Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Natal Build

A recent version of Microsoft's "Project Natal" has been leaked onto the internet and here is some of the new features revealed

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Feature: The Meh, The Bad, and The Weird

Before I begin, I'd like to explain what exactly “The Meh, The Bad, and The Weird” is. It's similar to what Parp does, except instead of talking about underrated games, I'll be talking about the worst and weirdest games out there. This time, I'm doing Mario's Time Machine.

Is it me, or whenever Nintendo licenses a franchise out to some other company, it always sucks (need I bring up those Philips CD-i Zelda games?) Mario's Time Machine is one of those games. Back in the early Nineties, Nintendo licensed out the Super Mario Bros. franchise out to the company, The Software Toolworks. They made two educational games using Mario and Luigi for the SNES, NES and PC: this one, and Mario is Missing.

The basic premise of Mario's Time Machine is that Bowser has stolen a bunch of stuff from historical figures, and Mario has to return them. When you play, you have to pick up an item, and then fill in blanks to complete a basic synopsis of what they did. Problem is, the questions are sometimes mindlessly simple, like “Leonardo De Vinci takes his name from the small village of ____, where he was born”. Some aren't so hard because of the thing you have to fill in, but because you have a list of words to fill in the blanks with and three chances before you have to start all over again (note: sometimes I have to completely start over, sometimes I don't with it). One of the most annoying situations of that was “and completed the ______ of The Last Supper”. I looked for “painting” on the list – not there. I try looking for “portrait” in the hopes that maybe that might work – not there either. I eventually became so frustrated trying to figure out the answer, I had to consult a walk through. It turns out that the word was “Fresco”. What the hell is a fresco!?!

Now, I will give the game credit, not all the questions are difficult. Though, there are some questions even I can't answer and I'm a huge history dork, and this game is supposed to be for little kids. There's no kid out there that will know what a “fresco” is!

But back to what I was saying. After you fill in all the blanks, you need to set the time machine to the date and then have a surfing minigame. Yes, you read correct – a surfing minigame. Surfing just sounds really out of place from the mild H.G. Wells theme it's got going. In it, you have to collect a bunch of little mushrooms (while avoiding spikes), then go into a whirlpool. “Irritating” would be an understatement for one problem I kept getting. I don't know if it was because of years of abuse of the cartridge or a problem with the game, but sometimes the mushrooms and spikes would randomly disappear. Even worse is that if you touch a spike, you lose all of your mushrooms. When you finally get all the mushrooms, you have to surf into a whirlpool. When I was a kid, I often was stuck there wondering what the hell to do after getting all the mushrooms.

You then appear in whatever time setting you picked, and have to run around trying to find who ever you're looking for. The thing that always makes me laugh is how the people respond to Mario bringing back their stuff. They just say stuff like “Wow, thank you Mario! You are an honorary member of my family. Feel free to call yourself Mario Polo”. If I ever met a guy from the future, the first thing I'd say would be “HOLY DIVER! DON'T KILL ME!!!!”.

I remember growing up as a little kid and trying to figure out what the hell was the point of this game. It eventually became one of those games that I flat-out dread. I kept wondering why my mom even got it for me. The only reason I ever played it was because I kept thinking it was Super Mario World, due to it using the same Mario sprite.

Underrated games: Earthbound

Earthbound (and the entire MOTHER series) is an amazing game because of how truly unique it is. RPGs during the time of the NES and SNES were stuck in a rut that the dragon Quest/Warrior series (I'll talk about those later) had dug long ago. Then, in the land of the rising sun, the masterpiece known as MOTHER was born. Whilst the game did not make it to America until it had faded into obscurity, it left a mark on japan that lasted for almost 10 years. All RPGs before then were about princesses, dragons, swords, and medieval times. MOTHER was about the late 80s on earth, where you play as a boy thrust into a quest to save the world from aliens.

Several years later, MOTHER 2 arrived in japan, later coming to America known as Earthbound. It follows a similar formula to MOTHER (also known as Earthbound 0). It's set in the 90s in idyllic town, where the weather is always nice and the only threat is being hit by a runaway skateboard. The main character, Ness lives in this town. But this peaceful eternity would not last.

One night, Onett is peacefully sleeping until the sound of a meteor landing rocks the earth. You are then arbitrarily forced to investigate the site. Oddly enough, you are stopped from getting close by one of Onett's world famous road blocks, and your asshole friend, pokey (known as Porky in Japan) .you then go home and try to get some more sleep when you are woken up again by porky to leave and find his brother, Pickey, who he carelessly left behind when he ran crying like TINY BABY MAN. You go to find him and fight the obvious weak first enemy. And it's a dog. A DOG. No slimes, no sewer rats, no goombas, no goblins, a Runaway dog. After fighting your way through endless hordes of dogs, garden snakes and crows, you finally make it to the meteor, where pickey is found sleeping. A small insect appears out of the meteor and Ness's life is never the same again.

Now, onto the review. Most people turn their noses up at the idea of a JRPG, but earthbound is a game that anyone can enjoy. The battles are fun, the dialogue is hilarious, and the game has its little quirks that can entertain you for hours.

Will they ever learn English?

