but I wholeheartedly approve of expansive additions that are released months after release for a fair price.  Rather than flood the Sony PlayStation Store and Microsoft Xbox Live Marketplace with alternate costumes ("Ooh, a superhero cape and a pith helmet!") for protagonist Ezio Auditore, Ubisoft is working on a DLC package for last year's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood called "Da Vinci's Disappearance" that adds several hours of new single-player storyline content in addition to some new multiplayer material.  Honestly, my interest is in the new solo missions.  David Hinkle of Joystiq had a chance to sit down with a preview build of the upcoming release and offers some thoughts.

The DLC spans three different areas: Rome, Belguardo (the new area I got to slink around through) and another undisclosed location. The DLC kicks off with a brief meeting between Ezio and Leonardo at his workshop, which initiates a go-fer quest: Ezio must track down Leo's assistant, Salai.

Salai is down at the local tavern, gambling. His hot hand has seemingly upset a gang of cloaked men who are evidently fond of not only the color brown but, more importantly, Salai's company. They want him to keep playing and follow Ezio and Salai out of the tavern, which initiates a combat sequence. After the battle, Salai reveals that the conflict wasn't about money, but rather a discovery that Leonardo has made and apparently been quite vocal about: a hidden temple.

Returning to Leo's workshop, the place is a mess and signs of a struggle indicate he'd been kidnapped. A note scribbled on the floor refers to paintings which were thought lost during the attack on the Ezio's villa earlier in the game. So aside from finding Leonardo, Ezio must now track down five different missing paintings for clues about Leonardo's discovery.

My hunt for the first painting took me to an estate in Belguardo. A brief cutscene shows this is the manor of Lucrezia Borgia, who has decided to shut the gates and bar entry for everyone. She's kinda afraid of being stabbed by an assassin, you see -- a very valid fear, granted how many stabbings that have apparently occured in Italy in the early 1500s.

Da Vinci disappears the week of March 8, 2011 at a cost of $10 (PC players who spring for the deluxe edition get it for free when the game itself launches for that platform next month).  I know I'll go for this one.  Any excuse to spend more time running through the Renaissance on worthwhile missions is welcome.  If this DLC turns out to be as good as it looks on paper, then I'd say that other publishers and developers could learn a thing or two from Ubisoft about how to do paid DLC properly.  We need fewer $5 costume packs and more $10 single-player expansions that add a several hours to the experience (and aren't already on the retail disc).

Link Stuck In A Loop In Recursive Ocarina Of Time

Link Plays Legend of Zelda by Qalateth

Perhaps it's just as well that Nintendo doesn't have a division in Hyrule or else certain heroes may miss their destinies.  Here's a look at Link discovering the fun of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Wii's Virtual Console (yet he somehow has a box for the original Nintendo 64 version, too) courtesy of Qalateth over at DeviantArt.  How deep do you suppose this recursive Ocarina goes?  Could the Link-within-Link's-game stumble upon his own copy of Ocarina?  Would Link prefer playing Super Mario 64?  Which Nintendo character would he choose to play as in Super Smash Bros?  Oh my, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities.  We're through the looking glass here, people.