Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mario Strikers Charged impressions

As you can see below, I got my copy of Mario Strikers Charged today. So here are some quick impressions of the title.

Mario Strikers Charged is the mustachioed plumber's third outing on the Wii (Preceded by Super Paper Mario and Mario Party 8). A sequel to 2005's Gamecube title Super Mario Strikers, Charged looks to be all that the original was and much more. How is it so far? Venture on, valiant reader, to be enlightened.

So far, I've had time to complete all the tutorial stages (I don't know about you, but I'd rather I knew the controls before a hectic soccer game than after.), play 7 rounds of a tournament (And lose), then replay 6 of those 7 matches to pretty much catch up to where I failed. I have not yet ventured online (If I can't beat the first cup on normal difficulty, what makes me think I can beat an actual person online?), nor have I checked out much else than the main single-player game.

The graphics in this game really stand out, as the lighting and character models are all done very well. Also, slowdown doesn't seem like a problem, as I've encountered many things flying across the pitch while eights characters and two goalies pound the ball into oblivion, yet not even the slightest dip in framerate. So far, all seems well on the graphical front.

Sound is pretty cool thus far, although sometimes I find it's gets a little too quiet when the ball's flying around on the court. Where's the pumping rock music? Character voices are all present, with all the usual actors reprising their roles.

Gameplay is hectic as ever, with balls, shells, Bob-ombs, Whomps, cows, tractors, banana peels, and more all pelting the pitch and wreaking havoc on the players. Controls are also quite good so far, although I often mix up the button for items with the button for tackles. That's just me, though.

Overall, things look pretty good so far in Mario's latest futball romp. More details, such as characters, items, online play and more will be discussed in the full review, due out later this week! Until then, look out for PsychoMii online, folks!

The Duck Has Spoken.

The day of The Duck

Well, I got my copy of Mario Strikers! Pretty cool so far, but that's all I'll be saying until later, okay? Anyways, I did a couple of other things today, and I thought I may as well tell you guys what went down.

I'll spare you my morning ritual (Nothing special there, anyways), and get right to the slightly more interesting part! First of all, you guys should know that today was hot. And when I say "hot", I mean "HOLY CRAP MY EYES JUST MELTED IT'S SO DAMN HOT!!!!". Let's just say I greatly prefer Winter, and leave it at that, okay?

Anyways, knowing how hot it was, I first called my local video store to see if they had Stikers in stock. Of course, they don't, because that would be convenient! So I called my EBGames, they had a few copies, and I was off. So, I leave the house, and I'm met with 31 degrees Celsius of Torontonian Summer. Yay. I get to the bus stop, and the bus is practically already there. Great, right? Wrong, because the bus is ahead of schedule. About four stops later, we stop at an intersection. And we wait. 3 red lights cycle by before the bus gets going again. At a pace that would make a snail laugh. Hoo boy.

When we (Finally) got to my stop, I considered for a moment not thanking the driver as I leave, which I always do, since the ride took for freaking ever. But, I get to the front, and the guy has got a snake tattoo up his left arm. I say "Thanks" and hop off the bus before Snake gets a hold of me.

So I walk to the EBGames (Only about two minutes on foot, but it felt like twenty due to the heat) and plop down my $70, grab my game and my change, and trudge back to the bus.

I want you guys to know that I went through all of this almost entirely for the readers. Under normal circumstances, I would have gladly waited a few days for it to hit my local video store so I wouldn't have to subject myself to the hottest day of the year (So far). I did this for you guys! Hope you appreciate all I do for this blog.

So I get home, give it a whirl, lose the cup right near the end (CURSE YOU, YOSHI!), and decide I've had enough for now. So I retreat to my bedroom to commence work on one of my many projects. And unlike about 80% of my little endeavors, I finished this one! It's a Youtube Poop (Long story for those of you unfamiliar with the term) made entirely out of a Futurama episode. You can watch it here (If you wish to, that is) On the subject of Youtube, I've also added my personal page to the Personal Links section of the sidebar. The more links, the merrier!

Well, that was my day. I hope you enjoyed your last 24 hours! Mario Strikers Charged impressions will be up in a few hours, so hold on to your (Soccer) balls!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, July 30, 2007

What animal hasn't been made into a Pokémon?

I thought I'd write something a little light-hearted today. So here we go!

Pokémon has been around since 1998, and now the creature's numbers add up to 493. Many Pokémon are based on real animals (Pikachu is like a mouse, Ekans is like a snake). With nearly 500 of these guys, it's hard to imagine ANY animal that hasn't been turned into a Pokémon. But, I have thought up a scant few creatures that have so far been spared the Pokémon treatment. And so, I present to you: Animals that have NOT been made into Pokémon!

Duck-billed platypus

This bizarre, unclassifiable creature of the Australian waters has so far been left untouched by Game Freak. But, for how long will this hold true? Perhaps the fifth generation will introduce this Aussie oddity to the world of Pokémon...

Closest Pokemon relative: Psyduck


The great Canadian moose in one other rare species of animal not yet made into a Pokémon. How long until this is no longer true? I'm guessing 5 years.

Closest Pokémon relative: Stantler


Perhaps the only thing holding back the noble hedgehog from becoming a Pokémon is a certain blue video game character of the same species...

Closest Pokémon relative: Cyndaquil

Praying mantis

I'm really surprised this has managed to avoid becoming a Pokémon all these years. I mean, if you think about it, a praying mantis would make a pretty cool Pokémon. It's only a matter of years on this one, folks.

Closest Pokémon relative: Scyther


Now that's just wrong.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Poll #2: "How often do you play your Wii?" results

Hey, dudes, sorry, but I won't be able to get Mario Strikers Charged until tomorrow. From now on, and for all intents and purposes, I'll plan new release impressions on Tuesdays, not Mondays. That way I'm sure to have a copy, and you're sure to not get ripped off. Anywho...

Well then, here are the results for Poll #2: "How often do you play your Wii?":

"Several times a day!" 5 votes (10%)
"Once a day or so." 12 votes (25%)
"Every few days." 17 votes (36%)
"About once a week." 6 votes (12%)
"Every few weeks." 0 votes (0%)
"Haven't played in over a month." 3 votes (6%)
"I don't know." 1 votes (2%)
"I don't have a Wii." 3 votes (6%)

So most of us cram in some time on the Wii every few days. Not bad, really, considering this poll was taken before all the big names are released. I should probably do this poll again in November to see how things have changed!

Also, sorry for this being posted up so late. I couldn't concentrate earlier today because I was so darn tired! So I took a nap, and here we are. Be sure to vote on this week's poll, "Which of the "Big Three" do you most want?". Personally, I can't choose!

New article coming shortly, folks!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Last weekend of the month

Well, folks, this is the last weekend of July. You know what that means? It means Mario Strikers Charged is coming out on Monday, that's what! I'll hopefully be grabbing this on Monday, so expect a preview the same evening. If they get the shipment late (Again...), it'll have to wait until Tuesday. But, I'll get it, and you'll get your impressions!

So then, I hope you all have a good weekend, then! Nothin' but gaming these next two days for me. No complaints!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings review

Two reviews in one week? It's a mad house! A MAAAAAAD HOUSE!!!!

Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Publisher: Majesco
Release Date: February 14, 2006 (North America)
ESRB Rating: E10+ for "Everyone ages 10 and up"
ESRB Notes: Mild Violence

Age of Empires has long been a big name in the genre of Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games. But, when making the move to the Nintendo DS, it was changed from an RTS to a turn-based strategy game, along the lines of Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics. Did the move go off without a hitch? Read on to find out.

The most important factor of any game (Especially turn-based strategy games) is the gameplay, so where better to start? As suggested by the name of the game's genre, gameplay is divided up into turns. Each turn you may move your units once and attack once, in that order. There's no attacking and running here. Some units have special abilities that can be used instead of attacks. For example, Monks may attempt to convert a nearby enemy unit and villagers can build or repair your structures.

In addition to your standard units, you also have "Hero" units. These characters are based on real people from history, such as Joan of Ark and Genghis Khan. Heroes boast much higher attack power and defense than most other units, and they carry special abilities to boot! For example, Joan of Ark can use Inspiration to heal the heath of herself and all adjacent units by 20 (Total health for any unit is 100, so that's a pretty good amount). However, like all other units, Heroes can still only move and attack/use an ability once a turn each, which helps to keep them from being too powerful. Also, if your Hero dies, you lose the battle immediately.

Buildings may also perform certain tasks, such as producing units. Farms and mines give you food and gold (Respectively), which can be used to construct more buildings or create more units. You also get a small amount of money and food each day from your respective nation, just in case your supplies run too low to build a farm or mine (Which can happen, ironically). This government allowance isn't very much, though, so you'll always need a few farms and mines of your own.

When playing, one very important factor to take into account is the terrain. Some types of terrain can limit movement (Such as forests and mountains), some increase or decrease the scope of ranged attacks (Mountains and hills increase range, while forests decrease it), some enhance sight (Mountains and hills), some are impassable by certain units (Cavalry units cannot pass swamps), and one type of terrain (Water) is impassable to all units. Some types of units, such as those riding horses and Axe Throwers, are strengthened by the terrain they are standing on (Horses are strengthened by flat ground, while Axe Throwers perform better in forests).

Also, in some missions, you will have to deal with "Fog of war", which limits how much of the terrain can be seen at once. When starting a level concealed in the Fog of war, you will most likely only be able to see where your units are. Sometimes a target (Such as a town) will be illuminated, so you know where it is you have to go. Also, if you've been to a location and then left, a thin fog will fall over the area your unit can no longer see. You can still make out the terrain, but all enemy units and buildings withing the thin fog become invisible to you. This can lead to some pretty tense moments! Not knowing where you enemy lies puts you at a great disadvantage, making levels with Fog of war very difficult and stressful.

So then, enough about the mechanics of the game! Now on to the important part: How does it play? All of the above mentioned aspects mesh together beautifully to create a surprisingly deep experience. Age of Empires: The Age of Kings is a real treat to play, but it is somewhat slow-paced. Not for those wanting fast and furious fights. But, for a turn-based strategy game, a snail's pace is merely par for the course.

When the Nintendo DS touchscreen was first revealed, many people thought "Wow! This is perfect for a turn-based strategy game!". That was in theory. But, how do the controls fare in practice? Sadly, the touch recognition is somewhat sloppy here. For example, I'll tap a square in the game, and another square, three tiles away, will be selected. This doesn't happen every time, but it is a common occurrence. For the most part, I suggest sticking to the good ol' D-pad and buttons. Not only are they more accurate than the stylus, but they're also much quicker (Even compared to the times when the stylus functions properly). So, ignoring the sloppy stylus interaction, the controls in this game are pretty solid. It's just a pity that the superior button controls make it so this game could have been done on just any old system.

Of course, important to any Age of Empires game is the story. Well, in this one, there's five of them! Each campaign follows the exploits of the Heroes starring in them, following history nearly to the letter. The battles are tied in very well to the story, giving a seamless experience to the player (That is, unless you're a history major...).

And how does it look, you may ask? Well, The Age of Kings isn't exactly a supermodel in the graphics department. But, then again, few strategy games are! The isometric birds-eye view nearly always takes away most artistic freedom, due to the units being so small. However, while in battle, the fights are displayed with beautiful 3D characters (Pictured below).

For freedom!!

While the units look great in battle, a lot of them look pretty much the same on the map. Knights, Knights of the Round, Horse Archers and Scout Cavalries all look almost exactly the same. If I had a nickel for each time I mistook my ranged-attacking Horse Archer for a close-combat Knight, well, I'd sure have a nicer computer! It always pays to check your units carefully! I learned that the hard way... Now where's my nickel?!?!

The audio in The Age of Kings, like the graphics, isn't terrible, but it sure isn't fantastic. The sound effects do their job, I guess. Warriors yell as they charge on a group on enemies, and the swords smashing into each other sound pretty nice, but again, nothing too special. As for the music... Wait, music? I almost forgot it was there, it's so damn quiet! I'm not sure if there's a way to increase the music volume (I haven't checked), but even if there is, the factory default is far too low! Anyways, the music (When you can hear it) is pretty standard fare as well. There's a steady tune in the background while on the map. The music shuts off during battles, giving the fights a bit more of a dramatic feel. At the end of a skirmish, a victorious sound byte plays if you fared better than your opponent, and a slightly sadder tune if you do badly. As I've said before, nothing special, but not bad, either.

There is a multiplayer aspect to the game as well, but I have yet to try it out. One neat little thing I noticed while flipping through the booklet is that you can have a battle with up to three of your friends on the same DS! You merely pass it to the next player when you end your turn! There's also a level editor there, for custom fights. You can play multiplayer with more than one DS, but that also requires more than one copy of the game. No Single Card Download Play here. Looks impressive, though. But, since I haven't personally done a multiplayer session, I cannot rate this feature.

What's this game's lastability? Well, I've been playing for a few hours each day since Friday, and I'm still in the Tutorial stages! These battles take a really long time to finish. Granted, it is the last level in the campaign and I have lost a few times, but it still looks to be a pretty lengthy game. After the French, there's still the British, Mongol, Saracen and Japanese campaigns to deal with! I oughta be busy with this one for a good while...


Gameplay: 9.0/10

The sheer amount of factors present in this game is astonishing, especially considering it's all crammed onto a single game card! On the downside, though, it is pretty slow-paced, but it's still extremely fun.

Controls: 6.5/10

While the D-pad and buttons work very well for controlling this game, the sloppy nature of the stylus controls is very disappointing. Since buttons seem to be the best method of input, this game could really be done on any console.

Story: 8.0/10

Based on real history, Age of Empires: The Age of Kings features five factual, fleshed out storylines. There's minor discrepancies here and there, but overall, very close to the real thing.

Graphics: 7.5/10

The game may not be the most beautiful piece of software, but then again, it is a strategy game, a genre with some pretty low graphical standards. The battles are a real treat to watch, but the units on the map sometimes look too much alike.

Audio: 6.0/10

The sound effects do their job, and little more. Also, why the heck is the music so damn quiet?!

Lastability: 9.0/10

I've been playing for a while each day for a week now, and I'm still only in the tutorial stages! Past this, there are four more campaigns to tackle, and I'm nearly positive each one will be longer than the French Tutorial stages. I oughta be busy with this one for another few weeks!

OVERALL: 8.0/10

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings is a really great game. The amount of strategy involved is amazing, and it also looks to be a very long game to boot! However, the sound isn't too great, nor are the stylus controls. In the end, I definitely recommend buying this game, especially considering how cheap it is nowadays. Just don't go in expecting anything really fast-paced.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ubisoft: Masters of marketing

And now for something completely different.

No doubt you've seen them. They're in our magazines, on our computers, in our favorite websites... Rabbids. Every gamer who visits a gaming site even occasionally knows what a Rabbid is. And why is this? Because... Ubisoft is the master of online marketing.