I never should have opened that door

The battle system is as minimal as possible. You can only see your enemies, and even then they are static sprites that flash when attacking. At the bottom you can see all your characters, their health, PP, and whatever status effects they may have. All combat is text based, with some effects for PK attacks, and a background that can only be described as “triptastic”.

(Not pictured: me trippin' balls)

The game has, easily, one of the best soundtracks that I have ever heard in a game. Each song suits the situation perfectly, and I found myself humming these songs without even knowing it. The SNES has massive capability for sound, and this game shows it.

What I think is the best part is how unconventional this game is. The setting is foreign, yet recognizable. The enemies can be found anywhere, and they are not just limited to monsters. Throughout the game, you will see rogue mushrooms, violent roaches (that's the actual name, I'm not kidding), borderline offensive cultists, living coffee mugs, a No Good Fly, and a guy who can only be described as the guy who has one two may drinks at a party and follows you around and DOESN'T SHUT UP. The best part, I think, is when you are about to be defeated by an extremely dangerous robot (and his healing bologna sandwiches), when the band you save from bankruptcy earlier dances in, and hits the off switch. Yeah. Seriously.

Why won't you SHUT UP?!

Next, is the main reason the game was so underrated. Despite its many shining features, the game's visuals were a tad outdated, seeing that this came out near the end of the SNES. It also was a sequel to a game that only came out in japan, which off-put many people (despite it has nothing to do with the original). This was before the massive popularity boom of RPGs, so this game was not the first to be treated this way.

At least it got the attention it deserved in Jap'n.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

This stuff is so kool, it's spelled with a k

Yeah I know, slow news week. Finals and all that stuffs going on hampered us a bit. But, while looking through the cool stuff at, I noticed they not only sold flying monkeys and pens that would make The Spy proud, but also game consoles too. Don't expect to find a 360 or PS3 there, but what they've got there would make any hardcore gamer weep nerdy tears.

First up: The Good ol' Sega Dreamcast,

Remember back in the day when Sega made consoles? I myself am a proud owner of one these bad boys. All I really need for it is the video cable. But anyways, it comes with a game demo disk, and buying an extra controller is only $15.

Next: The Retro Duo NES/SNES Game System

Some of the most fond memories I've had growing up were playing my SNES. It was one of those things my folks just couldn't separate me from. In fact, I'm going to be talking about an infamous SNES game pretty soon. However, this is more than a SNES. It can not only play SNES games, but it can also switch to NES games. So, you're getting two consoles in one!

This is another Two-In-One console, much like the one mentioned above. It's a bit odd in my opinion that there's a Sega/Nintendo console out there, considering the two companies' history.

Old School Handheld: The Retro Mini Handheld NES System

Sure, this thing sounds impractical and ultimately useless. Sure, you could for out money and buy a fancy DS version of your favorite NES game, or you could get this and have all that nostalgia of having to blow the cartridge and press the reset button a bunch of times... while traveling!


A small post while I work on my next review.
Smashball is a source mod coming out in... 2 hours (FUCK IT JUST GOT DELAYED 1 MOAR DAY). Smashball is a sports game, similar to soccer, basketball, and gladiatoral combat. I think everyone should check it out. Its free, so why wouldnt you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So that's what Japan's been doing

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Gundam franchise, a life-size Mobile Suit in Japan's Shiokaze Park. Oddly enough, it'll only be up for two months. One would think that with all that effort to build it, it'd be up for longer than that. Must be a Japanese thing.

Sadly, the only parts of the Mobile Suit that moves is the head, along with little mists that come out from various parts. I for one, would have loved to see a real, fully-functional giant robot. It'd sure show North Korea who's boss, that's for sure.


Mega Shark vs. Plane

Back in my day, Shark's were not allowed to fly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spy sappin' mah... Crossword Puzzle?

On the Official Team Fortress 2 blog, The Soldier talks about how the folks down at have made a TF2-themed Crossword Puzzle.

Now, don't be confused. That picture above is not the full puzzle. It's quite large, so much so that it had to be cropped so as to not make it all blurry and stuffs. For those interested in it, you can get it here.

Fear the Pan!

Love it or hate it, Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out. Valve has given out some gameplay footage from it, and I'd have to say it's really interesting. I'm starting to take back my mild disdain of it. Why? Two simple words: Fire Bullets.

Come on! Any game that lets you not only shoot zombies, but also light them on fire at the same time has to be awesome.

It's also got zombies in Hazmat suits. The thing that's got me about that is - how do they bite you? Yeah, I know the zombies in the Left 4 Dead series aren't the type that want to eat your flesh, but the kind that just want to beat the stuffing out of you. But anyways, I kinda find it funny for the zombies to run around awkwardly in the suits, along with sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of them.

But enough of me babbling on, here's the video

(video from Kotaku)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Apple Jumping On the Portable Gaming Bandwagon?

At WWDC today, Apple announced their latest iPhone version. Granted, new iWhatever products come out pretty much every week. The interesting thing about it is that it's had major hardware improvements, specifically for gaming.

While the iPhone and iPod Touch have had a success with gaming apps, this could potentially bring higher-quality gaming on the iPhone.

And it also does video recording too: