Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 08.21.03

Welcome! You’ve stumbled across the Thank God It’s Thursday news report, your one-stop shop for all things video games. Thanks for dropping by.

This week is a landmark week in TGIT history. For the first time ever, you will be reading a Mailbag in these pages. See, I got some really good mail this week, but I didn’t get a chance to respond to any of it. So we’ll do it here. Sound good? It better!

In any event, on with the gaming news!


Sony
In a move that seems to indicate Sony’s direction, the company is sweetening the pot on the PS2/Network Adaptor bundle. Now, gamers will also be able to score ATV Offroad Fury 2 with the purchase of said bundle. The package will be known as the PS2 Combo Pack and will retail for $199 – the same price as the old PS2/Network Adapter combo.

This move is surprising for Sony. Here’s a company that has been able to sell PS2 after PS2 while giving away nothing for free. Now, they feel compelled to give away a game AND the network adapter for just $20 more! Could Sony really be this desperate to sell systems?

Doubtful. The simple explanation for this move is probably Sony’s desire to get the Network Adapter out there and combat X-Box Live. Get these game fans used to the idea of playing online. The PS3 will probably be very much online-friendly, and if they can sell someone a PS2 now and get them hooked to playing online, then they’ve already won half the battle.

Lastly, Sony will be putting a multi-million dollar marketing campaign behind promoting this bundle change. This is why they’re number one and will be for as long as Sony wants to be.

Madden
If you bought the X-Box version of Madden 2004, you might want to read this.

There’s an error in Madden 2004 for X-Box – it doesn’t let you import your draft class from NCAA Football 2004. Fortunately, EA is very much aware of this problem and has corrected it. However, it requires you, the gamer, to actively seek their solution.

To rectify the problem, send in pages 43 and 44 from your Madden manual (they must be the originals, no photocopies) along with your full shipping address to the following address:

Warranty
Electronic Arts
209 Redwood Shores Parkway
Redwood City, CA 94065

You should receive a disc sometime after Labor Day. This disc will fix the problem. It’s unknown whether this disc is an entirely new copy of Madden 2004 or just a patch to fix the error. But the disc should do the trick, and you’ll be importing your draft classes in no time.

Game Boy Advance
While the Game Boy Advance SP sells at a brisk pace, Nintendo has found something to do with the original GBA. Beginning October 13, gamers will be able to purchase the original GBA, with e-Reader and Donkey Kong Jr. card included, for $79.99. This also coincides with a number of big GBA releases with e-Reader connectivity such as Super Mario Advance 4.

The price is right so that people might actually consider opting for the original GBA as opposed to the new, sleek SP. The bundle’s release comes at a time in which people are going to want to buy Game Boys. This is one area where Nintendo definitely got it right. At the very least, it gives people incentive to buy the older model whereas today, most people would immediately go for the SP. This should work out for Nintendo, and they should be commended for their efforts.

On a side note, Bebito mentioned, in the Down-Lo, the possibility of a new disc-compatible GBA to be announced shortly. Methinks that the next GBA will be able to play GameCube games. Nintendo (for the most part) isn’t stupid, and the small size of the Cube and its games is certainly no gimmick. Instead, it’s a plan for the future. Think about it.


Plugs
Seeing as how it’s Madden Week here at 411 Games, Madden gets all the glory while everyone else pretends they’re ESPN NFL Football.

Gold
Eric S. – Madden NFL 2004 (PC). 411’s first ever PC review!!! And a job well done by the wrestling section’s own Eric S.
I have certain ways of dealing with Madden that maintain my sanity and increase my enjoyment. First of all, I always play as the Bears. Second of all, because I always play as the Bears, I always go through a fantasy draft.

Silver
Lee Baxley – Madden NFL 2004 (PS2). The RPG buff reviews a football game! What did he think?
So it’s fun, even for me, the RPG geek. I bet you’ll like it too.

Bronze
Cory Laflin – Madden NFL 2004 (X-Box). The world’s biggest sports game fan tries his hand at the newest Madden game.
WARNING: Obtaining a 21 point-lead by halftime will result in the opposing running back being covered in Teflon.

Best of the Rest
Chuck Platt – A Thumb to the Eye. This week, Chuck bashes online game playing. And with good reason!
Hello, I’m online gaming, the new R.O.B., Power Glove, PocketStation, Turbo Express, and 3-D liquid crystal goggles. Yes, just like Virtual Reality and Full Motion Video, I’m a stupid fad being shoved down your throat in place of solid, self contained gameplay.

Rest of the Best
Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. LC points out Ocarina of Time’s biggest flaw – 3D camera angles that are very hard to deal with.
Most games that were made 3D just for the sake of being 3D turned out horrible, due to poor 3D implementation, unfaithfulness to the source material, or even the inability to see that certain genres just don’t work well in 3D.

Jeff Watson – Friday’s Slice O’ News. Jeff handles the heat pretty well in his latest.
The games that Nintendo is putting out are rehashes of previous games. Now I am not saying that they shouldn’t be putting them out but come on, give us something fresh and new, not something we played on the N64 with new graphics.

Alex Lucard – Retrograding. Read the final part of his excellent Shining Force series! And wish him a Happy Birthday!
And that my friends, is a short (well, if you count 5 articles as short…) history of the Shining Force series.

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover. Cory finds himself in my good graces yet again, this time by ripping on ESPN.
Microsoft, EB Games, and GameStop are trying to get you to pre-order Halo for the PC. They say it’ll be available in September. Don’t believe them. Let’s move on.

Bebito Jackson – 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. Look at this week’s assortment of scantily clad Japanese women. Is the joystick supposed to be there, or is it a clever joke?
I’ll tell you what. When the world goes out of power, and the planet is in chaos, it’s always nice to actually WORK for the electric company.

Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. Where do you find RPG news, anime, and Ebonics all in one place? The Hump Day Otaku News Report, of course!
Mah main man Cory is the shiznit and the most happening dawg in the hizouse! I know, people as incredibly white as myself shouldn’t use such lingo, but he deserves it.

Alex Williams – Cheat! 411’s resident DDR expert shows you how to cheat to your heart’s content.
Sorry for not coming up with a creative introduction, guys. I’m…I’m still a little verclemped from ealirer…talk amongst yourselves…I’ll give you a topic…New York is neither “new”, nor a “york”. Discuss…

Alex Williams – Sonic Pinball Party. I always thought the Sonic Pinball games were stupid… Alex may have convinced me otherwise.
As a Sega jukebox, I assure you Sega junkies that memories will be FLOODING back to you as you play. Go out to Target and buy a copy. Now.

Non-411 Games Link of the Week
If you were a big fan of Married With Children, you’ll love this t-shirt. Yes, this is the real No Ma’am shirt that was worn on the show. And it could be yours today! By all means, pick one up and immediately become the biggest dork on your block.

CD of the Week
TSOL – Change Today? There hasn’t been a band to win CD of the Week two weeks in a row. Technically, this is the first. However, half the lineup had been changed from last week’s selection, TSOL’s “Beneath the Shadows”. “Change Today?” more than holds its own while establishing a new direction for TSOL. This is one of those albums that could never be re-done or be done with a different sound. The way the instruments sound are perfect for this album, even if they aren’t what you might expect. If you’re going to pick up this album, get the 1999 re-issue with four bonus tracks, all of which are outstanding.


Mailbag
Welcome to the first ever TGIT Mailbag! Will there be a second? That’s up to you! Your e-mails will decide the fate of the Mailbag.

Without further adieu, the first letter. It’s from GiantDevilfish@aol.com, and he writes:
Give WARIO WARE some slack. I’d rather play a 128 bit version of that game then a measly 32 bit version. Most people would probably agree. If a great 32 bit game is going to be released as an even better 128 bit game. I’m sure most people would gladly purchase it again. What they should have done is stiff the gameboy release and made it an exclusive Gamecube title from the get go.

OK, Wario Ware RULES. It’s probably the most innovative game released this year. That said, releasing another version of it won’t really be doing anything for anybody, especially given that a lot of people are probably playing it on their Game Boy Players anyway.

Yes, it’ll sell well. But Nintendo could put those resources into something to push the envelope, rather than giving a half-hearted effort into something that’s going to be a hit no matter what. If they were going to make it for the GameCube, it should have been for just the GameCube. I definitely agree with that statement. But I think Wario Ware does fit the GBA better, just like Mario Party fits the home systems better. A GameCube Wario Ware will be good for Nintendo’s books, but won’t have that same intangible quality as the GBA version, which cheapens the name for potential sequels.

OK, the next one is from former 411 Games writer Myles McNutt:
Bryan,

After reading your Nintendo column last week, it
was hard to disagree with you. Of course, I did, but
it actually took me awhile to figure out why. It’s
trivial, actually.

The F-Zero Bonus Disk would be pointless, because
F-Zero X is a dated and graphically lifeless title
from the beginning of the N64 era. F-Zero GX is a
graphically amazing, new generation Speed Demon. In
this way, they are such different titles. Ocarina of
Time was bundled with Zelda for two reasons.

1. It’s a classic game, and a new version of it at
that. People like that. It probably sold more copies
because of it.

2. Wind Waker was largely dependent on knowing much of
the basic Ocarina of Time story. It really as as close
to a sequel as the Zelda series has seen. The mythos
of Ocarina of Time was part of Wind Waker. This is
Nintendo’s reason, since they’d never be caught
actually saying it was sales driven.

F-Zero isn’t anything like this. The best move
would have been to provide a Demo Disc featuring
F-Zero to new GameCube owners, much like the other
Demo Disc that was circulating that I purchased from a
stupid employee and enjoyed Viewtiful Joe immensely.
It’s a kind of title you can get hooked on and then
purchase, rewarding gamers with an irrelevant N64
title will not help that.

Okay, maybe giving away a disc of a graphically inferior game might not have been the best way to sell the new F-Zero game. But it’s better than what they’re doing now, which is nothing. Giving away the prior F-Zero at least sells people on the gameplay, which is pretty different from other racing games. And I agree – F-Zero should absolutely be on the GameCube Demo Disc that you get when you buy the system. That’s a major faux pas on Nintendo’s part.

Speaking of irrelevant, this week you claim that
Wario Ware GCN is irrelevant. Tell that to the
Japanese. Nintendo has caught onto something in Japan
that hasn’t quite caught on this generation in North
America: The Japanese love them some Multiplayer
action. Beginning with Super Smash Bros. Melee, the
Japanese have embraced Multiplayer titles more than
anyone expected. Mario Party 4 eclipsed both Wind
Waker and Super Mario Sunshine in sales in Japan, and
the recently released Final Fantasy: Crystal
Chronicles has had solid sales for a GameCube title,
despite some average-bad reviews and its GBA
multiplayer component. The key word is multiplayer.
Yes, the futuristic F-Zero failed to make a dent on
the charts, destroying my theory, but it stands that
multiplayer gaming is something the Japanese have told
Nintendo (Through sales charts) is a priority for
them.

Wario Ware GCN is a brilliant move by Nintendo because
it allows them to insert much more Multiplayer Gaming,
many more Single Player game components, and Wario
Ware GBA has sold almost 500,000 copies in Japan.
500,000 copies! Sure, in the States it sold like
50,000, but at this point Nintendo is attempting to
focus a lot of new game development on the Japanese,
whether we like it or not.

Take, for instance, new reports out of Nintendo
Insiders (From IGN) that the new Donkey Kong game
produced by Namco and Nintendo that was announced at
that same little conference, will in fact be Donkey
Konga. A music game. Frankly, the Western World is
collectively saying “WTF, Nintendo?” while the Far
East is excited. Namco is the developer of a series of
Drum titles. Together, the drum title and its sequel
have sold almost one million copies. It’s the kind of
title that is multiplayer driven. It’s the kind of
title that Nintendo might not release as a
non-franchised title. Thus, Nintendo is taking a genre
popular in Japan, a developer who’s proven successful
at making games of the genre, and are taking a
character they’re looking to re-introduce into the
market, and voila. Donkey Konga.

As an American, I have absolutely no insight into Japanese gaming at all. I don’t know what Japanese people like to play. I don’t know if they like Music games. I don’t know if they enjoy multi-player games. All I can say is that America doesn’t NEED another version of Wario Ware. I think Donkey Konga is ridiculous, but if it sells in Japan, more power to Nintendo. However, success in Japan does not mean success in America.

Not to stereotype the Japanese, but you often hear about how the family is very important to the Japanese. Hence, their propensity for multi-player games. That’s a great thing for everybody involved, especially Nintendo’s controller sales. The American culture is more self-contained, which is why we go for games like F-Zero, which is predominantly one-player. But the right game on either side of the globe changes all of these preferences, so it’s hard to say what game can do what kind of sales.

Also, I loved how you magically declared that Mario
Party 5 should be moved into October. What do you
think they are, hamsters? They can’t quite move games
that easily. Plus, it’s Hudson making the title, so
Nintendo is technically contracting it out, so they
have even less control. Take it when you can get it.
In far better news, Nintendo released a hillarious
California-Recall themed Mario Party press release
lately, which you should definitely check out.

No, they’re not hamsters. It’s called pacing, man. If you’re a game company and you’ve got two sure-fire hits, you don’t put them out within a week of each other. How do you ensure this? By planning ahead. That Mario Party is being made by Hudson is irrelevant. Nintendo should have spread its release calendar out to ensure maximum sales of Mario Party AND Mario Kart. Failure to do so is bush-league and it makes Nintendo look really bad.

Player’s Choice…Mario Sunshine and Mario Party 4,
yes. Wind Waker and Metroid Prime…no. Especially not
Wind Waker. Metroid can drop after a sequel is
released, and Wind Waker should drop until the same
can be said for it. Mario Sunshine is already a year
old, and isn’t even part of the Free game deal. On the
other hand, Wind Waker and Metroid Prime were, and
thus deserve to stay at Full Price through the holiday
season.

If you’re giving a game away for FREE, why shouldn’t they throw a bone to longtime Cube owners and give them a break on the price of a highly-touted game? Granted, these games shouldn’t be offered for free. In an ideal world, you could keep Metroid and Zelda at full price, but if you’re already taking the course of action that Nintendo is, why not? I think they’d make more money this way.

Nintendo doesn’t announce games like Mario too far
ahead of time because they don’t want their ideas
stolen. Yeah, I know, who’s going to steal F.L.U.D.D.,
but still. Either way, I agree on that. But, I think
you’ll be waiting until E3 for that one. This year at
E3, Nintendo got blasted for not having any surprises
and thus a boring press conference. But, if they
reveal everything ahead of time…well, deja vu. Oh,
and you forgot Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Remake, yes. Metal Gear, yes. Solid sales, yes.
Advertising…more than likely.

Nintendo wouldn’t have to give away a single detail. All they’d have to say is “We’re making a Mario game and it’ll be out March 2004”. That’s it. And you’d see GC sales hit the roof.

There is a Nintendo-licensed mini screen, BTW, in case
you weren’t aware. Panasonic made it for display at E3
last year, although most reports indicate it was far
too expensive to actually distribute at that point.
Maybe in the future, but keeping it cheap would be
key. Most of the screens are close to the price of a
GameCube itself. You’ll have a Mario game to talk
about next year, don’t you worry. Nintendo won’t fold
as the Dreamcast did simply because they are dominant
over a competitor in Japan.

Last week’s JPN Console sales.

GCN – 23,000
Xbox – 580.

I didn’t forget a zero. Because of this, they won’t be
folding any time soon.

I’ll be honest – I had no idea about a Nintendo-licensed screen that already exists. My bad. They’d have to keep it cheap, like you said, and launch an impressive ad campaign to get the thing going.

The Japan sales figures are astounding. Could it be that Nintendo is a Japanese company, while Microsoft (an American company) is beating Nintendo in America? Very interesting numbers you have here. And it really makes you wonder why the Cube hasn’t hit here. It’s like one of those bands that are huge in Europe, but haven’t broken in America yet.

Wow, this got long in a hurry.

Anyways, on Zelda, if they release a Majora’s Mask
Bonus Disk (Which has relevance since it suffered from
end of the N64 era sales), then you’d alleviate the
lack of curiosity. Plus, Wind Waker sold well in the
States, and the sequel should sell well as well.

