Gaming Zen 1-30-06

So here I am with another column. I’m Tom Pandich, and I’ve hit up about a month straight of columns. Huzzah. Let’s get to the news!

The News

Remember last week when I bitched about 1up and particularly Dan Hsu’s interview and how they were getting mad props for doing something that they should have been doing along? Well apparently 1up can only obey to one rule of journalism at a time as they got caught plagiarizing a Dead or Alive 4 guide off of a fan made guide from DOA Central. 1up offered a pretty half assed apology that went and came off as an attack on the message board. Here’s the apology:

“1UP’s policy is to always give credit where credit is due (read any of our news stories or features and you’ll see that they’re often littered with links to external sources — make no mistake, we’re more than happy to acknowledge that this site is in large part powered by communities, both internal and external). In this case, Richard, the author, unfortunately neglected to do so. Nearly all of his guide was written on his own — I saw him slaving away on it for the better part of two weeks — but he did use certain posts on the DOA Central message board as reference. It was an oversight not to make mention of this — likely because of the nature of the source (various posts on a fan forum, as opposed to a published piece elsewhere) — but he should have.”

The last sentence, almost discrediting the source the guide that was ripped off, is the main problem with the gaming journalism industry. Everyone writing for a game magazine, website, or podcast at one time was a fan of video games and still is. These people got into the industry by being a decent writer or by setting up their own website and it gaining popularity. The majority of these people do not have any legitimate background in journalism. They got hired as web programmers, could write a decent piece, and transition into editorial jobs at time passed. The writer of this guide should be fired if 1up wanted to be considered a legitimate publication. They won’t and nor would any other reviewers for most major systems.

Ok, I hate Cheap Ass Gamer for getting me pissed off about this news story when I heard it again on their CAGcast. As for some happier news, Magic Box pointed out that Capcom is coming out with a Street Fighter Alpha collection. This will have five different games Street Fighter Alpha 1-3, Alpha 2 Gold, and Pocket Fighter. Hopefully this will be a more solid release then the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. Personally, I’m looking forward to it more then SFAC because I loved Alpha 3 back in the day and Pocket Fighter is a fun game. Speaking of Capcom, they confirmed Devil May Cry 4 as a PS3 exclusive.

The big news this week comes from the DS front (yay). First off, over 3 million people are playing Mario Kart and Animal Crossing online. Tony Hawk American Sk8land is also on that list but no where near as important as the previous two. The other big news is the DS is having its first redesign. The DSP (as PK calls it) or the DS Lite (the official name) will be 2/3rds the size of the current DS, bright white, and have four brightness settings. This will hit Japan in March with no official US date announced yet (but coming sooner rather then later).

I’m in the camp that says the DS is a great system, and I personally don’t think it needs a redesign. If you can put a decent amount of playtime on the DS, you’ll discover it’s a great feeling system. Still, if Nintendo wants to get more people on to the DS by making it look like an I-Pod, I’m all for it. It’s a great system and this will only cause a decent size price drop on the current system (probably down to 100) or better bundles to get you to buy the regular DS.

Quick news blast time. E3 booth babes are gone making E3 at least a little bit more legitimate. I’m all in favor of the rest of the virgins in the gaming press to spend less time at the Namco booth flirting and more time actually, you know, doing journalism. Peter Moore confirmed that Halo 3 will not be coming out during the PS3 launch. No surprise there. The Godfather has been cancelled for the Xbox 360 and PSP which is a bit of a surprise considering those seem to be the biggest “growth” platforms for EA on the market right now. Oh and they’re making a Super Monkey Ball platformer called Super Monkey Ball Adventure. That’s all the news you get for today!

Deal of the Week

Hm, forgot all about doing this last week so here’s a double dip. I missed the Gamestop/Moviestop buy 2 used, get 1 used free sale last week so I’ll work extra hard in finding some good stuff. This week is the week to pick up Gun or True Crime: Streets of New York at Best Buy as both are a penny under twenty clams. Half Life 2 for the Xbox is only $27.99 at Circuit City. Resident Evil 4 for the Gamecube has dropped in price to $19.99 at Gamestop. Last week’s almost game of the week and Animal Crossing DS are on sale at Target for 25 bucks and change and would almost be the deal of the week.