When Ubisoft was creating Rayman Raving Rabbids, they undoubtedly know they were going for something bizarre. But, they thought, how to spread the word to the gamers? The answer: Viral marketing. They started making up pictures and videos, showing the Rabbids doing crazy, stupid, hilarious things, such as trying to milk a cow with a plunger and somehow failing to figure out bathtubs. These videos were an instant hit. People screamed "DAAAAAAAAH!!!!" at the mere mention of the game. And, when the game finally hit shelves that November, it sold like mad. Ubisoft had succeeded.

But, the fans begged for more! More Rabbids, more stupid stunts! Who was Ubisoft to say no? And thusly, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 was born. And yet again, Ubisoft was met with the same question: How to spread the word to the gamers? The answer: More viral marketing! The Rabbids have now invaded Earth, and are running rampant in France, Japan and various other parts of the globe.

One of my favorite new viral Rabbid ads

The response to this new set of crazy antics is almost unanimously positive. Ubisoft has, yet again, pulled off the perfect viral ad campaign. The result? We'll just have to wait until this Winter to see.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Drill Dozer review

On Saturday, while perusing the discount games shelf at a Real Canadian Superstore (Sorta like a Wal-Mart), I stumbled across Drill Dozer and MechAssault: Phantom War, both for $20 CDN. So, I bought them! Here is a review of the former.

Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: February 6, 2006 (North America)
ESRB Rating: E for "Everyone" (Notes: Cartoon Violence)

As I said in Games that deserve a sequel: Part 2, Drill Dozer had the sad misfortune of being released in the late days of the Game Boy Advance, a time when the Nintendo DS was beginning to conquer the market. The game went largely unnoticed, despite being made by Game Freak, the people behind Pokemon. Did Drill Dozer deserve more than this? Here's what I think of Game Freak's last Game Boy Advance adventure.

Undoubtedly the most unique aspect of Drill Dozer is it's incredibly bizarre gameplay. Instead of the usual jumping and running fare present in most platformers, Drill Dozer's gameplay relies heavily on the main characters aptly-named vehicle, the Drill Dozer (Sometimes called the Red Dozer). This odd little machine is outfitted with two drills, one on either side of the vehicle's body. One drill spins clockwise, the other spin counter-clockwise. Utilizing both drills is key to making your way through the many enemies, puzzles and obstacles scattered throughout the game's eleven levels (Plus several secret stages). These puzzles can be as simple as finding a way around an immovable barrier, or as complex as timing a jump just right, so as not to fall to your doom. Those without quick reflexes need not apply for this job!

But what is the story behind these adventures? As is explained in the mini-comic packed-in with the game, the leader of The Red Dozers, Doug, was badly injured when the Skulkers gang infiltrated their headquarters and swiped their precious Red Diamond. This leaves his pink-haired daughter, Jill, in charge of the family business. And what better way to kick off her newfound leadership then stealing back their lost Red Diamond? And so Jill, along with Gearmo and Grutch (Other members of The Red Dozers) head off to take back what's rightfully theirs from the Skulkers.

(Counter-clockwise from top) Jill, Gearmo and Grutch

Game Freak has always been known for their unique art styles, and the graphics in Drill Dozer do not fail to please in this respect. The character designs are well stylized (As seen above), and the environments are some of the best ever on the Game Boy Advance. And the bosses are larger than life, with an astonishing number of parts and always looking great in motion (Here's an example). The amount of detail and the sheer size of the levels in this game is truly amazing, especially considering this is on a last-generation handheld. Game Freak really flexed their creative muscles with Drill Dozer, and it payed off big time.

The audio is perhaps the lowest point of Drill Dozer. It's not that it's poor quality, it's that almost every sound effect is recycled from the Game Boy Advance Pokemon games. The music is always fast-paced and well suited to the situation, but I've heard most of the sound bytes many times before while playing Pokemon Ruby.

If the audio isn't this game's low-point, then the lastability surely is. I've been playing this game for a couple of hours or so every day since Saturday evening, and I finished it this morning. Sure, there's another ending to be unlocked, but that entails finding every single one of the game's 31 hidden treasures. I, so far, have three. There's also the secret levels, but not only do you have to do something to unlock them, you also have to pay out quite of bit of currency to access them. It's not a long game, but it is extremely fun while it lasts. And there's always time to go replay those awesome boss fights!


Gameplay: 9.9/10

Every second of this game is full of puzzles and boss battles, never leaving a dull moment. The game's built-in rumble also adds to the experience greatly.

Story: 8.0/10

Drill Dozer's storyline is fun and light-hearted, always avoiding ever getting too serious. The open ending really hurts, especially considering a sequel is most likely never going to happen.

Graphics: 9.5/10

This is, without a doubt, one of the best looking Game Boy Advance games ever published! The animation is smooth, the colors are vibrant, and above all, I'm just a sucker for anything with character art by Ken Sugimori!

Audio: 7.0/10

While the game sounds great, almost every sound effect is taken directly from Pokemon. Besides that, though, the music is very well done, and the few new sound effects are of good quality.

Lastability: 6.5/10

The game won't last you much longer than 10 to 15 hours. There are a few things there attempting to squeeze a few more hours out of the game, but nothing very rewarding, save for a slightly different ending.

Overall: 8.5/10

Drill Dozer is one of Game Freak's finest pieces of work, and it's a real shame that so few copies were sold. With only a few rough patches holding it back, this game is more than worth the $20 USD MSRP it carries today. If you see it, pick it up! It's pretty hard to go wrong at $20.

Have any of you guys had a chance to play this game? If so, what do you think of this little-known gem?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Top 10 games I'm looking forward to

A whole lot of games are coming out in the next little while, for both the Wii and the DS. Here are the 10 I'm most looking forward to.

#10: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (DS)

Whenever Square-Enix makes a new Final Fantasy game, I listen up! Ring of Fates builds on the groundwork laid by it's GameCube predecessor, offering a unique experience unavailable in any other Final Fantasy title. The graphics are also some of the best seen yet on the DS, with full 3D. Add in voice acting, and it's a mystery how they ever managed to cram so much on to that little game card! Even though not even the most vague of North American release date has been given, I still anticipate this game as if it were coming out tomorrow! No RPG fan with a DS should be without this!

#9: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 (Wii)

Ubisoft's Rayman Raving Rabbids, while it didn't quite live up to expectations, was still an amazing (And hilarious) piece of work. They couldn't just leave the Rabbids behind after just one game now, could they? Thus Rayman Raving Rabbids 2! It looks to be even more insane than the first, with more mini-games and pop culture spoofs than ever imaginable! Jack Sparrow Rabbid? Instant game of the year in my book!

#8: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii)

I haven't been into Resident Evil for long, but since playing Wii Edition and Deadly Silence, I'm really hooked on the series! So then, it's understandable that I'm excited for The Umbrella Chronicles! The on-rails aspect doesn't bug me at all, and perhaps the sweetest bit of recent news about this is the fact that it supports Nintendo's Wii Zapper shell. Holding both of my hands in front of me and pumping rounds into a zombie's decaying flesh really gets me excited for this game! As long as Capcom manages to keep the twisted storyline the franchise is famous for intact, this will be an experience unmatched by any other Resident Evil game to date!

#7: Mario Strikers Charged (Wii)

Mario has had many sports games over the years. Golf, tennis, basket ball and more. But perhaps my favorite of all Mario sport games would have to be Super Mario Strikers on the GameCube. The action was fast and furious, with Bob-ombs exploding left and right and Koopa shells hot on your tail. And now we get a sequel in the form of Mario Strikers Charged on the Wii, with all the adrenaline of the original game, with more modes, and expanded single-player mode and, best of all, online functionality. The reviews pouring in from Europe and Australia increase my anticipation more and more! Only six days to go until this hits North American stores.

