Virtual Insanities: Mario, Sonic and Jean-Claude Van Damme

Please, Just For the Voiceover…

If there’s one thing we should have learned from the game based on Street Fighter : The Movie, it’s that video games based on Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies are not meant to be. Yet, after watching The Quest this week-end (don’t ask me why, we all have skeletons in our closet) I couldn’t help but think that it would have been a great fighting game. Considered by some to be the best of Van Damme’s movies (Not a huge accomplishment, I know) it featured a wide range of fighting style showcased by different walking stereotypes: a Japanese sumo wrestler, a Brazilian fighting capoeira-style, a Greek trying to wrestle his opponent to the ground and a French as a master of the savate. This movie has the basic premise needed to make a solid game, but also possess the extra details needed to push such a project into greatness, like a huge Mongolian bad guy and a Nazi fighter making his entrance in a blimp. The basics are there, and from that point on, it would simply have been a matter of the developer not screwing it up. It might not have been the game of the year, but I’m pretty sure it would have been entertaining. I hope I’m not alone on this one, but I sure enjoy beating the shit out of a huge Mongolian once in a while. Also, I don’t think that kicking someone in the face using Van Damme’s patented spinning back kick can ever get boring.

Just for the sake of making my own counter-point, here are two movies starring Jean-Claude Van Damme that should never be made into games:

– Sudden Death (Although a big fight sequence against a penguin mascot does have entertainment value)

– Double Team (Because playing as Dennis Rodman in anything that is not NBA Jam shouldn’t be forced on gamers. There’s a reason why he wasn’t included in the mid to late 90’s WCW games, and it wasn’t royalties.)

PS3 Home: What About It?

In news that’s not really news, but that’s about 3 weeks old, Sony has announced and even shown its “Home” software for the Playstation 3. Without being a game, it will allow gamers to create 3-D avatars for themselves, kinda like Second Life or The Sims. However, from what I understand, the avatars will be used to create virtual apartments, buy virtual furniture and engage in virtual conversations with strangers and friends in order to eventually play games online. Sounds like a neat idea, and it’s probably going to be a huge success with people who enjoy playing all of these non-games like Second Life, but in the end, I don’t think it will be a system seller, or even make that much of a difference in the Console Wars: Episode 4: The Resurrection of Nintendo. Wanna know why?

Creating virtual avatars for you is fun, especially when it’s free. However, when you start paying for each piece of furniture or clothing that you want to add to your collection, I think that a lot of people will keep their avatars at the bare minimum, and simply use them to find opponents for online multiplayer mayhem. Furthermore, I believe that virtual versions of yourself are fun when you can play with them, which is why the Miis are such a big success. You don’t simply use them to show off or live your life through them, you actually get to punch them in the face in a boxing match, or you can use them to customize your baseball team. I think that the same applies for the Sims. Maybe I’m alone with this, but when I used to play that game, it wasn’t for the “virtual life” aspect, it was to have fun with them, do stupid stuff like taking the ladder out of the pool and watching their reactions, and even torture them. I didn’t really care about what color the house would be, or what would be inside it. I don’t know if I am what someone would call the average gamer, but I don’t want to live my life through a 3-D model of myself when I turn on my console. I want to play something and have fun.

In the end, sure, there is a market for that kind of people. Just look at the popularity of Second Life. However, I think that most gamers would agree with me. You only need to check the number of subscribers to World of Warcraft and compare it to Second Life. I think that most people prefer gaming over living a virtual life. Still, I wish Sony the best with their concept. I can see it being good and surprising people, just not becoming super popular. Kinda like the aforementioned The Quest movie.

Virtual Insanities’ Tingle RPG Watch

Those who know me will know that I bear a strictly gaming-related love for Tingle, the pseudo-fairy in a tight green suit from The Legend of Zelda. I think he’s a funny guy, and I think that his game, which at the moment is only available in Japan, looks like something that is different, but weird enough to be fun, just like Elite Beat Agents. The problem is that the game is not yet scheduled for an English release, so until I get a confirmed release date, this section will be a part of my “Virtual Insanities” columns. Here is the latest news concerning the game.

Between January and February 2007, an English release has been confirmed by Nintendo of Europe, the Official Nintendo Magazine and Electronic Gaming Monthly. Woo-hoo!

At GDC 07, Eiji Aonuma, current director of the Legend of Zelda series, has stated that the game had no scheduled release date outside of Japan. Damn.

Combined with the fact that ONM wrote that the game would be released in March, and that the month is pretty much over, this looks bad for all the rumours concerning a release date for North America and Europe. Despite the overflow of anger, I will refrain from using random acts of gratuitous violence in the meantime. I wouldn’t want to attract a certain lawyer from a certain state in the south-east of the USA.

I would just like to conclude this section by emphasizing how much we’re getting screwed in the Tingle department, because members of the Japan-only Nintendo Premium Club can now receive an exclusive DS game starring Tingle in a Balloon Fight remake.

