Monday, March 31, 2008

Poll #33: "Can Sonic Unleashed buck the trend of bad 3D Sonic games?" results, banner

"Yes, definitely" 7 (16%)
"Maybe" 19 (45%)
"No, Sonic is irretrievably bad at this point" 3 (7%)
"How the hell should I know?" 10 (23%)
"No opinion" 3 (7%)

It seems like people just don't know what to think of Sonic these days. It'd be great if he could recover from this downward spiral, but if it will happen is the big question.

This week's banner is the sad image of my crippled DS Lite (More details in the previous article). It lasted almost two years of nearly daily use, so it certainly earned it's $150 price tag. Thank you, NERF, for making this case! I think you can add a point to the score I gave that in the review. A life-saver!

As for this week's poll, the question is "Have you ever had a Nintendo console break after less than five years?". I ask about Nintendo consoles in particular, because I'm pretty sure we've all had an XBox 360 or Playstation 2 such break down on us at least once. Also, I'm curious to see just how many times a usually-sturdy Nintendo console has broken. The break can range from something like my DS Lite's hinge to a fully busted and refusing-to-work console. And it doesn't count if you broke it by hitting, dropping or otherwise damaging it personally. I barely touched the hinge on my DS Lite, and it broke, so I feel that qualifies as the console giving out naturally. Whether or not your console(s) situations qualify is up to you.

New article in a little bit.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Bad news, everyone

Poll results and banner in a moment

Before I went to sleep last night, I decided to play some Picross DS. After solving a puzzle, I went to turn off my DS Lite. My finger accidentally bumped into the right side of the hinge, accompanied with a cracking sound. The result...

My DS Lite's hinge is broken! After careful use and storage for almost two years, my DS Lite's notoriously weak hinge finally gave out. It still works perfectly, except for one little problem...

The top screen doesn't stay aligned at all! I freaked out for a while, and then I remembered something I read regarding the NERF DS case...

It makes a great replacement for broken DS Lite hinges! Thanks to this little case, my DS can still work. Although the hinge tension is completely gone. It flips open and closed with very little force, so I have to be really careful how I hold it. It can still detect when it's closed, so that's good. It seems all the crucial wiring was in the left part of the hinge. Phew!

Even the power indicator light is working just fine. But I'm still not too happy about this... It really is quite the downer. I guess I should consider myself lucky that it works at all, though. But look how sad I am!

See how sad I am, behind the opaque cover of my DS Lite? I must be a descendant of Wilson W. Wilson Jr. or something. Anyways, I've put the broken-off section in an old GBA game case for safe keeping, and I suppose I'll just have to deal with my DS in it's current condition for a while. As long as I'm sure nothing gets to the exposed motherboard, I should be fine.

Okay, enough of me whining. Poll results and banners now!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why the immaturity about mature content in games?

We all know how it goes. A game like Manhunt 2 comes along, and people are refusing to sell it or even have it released on their consoles. So a man's testicles can be ripped out with a pair of pliers. So you can smash a guy's head in with whatever you pick up. So what? All this crap and more goes down in movies like Hostel and Saw. Is the interactivity the big deal here?

I've never played Manhunt 2, but I've experienced the incredibly lifelike controls in The Godfather: Blackhand Edition. I've choked guys with the garrote wire, slammed heads into walls and chucked people off of the roof of a building. Game controls can't get much better than that, and I don't see myself tossing someone off the edge of a roof any time soon.

And look at the big stink that was raised when "Hot Coffee" was found in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. There's a sex scene that lasts almost no time at all accessible only by use of a cheating device. But wham bam subpoena ma'am, hell is raised by the whole freaking country. And for what? Two fictional (Not to mention pixelated) characters go bumping uglies for twelve seconds. Big whoop. All you see is two people rubbing up against each other, while they still appear to be almost full clothed. Suggestive thrusting and a bit of button mashing, and the damn thing's over already. Come on.

The same thing could happen for a minute in a big name movie, and it would be released without a single word said. I'll grant that the Hot Coffee scene was in contrast to the game's M 17+ rating, but beyond that, there's no reason at all to have even spoke about it. And like I said, it was a normally inaccessible bit of code. Rockstar didn't even intend for players to find it! One horny nerd picks it out of the code and WHAM! The world goes crazy.

I wonder what would happen if a full-on pornographic game was released in North America. That kind of stuff comes out weekly in Japan, but over here I feel it would be a different story. I wonder if they'd stock it in adult video stores? That's how I think it should be done. Or maybe in a special part of any game store, in a drawer or cupboard behind the counter. Then people could just request it, flash their ID and buy it. That way you don't have any chance of a parent accidentally buying it for their kid. Easy as that.

I really think that gaming should have just as few limits as any other medium, but for some reason, that just isn't true. It seems that in order for games with such content to be accepted, some people just have to grow up.

Have your say in the comments section or in this thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are there any other animals that haven't been made into Pokémon?

"A sequel to "What animal hasn't been made into a Pokémon?". Also, a few of those creatures listed in the first article have, in fact, been made into Pokémon. Thank you, readers, for pointing this out."

So here we are, 2008. Four generations of Pokémon now exist, with nearly every conceivable animal having become a creature in the game. But a few critters have managed to avoid Game Freak's development team, and here they are.


I'm incredibly surprised that such a common and well-known animal has yet to become a Pokémon. I mean, they've done Mankey and Primape, Aipom and Ambipom... Heck, even Chimchar, a fourth-generation starter, is a monkey! Why haven't they made the natural move from here to gorillas?

Gorillas would make great Pokémon, too. With that imposing figure, they'd be perfect as a ground (Gorearth), rock (Gorrock) or fighting (Punchilla?) type. A high attack and defense would be a must, but their speed and special stats would be low. I'd take a Punchilla onto my team any day, wouldn't you?

Sea Sponge

Are you ready kids? (Aye aye, professor!)
I can't hear you! (Aye aye, professor!)

Who lives in Pokémon and can be captured? (Not a sea sponge!)
Who will leap from it's Pokéball at your very word? (Not a sea sponge)
What can be caught on route 109? (Not a sea sponge!)
What will nibble your bait and catch on your line? (Not a sea sponge!)
Not a sea sponge! Not a sea sponge! Not a sea sponge!
Not aaaaaaa sea spoooonge!

Ahem, anyways... As you would expect, a sea sponge would be a water-type Pokémon. It would likely be a fairly standard fighter, with attacks like Water Gun and Bubbles. It would likely have high defense (Sponges can be quite stiff creatures), extremely low speed, and a fairly average special attack. Everything else would likely be a little above average. Would you want a Spongeous on your team?

Oh, and Corsola are made of coral, not sponge. Close, though.


Camels, like gorillas, are a species I'm surprised to see still avoiding Game Freak's grasp. They'd make amazing ground-types! Attacks would be along the lines of Sandstorm, Earthquake, Headbutt and Sand-Attack. Most of it's stats would be just about average, with a low defense and a slightly higher attack. It wouldn't be that much of an outstanding Pokémon, but hey, neither are many of the game's creatures.

Sandshrew, Cacturne, Hippopotas... I think a Camasand would fit in well with them.


A narwhal would make a downright awesome Pokémon. Think of it like a Wailord with a big freaking horn poking out of it's head. Tell me that doesn't sound completely awesome. A water-type with attacks like Hydro Pump, Horn Drill, Body Slam and Water Spout, a narwhal would be a force to be reckoned with if it became a Pokémon.

