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July 2011

Bomberman Has His Share Of Problems In Fake Film

Hudson attempted to turn the adorable Bomberman into a gritty, dark action hero in the much maligned Bomberman: Act Zero several years ago, and at the time pretty much everyone agreed that turning the character into something he's not is a terrible idea.  However, this trailer for the non-existent Bomberman feature film shows that there may be some merit in the idea after all if done with extreme care.  Enjoy this creation from The Country Club that turns Bomberman into a generic action film that somehow turns out to be awesome.  Take special note of the Bomberman theme performed in a dramatic minor key.  I think it may just be the best part of this production.  If this were a real movie, I believe I would watch it.


Capcom Announces Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3

Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3Marvel vs Capcom 3 isn't even a year old yet and now comes word of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 with new playable characters, new stages, and enhancements that the original title really should have contained all along.  In fact, the gaps in the original game were so obvious and blatant that I could feel this upgrade coming months ago.  It's disgusting how the audience is being treated when it comes to double-dipping.  Here's some of the new material for those considering spending $40 on the update:

The highly acclaimed fighting game adds 12 new legends to the robust Marvel vs. Capcom 3 roster, bringing the total overall roster of characters up to 50. The first new characters revealed for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 include much-requested Capcom character Strider who slashes his way into the fray along with Ghost ‘n Goblins™ villain Firebrand. On the Marvel side, Ghost Rider will finally exercise his vengeance and Hawkeye will pick apart foes. More characters will be revealed in the coming months.

In addition to characters, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features a host of enhancements and new features to improve the game’s balance and online functionality. One of the biggest additions to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the fan-requested Spectator Mode, which allows fighters to watch live online matches together. With multiple improvements and 12 new characters, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 brings home the ultimate fighting experience for newcomers and pros alike.

I want this update, but I think this is where I get off the train.  I refused to be nickel-and-dimed (or, really, ten-dollared) for the downloadable characters and modes for the original release of the game and I'm not getting mixed up with this new version at full price that will undoubtedly have its own expensive downloadable content.  As it stands, this is worth a rental to check out the new content with a possible purchase as a cheap used title somewhere down the road if there are no additional upgrades forthcoming.  I'm tired of encouraging publishers like Capcom into engaging in this profitable behavior and I'm tired of being taken for granted by the market.  The terrible thing is that there's a very simple way to fix this: offer the Ultimate upgrade as a $15 downloadable content release that requires the original Marvel vs Capcom 3 just as the Arcade Edition of Super Street Fighter IV requires that disc.  Release a standalone $40 Ultimate disc, sure, but don't throw away the goodwill of the existing customer base in the name of greed.


Weekly Poll: Legends Never Die (Unless They Do)

Weekly Poll for 7-11-2011 There's almost an even split regarding whether or not Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series is in need of some revitalization.  I believe that the Zelda formula needs some attention, but I don't think that it needs to be scrapped.  I've been replaying Link's Awakening over the past two weeks and it still holds up for me today, but I've barely touched the re-released Ocarina of Time.  My takeaway from this is that what Zelda needs to do is pick up the pace.  Awakening moves at a pretty good clip.  There's no Hyrule Field-type environment to traverse on the way to the next objective.  The overworld is packed with intrigue and mystery instead of being just an enemy spawning ground.  Something is always happening in Awakening, while Ocarina and the other games that follow its formula often feature stretches where Link is just on his way from Point A to Point B.  If The Legend of Zelda needs anything, it needs to take off the metaphorical iron boots, get over its hub world obsession, and get back on track (and I don't mean a train).

Speaking of legends in need of assistance, Capcom disappointed fans worldwide recently when it pulled the plug on the long-percolating Mega Man Legends 3 for the Nintendo 3DS.  Were you looking forward to the sequel more than a decade in waiting?  Were you invested in the project?  Are you sad to see it gone?  Let's hear your thoughts.


Capcom Cancels Mega Man Legends 3

Mega Man Legends 3Fans around the world had been waiting more than a decade for Capcom to get the next installment of the Mega Man Legends franchise in the works, and after a strong start on development of Mega Man Legends 3 for the Nintendo 3DS, fans were positive that the sequel would land in stores before too long.  However, when development seemed to slow recently and new updates were few and far between, the fans began to worry that the project was in trouble.  Its removal from the front page of the Capcom website was another worried nail in a troubling coffin.  The fans mobilized yesterday morning though, sparking a letter-writing campaign to show support for the project.  Before a single letter could hit the mail, however, Capcom dropped the Crash Bomb on the enthusiastic community:

From the outset the MML3 Project was intended to give gamers across the world insight and input into the development process. Part of this process includes an assessment of whether the title will go into full production, and is based on a number of criteria with input from different sectors of the company.  Unfortunately it was not felt that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project met the required criteria, and it is with regret that we must announce that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project has been cancelled.

The writing has been on the wall for this project ever since Mega Man's creator, Keiji Inafune, left Capcom last year.  Capcom emphasizes that Inafune's departure has nothing to do with the cancellation, but I've always thought that Inafune kickstarted this long-awaited title before leaving as one last gift to the fans (along with the previously cancelled Mega Man Universe), and without his guidance, it was inevitable that the development process would collapse.

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You Can't Go To Disney's Myst Island

Treasure IslandWalt Disney World in Orlando, FL has seen many different attractions come and go over the years, but one of the most intriguing ideas for the park has to be a tie-in with the graphic adventure game sensations Myst and Riven.  Back when multimedia CD-ROM experiences were the hot new kid on the block, Disney struck a deal with Myst creators Rand and Robyn Miller as well as Richard Vander Wende to create a new kind of tourist attraction.  One of Disney's defunct properties — Discovery Island (formerly Treasure Island) — sat alone and abandoned in the middle of Bay Lake just waiting for a revitalization, so the idea was hatched to transform the island (which had previously been a place for guests to observe wildlife in a precursor to Disney's Animal Kingdom) into something unprecedented.  Work began on recreating Discovery Island as Myst Island which would challenge guests to solve the mysteries of the island's previous inhabitants.  Jim Hill Media has an excellent summary of the plan and the lengths that Disney reached to try and make it all happen.

Inspired by the Millers' & Wende's best selling CD ROM games, "Myst Island" would have attempted to duplicate the look and feel of the award winning computer games. Only a limited number of guests would have been allowed out onto the fog shrouded island each day. They'd have been dropped off by boat early in the morning and then picked up in the late afternoon. Their mission was to explore the ruins scattered around the 11 acre island and try to figure out what happened to the island's previous occupants.

This day-long adventure would have been unlike anything that Disney theme park guests had ever experienced before. Just like the CD ROM games that inspired it, "Myst Island" would have no linear storyline. Guests could only discover the various puzzles scattered around Myst Island by exploring all its weird little nooks and crannies.

Depending on which path they took, which artifacts they uncovered as well the order in which the guest discovered them, different secrets of the island would have been revealed. Theoretically, no two guests could ever have the exact same adventure as they wandered the terrain.

Imagine that; a theme park where guests become the protagonists of a video game adventure... and without the need for Super Mushrooms, Master Swords, or arm cannons!  Unfortunately, Myst Island remained on the drawing board once common sense kicked in and those involved with the project started to realize the cost of constructing the new attraction to Disney's traditional high standards.  Hauling all of the construction equipment and crews to Discovery Island wouldn't have been the most cost-effective thing to do, plus the special effects to realize the vision behind Myst Island may have been too expensive to create without hiking ticket prices up way beyond acceptable levels.  Negotiations and planning broke down in 1999 and the project was set aside.  Discovery Island still sits empty and abandoned today.  While the Myst branding may not keep up, I wouldn't be surprised if the general idea bounced back one day if and when the cost of building the island adventure becomes reasonable.  Who knows?  Maybe Disney can try again as Lost Island.

(photo via Jim Hill Media; copyright 1976 Walt Disney Productions)


Chrono Trigger Mixes Well With Futurama

Chrono_futurama_by_spacecoyote-d3rb7go 

Square-Enix's time-traveling RPG Chrono Trigger has a knack for turning up where it wouldn't normally belong when it comes to fan creations, so it's not too surprising to see the property mixed together with Futurama.  Unlike a lot of similar fan art creations that mix properties together, this mesh created by Nina Matsumoto actually makes a lot of sense.  Of course Bender would fill in for Robo.  It's natural that the Hypnotoad will take over for Frog.  However, casting hit-first-and-ask-questions-later Leela as cavegirl Ayla is a brilliant choice, as is setting easy-going party girl Amy Wong as tomboy princess Marle.  Professor Farnsworth as Lucca works in the context of both of them being inventors.  Fry as Crono, however, seems to be giving Fry too much credit in the intelligence department.  They're both key protagonists and have spiked hair though, so it works.  Absent from the lineup is Magus, so of course I've been wondering who would best fit that role from the Futurama cast.   Considering that Magus begins as an enemy and later becomes a tolerated ally under pressing circumstances, I'd say that the choice is clear: Dr. Ogden Wernstrom.  Then there's the extended cast of Chrono Trigger to consider.  How about Amy's father Leo Wong as King Guardia XXXIII?  A pair of Nibblonians as Masa and Mune?  Dr. Zoidberg as Melichoir?  Mom as Azala?  Zapp Brannigan as Dalton?  The Big Brainspawn as Lavos?  The parallels go on and on.


No Love Lost Between Television And Video Games

This actually happened.Chances are that whenever a video game appears on a popular television program, the results won't be pretty.  For whatever reason, popular shows such as CSI, Dexter, and Law & Order are unable to depict video games with any degree of accuracy or, most likely, the producers behind these programs just don't care.  Ty Shughart at 1UP.com has put together a short list of some of the more egregious examples of prime time programming getting everything about gaming absolutely wrong.

From Donny Deutsch's inane ramblings on The Today Show to the embarrassing list of terrible TV moments we're about to give you, it seems that gaming can't get a fair shake on TV. As gamers, we have to wonder -- do other people have to put up with ludicrous portrayals of their hobbies on television? What amount of research and editing goes into the episode of that one TV show where the one guy plays a video game? Who does one have to pay off to get Johnny Arcade's glorious throne? All these questions will be left unanswered after this hard-hitting investigation into television's worst portrayals of video games, but we'll at least be able to tell you why games and gamers are depicted so terribly on TV. 

I was surprised to see CBS's The Big Bang Theory on the list.  While it's not always correct about video games and the culture around them, the show did go out of its way once to explain why one of the characters was playing Nintendo's Super Mario 64 on a laptop PC.  The dialogue actually elaborated that a Nintendo 64 emulator was in use and whenever the game was paused, the soundtrack lit up with the actual correct pause sound from Super Mario 64.  I'm not sure why that's objectionable.  If anything, it's to be encouraged.  Any other program would have dropped the game's name without explaining why it was playable on a PC and then dubbed in Atari 2600 sound effects to cover it.  We're making progress, slow as it may seem.  Remember when the "First Person Shooter" episode of The X-Files was considered an accurate portrayal of gaming?  I'd say we've moved forward since then.


Donald Duck Runs Amok

QuackshotBefore Disney started making its own video games, it licensed its crown jewel characters to various developers and publishers such as Sega and Capcom.  While Mickey Mouse takes the spotlight most of the time, Donald Duck has also seen his fair share of adventures across several generations of consoles and computer hardware.  Over at Hardcore Gaming 101, Audun Sorlie has taken a look back at the many video games starring Donald spanning the Commodore 64 to the Sega Genesis to the Nintendo 64 and beyond all the way up to the modern cell phone.  Here's a piece of the feature in which everyone's favorite Donald-as-Indiana-Jones title, Quackshot, is recalled and analyzed:

Sega took everything that made both Castle of Illusion and Lucky Dime Caper and pull out all the stops with Quackshot. It is a brilliant game on near all aspects. Graphically the game is one of the best looking games on the Genesis, with fantastic color use with Duckburg especially having a somewhat beige industrial feeling, smooth animations, recognizable characters and unique landscapes for each level. The backgrounds are rich and alive, adding a lot of depths and atmosphere at every step along the way. Even though the game was released in 1991, it remains one of the very best looking titles ever put out by Sega on their 16 bit platform. This is not only true for the graphics, but also the sound and music as well. The Genesis can be quite the roller coaster in terms of its audio output, ranging from absolutely amazing to downright offensive. Quackshot features a glorious soundtrack with excellent audio design however, and the soundtrack is also some of the best you will hear on the Genesis, with ragtime fueling the 1930s setting of Duckburg while the rest of the game follows the tradition game music upbeat pop style found in many contemporary platformers. The music was composed by Kamiya Studio, who was also responsible for most of Sega of Japan's Disney outings. On the graphical side of things, this was also one of the earlier titles Thomas Yuda was art director on. Yuda would later go on to design the character Knuckles from Sonic The Hedgehog and also produced several Sonic titles.

I spent most of the Donald Duck years of my childhood playing Donald Duck's Playground.  I caught up on Quackshot later as a nostalgic curiosity, but by then my duck-related loyalty had shifted to another Disney character.  I was shocked to see how many games have featured Donald over the years (mostly because I stopped paying attention somewhere in the mid-1990s).  I count twenty-two starring roles in the HG101 article plus thirty cameo appearances.  For a guy supposedly stuck in the navy, that duck gets around!  Be sure to read through to the end of the feature for interviews with Playground developer Al Lowe and product analyst Darlene Lacey for more information on how Disney handled its relationships with foreign developers (Says Lacey, "The Japanese developer had Donald clubbing baby seals on one level!!! They were perplexed as to why this wasn't a reasonable piece of game play to include.").


Netflix Comes To Nintendo 3DS

Netflix on Nintendo 3DSJust in time for the recently announced price increases, Netflix has come to the Nintendo 3DS in North America.  Now 3DS owners who subscribe to Netflix's streaming service and pick up content such as American Dad, Stargate SG-1, Lost, Doctor Who, Firefly, Better Off Ted, Family Guy, Stargate Atlantis, King of the Hill, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and much more on the handheld device.  The Netflix app is a free download from the Nintendo eShop.  Here's some of Nintendo's press release:

"The new Netflix application looks great, plays great and is a fantastic consumer experience," said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. "It gives Nintendo 3DS owners access to an amazing wealth of movies and TV shows, which they can watch conveniently from thousands of free Wi-Fi access points across the country. Nintendo 3DS truly offers something for everyone."

"Nintendo is a terrific partner with Netflix," said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. "We're excited to extend the partnership to include streaming on Nintendo 3DS."

The new Netflix application for Nintendo 3DS displays movies and TV episodes in 2D on the system's upper screen. Users will soon have access to an additional library of select movies that can be viewed in 3D without the need for special glasses.

I'm not sure how often I'll use the 3DS Netflix app, but it's nice to have it around.  I never use the Wii's Netflix capabilities thanks to the Sony PlayStation 3's Netflix app (it offers high definition, don'tcha know), and likewise I can't see using the 3DS for streaming content when my iPhone offers a higher resolution screen and undoubtedly better battery life.  The 3DS could sweep everything away if it offered Netflix content in 3D which really just has to happen at some point, but for the moment I consider this new app just another building block of potential in the mighty tower that the 3DS could be one day with the right games and other content in its library.


Everyone's Worlds, Megafied

Aero and ZeroLast October I pointed you at an interesting art project created by Christopher Bringhurst that recast many famous and familiar video game characters in the style of Capcom's iconic 8-bit Mega Man sprite.  The project continued to progress, and now the collage weighs in at an astounding 375 characters.  That's hundreds of characters such as Nathan Spencer, Aero the Acro-Bat, Poison Ivy, Boy (and his Blob), Daxter, the Prince of All Cosmos, Cole MacGrath, Duke Nukem, Earthworm Jim, all four Ghostbusters (and Slimer), Chell (and her Companion Cube), Sly Cooper, Toe Jam, Earl, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, Goro, Paula, Sackboy, and oh so many more.  Something tells me that this art is about to become the inspiration for a few hundred Mega Man hacks.  I think I'm alright with that.

(via Reddit)