#6: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)

Retro has always outdone themselves with the Metroid Prime series of games, and I expect Corruption will be no different. Adventuring through alien planets from behind Samus Aran's visor has always been a truly engrossing experience, and with the Wii remote, this will all be so much more so. Actually twisting your arm to turn handles and manipulate dials instead of merely pressing a button is sure to draw the player into the game like never before. Corruption is poised to be the greatest game yet published under the Metroid name, and it'll all be ours in little over a month.

#5: Wii Fit (Wii)

Okay, a lot of you guys are probably gonna be really pissed that I put this above Metroid Prime 3, but I really think Wii Fit is going to be an AMAZING piece of software! The Balance Board coupled with Nintendo ingenuity is a perfect combination! Wii Fit will be great for expanding the audience and shrinking our waistlines! Whether or not the Balance Board catches on is irrelevant. This is all about Wii Fit here, people, and I for one greatly anticipate it.

#4: Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Possibly Nintendo's biggest announcement this past E3 would have to be Mario Kart Wii, and rightfully so. Every Mario Kart since the SNES has been an amazing experience, always staying on top of the genre it pioneered. And now, with the Wii, Mario Kart looks better than ever before, and with more racers, tracks, and an online mode greater than that of MK:DS, Mario Kart Wii holds the potential to be the greatest yet in the franchise. It's the game almost every Wii owner has been waiting for, and it will finally be in our hands next year. 1st quarter 2008 just can't get here quickly enough!

#3: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Not since the N64 has a Nintendo console gone by without a Smash Bros. title, and the Wii shall be no different with the arrival of Brawl this December. With more characters, stages, and modes than ever before, this is gonna be one hell of a fight! From fighting atop the Pleiades (Pictured above) to scrapping in Pokemon Stadium, every second of this game is going to be jam-packed with action. If the rumoured online mode pulls through, this will certainly be the best Smash ever!

#2: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

One of the first games I ever played in my whole life was Super Mario Bros. on the NES, so it goes without saying that I'm extremely excited for Mario's next major outing. I've enjoyed every Mario game I've ever played, from Mario Kart 64 to Mario Party 3 to, yes, even Super Mario Sunshine. Each of the plump plumber's adventures are always in depth and full of unique and exciting enemies and allies. The impressions coming from E3 are astounding, with barely a bad word to say about it. Super Mario Galaxy is not to be missed.

#1: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)

Every Zelda game released is paired with extraordinary amounts of hype and anticipation, so it's little wonder that this ended up as my #1 most wanted upcoming game. Adding to my excitement is the near perfect review it got from Famitsu (39/40). This will almost certainly go down as the greatest portable Zelda adventure yet, if not the best altogether. If this isn't your most anticipated game, it at least deserves to be in your top 10.

Well then, those are my 10 most anticipated games coming out in the next little while. What games are you really looking forward to?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chat Box rules

Well, folks, there've been a lot of problems with behaviour in the Chat Box. We've had spammers and people impersonating me. Well, I think it's time to lay down some rules.

RULE #1: Spamming is 100% prohibited in the Chat Box! Never should ANYONE promote sites or blogs in the Chat Box.

An example of spam

Chatter name: Bob
Post content: check out my blog

If you are going to post a link to another site in the Chat Box, please make sure that you have a good reason for doing so, such as backing up a debate. DO NOT POST LINKS JUST TO GET TRAFFIC!!

RULE #2: Never post under someone else's name. This is perhaps the biggest problem as of late, with many people posing as me and giving false information. I have access to the IP addresses of all who post in the Chat Box, so if I suspect someone of impersonating someone else, I have ways of finding out for sure. DO NOT IMPERSONATE ME OR ANY OTHER PEOPLE IN THE CHAT BOX!!

RULE #3: No excessive swearing in the Chat Box! Saying damn, ass or other words like this are fine, but ONLY if you are angry at nobody in particular. Calling people names is strictly prohibited! Also, no homophobic or racial remarks are allowed. DO NOT SWEAR, CURSE OR USE RACIAL SLUR IN THE CHAT BOX!!!

RULE #4: No bad-mouthing the site in the Chat Box! Nobody shall ever blatantly insult this blog! That's not to say all criticism is wrong, however. If you're merely saying you disagree with an article or something like that, fine. If you're saying I did something wrong, fine. But NEVER shall ANYONE say things like "THIS BLOG SUCKS" or "You can't write for s#%$!". If you don't like the site, then stop coming here. DO NOT INSULT ONE DUCK'S OPINION IN THE CHAT BOX!!!

RULE #5: No flooding! Never, for any reason, should ANYONE post several messages in a row! If you're merely saying something you forgot in the last post or correcting a typo, okay. But do NOT stretch out something that could be said in one post!

An example of flooding

Chatter name: Bob
Post #1 content: hey guys
Post #2 content: guess what i noticed
Post #3 content: blah blah blah
Post #4 content: lol this is so dumb XD



Breaking RULE #1: User will be IP banned for 1 day
Breaking RULE #2: User will be IP banned for 2 days
Breaking RULE #3: User will be IP banned for 3 days
Breaking RULE #4: User will be IP banned for 3 days
Breaking RULE #5: User will be IP banned for 2 days

These ban-times are merely the MINIMUM punishment for each infraction! If a rule is broken excessively, I hold the right to increase the ban for as long as I see fit! Also, breaking multiple rules will result in the ban-times for both infractions being added together (Example: If a user breaks rules #3 and #4, they will be banned for 6 days). Finally, do NOT e-mail me begging for a ban reduction. Excessive begging will result in time being added to your ban.

These are the rules of the Chat Box. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DISOBEY THESE RULES!!!

This rules may be edited at any time, so please check back regularly.


EDIT #1 (Date/Time: July 24th/11:33 AM): Changed ban times from hours to days
EDIT #2 (Date/Time: July 24th/12:53 PM): Added RULE #5: No flooding

The Duck Has Spoken.

Games that deserve a sequel: Part 2

Part two of last month's "Games that deserve a sequel".

Drill Dozer
First game's platform: Game Boy Advance
Preferred platform of sequel: Nintendo DS

When the DS began to take hold, and the Game Boy Advance began to move slowly towards the shelf permanently, releases for the 32-bit handheld slowed to a crawl, comprising mainly of licensed properties and sloppy ports. In February 2006, Nintendo released one of their last games for the handheld in the form of Drill Dozer. From the minds of Game Freak (Makers of Pokemon), Drill Dozer was an extremely odd title. The main gimmick of the game, as suggested by the title, was a drill-headed bulldozer driven by a pink-haired girl named Jill. Not long before the game starts, Jill has a precious gem stolen from her (A in-box comic expands on this). This red jewel was taken by the odd crime syndicate the Skulkers, who's workers are, for the most part, rodeo clowns. With the help of her crew, Jill goes off to search for her family heirloom, drilling through blocks, air ducts and countless enemies on the way.

Possibly the worst part of this game is the open ending. Game Freak had expected the game to sell well enough to warrant a sequel, but sadly, this did not happen. I, for one, really hope that Nintendo sees the potential this title holds, and green-lights a sequel. For those of you who have yet to enjoy this quirky platformer, it can be bought for a mere $20 USD nowadays. If you see it, buy it!

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings
First game's platform: Nintendo DS
Preferred platform of sequel: Nintendo DS

Age of Empires has long been a staple of PC gaming, and was exclusive to PCs for nearly a decade. But, in 2006, Age of Empires: The Age of Kings was released for the Nintendo DS. Unlike the other games in the series, The Age of Kings was turn-based (Like Advance Wars) instead of an real-time strategy game, or RTS (Like Warcraft). The levels in the game were revised versions of the stages in Age of Empires II: Age of Kings for the PC, making the DS game, in a way, a remake (The box art of the DS game also bears a striking resemblance to the box for the PC game).

I am personally greatly enjoying this game (I got it on Friday). I really hope that Backbone Entertainment and Majesco make another Age of Empires for the DS! With a few tweaks to the controls, this game could be perfect.

Well then, those are another two games I feel deserving of a comeback! I may review one or both of these this week, so keep an eye out for them!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Poll #1: "What do you think of Wii Fit?" results

Well then, the first ever One Duck's Opinion poll has closed! And here are the results:

Question: What do you think of Wii Fit?

"It looks great! I'll definitely be buying it!" 9 votes (22%)
"It looks cool. I may buy it." 21 votes (52%)
"Great idea, but not for me." 5 votes (12%)
"Only for casual gamers." 2 votes (5%)
"A terrible idea. Nintendo's lost it for sure." 2 votes (5%)
"No opinion." 1 vote (2%)

The new poll is "How often do you play your Wii?" You know what to do, folks!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A minor change, and a small note

First of all, I just knocked the poll down a peg to below the Posting Schedule.

Second, I would like to draw your attention to the "Other Great Sites" section in the sidebar (Below the Chat Box). These sites are all of good (Or better) quality, and I highly recommend paying each of them a visit (If you haven't already). Also, be sure to check back regularly, as more sites are added every now and then!

Okay, hopefully this'll be the last non-article post I'll be writing for a while... Things should be back on track with normal daily articles starting Monday evening, so stay tuned!

Now, I'm gonna read some more Deathly Hallows...

The Duck Has Spoken.

Duck's Day Out (Coming soon to a theatre near you)

Okay, I don't actually have a biographic coming out, but damned if it wouldn't be AWESOME!! I think I'd be portrayed well by Jim Carrey... ANYWHO!!! In lieu of a real article this Friday, I will instead be outlining my gaming-laden Friday afternoon and evening. LOTS OF EXPLOSIONS, ACTION AND DRAMA!!! Well, not really... ANYWHO!!!

Well, in the afternoon, I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Awesome movie, highly recommended, etc., etc....

Afterwards, me, my sister and her fiancee went to the local EBGames, were I sold 4 GBA games and a DS game for $33 (CAD) store credit. But before that, my sister (Finally) plunked down the cash to get herself a DS Lite (Pink), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney (Used) and Pokemon Emerald (Used). And as I was deciding what to do with my $20 + store credit, her fiancee bought his own DS Lite (Black) and Planet Puzzle League (New). And then I purchased Sonic Rush (New) and Age of Empires: The Age of Kings (New), both for the DS. Sonic cost me $24.99 (CAD) and Age of Empires set me back a mere $20 (As MAD Magazine would say, "Cheap!"). In the end, I had a few bucks left, which I kept.

Then we did some more shopping, blah blah blah...

When I got home, I spent some time playing my new games (And having dinner, obviously). About three or so hours after I get home, my friend drops by and invites me to an impromptu "PlayStation Party" (As he called it). So I went, bringing my DS Lite and a few games with me (I knew other people there would be bringing their's).

Once there, I took the role of tech support, hooking up a PS2 to my friends ancient TV (This thing ran off of ANTENNA!). After scratching my head for about 20 minutes, I figured it out. And that's when the party started!

Now, before you start thinking this is gonna be a wild party, lemme clarify a couple of things. Firstly, I was the oldest person there (Besides my friend's mom). Second, my overprotective mother had the phone number and could call anytime. This didn't matter too much, really. We're all sane people (Well, maybe not me, but...), and even if there was a chance to do something bad, I doubt we would have taken it. *Halo appears over head*

So then, once the TV was pushed back into the corner (Had to get my ass there to hook it up), we booted up the PS2 and played some sort of downhill cycling game released in 2002. Normally, I would have been EXTREMELY bored here. But, it was a party, people were hollering at the person in last place, laughing whenever one of us fell off of our bike (A common occurrence), and generally having a good time. Rating that game on it's own, I would maybe give it a 6.0. However, rating it based on how everyone got involved, a sure 10. Local multiplayer is awesome, especially with an audience.

Then after a few rounds, we switched discs to Tekken (What number? Not sure...). I let a couple of the guys duke it out while I lay on the floor playing Age of Empires (JOAN OF ARK WON'T STOP DYING!!!). Then discs were changed to Need For Speed: Underground 2, which I didn't get the chance to play (Ah well...).

After that, the party got REALLY WILD!!! We played... The Game of Life. Say what you will, it was an awesome experience. Everyone yelling and joking and such. One of the guys really took to torturing the bin full of people. So we played... And played... Then it was nearly midnight, and the game was FINALLY over. I came in second, behind the host of the party (Who clearly knows his stuff).

AND THAT WAS MY DAY!!! I woke up at 9 AM, and kept going until nearly 3 AM the next day! IT WAS NUTS. But, overall, a good, game-filled day. I think my lack of post yesterday can be excused, don't you?

PS: Reread this article, but only read the words in bold. Quite the different story, hmm?

The Duck Has Spoken.

"The Duck Is Tired" mini-article

Oh freaking exploding toads! I'm so damn tired!!! I've barely been in my house AT ALL today! I got up around 9 AM, went out, had lunch (Baconator FTW), saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Awesome!), got Sonic Rush and Age of Empires: Age of Kings (FINALLY), came home, rested for about an hour, went to a party at a friend's place, came home about 3 or so hours later, and here I am. So yeah, I'm tired!

Really sorry, guys and gals, but there won't be a real article (SURPRISE!). I am just too dang tired to concentrate on ANYTHING! I may break the rules a bit and write something tomorrow, though, so stay tuned!

But now, The Duck must rest...

The Duck Has Spoken.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Should Virtual Console games be online?

Sorry for the late article! Saw Ratatouille today and it totally messed up my schedule. ON TO THE ARTICLE!!!

Ever since the Virtual Console was first announced, people thought "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we could play our multiplayer VC games online?". Well, here's my take on that popular question.

When Nintendo first announced the Virtual Console last March, they said that the point of the Virtual Console was to deliver classic gaming experiences to the homes of Wii owners. Wouldn't adding online functionality to the software then destroy the game's classical structure? Well, I suppose many could argue that it is still feasible, since Kid Icarus and The Legend of Zelda both received minor tweaks, such as changing some passwords and correcting a typo or two. So if those games can be edited, why not Mario Kart, Mario Party and Star Fox 64, then?

For starters, these would not be "minor tweaks". Nintendo would have to add new menus, status screens, name entries and more to these classic games, pulling them very far away from their original form. The massive reworking would also cost Nintendo much more than usual, and most likely result in a higher download fee. Some people complain that Virtual Console games are already overpriced, so do we really want to make the games cost more?

There's also the problem that Nintendo is already extremely busy making new games for the Wii and DS. Do we really want Nintendo to divert developers busy with Mario and Smash Bros. to add functionality to games that have already been around for over ten years? Sure, this wouldn't take too big a chunk out of the developers' time, but still, every little bit of time making a game counts! A mere week extra of production time can help a game greatly, and taking that week instead to slap online onto Mario Kart 64 could harm the new software's quality.

Finally, there's the issue of how much space these additions would take up. The Wii's paltry 512 MB internal memory is already bursting at the seams with saved game files, channels and other Virtual Console games. Do you want it to get even MORE cramped in there?

No, online isn't the way to go with Virtual Console games. There are just too many problems with it. If not the fact that it tarnishes the games' original format, it also takes developers away from much more urgent and awaited projects.

Could it happen? Maybe. But I just don't think it will. What are your opinions on the matter?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A couple of site upgrades

You've probably noticed the addition of a poll below my personal info in the sidebar. Well, I figured it'd be an interesting way to see what you guys think about happenings in the industry. To start it off, I'm asking you what you think of Wii Fit! Make sure to vote! (Note: The poll will be changed every Monday, accompanied with a post stating the results)

Also, I've added a tagline to the site, although it's nothing too special. The catchphrase is "The Duck Has Blogged". If you guys have any great ideas for a new tagline, please say it in the comment section of this article. Don't worry, you'll get your credit!

That is all for now.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Star Fox Command review

I've been playing this game quite a bit lately, so I figured I may as well review it! Plus, when was the last time I wrote ANYTHING DS related here?

Developer: Q-Games, Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: August 28, 2006 (North America)
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone Ages 10+

The Star Fox series of games is an oldie, that's for sure. But as of the last few installments, it seems that they're not as fun as they were back in the day of the SNES and the N64. The added on-foot segments were disliked by nearly all fans of the franchise, and even the vehicular gameplay seemed to lose some of it's "oomph". Has Star Fox Command succeeded in redeeming this declining franchise? Read on to find out.

One of the most controversial aspects of this game are the controls, so I feel that's as good a place as any to begin. First of all, it needs to be said that nobody will adapt to these controls immediately. Star Fox underwent a massive overhaul in order to conform to the DS' unconventional control setup, resulting in something alien to even the most hardcore of DS owners. Almost everything is controlled by the touch screen, from steering to dropping bombs to advancing the conversations between levels. The only thing NOT relying on the touch screen is the laser, which can be fired by pressing any one of the DS' buttons, as well as any direction on the D-pad.

While extremely bizarre at first, these controls become entirely natural after a bit of play time. Steering feels tight and responsive, for both lefties (Such as myself) and righties (Such as pretty much everyone else). Besides the steep learning curve, I can find nothing wrong here.

Star Fox Command's gameplay, although familiar, is also quite new. As always, there's your standard dog-fighting Arwing battles. But, in between each battle, there is a level of strategy. Instead of the usual "fight, choose level, fight, choose level, etc." flow of previous games, players are instead faced with a more strategy game-like interface between skirmishes (Pictured below).

Star Fox Command between battles

At the beginning of each turn, players can do any combination of the following:

-Fire a missile from the Great Fox at a swarm of enemies
-Direct pilots to their next destination by drawing a line from their current location to another point on the map
-Erase some of the "fog of war" covering the map, in order to better know where your enemies lie

When ready, players can then press the A button to mobilize their pilots. The ships will then follow the drawn path. If their trajectory crosses paths with a swarm of enemies, a missile or an enemy base, players then choose which battle to begin first.

Once a fight has been selected, the players are "tossed into the arena", so to speak, with several enemy fighters. However, not all enemies need to be destroyed to finish the level. Only those carrying "core memories" need to be dealt with. If the fight is merely with a swarm of foes, it ends here. However, if the fight takes place at an enemy base, one more objective must be fulfilled: Destroy the enemy mothership. To do so, players must follow a line of beacons to the enemy craft, and strike it while performing a barrel roll. If the pilot misses a beacon or fails to hit the ship while spinning, the pilot's craft is destroyed, and the fight is lost.

However, none of the above will happen if the encounter is with an enemy missile. When chasing down a missile, the pilots have to maneuver their ship into each beacon, while simultaneously firing at the ballistic projectile. If the player misses even one beacon, they lose track of the missile, which then moves even closer to it's target, the Great Fox. If the missile makes contact with the Great Fox, the ship is destroyed, and it's Game Over.

Also, with the exception of missile chases, every fight has a strict time limit. But don't worry, as time can be recovered by deflecting enemy attacks, finding special items and defeating as many foes as possible.

The graphics in Star Fox Command are quite impressive for a DS game. The ships, environment and enemies are all rendered beautifully, sometimes looking better than those in Star Fox 64. However, some of the battlefields (Such as the ocean or open space) are very barren and uninteresting. Also, the strategy game-style screen between fights is nothing to get excited over.

Perhaps one of the most widely disliked aspects regarding the graphics in Star Fox Command are the character designs (Example below). The characters are overly-chibified, and Fox doesn't even look hairy anymore! What, did he get waxed since Assault? Even so, the graphics are still pretty impressive, even if Fox looks like he's made of plastic.

Falco, Fox, Krystal and Slippy as seen in Star Fox Command

Star Fox Command ain't too harsh on the ears, either. The audio in the game is very well done, with many different background songs and sound effects. And for those sick of hearing Slippy hollering at you to "get this guy off my tail" or whatever, don't worry, this game is 100% voice acting free. Instead characters speak in a garbled gibberish, with slight changes in tone depending on the person speaking. It actually sounds pretty good, especially considering we don't have to listen to Slippy yelling 24/7.

What is a review of a Star Fox game without mentioning the incredibly cheesy storyline? Command takes place about 2 or 3 years after Assault, and the group has since disbanded. Falco became a bounty hunter, Slippy got engaged (?!?!), Peppy Hare became General of the Cornerian Army (Former General Pepper fell ill), Krystal's whereabouts are unknown (She left after a spat with Fox), and Fox opted to keep the group running on his own.

However, soon a new threat to the Lylat System's peace arises, a group of fish-like villains known as the Anglars (Hey, I told you it was cheesy!). Fox first opts to tackle this new foe on his own, but soon realizes he'll need some help. He then decides to try getting the Star Fox team back together, despite how fragmented they've become. The rest is up to the player to discover...

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Star Fox Command's story is the fact that there are 9 different endings to see. The first time you play through, you're restricted to following a pre-set series of decisions. However, after you've beaten the game once, you have the option of choosing whatever path best suits your taste, resulting in many endings, bizarre twists, and plenty of replay value.

Star Fox Command is a landmark as it is the first game in the series to feature online play. Players can face off against foes all around the world thanks to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and what's more, NO FRIEND CODES! Although Friend Codes are an option, they are not required to play online.

One BIG problem with Star Fox online is that you absolutely NEED four people to play. If you manage to grab a group of four players to fight, that's great! But if even ONE person leaves, the entire match screeches to a halt. And all those kills you gathered? Yup, those are gone, too. Still, people seem to mostly stick around, which is good. But every few battles you will end up with a disconnector. Oh well, there's plenty more frags in the sea! Wait...


Controls: 9.0/10

The controls almost ALWAYS do exactly what you want them to do. Sometime you'll barrel roll unexpectedly, but it's nothing too common or crippling. However, the learning curve is quite steep, so if you don't get it at first, just keep at it.

Gameplay: 8.0/10

Battles are as hectic as ever, with enemies always at a high concentration. The strategy element seems a little out of place for a Star Fox title, but just because it's new doesn't mean it's bad!

Graphics: 8.7/10

Besides the fact that environments are sometimes barren and Fox looks like he fell into a bowling ball polisher, the graphics are amazing. You will encounter slowdown every once in a while, but never anything too severe.

Audio: 8.5/10

Thank the gaming gods, Slippy has been silenced! No more "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!" and "Get this guy behind me!" pounding your eardrums into oblivion. Also, the music during battles is always fast-paced and exciting, and every sound effect does it's job very well. Nothing outstanding, though.

Storyline: 8.0/10

The story is as cheesy as ever, and I couldn't be any happier! Fish monsters? BRAVO!!! But sometimes ends don't quite meet in the branching storylines (Characters may reference something that didn't happen).

Online: 7.5/10

Fights over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection are generally exciting and lag-free. However, the strict minimum of four participants and the battles screeching to a halt whenever someone disconnects hurt the experience quite a bit.

Overall: 8.0

Star Fox Command is a very well put together game, with great looks, sound, story (Anglars!!! AWESOME!!) and controls. However, the online play has a few kinks that need to be worked out. Even so, it's a solid game that will keep even the most hardcore Fox fans busy for a while.

The Duck Has Spoken.

A special announcement

I am proud to announce that One Duck's Opinion has entered the top ten of GameSites200's top 200 Wii-related websites! Yessir, three months and 60-some-odd posts later, I've made it up to tenth out of 200!

To all those that have voted, thank you all very much! For those of you that haven't... Well, what are you waiting for? The link is in the sidebar, directly below the "Other Great Sites" section! Unless, of course, you think this site unworthy of such an honour, in which case I ask, what the heck are you doing here anyway?

Oh, I'm just jokin'. Anywho, I'm very happy for this amazing milestone! Perhaps one day I can snag first? Only time will tell.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is the Game Boy name gone forever?

Jeez, is it only Tuesday? It feels like Thursday to me for some reason... Anywho, article time!

George Harrison, Nintendo's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications, recently had a little bit to say about the Game Boy brand:

"This year in our marketing you really won’t see much push against Game Boy itself, so it will kind of seek its own level. It’s hard to say in the future if we will ever bring back the Game Boy trademark. It was a big risk for us to actually pass on it and call the new product the Nintendo DS, but it was part of Mr. Iwata’s philosophy that if we’re going to make a radical difference and try to reach a new audience, then we have to change the name… We had to make a break even though we had one of the greatest trademarks in the history of the industry."

So there it is, the Game Boy is gone. Instead we now have the DS. But why did they bother changing the name from Game Boy to DS in the first place?

I think the main reason for the change was the fact that the DS is so vastly different from any model in the Game Boy product line. From the GB to the GBC to the GBA, not much was changed except for a few more colors, pixels and buttons. But the DS was the most radical change yet, with the integration of the touch-screen and microphone, something not yet seen in any game console, handheld or not. Calling the DS a Game Boy would be like calling the Nintendo 64 another SNES! Too much had changed to keep the same name.

The Game Boy DS? Does that sound good to you? What about the Ultra Game Boy? No? Me neither.

It's not as if the Game Boy name didn't have a good run, though. There was a good 15 years between the release of the original Game Boy and the release of the DS. But nothing lasts forever.

But, who knows? Perhaps one day, long from now, we'll see another Game Boy hit the market! But, for the time being, it's the DS' territory.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The joys of local multiplayer

Not much to say here... Guess I may as well start writing!

Goldeneye 007 (N64)

Even with online technology ever surging forward, it still fails to outdo local multiplayer. For example, just today I was sitting with my friend playing co-op in the Pokemon Diamond Battle Tower. As the opponent sent out their Pokemon, we'd each vocally tell eachother what we're doing, and sometimes what the other should do, too. For example, if we were faced with a Lairon and a Cherrim, I'd say "Okay, my Torterra'll use Earthquake to take out the Lairon, you burn the Cherrim with your Charizard, okay?". Sometimes in situations where the course of action is obvious, we simply nod to eachother and issue our commands.

Now, I know that there's such a thing as VoIP and webcams, I'll say that much for online gaming. But there's still no beating high-fiving your buddy after an intensely brutal co-op match, something impossible to do online. How about giving your pal a friendly punch after he frags you in a round of Halo? Again, this physical interaction is impossible online.

And even if they could SOMEHOW make it possible to physically contact your buddies online, I still don't think it would beat local, at least not in some games. For an example, take Dance Dance Revolution. Nothing beats getting together as a group and watching a few of your best friends make total asses out of themselves in the middle of your living room or local arcade.

Sure, when your online, there's always someone waiting to play. But is there any advantage to it other than that? No matter how great technology gets, you'll still occasionally get matched up with some guy with the crappiest internet connection ever. And what about disconnectors, those guys who always leave in the middle of a game just because their losing, just to protect their rank? Doesn't matter offline, because if your opponent drops the controller and leaves halfway through a round, you (And possibly many others) saw him do it. There may be little repercussions when disconnecting online, but when it's offline, your pals will know not to play against you again. And hackers? Man, don't even get me started with hackers...

So in the end, even with the webcams, the VoIP and the always-available nature of online gaming, local still emerges as the victor in my book. What do you guys think? Online or offline?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Early start to the weekend

Yeah, sorry guys, but there won't be a post today. I spent a good chunk of today's waking hours at the mall watching Transformers (BTW, it ROCKED!), and now I'm too tired to type...

Again, sorry! But look on the bright side: I went almost half a month without missing a day! That's gotta count for something! RIGHT?

PS: If you're anything like me, this video oughta keep you busy for a few hours.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Are we being abandoned?

Before you scream "OMG COPY COPY COPY!!!11!!1", let me say that this is in response to this Go Nintendo article, not a rip-off. Ok? Alright.

Many people out there right now are thinking "Wii Fit? Wii Sports? Wii Music? OMG, Nintendo has left us core gamers behind!!!!". This, however, is not true, and this is why.

First of all, it's not as if Nintendo has completely ceased production of all non-casual games, no matter what some people's rants would lead you to believe. They're still making Mario Kart, Super Mario Galaxy, Battalion Wars II, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and more. But Nintendo announces ONE casual game in the form of Wii Fit, and everybody goes overboard. As far as we know, Nintendo is currently developing two casual games, Wii Music and Wii Fit. Add to that Nintendo's casual games that have already been released, and we get a total three. Wii Sports, Music and Fit, that's all.

And how many core games are they working on? To my knowledge, in addition to those already listed, upcoming Nintendo games include Animal Crossing, Project H.A.M.M.E.R (On hold, not cancelled), Mario Strikers: Charged!, Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, Fire Emblem, Endless Ocean and Disaster: Day of Crisis.

Some of you are now thinking "But Duck! That's only twelve games!". Are you forgetting that more than just Nintendo is developing for the Wii? We have Eletronic Arts bringing FIFA, Madden, NBA, Need For Speed and Tiger Woods. Capcom is bringing Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Zack & Wiki. SEGA is bringing Ghost Squad, Bleach, NiGHTS and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Ubisoft is working on Rayman Raving Rabbids 2, Nitrobike and Red Steel 2. Namco Bandai is developing Soul Calibur Legends. D3Publisher is bringing Dragon Blade and Puzzle Quest. Activision is bringing Guitar Hero III and Tony Hawk. Lack of core games? I think not!

Also, while on the subject of third-parties, Nintendo said that they're gonna space out their releases more, making the Wii more attractive to third-parties scared of Nintendo cannibalizing their profits.

So then, if after reading this you STILL think that Nintendo is abandoning core gamers, I honestly believe you will never think otherwise. Some people are just immovable when it comes to their falsely based opinions.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My thoughts on Nintendo's E3 press conference

For those of you who missed it, a recap of the event can be found here. For those up to speed, read on!

Another year, another press conference. Does this one do anything special to stand out? Here's my take on how things went.

Every year, people anticipate new games to be revealed. Well, if your one of those people, you may have been a little disappointed this year with the amount of games unveiled, since in the end, we only found out about two new titles. That's not to say these titles are underwhelming! Oh, no no no no no! Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit are both extremely important titles for the console's continued success! Mario Kart is there for the core gamers, while Wii Fit is there for the casual (As well as some core) gamers.

Some of you most likely thought "Ah, dammit, the big announcement is another freaking casual title? Check please!". But a lot of you are ignoring the most innovative part of Wii Fit: The "balance board" (Pictured below). The weight and position sensing of this amazing new peripheral will be amazing for titles such as SSX and Tony Hawk, as many have already said. Imagine actually leaning for a turn and jumping off your board for special moves! The only two things in the way of this becoming a reality are 1: the fact the balance board is a secondary peripheral NOT included in the box with the Wii, and 2: the high price point the balance board is likely to have. But, who knows? Perhaps some ambitious developer will make an amazing piece of software with the balance board! Then again, it could also be doomed to obscurity like R.O.B or Game Boy/GameCube connectivity. Let's hope for the former, hmm?

The Wii "balance board" (Tentative name)

Something else great announced was the new "Zapper" Wiimote/Nunchuk shell (Pictured below). Adding to the excitement was the announcement that several upcoming third-party games (Such as SEGA's Ghost Squad and Capcom's Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles) will be utilizing this new setup. I was quite surprised by how machine-gun like the shell is. I'm really liking it!

The new Wii Zapper shell

Also using the Zapper shell will be Electronic Art's Medal of Honor (Yet to be formally named). Something else great about MoH is the fact that online gunfights will be in groups of up to 32 players! This is a HUGE piece of news for the Wii, since it was previously rumoured that the console could only be connected to one other Wii at a time. Perhaps the Wii is more online-ready than once thought!

The Mii Popularity Channel was also shown, but this time under the moniker "Check Mii Out!". As announced previously, Check Mii Out! will be a channel on which players can view Miis uploaded by other players, rate them, and even download them if they want to. We'll also be able to upload our own creations, and subject them to judging! Perhaps the coolest thing hinted at about Check Mii Out! was the contests. Apparently, every once in a while, Nintendo will give players guidelines about what Miis to make, like a celebrity or a TV show character. The best Mii wins! However, what exactly is won was never said. Wii Points? New accessories? Or something even grander?

There was also some talk about the DS, but not as much as Wii. About halfway through the show, an editor from the all-things-Zelda website, The Hylia, came on stage to demo The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Watching him play, I realized how smooth and seamless the game was. The graphics were bright and vibrant, and the controls always seemed to react the way the player wanted them to. I'm so excited right now! October 1st can't come soon enough!

Well then, at the end of this conference, I must say I was quite pleased! We finally got a glimpse of Mario Kart Wii, as well as several new peripherals!

I know that some of you are saying "Where the talk about Smash Bros.? What about Animal Crossing", but keep this in mind: E3 just started! There are still two more days left for these announcements to be made! When Super Smash Bros. Brawl was unveiled, it wasn't in a fancy press conference or anything like that! It was revealed behind doors to a select group, days after the conference! The same could be true of Animal Crossing, Star Fox, and all the other games we're anticipating, not to mention further news on Mario Kart, Metroid and Super Mario Galaxy!

This E3 has just begun, and already I'm impressed. Here's to another great two days!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

E3 is finally here!

Or at least, it will be, in about, oh, 14 hours. If you wanna get a direct feed of the Nintendo Press Conference, I suggest Gamespot. I used them for last year's show, and I encountered no lag or cut-outs whatsoever.

The conference starts at 9:00 AM Pacific. This timezone converter oughta help you find out when it's starting in your neck of the woods. And no, I'm not Al Roker.

So then, set your alarm clocks and prepare for E3!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Final E3 predictions

Well, E3 is now less than 24 hours away. I say it's time for me to render one last series of predictions as to what we should expect this year. Think of this as a sort of extension to one of last month's articles, "What will E3 bring?" (I think this is where I'm supposed to say "I have NO inside info".)

Extremely likely predictions

Square-Enix will announce some amazing new title

Yes, I know, this is vague. But honestly, vague is as good as anyone's guess when it comes to the intensely secretive Square-Enix! My guess is we'll see an original franchise or something from them exclusively for the Wii or the DS, and perhaps another Final Fantasy remake or two (The ever-popular Final Fantasy VII?). We may also get some solid North American release dates for Dragon Quest IX, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates OR Crystal Bearers or It's a Wonderful World. Whatever it is, it'll be great.

Nintendo will reveal some absolutely ASTONISHING hidden feature of the Wii

Nintendo systems often have one or two unknown functions programmed into them. Some fantastic new feature accessible only through software or something like that. I suspect the Wii is no different. Remember the DS Option Paks, the little GBA-like cartridges inserted into Slot 2? The DS had the firmware for this in it from the start, yet nobody knew of it's existence until Nintendo told them. Just imagine what secrets the Wii could be holding within it's hardware... I can't even begin to guess what!

An old, abandoned Nintendo franchise will make a return

Well, this isn't exactly my prediction, as Matt Casamassina of IGN said this in the last Wii-kly podcast. However, I do have a few predictions as to what will be coming back! Kid Icarus, Pilotwings, Dr. Mario and Earthbound are all begging to make a comeback!

Animal Crossing, Star Fox and Mario Kart will be shown for the Wii

I have the utmost belief that at least two of these will be shown for the Wii this week. Perhaps behind doors, but they will be shown nonetheless. This games are essential for the Wii's continued success, and thusly must be unveiled soon. They will also help pave the way for a bright future for the Wi-Fi Connection on Wii.

New Wii colors will be revealed and dated

Nintendo is infamous for releasing their consoles in many different colors, and I suspect the Wii shall be treated the same. What colors and when they'll be released are beyond me, but I'm nearly POSITIVE they'll announce them.

New and amazing Wii Channels will be revealed

With the SD card slot being so grossly underused, Nintendo has to do something soon to justify it's existence. I'm thinking a Media Channel, where you can watch your favorite clips and listen to your favorite music off of a SD card. Also, maybe we'll hear more about the Mii Popularity Channel, which has since long passed it's original April 2007 release date in Japan. Of course, they'll most likely reveal something so amazing that it's beyond even my vast imagination.

Less likely predictions

The next DS will be shown

The Nintendo DS has been around for almost three years now, so I expect we'll see the next model fairly soon. And I'm not talking a redesign, I mean a true successor, like what the Game Boy Advance was to the Game Boy Color. But, with the DS already selling as well as it is, there's really no reason to announce another so soon.

Nintendo will be announced as a publisher for Sadness

Small-time developer Nibris has been having some trouble finding someone to publish their new game, Sadness. It was rumoured that they already found a company to do so, but later on it was revealed that the deal had fallen through. I think Nintendo is just the right company to publish Sadness. But, I also somehow doubt it at the same time.

Almost certainly not happening

Zelda Wii will be revealed

We all know that Zelda Wii was already in production when Nintendo decided to port Twilight Princess from the GameCube, meaning the game is already somewhat completed. But releasing it so soon after Twilight Princess? I mean, it's been less than a year! No, I don't think this will be happening at all.

So those are my new predictions for E3 2007. Now we must simply wait to see if any come true!

...the wait is killing me!

The Duck Has Spoken.