That asshole Lucard IMed me with some Pokemon shit. Usually I wouldn’t care but they were selling the ultra rare Pokepark 2005 DS system at the cost of a usual DS system. There are 5000 of these made worldwide and Wal Mart has about 200ish. This has not been posted to any of the deal sites which is why it’s still in stock. Even if you’re not a Pokemon fan, this thing is going for a $100 more on Ebay then the $130 price point. One request though dear readers, don’t post this on any public sites. We want to keep this as quiet as possible for Inside Pulse Pokemaniacs…. The link is here for those who are interested. Some asshole is selling this information on Ebay…

What I’m Playing

You see what happens after I have a slow week? I go out and buy six games. Those games were Midway Arcade Treasures 2, Castlevania Double Pack, Sonic Rush, Cubivore, Digital Devil Saga 2, and Gitaroo Man. Then I bought another f*cking DS. Damn it Lucard. Here’s my thoughts on the three that I’ve been able to play this weekend.

Sonic Rush: In the grand scheme of things, Sonic Rush is not much better then the three Sonic Advanced games. It’s too short and the lack of playable Knuckles and Tails (and to a lesser extent Cream and Amy) are not made up by the new character Blaze. That being said, this is still a very solid game. This is the best music in a Sega game in a long time. I haven’t really given it enough time to grow on me, but as of right now I put this as the best Sonic soundtrack ever and in the top five Sega soundtracks ever (original Jet Set Radio being number 1 right now). The stages are varied and the DS screens are used in a few interesting (not innovative but interesting) ways. This is easily one of the fastest Sonic games on the market and arguably the most disorientating. I do love the classic revamp of Sonic 2 for the Chaos Emerald bonus stages. A good pick up for the hardcore Sega fans and those who want a solid DS platformer but spend the 20 bucks for the Sonic Advanced/Sonic Pinball Party two pack and wait for this to go sale.

Gitaroo Man: I got a chance to play Gitaroo Man a few years ago and enjoyed it. Then it became a collector’s item second only to Rez in terms of rarity on the PS2 in the United States. A few months ago Gamequestdirect reprinted that, Rez, and a few other games. The value in those games tanked and people who bought them thinking they were buying a collector’s item were pissed. One person traded his game into Gamestop angrily (without ever playing it). I picked that game up and unlike collectors, I bought it to play. Gitaroo Man is a weird little rhythm game where you rock out. It’s half Guitar Hero and half Parappa the Raper. I wouldn’t recommend picking it up without playing it, but its a pretty excellent game if you like them a little weird.

Castlevania Double Pack: Easily the best bang for your buck at the moment on the GBA or even the Nintendo DS. You get two of the best platformers on one convenient package. If you have a GBA, this is a must buy title. Enough said.

Feedback

Terry hit me up again with some feedback. Here’s his most recent e-mail:

Hey it’s me again, thought I would chime in on the latest article and thank you again for printing me a second time. I agree with you on putting this EGM thing into perspective, Hsu should not get a pat on the back for what doing what he is supposed to do. When I show up to work and do my job I sure as hell don’t get a parade. I actually do read EGM and agree with you totally about the actual numeric scores are usually decent but the reviews are just crap, forced humor crap. None of the other gaming mags out there are any better. PSM, for all its so called “independence” actually scores most games a point or two higher for PS2 then EGM. I want to believe that the day will come when consumers will not let the wool be pulled over their eyes anymore, but I just don’t see it happening. This industry is just filled with too many people pushing hype and too many people buying it, and too many “gaming journalists” doing whatever it takes to stay in print.

Whew, got a lil worked up there sorry. Let’s end this on a happy note. Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition. I actually bought the regular version and I am glad they are charging the new version at the “greatest hit” price. I think before this only Virtua Fighter did this before. I have been having a big problem with the “special edition” trend that has hit games lately. There are too many games like Call of Duty 2 that charge you an extra ten bucks for some documentaries you could find on History Channel for free.

Anyway, another good Gaming Zen.

I do think there are a couple of strong gaming magazines out there. For all the shit I give EGM, their numerical scores are usually within a point or two of where we consider a fair score. Nintendo Power, although I haven’t read in a while, usually offers a fair opinion on most Nintendo titles excluding the cocksucking review that pops up once in a while.

As far as the special edition trend of games goes, I’m not a fan of it. If a company like Capcom wants to put out a few incentives on Devil May Cry 3 to get people to buy the greatest hits version of games, I’m fine with that. I’m less ok when a company like Tecmo pumps out a version of Ninja Gaiden with all of the online downloads included in it and jacks up the traditional “greatest hits” price up 10 bucks. That becomes even more upsetting when you can get a game like Metal Gear Solid 3 for ten bucks and the re-release with a few more bells and whistles costs twenty bucks more. As the French would put it, “Le sigh.”

Game of the Week

Three games get released this week. One is a Curious George game on most systems. The other is a Tamagochi game on the DS. Despite the good reviews, it’s a pet sim and Nintendogs is the best pet sim on the market bar none. Wait, nope it’s a life strategy game! That makes it even less appealing considering Animal Crossing is on sale this week and is also a better game. That leaves me with one choice……*drumroll*…..Mega Man Maverick Hunter X!!!

There are a few slight differences in this remake. Better graphics, a few slight differences in gameplay, and reworked music. I loved the original and this remake looks to be pretty similar to the original gameplaywise. Plus there’s an animated Mega Man X um anime with the game. That should be good for a laugh. I swear that there’s good games coming out soon.

Top Ten Five

Speaking of good games, how about five more good games I make up for the Nintendo Revolution? How about that segway bitches! Well let’s get this shindig on the road. Last week’s games were:

1. Tetris Generations
2. Mario Olympics
3. Advanced Wars: World at War
4. Nintendo Pinball History
5. Battleclash Revolution

Now on to the list.

Eternal Darkness: Elegy: Eternal Darkness is one of the greatest horror games of this generation. Eternal Darkness: Elegy could do the same for the Revolution. Eternal Darkness: Elegy would expand on the massive storytelling of the original. Elegy would feature much more open ended gameplay where your decisions change the future. Additionally, this first person perspective (3rd person is dead as far as I’m concerned for the genre) survival horror would feature multiple endings and an online multiplayer where each person would be playing in a different time period altering the game for players in a later time period in real time. Coupled with all of the psychological hallucinations of the first game with several new ones (imagine having voices whisper into your ear over voice chat for multiplayer).

Star Fox Academy: The last few Star Fox games have left a bit to be desired. I think it’s time to take the game series in a new direction. Create your own pilot to train from twenty different species (that’ll make the furries happy) while customizing your own ship. Besides all of the customization that you can do with your characters, you can play through “classic” training missions based on previous Star Fox games while also playing through the over 50 new missions in the new game (varying on what type of pilot you decide to be).

In addition to the rail shooter levels that made the series famous (combined with some open ended tank levels), you’ll be able to take on the world in sixteen different landscapes against thirty one other players. Game types will allow you to have free-for-alls, capture the flag, bounty hunter (randomly chosen person is it and you have to shoot them down for points), traitor (where two players on each team score points for the other team), and assault (one team tries to capture a base while the other defends it). Add in a few co-op mission and the ability to trade created characters and you’ve got a solid action title.

ROB Revolution: Screw Hey You Pikachu. Fuck Nintendogs. Give us ROB Revolution, a robot raising sim. We need a return of ROB. In addition to caring for your robot, you can play a variety of games with him, most of which are based on the original Game and Watch games. ROB’s environment can be customized. ROB himself will respond to a variety of voice commands and motions with the Revolution controller. As ROB grows and gains experience, he will expand his natural living space unlocking new areas and building gifts that you can use to decorate your room or sell for upgrades.