I suppose I can understand this one not yet being used. A narwhal is somewhat of an obscure creature, after all. That doesn't make me want it any less, though. It must be done. But... What would it be called...? "Narwhaqua"? I guess I'll leave that part to Game Freak.


Before I day anything else, no, extinct creatures are not off limits. Need I remind you of Aerodactyl? Moving on...

A Stegosaurus would be like a brick-wall Pokémon. Really high defense and special defense, but it would be really freaking slow. It would have fair attack and defense ratings, though. And it would probably be another rock-type. Stegorock? Rockasaurus? I'm no good with making up names.

Attacks would be what you'd expect from such a huge creature: Earthquake, Stomp, Body Slam, Rock Tomb... Huge, brute-force attacks. It would be one heck of a staller, great for switching in when your other Pokémon need healing. And when all your other creatures are healed, you can get in a quick Earthquake or two before it faints. Don't worry, it can take the punishment. It'll be one tough customer.


With so many horse Pokémon taking up the Pokédex, I'm incredibly surprised to have not seen a donkey sneak in somewhere. A normal-type, Holycrapitsadonkey (Hey, you think up a better name) would use attacks like Stomp, Rage, Headbutt and Skull Bash to get the job done. It would be fairly fast, with high attack and low defenses. It would hardly be a sturdy fighter, but with such a high offense, that would matter little.

Also, I wonder if breeding it with a Rapidash would produce some sort of genderless, incendiary mule... I'd put that on my team for sure. Muletov Cocktail, anyone?


Now, jackalopes may not be real animals, but.... Ah heck, I don't have to do anything here. Silly name, bizarre appearance... It's already a Pokémon! Just paint it blue and we have a winner.

Discuss how awesome Muletov Cocktails are in the comments section, or in this forum thread.

EDIT: Wow, I can't believe I forgot Camerupt and Numel... Oh well, scratch camels off the list.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Wii Balance Board: Tremble at the possibilities

Lots of people are looking at the upcoming launch of Wii Fit as a great way to get in shape while still having fun. I too look forward to it for this fact, but I also look a little further into the package deal, and think of how amazing the Balance Board within is. The Balance Board isn't a peripheral for playing Wii Fit. It's more of Wii Fit being a game for the Balance Board.

That's right, the Balance Board will be like a whole different console when it finally hits shelves worldwide in a little less than two months. At least, that's how I see it. This new peripheral brings so many new possibilities to the realm of videogames. It boggles the mind!

First and most obviously, look at the possibilities for boarding games. Surfing, skateboarding or snowboarding, take your pic. For these games, the Balance Board could be rotated 90 degrees from it's standard broadside-facing-TV orientation to one of the narrower sides facing the screen (Left or right would face forward, depending on the player's preference). This would only be useful for controlling your character's movements, though. Additional input (Tricks, jumps, etc.) would be relegated to a Wiimote held in the player's hand. And I suppose switching which leg is facing the front while boarding may be difficult to pull off. I don't think the Balance Board is built for players to be jumping, switching direction in mid-air and landing on it. Especially not when it comes to the heavier-set gamer. Maybe the Balance Board is stronger than that... I dunno, I haven't used it. Whatever the case, I'm sure the developers will find a way around it.

How about gas and brake pedals in a racing game? You could simply set the Balance Board on the ground in front of a chair or couch, take a seat, and hit the road. Steering would, of course, be handled by the Wiimote, as would be the emergency brake. The Balance Board has the ability to sense pressure, so depending on how hard you press down on the left and right halves would affect your acceleration and braking power. This is a great advantage over simple button input, where achieving a steady speed anything less than your max velocity is a carefully-timed game of pressing and releasing the A button. The same goes for tapping the brake just right to slow down the perfect amount, accommodating turns of any angle. The Balance Board would be a must for the pro racer looking to get even more control out of his ride.

When it comes to a Balance Board-enabled WarioWare title, the above image pretty much says it all. Players would stand on the Balance Board for the entirety of the game, leaning, posing and perhaps even stepping off the board in order to fulfill the requirements of each activity. To further mess things up, players would hold the Wiimote in their hand for even more options. Leaning to avoid a flying cannon (The ball stayed still, launching the cannon), putting one leg up and against your other knee in a flamingo pose to avoid having a rat touch your foot, and stepping off the Balance Board at just the right moment to leap onto a passing train car. As for Wiimote-enhanced activities, players could lean to dodge an arrow, and fire back with at the right moment. Perhaps players could get down on one knee and slip the ring onto some grotesque bride. Or maybe we'd even see players doing quick push-ups, with results similar to the above screenshot? Heck, my ideas are probably complete crap to what the developers would think up. In fact, I'm sure of it! Those guys at Intelligent Systems are brilliant whack-jobs, and their past WarioWares prove it.

So there you have it. Three suggestions for awesome Balance Board applications. We Ski is already out to prove that the first section can be done right, but I've yet to hear any word of the last two becoming reality. Get on it, developers!

Feel free to discuss this article in the comment section, or in this forum thread. Or none of the above. I'm cool with that.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Poll #32: "Are you a 'snaker'?" results, banner, poll, minor opinion rant

"Yes" 3 (8%)
"Only against other snakers" 6 (17%)
"Sometimes" 4 (11%)
"No, I don't snake" 17 (50%)
"What's a 'snaker'?" 4 (11%)

I realized on Wednesday I should have added an "I don't play Mario Kart" option, but it was too late by then. Oh well, live and learn.

So, about that there banner. I find it really sad that so many games go unnoticed, forgotten and ignored. I feel the three in the banner perfectly express this. On the left, we have Zack from Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, a great game released last year that went criminally unnoticed by the general public. In the middle is the cyborg character from the long-since shelved Project H.A.M.M.E.R. The game was sadly forgotten and pushed aside by Nintendo, and I doubt we'll see it ever again. And finally there's Ray from Disaster: Day of Crisis. Disaster is a game that, despite having an amazing concept and design, will likely go ignored by the general public. It's sad to see such an amazing game be treated like this by the consumer, and I fear Disaster is headed for the same fate. I support these unnoticed, forgotten and ignored games, and I hope against all odds that they meet a bright future, whether it be in the form of a sequel, miraculous revival, or a surprising sleeper hit.

And for this week's poll, we have the following: "Can Sonic Unleashed buck the trend of bad 3D Sonic games?". Personally, I believe it can and will. But I thought the same of the 360 and PS3 game, and we all know how that turned out.

While we're on the subject of Sonic Unleashed, I have a few things I'd like to say. Many people think that it will not happen on the Wii due to it's amazing graphics, or that the Wii version will look significantly worse than the PS3 and XBox 360 games. Well, I think that the Wii version will look nearly as good. It may not look exactly as crisp as the 360 and PS3 versions. In fact, I know it won't, because the Wii isn't a high definition machine. But despite what many think, that doesn't make the Wii instantly a billion times weaker than the other consoles.

To prove my point, I ask that people look at Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. See those graphics? See those vast, sweeping vistas and throngs of enemies and allies? Now look at Sonic Unleashed. Does it really look that much better? It may be smoother, but slap some motion blur on Galaxy or Corruption, and it's basically the same thing.

I believe that SEGA wants dearly to buck the trend of bad 3D Sonic games, and I'm fairly sure they'll try to tackle the sloppy Wii port trend as well. But then again, you can't be sure with corporations like SEGA. What I am sure of is that Sonic Unleashed could look almost exactly as good on the Wii as it would on any other console. Whether or not SEGA makes it that good is out of my hands.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mini-Article: Another prank, or the real deal?

Think of this additional post as an apology for this week's underwhelming articles.

Well, no sooner does Wario's Woods WiiWare get disproved does Sonic Unleashed get "leaked". For those of you not following Go Nintendo (Yes, all two of you), here's some more info on the supposed game:

- Sonic becomes afflicted with a curse…that turns him into a werewolf. Sonic will have to battle himself, essentially.

- gameplay includes Sonic and the Secret Rings style running with switches to 2.5D platforming thrown in

- Sonic will transform at certain points in the game, and his new form will include some sort of new mechanic

- another new character will be introduced

- Sonic Unleashed is not the final name, and no platform(s) were mentioned. File names of the original leaked images indicate a multiplatform release of 360/PS3/Wii


So, it seems pretty Sonic Team-like to me: Lots of potential with a hugely crappy gimmick (Werewolf Sonic?!?!). Also, did you catch the second-last part of the above quote? Here it is again, just to drive it home:

- another new character will be introduced

Oh boy. Crappy gimmick. Another new sidekick. It all sounds so familiar. So the crappiness of the above adds a substantial amount of credibility. Because seriously, when was the last time Sonic Team made a good game? I'm not trying to be harsh, but the bleak future of this "game" does indicate a Sonic Team project. It's just a fact.

Also adding to the authenticity of this possible game is the following video:

There are a few spotty parts, such as the robot bouncing off of Sonic, but otherwise it looks pretty real (Who can say how far it is in development, any way?). Very smooth, with seemingly high production value. And the original video was removed shortly after being posted... Seems like something SEGA would do to try and stem the flow. The likelihood builds!

Now, for the things pointing away from this being true. First of all, there's the whole Wario's Woods WiiWare thing we just got over. April Fools is approaching, and there are people out there who can make things like this. Just look at the Nintendo ON hoax, or the Super Mario Galaxy DS video. Those were both made by one guy, and they were amazingly well done. What's stopping Sonic Unleashed from being yet another fake? Heck, the Nintendo ON guy could be behind this one, too!

Also, someone pointed out that Sonic's life counter in the top-left corner of the screen uses the Sonic Team logo. That's somewhat odd, don't you think? Why would a game company use their logo as an indicator for Sonic's remaining lives? Granted, it looks like Sonic, but you'd think they'd use concept art for the time being, at least during development. But the Sonic Team logo? Odd.

And there are a few factors that can point in either direction, depending on how you look at them. The score counter doesn't work, for one. This could be an indication of a fake video, but it could also point to the fact that this is a work-in-progress. Also, this could be another April Fool's prank that just got out a little too soon, or it could be an honest to goodness leak. Things can go either way in this gray area.

So, what do you think? Is it for real? Or is it just another April Fool's prank let out a little too early? Until SEGA stands up, we won't know for sure. For now, I'm still calling it a little fishy. It looks great, but the fact that it's so close to April Fool's really makes me think twice, especially after John Thomas' Wario's Woods hoax. What do you think of it? Real, fake, unknown? Feel free to voice your opinion on it in the comment section or in this forum thread.

UPDATE: Confirmed by Joystiq (Via SEGA Magazine), Sonic Unleashed has been officially announced as an in-development title slated for this November. The platform(s) still remain in question as of now, but signs point to a Wii, PS3 and XBox 360 release.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mini-Article: Gaming pranksters are getting too good

Just something short tonight... It's Good Friday, so everyone was home. Until about ten minutes ago, I thought it was Saturday, and now I have to whip up something quick for an article. Next week should be better with longer and more in-depth articles...

Earlier today, a peculiar post showed up on, claiming that a new Wario's Woods was being made for WiiWare. A few hours later, it was revealed to be nothing more than an early April Fool's Joke. I won't deny it: I was convinced that it could be real.

But, it just wasn't true. A pity, since I happened to like Wario's Woods ever since playing it on Animal Crossing. The biggest surprise about this whole thing, though, is how good people have gotten at making fake things seem real.

Seriously, today people make up a fake Wario's Woods game, and tomorrow, who knows? Earthbound DS? Final Fantasy XIV on the Wii? A good Spyro game? Nothing's too insane for the skilled prankster with too much time on his hands.

But still, I applaud Josh Thomas for this. He did some amazing stuff there, and he could have convinced hundreds of people that this game was real. Amazing stuff. If only the prank went entirely according to plan...

So then, so ends this somewhat lackluster week of updates. Feel free to whine about the inadequacy of the latest articles in the comment section, or in this forum thread.

Or you could also talk about this article on it's own. Whatever floats your boat.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Random Babbling 3

Well, my brain is totally tapped out for any real article ideas. So, I guess it's babbling time.

-I'm surprised to see so few other game companies trying out a Smash Bros. type game. Square-Enix's version would be awesome, with so many Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest characters totally beating on each other. I'd buy it for sure!
-I've been reading a lot of Mario Kart Wii previews, and I have a terrible feeling that it's going to be one of the franchise's worst entries yet... Tricks? What the heck, people? I thought this was Mario Kart, not Super Mario's Pro Skater.
-Augh, I noticed two big nicks on my DS today... I really gotta get a new one someday soon. The hinge-crack mocks me day and night, the top screen doesn't line up properly with the bottom half, and now there's small chunks of the lid missing. How did that last one even happen?
-GMod doesn't seem to have any way to change the graphical quality. This really sucks, since my PC can't handle the resolution it puts out without lag. I'll never be able to blow up a mattress fort now...
-Ah, dammit, the interference I'm getting on these speakers is driving me nuts. It sounds like pissed-off wasps are buzzing around inside them. At least turning on the music drowns it out a bit...
-My cat kept going nuts today. Screaming, running up and down the stairs... And her dad keeps jumping on the kitchen table for no reason. They're all insane. And to make matters worse, one of them just went into heat. Oh boy. At least the other two are somewhat calm.
-I still enjoy Nintendo Power, but it doesn't seem like quite the same magazine with Future at the helm. The previews, reviews and editorials are still good, but something else just doesn't quite fit right.
-Forum traffic seems to have nosedived lately... If any former posters are reading this, remember that the forums are always open!
-Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Domo. Domo...
-I'm really surprised at how much I like playing as Sonic in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I was always positive he was a terrible fit for the game, but he just works so well. And his Final Smash... Wow. Can't get enough of that! (Sorry, Europeans!)
-One of my former favourite television channels has totally turned to crap as of late. All the good shows are getting pulled, and they're being replaced by some of the worst programming I've ever seen. Bring back the good stuff, dammit!
-So, they announced a Spectrobes sequel. Good thing, because it has a crapload of potential that the first game missed. I hope they get it right this time.
-They're making a Drawn to Life spin-off with Spongebob in it. Wicked stuff, man. I wonder what else Mr. Squarepants would be a good fit with? A Katamari-style game, with a huge, round Bob rolling up a bunch of stuff? Toss in some unique gameplay twists and witty writing, and I'm in!
-I think we've seen enough Brawl reviews now, people. I sort of felt bad writing my review, knowing how over-populated the topic is nowadays. Oh well, I had to do it. And now it's over.
-There's an empty unit in a plaza near my place that's been vacant for over a year. The lights always seem to be on, and there's paper covering all the windows. What the heck is going on?
-I find myself wondering a lot if some of the people I pass on the street know of my online persona. I could pass by a good online friend and not even know it! Does anyone else ever wonder this, or is it just me?

Well, that's that, I guess. Sorry for the crappy little articles lately, but the Brawl review totally drained me of... Um... Stuff. I can't even think of the word...

Talk about this in the comment section or this forum thread, yadda yadda. You know the drill.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Poll #31: "What control scheme in Brawl do you use most?" results. banner, news

Make sure to look below this post for a bonus article I wrote yesterday!

"Sideways Wiimote" 0 votes (0%)
"Wiimote and Nunchuk" 7 votes (20%)
"Classic Controller" 4 votes (11%)
"Good Ol' Gamecube controller" 12 votes (35%)
"I haven't decided on one yet" 1 vote (2%)
"I don't have Brawl." 10 votes (29%)

Can't say I'm surprised. Sticking to the most familiar method just makes sense, really. I seem to favour the Wiimote and Nunchuk configuration though... I guess I'm just weird.

So then, this week's banner comes courtesy of forum member WJUK. The theme: Wii Fit. The relevance? I dunno, Wii Fit isn't due out for a couple months yet. But it's nicely done, so thar she blows.

Alrighty. This week's poll is "Are you a 'Snaker'?". This refers to the speed-boosting technique in the Mario Kart games, most infamously Mario Kart DS (Due to online racing). Personally, I'm not a snaker, and you can see my stance on this in the below article. But how about you?

As for tonight's article, there may or may not be one. First of all, I just got Garry's Mod, so I'll be messing with that for a while. Second, I wrote something last night. I know, I said on the forums I'd write tonight, too, but... Garry's Mod, dammit. I'm gonna go make Dr. Breen do a hula dance.

If I do write, it'll be a mini-article at most. Back in full force Wednesday.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mini-article: An expansion on "Games: Having fun VS mastering the program"

This is a good example of what I meant in "Games: Having fun VS mastering the program", in regards to playing a game as a game, and not finding a certain way to turn it into timed button presses.

I was reading through the comments section on this Go Nintendo article, and I feel like I should put in my two cents on the whole "Snaking in Mario Kart" debate.

I will not deny that snaking was intentionally put into past versions of Mario Kart. As many have said, the staff ghost data on the time trials commonly use this tactic to decrease their lap time. And that's fine for time trials. But I feel that racing against other people is something much different.

If you're a snaker racing against another snaker, the outcome of the race all comes down to who can get more boosts out of each straightaway, which is usually largely dependent on the kart and racer used. I find many snakers use Dry Bones and his Dry Bomber due to it's agility and resistance to slowing down on rough terrain. The only other factor here seems to be pure dumb luck.

If you're a snaker racing against a non-snaker, the race is pretty much determined off the bat, with you snagging the gold. What's the fun of racing if you know you're going to win? And how do you snakers cope on levels without straightaways? Choco Mountain must be a real bitch to win, hmm?

Now, before you start calling me a stupid n00b who can't snake, allow me to say that you'd be absolutely right in saying this. I can't snake. Why? Because I've never tried to. I've never even wanted to. I consider snaking to be just as low as using cheap moves in any fighting game. Have you run into any punks online in Brawl, using nothing but Pit's sword-swirling technique to get the job done? I look at that in exactly the same way I look at snaking. Sure, it's in the game, but is it the right thing to do? I don't think so, and I'm sure many agree.

I'm not saying snaking is 100% wrong, and that all snakers are losers or unskilled. I'm just saying that I don't think it's the true way to play Mario Kart. Like Pit's spinning blades, snaking is present, but overuse isn't right. Save the boosting for the corners, and leave the straightaways for how Kart was meant to be played.

Feel free to discuss this in the comment section, or in this forum thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl review Part 3: Side Attractions and The Final Score

Alright, the third and final part of the review. Here we go.

There is so much more to Brawl than what I've gone over so far. Seriously, I've had the game since Sunday, and there's still parts of it I've barely experienced. There's a whole bunch to say, and so little time to say it in. I might as well get started.

Stage Builder

This was probably the biggest surprise to me when it came to what was present in Brawl. Finally, the freedom to create our own stages to fight on! Unlike many level editors in games of the past, the one present in Brawl is insanely in depth, with a amazingly high limit for what goes in it. It's never too much of a stretch to fill out even the largest of stage sizes!

At first, the tools you have available to you are quite basic. You can put down solid platforms, pass-through platforms, ramps, ladders and a few unique structures that don't really do anything special. But later on you can unlock even more props, from conveyor belts to springboards to a rotating, ferris wheel-like feature. You can even choose the level's theme (Mountain, technology or spooky) and background music! There's barely any limits here but your own creativity!

And don't worry about filling up your Wii memory. Know why Brawl takes up so many memory blocks? About 100 of those blocks are actually reserved spaces for saved stages and at least one other thing (See "Album"). Each level, no matter what the size, takes up only one block, so you'd need to do a lot of building to run out of space! And if you do run out of space, just copy your data to an SD card. It's as simple as that, really.


A fun feature of Super Smash Bros. Melee was the picture-taking mode. In it, you'd find a way to make your character get into a funny, bizarre, or otherwise interesting pose, take a snapshot of it, and save it to your memory card. This was nice, but a little limited. Brawl fixes all this by allowing players to take pictures at almost any time, be it during Brawls, local multiplayer, or even the Subspace Emissary! And they can save it to the same reserved 100 blocks used by the Stage Builder, with each picture again taking up a paltry 1 block.

Okay, so you took some funny pics. Where do you go from there? First of all, you can send your pics to all your Brawl pals! Without even leaving the Disc Channel, you can go right to the Album and send out some screens to your friends. You can also save the pics to an SD card, and take them to your friends house and show it off on their Wii.

There's one other way to distribute your pics, but this is a little bit more out there. Using a certain program available online, you can take the .bin files and turn them into .JPGs with ease! Now you can host them onlineand show them off to the whole world! And that's exactly what I'm about to do:

Oh jeez!

He's faaaaaaaaalliiiiiiiiiiing....

Princess Peach gracefully drops into the fray

Metal Sonic shines beautifully in the sunrise

This particular method involves a slight drop in image quality, but the awesomeness still shines brightly!


There are three main categories for collectible items in Super Smash Bros. Brawl: CDs, stickers and trophies. They each serve a different purpose, and there's at least a hundred of each to collect. First, the CDs.

When you first play Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you'll have a somewhat small library of music to listen to while brawling. That's where the CDs come into play. By picking up these items scattered across The Subspace Emissary, Classic Mode and even in standard Brawls, you can add one song apiece to your audio library. Don't worry about collecting doubles, it won't happen. And once you get them all, they'll stop appearing. That's really all there is to know about CDs.

Stickers are probably the most complex of the three collectibles. Like CDs, they appear in all sorts of places. When picked up, they immediately float off to your collection in the Subspace Emissary. What's the point of stickers? You can use them to power up your characters by sticking them to the bottom of their trophy. By going to the menu in The Subspace Emissary, you can choose any one of the characters you have on your team and apply a sticker to their trophy base. Whatever effect the sticker has will go into effect immediately. Stickers can do anything from boost your characters kicking attacks to increasing resistance to electrical hazards. Careful application of stickers is key to strengthening your character for the long road ahead.

These stickers only work on the character who's base they are applied to, so if you have thirty-something team members, it's going to take quite a while to outfit them all with their appropriate stickers. Also, you can't seem to apply stickers in any orientation other than upright. Sometimes I see a space where a sticker would fit, but only if I could turn it by 90 or so degrees. But no such luck there. And finally, you can only apply one sticker per stat. For example, if you have two electrical attack-boosting stickers applied to a character's base, only the strongest sticker will have an effect, with the other doing nothing more than take up space.

Anyone who's played Super Smash Bros. Melee should be well acquainted with trophies, but if for some bizarre chance you haven't played Melee, here's the run-down. Everyone else, feel free to skip this part. Trophies are virtual statues of video game characters, items and more from Nintendo's long history of gaming. They serve no purpose but to be collected, but it's actually getting some of them that can be a problem. Some trophies can only be acquired by getting a certain amount of points in one of Brawl's many Side Attractions, or sometimes from beating an entire mode. Trophies serve as a player's proof of their skill and dedication to the game, and a large collection is a true prize to have.

Stadium Modes

From the start, there are three modes available to play in the Stadium menu: Home-Run Contest, Multi-Man Brawl and Target Smash. There's also at least one more mode you can unlock later on, but I won't spoil it for you.

The Home-Run Contest is almost exactly as you remember it from Super Smash Bros. Melee. Poor ol' Sandbag is still there, and you still gotta beat the crap out of him and give him a good whack with the Home-Run Bat. There are a few minor changes, though. First, there is a weak barrier surrounding the platform where you lay the smack down on Mr. Sandbag. This way you can knock him into the walls a few times without worrying about him falling off the platform and ending your attempt. Second, there are several multiplayer options. You can play with a pal, working together to get that damage meter good and full. You can also play against your friend, competing to knock the Sandbag further. And you can also take both multiplayer modes online, playing against or with your internet buddies.

Multi-Man Brawl is still basically the same as it was in Melee. You still fight against a whole buttload of faceless enemies, aiming to kill as many of them as possible in a small time frame. Luckily, they just fly off the screen if you sneeze at them in most modes. However, there is one positively brutal mode contained here, and that is called Cruel Brawl. In this mode, the enemies do obscene amounts of damage to you, and can send you flying even if you're at perfect health. It's pure insanity, and you're lucky if you can down even two of them before you bite the dust. Hell, I find it hard to even make a dent in one of them, let alone actually defeat one. But it's damn fun to try.

Again, Target Smash is a mode that has undergone very few changes since it's last appearance. You still play as whichever character you please and break all the targets as fast as possible without falling off the stage. There's been a bit of scaling back, though. There are only five stages between the game's 35 fighters, instead of each character having one level to themselves. But that would mean making nearly three dozen different stages, and holy crap would that take up a lot of space. But it's still really fun to go nuts and try to break them all at light speed. Just don't expect much variety.


Also returning from Melee are the events. Event Mode consists entirely of several challenges that the player must overcome. From fighting Link's doppleganger to taking on Bowser and Dedede as Mario, the events are both insane and skill-testing. There's really nothing more to be said about events, other than they serve to unlock many things, such as trophies, stages and music. But then again, so does everything in Brawl!

Online Brawling

Of course, one of the biggest sources of hype surrounding Brawl is the inclusion of online battling. Players can finally take the Brawl to the internet and play against up to three random people from around the world, proving their skills in a battle of global proportions. The rules are the same as usual, with time limits locked at two minutes and stages chosen by the combatants. Players choose their characters, and get the chance to practice their moves on Sandbag while waiting to connect.

I can't accurately judge the quality of the internet play in Brawl, considering I've only fought online about four times. And although every battle was incredibly laggy, I cannot blame that on Nintendo. The blame lies entirely on my crap-tacular wireless internet, which I hate. But in the rare instances when the wireless was working well and things were moving at a good speed, battling online was smooth and problem-free. It's fun, but I'd like it a whole lot more if I could play it more steadily.

And finally the review comes to an end...

The Final Score

Gameplay: 10/10
Without a doubt, Brawl gets a perfect score for it's gameplay. With so many characters to choose from, so many modes to play in, and so many things to unlock, Brawl is sure to keep any Smash fan busy for ages. I've played this game for a week, and I still feel like there's so much for me to find. I'll be unlocking things for weeks to come, and I doubt it will grow any less exciting any time soon.

Graphics: 10/10
Really, no other score could do these graphics justice. It's an amazingly beautiful game, right down to the texture on Mario's overalls. Everything moves so smoothly, and each and every facet is rendered with the utmost care. Definitely one of the Wii's best looking games yet.

Audio: 10/10
Again, any score less than this would be wrong. Mario's "Yahoo"s, Snake's "Show time!"s and Sonic's "Come on, step it up!"s are all acted out amazingly, with crystal-clear clarity. The sound effects are also brilliant, with classic sounds mixed in here and there with the high-end audio of today. And the music is simply stunning. I should expect no less from Nobuo Oematsu of Final Fantasy fame. His works have never let me down yet. An amazing game to both see and hear.

Multiplayer: 10/10
Almost everything in Brawl is multiplayer-ready. Home-Run Contest, Multi-Man Brawl, The Subspace Emissary... Unless it has "Solo" written above it, there's a multiplayer option! And from what I've seen of the online Brawls, even those without friends who Smash are sure to find opponents readily and fairly easily.

Longevity: 10/10
No question about it, Brawl is a game that will last any gamer for weeks at least. After about a month you may make another game your currently-played focus, but you'll be going back to Brawl for seconds, thirds and fourths for quite some time to come. With unlockables coming out the wazoo, there's plenty of reason to play this game over and over again.

I feel somewhat bad giving the a ten out of ten score. It really deserves an eleven! With breathtaking graphics, engaging gameplay and dozens of different play modes, it's a game for the history books. But that's not to say everyone will like it. There are those out there who don't get the charm of Smash Bros., and this will not change their minds. But those of us who love the series are sure to be extremely pleased by this latest offering.

So that's it. Brawl Week has come to a close. The review is done, and my verdict has been rendered. Feel free to sound off on this in the comment section, or in this forum thread. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl review Part 2: The Main Attractions

Slight change of plans! I'm gonna write about the core of the game tonight, with the bonus features and such on Friday. Not only does this make more sense (Bonus features before the main game? What?), but I have more experience with Adventure, VS and Classic than anything else so far. So today we'll have The Subspace Emissary, Brawl and Classic Mode.

This part of the review is all about the real core aspects of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The parts that people are most likely to head to first thing after opening the game case. These are the main attractions of Brawl.

Perhaps the biggest and most unexpected addition to the Smash Bros. franchise is an in-depth adventure mode. Unlike Melee's stream of boss battles separated by platforming segments and no story holding it together, The Subspace Emissary is a true, fully in-depth adventure mode with a storyline.

The storyline? Basic. Happy world gets overtaken by evil force with no apparent motivation other than disrupting the content citizens. But really, story means little in any fighting game, so why should Brawl buck the trend? It serves it's purpose as a means of intertwining the universes of the characters within it, and that's all it really needs to do. Snake's presence is somewhat odd, though. He doesn't appear to be on any mission from the colonel or anything. He just seems to feel like fighting this bizarre force for whatever reason. And Sonic's entrance could have been a bit more explained, but eh, he's in Brawl, and that's what really matters.

The platforming segments in The Subspace Emissary are actually quite enjoyable, surprisingly. The stages are constructed well, and the original enemies created just for Brawl are all really interesting to fight. Each foe requires a different approach, but there'll all defeatable no matter which character you play as.

Speaking of characters, the first time you play any stage in The Subspace Emissary, your choice of fighters is limited to whoever is present at that point in the story. For example, in the first stage you can only play as Mario or Kirby. Whenever you lose a life, your current character is switched with the next one in line. So if you chose to play as Link, Pit, Meta Knight and Sonic in that order, Pit would become your fighter after Link's death, followed by Meta Knight, and finally Sonic. If you manage to pick up extra lives within the mission, the cycle will begin again, with Link taking Sonic's place.

The second time you play any stage, the character you play as can be anyone you've met up with so far in the Subspace Emissary. Say you've met up with twelve characters in story mode so far. You'd be able to choose a maximum of six fighters from the twelve to take with you into the level (Actual party sizes vary from level to level). If you've unlocked a character for standard play, but not had him or her join your team in the Subspace Emissary, they will not be selectable for use in and level until you get them to join your team. For example, even though 21 fighters are available for free play when first starting up Super Smash Bros. Brawl, only the ones you've met in story mode will be playable in The Subspace Emissary.

And of course, you can't play as a character you've unlocked in one save file if you're playing in another. The Subspace Emissary has literally dozens of save files for you to choose from. Finding it hard to keep track of which save file of the 30 saves is the one you wish to play? No prob, as each file can be named at the start of a new adventure. However, files cannot be renamed later on, so choose a good title! I've learned the hard way that leaving it blank is not a good idea. So name your files, folks, lest you lose them in the sea of gamesaves!

Having trouble fighting your way through the story mode on your own? Well, call over a friend and have him or her grab a controller! Every single level in The Subspace Emissary is prepped for cooperative action! When a second player joins in, they take the role of the next character in line. What if it's a stage with only one character? The second player plays as the same fighter as the first player, but with a different colour scheme. Sure, this raises even further questions as to what the heck's going on in The Subspace Emissary, but plotholes like this tend to develop when co-op play in integrated, so I guess we just have to deal with it. And besides, it's not like there's a whole bunch of storyline there to be corrupted.

The Subspace Emissary also brings with it a new way of collecting trophies. Want your own personal trophy of an enemy you see running around? Well, that's where the trophy stand comes in!

Gasp! A trophy stand!

Trophy stands are somewhat unique items. When thrown at an enemy, they can change them into a trophy for your collection! Certain weaker enemies are vulnerable to this item when at full health, but other more stubborn foes need to be weakened first. Think of it like using a Pokéball, but with the prize being a bit more foreign.

For some enemies, this is the only way to get them in trophy form. So you'll have to be diligent in order to catch 'em all!

Overall, I'm surprised at how enjoyable The Subspace Emissary turned out to be. You're first run through will likely clock in at about 10 to 15 hours, which is pretty amazing for a story mode that isn't even the main focus of the game! There are several difficulty levels and many unlockables begging you to come back, and I've found myself answering the call. The Subspace Emissary should keep any Brawl fan busy for quite a while.

Ah yes, here's the one mode people really get hyped about: Brawl! Yep, that's it's name, don't wear it out! The mode is exactly what is sounds like: A huge freaking fight. This is where you and three of your pals come to lay it all down and beat each other's brains out without having to call an ambulance.

You have plenty of arenas right from the get-go, with 23 new stages, 6 returning levels from Melee, and 3 demo levels from the Stage Builder (More on that Friday). Among these stages are brand new arenas with destructible environments, bizarre effects and insane premises. A little bit from every fighter's heritage is present in these stages, so they feel right at home in Brawl.

Speaking of playable characters, a whopping 21 are available to fight right off the bat, featuring brawlers hailing from everywhere between Pikmin and Pokémon, and even games beyond those! An additional 14 fighters can be unlocked through many methods, from reaching a certain point in The Subspace Emissary to playing through Classic Mode as a particular character. There's so many people to choose from in Brawl, it's hard to decide which one you like best!

You have a real good friend that you can't bring yourself to fight, but still feel like playing together? Team Matches sound just like what the doctor ordered! With you and your pal fighting together, you can face off against immensely tough computer enemies, or even another team filled with human players! It'd probably be neat for two gaming couples to face-off against each other. Love can conquer all, but can it defeat even more love? Tune in to find out!

And here's a game mode all long-time fans should be familiar with: Classic! Present in every Brawl game since the series began on the Nintendo 64, Classic Mode couldn't be any more aptly named. The premise is simple: Players fight their way through a gauntlet of foes from all the furthest reaches of the character roster. While the order may seem random at first, it does follow a loose guideline. For example, the first round will always be against a Zelda character, and round three will always feature a foe from the Pokémon series. The specific enemies from the franchise that you fight are random, though, and that's where the predictability gets tossed out the window. Oh, and the stage is random, too. I guess there really isn't anything to expect at all.

As was the case with The Subspace Emissary, Classic Mode also comes with several difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard and Intense. So choose whichever flavour suits your skill level, and off you go. A dozen battles await you, and you've only got a maximum of five lives to carry you through them all. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Also scattered in with the Brawl barrage is the occasional Break the Targets! stage. I'll go more into detail on this on Friday, but basically, you have to break all the on-screen targets as fast as possible without dying. Well, okay, so that's basically all there is. There's a few tiny little aspects left to go over, but I'll leave that until Part 3.

There's certainly no shortage of content here from the Brawl fans. From The Subspace Emissary to Brawl to Classic Mode, there's tonnes of things to do here. But wait, there's more! Super Smash Bros. Brawl still has plenty more where that came from, and I'll review the rest of it Friday in Part 3! Until then, Brawl long and prosper!

Like what you see? Want to complain? Just feel like yakking? Feel free to blather on in the comments section, or in this forum thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl review Part 1: The controls

It's finally here. Super Smash Bros. Brawl has at last hit North American store shelves. Due to the sheer size of this game, I have declared Brawl Week. Every post from now until Friday will be one part of a massive Brawl review, with Friday's article being the biggest of all. In this first installment, I will be reviewing the many control schemes available to be used in the game.

In total, there are four different control schemes available to the player: The Wiimote turned on its side, the standard Wiimote and Nunchuk combo, the Classic Controller, and the tried-and-true Gamecube controller. Here's how they all fare.

The Sideways Wiimote

This is the most basic of all available layouts. All basic moves are easily available to even the least experienced of gamers, with every advanced move only a few button combos away.

Smash Attacks can be triggered in one of two ways: By pressing 1 and 2 at the same time (As listed above), or by tapping either left or right on the D-Pad (Depending on where you want the attack to go), quickly followed by pressing the 2 button. Most new players will likely stick to the simpler 1+2 method, but the flick and press execution is sure to appeal to the veterans.

A great control scheme for both new and old. Everything is right there in the open, ready to be used. The "one taunt only" part kinda sucks, though.

Wiimote and Nunchuk

Next up on the scale of basic is the Wiimote and Nunchuk combo. By now every Wii owner should be good and familiar with this one, so it's great for the newcomers ready to take the next step.

Purists can rest, as the motion controls for this game are virtually non-existent. I say "virtually", because players can choose to assign motion controls if they wish. Not sure why they'd want to, though. They don't exactly sound like a good idea.

This is actually a pretty solid configuration, with a few minor shortcomings. First of all, none of the places that look like good candidates for pointer support actually work with the infra-red. In fact, there's no IR support at all, not even on the menus! That's a real pain.

The Classic Controller

Next we have the Classic Controller, which sits above the Wiimote and Nunchuk on yet another notch away from basic. Great for intermediate players and pros alike.

The Classic Controller layout is incredibly similar to that of the traditional Gamecube controller, with the only two differences being the placement of the Z buttons and the relocated D-Pad.

There are a few problems with this control scheme. First of all, reaching the Z buttons between the L and R triggers can be a bit of a pain. Second, having the X and Y buttons serve as nothing more than secondary jumps is pretty, well, stupid. Why they didn't offer them as alternate grab buttons is beyond me. But besides this, it's a solid control scheme.

The Gamecube Controller

As you can tell from the above diagram, the Gamecube controller is surely the most complex of the four available control schemes. I would suggest it only to the advanced and veteran players. Everyone else would be better off sticking to one of the other three.

The Gamecube layout is likely the most solidly laid out of all four control methods. After all, if worked wonders back in Melee, and the other three control schemes are modeled after that. Often imitated and never duplicated, the Gamecube controller is the peak of performance.

There's no two ways about it, folks. When it comes to doing the job, the Gamecube controller is unmatched. It's the controller the game's been built around, and the seven year familiarity is a huge bonus to hardcore players.

While everyone of the controls schemes is great, the Gamecube controller is certainly the best. While I prefer the Wiimote and Nunchuk combo (Wireless is a huge factor for me. I need some Wavebirds...), I can tell for sure that the good ol' 'Cubes lumpy gamepad is the way to go for the advanced gamer.

And that's part one of Super Smash Bros. Brawl's three part review. Don't forget to come back on Wednesday for the next installment! Until then, keep on gaming!

Feel free to discuss this article in either the comments section or this forum thread. Or even both, whatever floats your boat.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Poll #30: "Will you be getting Brawl on day one?" results, banner, news

"Hell yes!" 32 (82%)
"Perhaps" 0 (0%)
"Nope" 4 (10%)
"Already imported it!" 2 (5%)
"Other" 1 (2%)

Well, damned if those results weren't expected! When I stood in line on Sunday, it was the biggest grouping of gamers I've seen yet! Possibly even bigger than the Wii launch itself! I'm lucky I got there when I did, or else my place in third would have been a far-off dream.

So, in keeping with the Brawl madness, this week's banner is based around the game of the hour. Yeah, the trimming around Sonic blows chunks. At least I tried.

Okay then, here's this week's poll: "What control scheme in Brawl do you use most?" Kotaku rip-off? Sorta, but this is a pretty different audience here, so I'm curious to see how different the results turn out. Plus, everyone's doing something Brawl related as a poll, so oh well.

...and I kinda though up this poll before I saw the Kotaku one, but time travel has yet to be perfected.

Anyways, I prefer the Wiimote and Nunchuk. I started off with the Gamecube controller, but after trying out the others, the two-handed method really worked for me. Classic controller is pretty cool, and I'm surprised how much they managed to cram into the sideways Wiimote. But I'll leave anything more to the review...

Speaking of the review, it's going to be a little different this week. Every post from now until Friday is going to be part of a Brawl review. Tonight will be about the controls, Wednesday will be about the non-Brawl modes, and Friday will be about the main events. It's such a huge game that cramming it all into one review just doesn't seem right to me. So three parts it is!

Let Brawl Week begin!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Games: Having fun VS mastering the program

I'm the kind of guy who won't sit down and play Wii Tennis. I can't sit in a patch of tall grass and EV train my Pokémon. It just doesn't work for me. To me, it seems like these methods of playing just sap all the fun out of a title, stripping it down to a mechanical act aimed at getting the high score.

I don't understand how some people can do it. Running around, only fighting the enemies that will increase you stats in the perfect way... This isn't how Pokémon was meant to be played! I'm fully aware of how EV training works, and I know how great it can be for a person's team. But it just isn't fun for me. I train my Pokémon the good old fashioned way: By running into random Pokémon and trainers and battling them with whichever teammate I please. Sure, my team is weaker because of this, and I'm sure to be laughed out of professional competitions for it, but it works for me.

If everyone EV trained, battles would come down to sheer luck. It would all fall upon whether someone got a critical hit, or if this attack missed, or if Quick Claw made a Pokémon strike first. Strategy's a factor, I know. But with each Pokémon on the field being a well-groomed killing machine, it just seems like it's more of a competition of who gets the first strike than anything else.

And where's the fun in the in-game battles? If your Pokémon are all perfectly EV trained, each fight is but a minor inconvenience, merely slowing you down slightly. Isn't the whole fun of challenging the Elite Four not knowing whether or not you'll come out alive? It's not as if it's just some landmark you must pass, it's a challenge you must overcome.

I don't need to be the master of a game to have fun with it. I suck majorly at bowling. Seriously, I'm probably the worst player in the league. But I have fun because I get out there, toss my ball, and have a good time. When I get a strike, it's great. When I get a gutter ball, oh well. If I were to strike with every single ball, it wouldn't be fun anymore. The fun is not being perfect, but simply doing your best. Sure, I'm likely to never win a trophy, and I'll never beat anyone else on my team, but hey, I have fun.

I know, people tend to have more fun when they win. Nobody likes being a loser. But being a winner every time isn't fun either. If you know you're going to win, what's the point? If you're a perfectly tuned, invincible adversary, every game is but another step. Losing is great, because not always coming out on top is what makes winning so satisfying.

A margin for error is the key to enjoyment for me. If I simply sit down and flick my wrist in Wii Tennis, I win, but I don't have fun. I need to get up on my feet and toss myself around the room, flailing my arms. That's the fun for me. I'm likely to miss several shots, but that's what makes the stunning comebacks so great. I run around and battle any Pokémon with any Pokémon, regardless of how it will affect my EV distribution. I lose once in a while, sure. But the wins mean so much more because of it.

I play games for fun. How about you? Do you master every aspect of the game, or do you just sit back and enjoy the ride? I'd like to hear your stories, so please respond in the comment section, or in this forum thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Some more ideas for Animal Crossing Wii

All Animal Crossing Wii-related posts and brainstorms can be found right here.

So, a month has passed since my last Animal Crossing Wii ideas post, and still no word on the game from Nintendo. How much longer will we have to wait for even the smallest sliver of information? Well, in the absence of details, we have speculation and brainstorming. So here goes with some more suggestions for Animal Crossing Wii.

Advanced clothing design

In all Animal Crossing games so far, making a shirt or dress out of a pattern always results in the same pattern being used for the front, back and sleeves. For example, if you make a pattern that looks like a suit with a tie, your character will appear to be wearing a tie on their back and arms. Not exactly what you had in mind, huh?

So here's what I propose: Allow players to assign patterns to the individual parts of the shirt/dress. Players could have a pattern for the front, another for the back, and one more for the sleeves.

One problem is this would be unable to work with the usual ability to turn a pattern into a shirt/dress on the go. While in previous games you could just drag a pattern over your character to make them wear it as a shirt/dress, the advanced clothing creation would require each pattern to be assigned to a part of the shirt/dress one by one. This would require a new screen on the menu, and I see it looking something like this:

My concept for an advanced clothing design interface

As you can see in my "crudely-drawn-in-MS-Paint" concept, advanced clothing design really isn't so difficult, but it still requires several different patterns to take full advantage of. If players want to change their clothes real quick, but still want the advanced clothing design results, they can save pre-made shirts/dresses to a secondary function of the above page. This way, they can just open the design page, click on their pre-made shirts/dresses, and put it on. All the personality in far less time!

