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October 2011

Time To Smile At Another Super Mario 3D Land Trailer

You know the drill by now: Nintendo has released another new trailer for the upcoming Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS which means that it's time to stop what you're doing, watch it, and smile uncontrollably.  This trailer gives a better look at the return of Tanooki Mario as well as some new gameplay elements including a telescope used for finding secrets.  Mark your calendars for a November 18th release in North America.  It really should be a national holiday.

Netflix Streaming Disc For PS2 Discovered

NetflixBack in the old days of Netflix streaming services, Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii owners had to use a special disc provided by the company to access the Instant Watch service.  These discs were eventually phased out in favor of embedded solutions, but there's still one place where the antiquated technology is still in use and it's for a console that you may not expect.  GameSetWatch has a look at the rare Instant Watch disc for the PlayStation 2.

Similar to the ones that were produced for the Wii and PS3 a few years back, the PS2 variant was created exclusively for the Brazilian market. Someone in America was able to get their hands on the super rare disc, who then ripped it and put it online.

For those interested, you'll have to track it down yourself, and a modded console is also necessary. But those with both have reported an experience that's remarkably like the PS3's, except nothing's in HD. Which shouldn't be a shocker.

It surprises me that this variant of the disc is a Brazilian exclusive.  Considering the PS2's massive install base in North America, it seems like a Netflix disc for the aging console would be a popular offering.  After all, the Wii's successful availablity of Instant Watch proves that streaming on a video game console need not be in high definition.  It's understandable why Sony and Netflix chose to pass on offering it though.  Sony would much rather sell PS3s than PS2s at this point, and offering Netflix on PS3 is a major selling point.  Some may even see it as a reason to upgrade to the modern console.  While there may be a demand for a PS2 Netflix disc outside of Brazil, it's not really in Sony's best interest to offer it.  Brazil, on the other hand, clings to older technology for a very long time.  Look how successful the Sega Master System was long after that console was dead everywhere else in the world.

Weekly Poll: I Want My XTV

Weekly Poll for 9-26-2011In a stunning upset, Luigi is the more popular of the Mario brothers!  Way to go for the green guy, although my allegiance still falls to Mario.  That red-capped plumber and I have been through too much together for me to vote otherwise.  Note that Wario and Waluigi have a small following of their own, however.  Some people are just drawn to greed and the colors orange and purple.

Moving on to more serious matters, Microsoft announced today that it is partnering with a variety of familiar television programming brands to bring television channels to the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live.  Soon you'll be able to watch channels such as HBO, Syfy, and Bravo along with services such as Comcast, YouTube, and VEVO.  Do you have any interest in these new offerings?  Will you watch these channels on your Xbox 360?  Is this new service the final push you need to spring for Xbox Live Gold?  Or is it just more of the same and of complete disinterest to you?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Mini-Review: The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition

The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary EditionNintendo has always had a knack for introducing gameplay ideas that are just a little ahead of their time.  Consider The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords for the Game Boy Advance, for instance.  Released in 2002, in order to get the most of out it, one needed to have three friends, four Game Boy Advance units, four copies of the game, and a link cable to tie it all together.  That's a lot of stuff to procure and produce just to play a game.  The connectivity requirements make much more sense today in the era of the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS when local multiplayer is easier to do thanks to wireless connections.  Considering that few played Four Swords the way it was intended to be played a decade ago, Nintendo has revived the game and given it an upgrade for its modern family of handhelds.  Available as a free DSiWare download for the DSi, DSi XL, and 3DS through the end of February 2012, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition combines the game nobody played with a handful of new additions and upgrades that make this adventure required playing for Zelda fans everywhere.

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Free Portal 2 DLC Available Today

Portal 2It's been a long wait, but the free downloadable expansion for Valve's Portal 2 is available today for the PC, Mac, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.  Featuring a new test track for the game's co-op mode, the new DLC (subtitled "Peer Review") offers new challenges and surprises.  Here's's take on the matter:

The DLC is free on all three platforms and includes content for fans of both the solo and co-op campaigns. The story of P-Body and Atlas -- the two co-op robots -- continues in Peer Review "as you puzzle your way through a mysterious new co-op test track and once again match wits with GLaDOS." A new Challenge mode is introduced for both single-player and co-op, and accompanying leaderboards will let you compare your scores with other players.

Free expansions are always appreciated, and free expansions for fantastic games are even more valued.  It looks like it's time to dive back into the world of Aperture Science with my co-op partner.  Hey, Brad Hilderbrand!  Schedule some time this week.  We have a co-op challenge to resume.  For more on Portal 2, be sure to listen to Episode 46 and Episode 49 of the Power Button podcast.

PS2 Games Headed To PlayStation Store

PS2 busts outLooking to expand the offerings of the PlayStation Store, Sony is filling in the generation gap between its classic PlayStation titles and downloadable PlayStation 3 material with a selection of PlayStation 2 titles.  Yes, PS2 games are headed back to the PS3 in their original non-HD, unTrophied form.  Kotaku has the news.

Simply throwing old games onto the PlayStation Store with no enhancements is a surefire way to get a lot of them up quickly (Sony seem on track to do around 4-6 per month), but it will also grate with those who own those games on PS2 and, once upon a time, could have played them on a PS3 for nothing. A little polish, even trophies, would have soothed that savage beast.  The first five games to be made available sometime later today are GrimGrimoire, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, Ring of Red, Odin Sphere and God Hand.

While this is an overall good thing, I can't help but notice that this news means that Sony has finally come up with its long-demanded PS2 emulator for the PS3.  Unfortunately, we can't just have the emulator itself for use with our old PS2 discs.  Obviously making us pay for this older content again is more profitable than sending out a PS3 firmware update with the new functionality included, but I have a difficult time dealing with paying for functionality that was once free yet removed in the name of being cost-effective.  Rumor has it that the emulation isn't 100% and that not all PS2 games are up to the challenge of running on the PS3, so I can understand the rationale for not unleashing the emulator for us to use with broken games, but there must be a middle ground somewhere.  Why not follow Microsoft's route on this one and send out updates that enable backward compatibility for select titles as that company did when it came to running classic Xbox discs on the Xbox 360?  Sony should still sell PS2 games on the PS Store since plenty of those older titles are hard to find and long out of print, but those of us who still have a nice PS2 library should be able to use them on a machine that is capable of playing them.  After all, it works for PS1 discs and once worked for PS2 discs before that ability was removed.