ROBs will also have the ability to meet up online with other ROBs gaining upgrades, new accessories, and fostering a greater online community. Your personal ROB will keep a log of all other ROBs that it meets along with a list of games that each person you meet has registered to their ROB allowing for a much greater and expansive online community. As an added bonus, every game you download for the Revolution will unlock new items for ROB. How bad ass would your ROB look with Samus’ helmet or Link’s shield on his back? That is what the pet raising sim of the next generation should look like.

Pokemon Universe: If there is one thing that the Inside Pulse gaming staff all agrees on is that Nintendo needs to put out an online Pokemon game. Here’s how I see it happening. First off, start everyone from scratch. Have every Pokemon avalible in this game (no, not the retarded glitch Pokemon) along with one hundred new ones. This may piss off some of the older fans that have a complete Pokedex but it gives a more balanced playing field to the n00bs.

Online play is really the key here. The typical “Collect the eight badges to get into the tournament” is here but with a new twist. Each gym will be headed by a real person, either employees of Nintendo or Pokemon “masters” hired by Nintendo to act as a gym leader. Of course each gym will have multiple leaders and the employees will be confined to having a very specific list of Pokemon with several level restrictions, but there will be some variety.

Another major aspect is actual tournaments will take place against real people. Rather then running through the Elite Four and then your rival to be declared world champion, you’ll actually have to beat the rest of the world. Each tournament will have level restrictions either on players (you’ll have a trainer level) or on Pokemon level. There will be additional tournaments that only allow certain types of Pokemon and will depend largely on your training of them with what you can teach them through TMs.

In addition to all of the battling going on, there will be lots of extras that you can do with your Pokemon. For example, you can pick up a camera and take photos of the lush 3D landscape. Or you can take money earned from Pokemon battles to customized the look of your trainer or your favorite Pokemon. If neither of those sound all that enticing, go to the Casino to play Pokemon slots, roulette, or other games of chance for exclusive (and often limited) prizes. This could be the ultimate Pokemon game that a certain number of us have been waiting for.

Waluigi Revolution: It’s about damn time that everyone’s favorite plumber got his own game with a backstory different then “Wario’s lackey”. Waluigi Revolution will be a surrealistic 3-D platformer set on the edges of the Mario universe. After their latest caper goes awry Waluigi and Wario have a falling out. Wario kicks Waluigi out of his gain and Waluigi goes back to home in Dreary Gulch. Rather then become depressed, Waluigi goes out to prove Wario wrong by going on the biggest crime spree known to man and mushroom alike.

Waluigi Revolution will have Waluigi stealing as much treasure as he possibly can from locations famous in the Mushroom Kingdom. Waluigi will have to use his wit (halfwit?) in creating a plethora of inventions and devices that can be used to his advantage. In a major break from most weapons based platformers, Waluigi has the ability to have every item available at his disposal from the beginning of the game. All he has to do is put them together from the junk yard. Item creation will be a major key to this game as there will be over 300 different combinations allowing Waluigi to bop, freeze, burn, blind, electrocute, or even pie enemies. Of course you’ll be able to buy plans for some of the more essential items or even purchase them outright if you want your collection of grappling hooks and freeze guns not to look like shit.

Waluigi will be all over the Mushroom Kingdom. He’ll be able to rob everyone from Princess Peach to King Boo in the twenty different unique levels before a final battle with Wario himself. Enemies will range from the traditional Mario enemies to some of Mario’s friends like Toads , Yoshis, and even the occasional plumber himself. Hopefully this game gets made because a very open ended platformer with Waluigi at the helm would be a dream come true.

Now for those of you still with me, I’d like to hear your ideas for a Revolution game. Send your ideas with a brief description into me and I’ll post the best ones (read: all of them since I’ll have only two) in a later column. I would toss in some sort of prize but I’m a total cheap ass.

Ok this column is now officially over. I’ve typed enough for today.