One more thing I want to point out about the above concept is the button labeled "Switch to Basic Editor". The basic editor is actually the default page whenever opening this part of the menu. The basic editor consists of a list of patterns and the player's character, with the player dragging their patterns onto the character for the old-style clothing design. They may end up wearing ties on their sleeves, but that's a sacrifice that must be made to make things quick and easy.

Online item auctions and trading

Looking for a rare item, but none of your friends have it? This calls for an online auction! Working just like eBay or any other real-life auction site, players can bid on rare items posted by other players in hopes of adding them to their collection. When the auction closes, the winner will receive his/her prize via in-game mail upon the next mail delivery. And of course, you can also set up auctions of your own, selling whatever you feel like parting with.

Not into bidding? Have no fear, trading is here! You can post an item online, and request the rare item you desire in return. You can also check out what items other people have put up for trade, and take them up on their offers if you please. Think of it like Pokémon Diamond and Pearl's Global Trade System, but instead of Pokémon, you're trading for items!

In both trading and bidding, you can search for posted items by name, category, theme/set and size. Here's an example:

Name: Snowman Couch
Category: Seating
Theme/Set: Snowman
Size: 1 x 2

You can fill in as many or as few of the fields as you want, and you can even hit a random button to check out a random item someone posted. The main page of the trading and auction section would show recently posted items, soon-to-close auctions, and the top five hottest auctions. You never know what you'll find, so look often!

More diverse plant life

Run around any Animal Crossing town, and you'll see nothing but tree after tree after tree... I think it's time we add bushes to the mix. Trees are great, but I don't think I've ever walked through a forest without seeing some sort of shrubbery scattered around. The addition of bushes could go hand in hand with berries joining the game, working hand-in-hand with the already-existing fruit. They'd probably sell for less and be far more common (Probably four or five berries a day per bush, opposed to a tree's three fruit), but high volumes of berries would also make it easier to spread the plant around the town, meaning more bushes. More bushes means more berries, and more berries means more money! Quantity beats out quality here.

And how about some more hazardous plant life? Some poison ivy would be an interesting addition. Just imagine running into a villager scratching itself furiously, yelling about how much they hate that poison ivy. The player could remove the poison ivy by digging it up, or maybe do something a bit more diabolical with it. Just imagine you go to dig up some poison ivy, and see some seeds drop from it. You thoughts quickly turn to your least favourite villager, and an evil idea comes to mind. You run to his/her house, surround it with poison ivy, and enjoy the floor show.

"What's that, Monique? You want me to plant some flowers in your front lawn? Can do... Heh heh heh."

This shouldn't be too hard of a feature to add. I'm sure Nintendo can easily whip something up from "scratch".

A bigger town square

The cobble stone-paved area in front of town hall plays host to the occasional visitor, such as Crazy Redd and Gracie. But these are small events. What if there's a festival in town? Surely a big celebration couldn't fit on such a puny little area. Just take a look at the gargantuan festival in the movie!

The festival in the Animal Crossing movie is far too large to fit in the
current town square

The town square certainly needs a bit more space. Festivals would be a blast in Animal Crossing, but it can't happen if it can't fit.

Of course, festivals wouldn't be the only thing happening at town square. The near-monthly Flea Market Day from Wild World could evolve into a full-blown, weekend-long event. Vendors from all over would set up shop and sell rare and foreign items usually impossible to find in your town. There could also be stalls dedicated to games, with even more items up as prizes. The motion controls would turn this into a series of mini-games, with several classic carnival-style games available to be played. The difference, though, is that it will actually be possible to win these games. No carny tricks! Well, at least at any stall not run by Crazy Redd... Crafty little fox.

Alright, so ends yet another list of ideas for Animal Crossing Wii. As always, feel free to discuss this in the comments section or in this forum thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Game idea: A game from the law's perspective

There have been a whole lot of games focusing on super heroes, and just about as many based on being on the wrong side of the law. But where are the games about being the man behind the badge? Why aren't there more titles starring the boys in blue? Where are all the cop games?

I'm thinking the game would have a very open-ended format. Players could merely roam around the city, in cruisers, on foot, riding motorbikes, or whatever. "Missions" would be received on the police radio, with a marker appearing on the map. Players then race to the objective and perform the necessary duty. What could the missions be? Here are some ideas:

Robberies: Cops get called to robberies all the time, and the thefts featured in the game could range from a stolen magazine to a bank heist. The required tasks once at the scene would vary from crime to crime. The player could arrive to find the suspect already under control thanks to a store clerk, or perhaps the situation would elevate to a chase on foot (Or even a vehicular pursuit). If things get real nasty, a stand-off could take place, with several units pointing their guns at the crook. Players would have a choice of holding their ground, ordering fellow officers to charge, or disabling the perpetrator with non-lethal weaponry.

Police Chases: Possibly the most action-packed part of any cop show or movie is the inevitable chase scene. What would a cop game be without one? When called to a chase-in-progress, the player would have to make a few key decisions in order to intercept the chase. Quick thinking and driving skills would be key here! Once caught up with the chase, the player can use one of many maneuvers to get an edge on the fleeing vehicle. Working together with other units in the chase, the player could orchestrate a rolling road block, closing in on the crook from all sides. Or perhaps spinning out the criminal is more your style? A carefully executed PIT maneuver is just what the doctor ordered in this case. Of course, there's always the option of chasing until the guy gives up or damages his car beyond operation, but that's no fun!

Domestic Disturbances: This is probably the kind of thing players will most often be called to. Sometimes it will be as simple as just reaching the target in time, but in other cases it may be much more. Perhaps the fight has turned ugly, resulting in an arrest and calling for backup. Or maybe the culprit takes his victim hostage, leading to a stand-off. As with the human nature it's based on, this type of mission can take many unexpected turns.

Of course that's just for starters. There's still drug busts, field sobriety tests, hostage situations (As suggested in "Domestic Disturbances") and anything else that makes up the world of policing.

Like with real cops, excessive force would not always be allowed. Unless approved by a superior officer (Or if the situation turns violent), players would be heavily penalized for attacking, shooting at or otherwise injuring their target. So no running down a crook with your car to put an end to a foot chase. No shooting out a lawbreaker's knee for stealing a woman's purse. Applying the right force to the right situation would be key, and becoming too violent could result in mission termination (AKA: Failure) and suspension (Or even expulsion) from the force. This black mark would haunt your character for the rest of his career, permanently tarnishing his or her reputation. And if your rep is no good, you're never going to make that promotion to chief!

The basis of a police game would lend itself greatly to the tutorial sections. In the game, your character could be a rookie on the force, and whenever a new type of mission or situation arises, the character could recall a training course at police academy, with the flashback serving as the tutorial.

And with further steps up the career ladder, the player would gain access to new "abilities", such as working with a police dog or gaining the use of advanced weaponry (Non-lethal bullets, tasers, etc).

Players should also take special care to maintain their equipment. You wouldn't want to go into a police chase and run out of gas, would you? And it would be imperative to always keep a full clip of ammo in your pistol.

The possibilities for a police video game are insane, and I'm simply stunned to have not seen anything like this so far. Who hasn't wanted to be a police officer, even once?

Feel free to discuss the possibilities in the comment section or in this thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.