Well, this e-mail has dragged on. The Nintendo article
is a good read, and whiel I disagree with certain
things, the overall message cannot be more right. They
need to do something.

Sincerely,

Myles McNutt

I don’t think you could do the Majora’s Mask bonus disc. It’s been done before with Ocarina of Time, so it’s old hat. Besides, Majora’s Mask wasn’t a hit on the scale of Ocarina. The question is how well will the Wind Waker’ sequel sell without the excellent pre-order promotion?

Again, the point of my incessant Nintendo rantings aren’t to say “This is what needs to be done”. That’s up for major debate, and anybody could speculate as to what’s gone wrong. The important thing is that what Nintendo’s doing in America isn’t working. Furthermore, there are many opportunities and options that Nintendo is ignoring, and it’s going to bite them really hard soon. Who among us can really say what needs to be done? Nintendo has to find the solution for itself, and it’s looking like it won’t be able to.

So this ends the first ever TGIT Mailbag. Tune in next week to see if there’s a second!

Commentary of the Week
Last week, we discussed some of the greatest inventions ever. I gave you five, and now you’re giving me back the other five. Here are my five from last week’s column:

– The glass
– Toilet paper
– Scissors
– Calculator
– Alarm clock

Now, it’s YOUR turn. But first, I’d like to add the sixth to this list, one that I think we can all agree on given the events of last Thursday…

– Electricity. Who knew that our society is so dependent on this stuff that a 20-hour power outage was such a struggle?

Now, onto YOUR choices! This one comes from Derek L., who adds this great invention to the list…
Although you include the calculator, I would nominate
something that makes the calculator possible.

I would have to nominate “Binary” as one of the
greatest inventions of all time. Binary is essentially
what makes anything electronic or computerized work.
It is how all the earliest computers and computational
machines work. It drives all boolean functions
(technically yes/no or true/false, aka should I pick
up that ugly chick in the bar at 2am?) How can you not
recognize something that can rate someone from 0 to 10
with just 2 numbers. Or the fact that you can screw
people up by counting in binary (“there are only 10
kinds of people in the world, those who can read
binary and those who can’t”)

Early civilizations may have had the number 1, but it
wasn’t until the 0 came about representing the harsh
and unforgiving abyss of emptiness that envelopes our
pointless quagmire of existan … um, where was I? Oh
yeah, zero made complex and abstract thought possible,
and it’s pairing with 1 was the most inspired pairing
to happen since Romeo and Juliet, Siskel and Ebert,
and of course, Hall and Oates.

So in conclusion, HHH is the antichrist, I was the
only one getting laid in the computer science
department in college, and 0’s and 1’s make our lives
complete. Thank you, and please loosen the straps on
this jacket for me?

Derek

Next, we have fellow news reporter Cory Laflin, who checks in with this invention…
Moveable type – An unbelievably simple idea from my
German ancestors that saved everybody a lifetime of
carpal tunnel. As a bonus, this ushered in the age of
newspapers, which beget columnists, which beget us.

Alex Williams, the cheater, provides number nine…
The Wheel: No longer are we slaves to tote things around with our
bare hands. Now, we can tote MASSIVE quantities of stuff on things
that have wheels! Cars, wheel barrels, luggage, backpacks,
bicycles… Heck, glue a wheel onto ANYTHING and you’re set for life.

Lastly, here is Sean Anderson to finish off the list…
NHL ’95 for Genesis-because once you mastered the Federov-to-Yzerman one-timer, you couldn’t be stopped(won a lot of money w/that maneuver)

Well, personally, I was one for the Pierre Turgeon-to-Benoit Hogue one-timer in that era, but that’s a different story. Anyway, no argument here.

There were some really good ones that didn’t make the cut. And I’ve got to say that everyone’s choices were better than any of mine. I think that if our society was reduced to these ten items, we could certainly survive. If we had unlimited food and water, a roof over our heads, and people to talk to, that is.


Bye
This has been the longest TGIT ever, clocking in at 12 pages. Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. And if you’ve made it this far, why not link 411 Games to all your buddies? They’d definitely appreciate it… I think.

Anyway, we’ll do it again next week. Write to me! The Mailbag was kinda fun, and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. So till next time, thanks for reading.