IGN Wii: Making Sense of the Sensor Bar – This is actually pretty hilarious: “You can alternatively set two candles on your mantle, light them, and have fun. No, really. The flames on the candles output a similar IR imprint that the Wii remote can read.”(0)
Archive for the 'Nintendo' Category
Nintendo to offer free online gaming at McDonald’s – While I think this is a great deal for Nintendo, the thought of even more encouragement for kids to head to McDonald’s after school really bums me out.(1)
I happened across a Nintendo DS in stock at Target the other day, so I figured I’d pick it up. I like it overall, but I have a few issues with it that I figured I’d enumerate just because I haven’t had anything else to say for awhile:
- The stylus that comes with the DS is really light, so compared to the hefty Palm stylii I’m used to, it doesn’t really feel like I’m holding anything. It’s also a lot shorter than Palm stylii, so I’m having to grip it differently.
- It’s kind of a lot bigger than I expected, almost to the point of not being easily portable. It’s almost the size of two GBA SPs put next to each other. It’s not much bigger than an original GBA, but the thickness is a bit of a portability stopper.
- Holding the unit and playing a game with the stylus (Mario 64 in my case) can get pretty tiring on both hands in different ways: My left wrist gets sore from supporting the whole unit + the pressure of me styliing, and my right hand gets sore from gripping.
- On the bright side, the dual screens are really nice and bright. A lot brighter and sharper looking than the GBA SPs, in my opinion.
- Unfortunately, my unit has a dead pixel in the lower right corner of the upper screen, so I’m going to have to call Nintendo about that.
One last issue is that I’m not really sure that the DS is actually going to meet my “portable” gaming needs. In particular, I see problems with the following scenarios:
- Lying in bed, usually on my side, with one eye open and peering at the screen.
- The toilet. Dropping that stylus isn’t exactly unlikely.
- While playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the drive to work. ;-)
I’ll spare the web yet another dissertation on “what Mario Kart means to me,” but suffice to say I’ve spent a lot of time playing past versions of this game, and most notably my dad and brother and I clocked an absurd amount of time with the original Mario Kart back in the day. So needless to say, I had high hopes for this game. And to be honest, I’m pretty disappointed with the result. It seems like in Nintendo’s attempt to “simplify the game to appeal to broader audiences,” they not only took out a lot of the subtlety, but also managed to completely change the focus of the game.
It wasn’t the double driver change that messed things up. In fact, just adding double drivers to any of the previous games (with just a few other tweaks) probably would have introduced a whole new level to the game, and in general, the double drivers are a pretty good idea. No, the problem with Double Dash!! lies entirely in the revamped item system.
In the original Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo, there was usually only one or two sections of item blocks per lap, which meant that using your items strategically was very important. In Double Dash!!, in contrast, you get more items per lap than you really know what to do with. There are so many items in Double Dash, in fact, that it seems to work just as well to immediately use any item you get as it does to hold on to that item until just the right time. In fact, holding onto an item is practically discouraged, because you now lose items when you get hit by weapons, or fall off the track, or even when another player hits you while using a star or mushroom. In other words, if you try to hold onto an item until just the right time, it’s pretty likely that you’ll lose that item before you get a chance to use it, because there is so much chaos going on at any given time.
One interesting aspect of losing items when you get hit by a weapon is that the items fly out of you and land on the track, so players behind you can then hit them and use them (or take damage, in the case of shells and the like). Of course, this just adds to the proliferation of items in the game.
Now, if you’re a Mario Kart veteran and you’ve been reading so far, you might say “well, I can just hop over things or brake when I hit a banana or shell behind me in defense or X or Y or Z and avoid losing.” And if you’re a Mario Kart veteran, you’d think that the double kart / double item aspect of the game would offer a lot of intriguing possibilities: You’d be able to hang on to one item with your driver, and have your gunner do defense duty with whatever items he picks up. If the gunner picks up a better item, switch and have the former driver do defense.
But if you’re a Mario Kart veteran, you’d be pretty much dead wrong, because they removed pretty much every defensive aspect of the game I can think of. You can no longer brake immediately after hitting a banana peel to avoid peeling out. You can no longer hop in any way (which both makes dodging items harder, but also makes hopping over little cracks impossible, and makes hopping out of / over rough track impossible). And perhaps worst of all, you can no longer drag a shell or banana peel behind you in defense. The only methods of defense you have are: 1. Using Peach or Daisy, and their special item is a defensive fireball which will not only block items, but which will also grab the item and give it to you. 2. Fire/drop an item behind you immediately before something is about to hit you. This is actually possible thanks to a little bubble that tells you when a weapon is approaching, but it’s less desirable than the old methods of defense, in my opinion.
Here’s an unordered list of some other problems I’ve found with Double Dash!!:
- The battle arenas are too small and lack sufficient complexity to be as fun as any of the previous battle arenas.
- Though you have an option to select a random character/kart combo in single player GP mode, no such option exists for any of the multiplayer modes. This is a big bummer, because random is a pretty good method of handicapping in multiplayer. Also, randomness is fun. And seriously, why would you ever want to play with random characters on single player?
- In the multi player kart selection screen, there’s no way to view the stats of the karts. This is a big problem, because when you have someone play the game for the first time, experienced players are going to have to explain “no, not all those karts actually work the same,” and also remember the different stats of the different karts, and then pretty much just tell the newbie which kart to use, instead of letting them make their own choice. Bad interface move.
- I was really excited about the LAN features of the game and the prospect of an 8 player race, but apparently you can’t pick your characters/kart in this mode, which is pretty much totally lame, and now I don’t think I’m going to get a LAN adapter to try this mode. It’s like Nintendo’s trying to make their “people don’t want to play games online” claim ffulfill itself by neutering their network features out of the box.
- There’s no longer a ghost item to steal items. This was probably removed because there are other ways to steal items now, but the ghost also turned you invisible, which was another important strategic and defensive move — and the hitting to steal play mechanic would have only made the ghost that much more useful. Bummer.
- Honestly, the tracks aren’t that interesting. They’re pretty much just rehashes of things we’ve had before, and we don’t even get a Haunted Mansion in this game. Probably half of the levels are interchangeable, and there are only a handful of levels that I really like (My favorite so far is the Wario Coliseum).
- Did we honestly need two traffic levels? (No, we did not, especially when neither of them is as good as Toad’s Turnpike on the N64)
- Also sadly, there’s no sign of a Ghost Valley in this game — Ghost Valleys were always my favorite.
- In the past games, if you hit someone who was jumping across a track, they would fall onto the other portion of the track, knocking them back in the pack. This was an another important strategy in the old games that is just completely missing in this game.
- The GBA game had the original SNES tracks as extras, so why didn’t this game have the N64 tracks as extras? Oh, right, because most of the N64 tracks are already “available” in this game in one form or another. =\
- And I could go on and on. But I’ll stop, because I’m sure you get my point by now.
To be fair, there are some good things about Double Dash!! Giving each character a special item was long overdue, and I think overall the special items are pretty well balanced. As mentioned above, the double driver aspect could have added a lot to the game, and I still think it’s a sound idea that shouldn’t get the axe in the next Mario Kart. The co-operative mode is a lot of fun, requiring fun communication between the driver and gunner — I haven’t had a chance to play co-operative vs. yet with 4 players, but it should be a lot of fun. The new Bob-omb Blast battle mode is a lot of chaotic fun, even if the new Shine Thief mode is a little flat. Meanwhile, the Balloon Battle mode just doesn’t seem to have the same spark it once did.
I think the real evidence of how well the game succeeds at living up the Mario Kart name lies in this test: My dad used to play the original Mario Kart with my brother and I back in the day, and he was pretty good at it, all things considered. He was perhaps a little less devious with his item usage than my brother and I, but he was still competitive. However, when he tried to play Double Dash, he was just overwhelmed by the chaos of the weaponry and just didn’t stand a chance. In other words, not only did their attempt at “simplification” ruin the game, but it also didn’t actually work.
In short, Double Dash(!!) is pretty much all offense and no defense, with the general chaos that entails. I admit it’s still fun, but I just don’t think it’s really the same game I knew and loved anymore. If you want some old fashioned Mario Karting, I highly recommend you pick up Mario Kart: Super Circuit for the Game Boy Advance instead. Not only is it a much tighter Mario Kart game, but it also features all of the original SNES Mario Kart tracks as unlockables. Hopefully we’ll see a real Mario Kart as a launch title for the next Nintendo console, with as much spit and polish on it as Super Smash Brothers Melee had.
I really hope Nintendo has learned what Sony taught everyone with the PS2, and that the Gamecube’s successor will be backwards compatible with the Gamecube. Hell, Nintendo itself should be aware of this fact thanks to the success of the GBA’s backwards compatability features. And I think this is especially important for Nintendo because Sony will certainly do this, and I’m pretty sure Microsoft will also do this.
The second most important feature is probably built in network connectivity out of the box, and I remember reading somewhere that Nintendo is trying to figure out how to let gamers play online for free… That would definitely be good stuff.(0)
Though Nintendo likes to tout their connectivity features in the form of the Game Boy Advance Link Cable and the GameCube/Game Boy Advance Link Cable, I don’t feel like people are actually worrying about those features when they buy Nintendo products, or even using those features at all.
What gives me that idea? Well, though one of my old roommates and I both had a GBA for a year, and though we each had several of the same games, we never played multiplayer games against each other. Why? Because we were too lazy to ever bother to buy a link cable. And of all the people I know with GBAs, none of them have a link cable, either. In fact, I’m the only one I know who even has a Game Boy Advance / GameCube link cable.
The solution? Nintendo just needs to bite the bullet and start bundling a Game Boy Advance link cable with every GBA SP they sell, and more importantly, a GameCube/Game Boy Advance link cable with every GameCube they sell. That way, there are no extra items to worry about buying to be able to take advantage of Nintendo’s connectivity advantage, which will encourage people to buy games which take advantage of those features, which will encourage developers to make better use of those features.
Of course, it’d be even better if the next generation of these devices had wireless connectivity features built in, but I’m not optimistic about the chances of that happening.
Instead of one single item, I’ll make you a deal and give you 7 short items instead. Consider it one for each day I haven’t blogged in the last week. ;-)
- Metroid Prime comes out in a little less than a month, and Nintendo just posted the commercial. It’s a pretty nice commercial (much better than that awful Super Mario Sunshine commercial), and it got me even more excited about the game. Hopefully it gets some non-Nintendo folks to check out the Gamecube.
- Check out the video of Verbal, the single of Amon Tobin‘s new album Out From Out Where.
- If you’re wondering, I didn’t go see Stallman speak — Instead, I went and listened to Lakoff talk about causality and the mind for 80 minutes.
- Just like Kevin got a new Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card a few weeks ago, I got my new Bank of America Visa Platinum Check Card today. Unlike Kevin, though, this is actually exciting for me. Not only does this increase the amount I can spend at once from $500 to $1200, but since my card number changed, it also means I’ll finally be able to use Paypal.
- I’m happy to see the World Series tied 2-2. On the one hand, I want the Giants to win it all because of that Disney thing with the Angels, and because duh, it’s San Francisco. On the other hand, I want the Angels to win it all because I like the AL better, and I like seeing underdogs do well, and because all the news about the Giants seems to be Bonds Bonds Bonds. Really, I want to see it go to Game 7 again.
- As for that First Circle concert I went to a couple of weeks back, it was pretty good. First Circle didn’t come on until after 12:30, but they played until 2. And between First Circle and the two other bands that played, we got around 4 hours of music for a mere $6. I highly recommend checking out concerts at Blake’s, and I think I’ll have to try to get back there a few more times before I’m done here.
- Oh, and finally, check out the Perl IAQ – Infrequently Asked Questions. It’s pretty amusing. I especially like the answer for “How do I convert a string to a number?”
Hey, sweet, now you can get a Game Boy Advance for a mere $79!
I can’t advocate this system nearly enough — A good hunk of my video game enjoyment in 2001 came just from the Game Boy Advance.
I think I’ve already played this game for at least 10-15 hours, and it’s everything I could have hoped for an more. The single player experience is vast, and the multiplayer options nearly infinite. It’s ridiculous fun, and I’m so blinded by it that I honestly don’t think I can write an unbiased review about this game. All I can do is urge you to at least try it once, even if you didn’t like the original Super Smash Brothers on the N64. It really is a marvelously complete game, doing nearly everything it tries perfectly. 4.75/5
So in the place of a review, I’m going to nitpick the game to death. Um, vaguely ordered from most irritating to most irrelevant.
- Grabs/throws are… much trickier to use effectively.
- There’s no random character select option.
- When you successfully finish an event match, it should advance the cursor on the event selection screen to the next event, instead of keeping it on the same event. This one really irritated me.
- There’s no replay option to review glorious or hilarious moments after the fact.
- There’s no option to exclude certain stages from the random stage select.
- Not all of the old levels returned from the N64 game. Notably, I miss Hyrule Castle and Saffron City.
- DK’s ground slap (down+b repeated) makes a lot of the single player challenges overly easy. Notably, all but the Cruel Melee of the Multi-Man Melees become pretty trivial with this ground slap.
- There should have been four taunts for each character instead of one, or ever direction on the d-pad should have been taunt instead of just up.
- On the character select screen, they should have put Princess Zelda next to Ganon, above Link, so that the four Zelda characters formed a square, instead of being a sidways L.
- The Gargantuan event stage was a brilliant idea, but unfortunately the stage that the event took place in wasn’t suited to the purpose, and the holes in the stage make the fight end pretty quickly.
- The load time between the title screen and the same menu seems like it could have been shortened. (Mind you, it’s only about a second and a half, but every other menu transition is instantaneous, so it’s noticeable as being slower.)
- Ach! Kongo Jungle features a remix of the D.K. Rap from the introduction of Donkey Kong 64!
- There should be a stage in which Lakitu flies by and dangles items from his pole.
- It would have been way cooler to have Young Link rendered with the Cel Shading art style from the upcoming Gamecube Zelda instead of just having him be a smaller, faster version of link. (And it wouldn’t be that out of place, considering some of the other ridiculous graphic contrasts in this game. Birdo sprite reused directly from Super Mario 2? Mr. Game & Watch? Cel Shaded Pokemon Floats? Believe me, it would have been a cool bonus.)
Er, since I’ve now made that great big list of nits, I guess I note a few of my absolute favorite moments I’ve come across so far.
- Kirby’s new monochrome color scheme was fantastically retro, and really made me smile.
- Mr. Game & Watch is even more fantastically retro, and very deceptively cool.
- The amount of nostalgia here is staggering. Notably, it’s made me really want to get to that one last game on my N64 “To play” list: Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
- When we first started the game up, it noticed the Pikmin save file on my memory card and gave me the Captain Olimar trophy. It was a very nice touch which made the whole package seem that much more polished.
- When Slippy (from Star Fox) has his few spoken lines, he sounds a lot like Towely (from South Park).
- The Gargantuan event stage was such a perfect idea.
- The Pikachu Pokeball duel event was also great fun.
- Melee is such a perfect word for this game.
Finally, yes, I still want another sequel. I just want more characters. Heh.
So, here is the first American Gamecube commercial, and here are the first five print ads. The ads are significantly better than the Game Boy Advance ads, and on the whole, they’re rather a new direction for Nintendo.
The print ads are rather clever, doing amazing things with such a limiting device. The commercial follows in the cubed theme of the print ads, but is rather edgy. Not that that’s a bad thing. I would have liked it if the commercial had shown about 3 times more game play, but overall, I think it will be getting people’s attention and setting up (hopefully) more gameplay heavy commercials in the future.
I’ve now seen the Gamecube commercial three or four times on actual TV, but the only Xbox commercials I’ve seen are the 7-up ones. And scouring the web, all I could find were some Canadian Xbox commercials. If you happen to know where I can see a full american xbox commercial (or if you’ve seen it and want to describe it), please post a comment. I’m curious to see how Microsoft, who as far as I know was planning on playing the “edgy” angle, is going to stack up against Nintendo, who just raised the ante…
First up, check out this wacky third party gamecube controller. The idea certainly is novel, but I’m not sure how I’d like it in practice. While I was watching TV tonight, I sat there with my hands on each side of my laptop, trying to imagine what it would be like to play a game while holding my arms at those angles, and it just doesn’t seem comfortable. We’ll see.
Second, Planet GameCube published an essay describing what memory architecture means for a game console. It was a fairly good read, I thought.