No English Tingle
Japan always gets cool stuff
I want these games now

The Xbox 360 Elite: Woooooo! I Was Right!

If you read the “VS” column by Jacob York a couple of weeks ago, I was facing off with Mark B. One of the questions was to know if we thought a new version of the Xbox 360 was really coming, and I answered “Yes”. I know that it means I had a ½ chance of being right, but I will still take a second or two to soak in the glory of guessing correctly.

The brand new Xbox 360, which is called the “elite version”, comes with a 120 GB hard drive, HDMI output, component cables and all kinds of other stuff that sounds really good in a conversation with fellow geeks or in a debate about which company is going to win the war for this generation. More importantly, the console is black, which I guess gives it more street cred, just like the DS Lite Onyx.

I’ve talked about it with some of my friends, and while most of them just don’t care – usually because they already have an Xbox 360 and they don’t think the upgrade is worth it – one of them indeed feels like he got screwed by Microsoft. This is the same guy who already bought every versions of the Game Boy Advance, the two versions of the Nintendo DS as well as a normal and a slim PS2. Sure, all the extra stuff could have been included on the first version, but you have to admit that it is a good marketing strategy. It has been proven to work in the past by both Nintendo and Sony, so you can’t blame Microsoft for doing it. Still, I tried to think about what Microsoft could have included to push this version from simple upgrade to a must-buy. After spending at least two minutes trying to think of something, I came up with the one thing that they omitted which could have made the Xbox 360 Elite as essential as taking a shower once in a while.

Electric shocks.

Microsoft’s solution to annoying gamers that shout insults during games of Halo is to report them or to mute them. My solution would be shock therapy. When a player really gets on your nerve, you just press a button to start a vote, just like in PC FPS where you can vote on a new map. That vote is secret and not shown to the offending party, and if the majority of other players agree with you, then the culprit is punished by an electrical charge sent from his controller. Not something on the level of a tazer, but just painful enough so that people will think twice before acting like dicks online.

No Smash Bros. Brawl News Yet, But I Guess This Will Do

It is now confirmed. For the first time EVER, Mario and Sonic will be competing against one another in a DS and Wii exclusive. Nope, it won’t be with other gaming mascots in fighting mayhem, nor will it be in another kart racing game. This time, they take it where it matters the most.

The press release states that regulars from both series will be competing in various Olympic events, and it even says that we will finally be able to see who would win in a 100m race. While I wouldn’t count Mario out in a high jump competition, I’m pretty sure we can give the sprint to Sonic, on the simple account that his legs start spinning funny like the Roadrunner when he goes really fast.

I know that we are all waiting for Sonic to be officially announced as being a part of the next Smash Bros. game, but as a fan of games like Super Mario Strikers and Mario Tennis, I will give this one a try. Not only will I be able to race a fat plumber against a blue rodent, I will be able to make all kind of dream matches, including Bowser against Dr. Eggman in pole vault events. I guess it would also be funny to play the fencing competitions and endlessly poke Toad or Big the Cat’s oversized belly. You can count me in.

Just as a side note. We’ve seen Mario play baseball, soccer, tennis, golf and even organize huge parties. When is he going to play hockey? When will we be able to crush Toad into the board with Wario? Hockey games always get ignored on Nintendo consoles. We didn’t get a NHL 07 version on one of their consoles, and while the Gamecube did get NHL 06, there were so few copies that I couldn’t secure one at EB Games, and I was too lazy to check out Ebay. I live in Quebec, which means that hockey games are sold out almost instantly. So my suggestion is to start by releasing hockey games on the Wii, and then get them out in huge quantities. Hey, that might be crazy enough to sell!

In Closing

If you paid close attention to the column this week, you might have noticed that the format has changed a little bit. Scratch that. You didn’t need to pay attention at all; you simply needed to read another one of my columns. Anyway, this is because I had nothing to discuss for long enough to cover four pages of MS Word. However, I did have a lot of short things I wanted to say. I don’t think it really matters, because in the end, what I’m writing about is still insanities, just more all over the place.

Coming soon to the Wii is Super Paper Mario, which I will be sure to pick up. Looks like a pretty entertaining game, which looks even more fun simply because I enjoyed Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door more than any game I’ve played in 2006. I know I was a bit late on that one, but I should really tell you all that I am a very bad gamer. I suck at most games. I used to call hockey games and platformers my specialty, but a co-worker proved me how much I sucked at hockey games by handing me my own ass 4-2 while he was playing with a broken controller. As for platformer, Yoshi’s Island DS is about to make me go crazy, so maybe I’m just not that good at all. Doesn’t make me enjoy the games less, but it sure makes it longer for me to finish a game before starting another. I guess I had a point somewhere in that paragraph about how Super Paper Mario looked like a great game, but it got lost somewhere in between.

Did I mention that it took me 48 hours to finish The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess? And I didn’t even spend that much time doing side quests. All over the net, I can read people bragging about finishing the game in 30 hours or so. I told you. I really suck.