Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Time for a break

Sorry to spring this on you guys out of nowhere, but I won't be writing at all from now until next week. I've been thinking of taking a week or so off since about Wednesday, and I finally decided to do it.

Why do I see fit to take a break? Well, to start, I've been totally mentally drained the last little while. I get like this every now and then, resulting in lackluster articles and missed updates. After thinking about how I've been feeling lately, I decided that it would make more sense to take a break than to push myself and pump out crappy articles. Thus, One Duck's Opinion will be going into a brief hiatus.

What will I be doing with this time? Mostly, I'll be sitting back and giving my brain a mini-vacation. Even though I only write three times a week, I'm thinking about the next post almost every single day. Stress is not my friend!

I'll still be online, checking out the poll's progress and moderating the forum. You'll be able to find me at all the usual places, I assure you (Yes, I have "usual places"). I'll be here, but I won't be updating.

When I return next Monday, I'll have a review ready for you to kick things off again. Until then, keep on gaming, folks. See y'all again on the fourth of August!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Poll #50: "What do you think of Animal Crossing: City Folk?" results, banner

Wow, the fiftieth poll! If only it weren't for my internet and my brain dying on several occasions, we could have gotten to this point weeks ago! Oh well, it's still a landmark. Anyways, results ahoy!

"I can't wait to play it!" 25 votes (67%)
"It looks kinda cool" 8 votes (21%)
"Meh." 3 votes (8%)
"I don't like it at all" 1 vote (2%)
"I'm not sure" 0 votes (0%)

Animal Crossing: City Folk looks to be just as big of a time sucker as Wild World and the original game were, if not more so. It seems I'm not the only person eagerly anticipating its addictive grip, as 67% of voters voted "I can't wait to play it!". Honestly, I think that's the largest percentage any poll option has received in the history of the blog. Hooray for Animal Crossing!

This week's banner comes to us courtesy of the insanely inventively-named forum member Psychogoose. His description is probably more accurate than anything I could have thought up: "Embrace the dark side!"

Finally, the subject of this week's poll is "What do you think of third-party software on the Wii so far?". Personally, I think some of them are doing an okay job, but a whole whackload of them seem to be putting hardly any effort into their games. Overall, it's not they aren't doing too bad, but the quality could be a lot higher on the whole.

Alright, that's it for now. Tonight's article will be up in a little while.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shadow with a gun, Sonic with a sword... What could be next?

As everyone with an internet connection is now well aware of, Sonic will be returning to the Wii next year. Thing is, he won't be alone. No, Sega thought it necessary to give Sonic a huge freaking sword to help do the job. Because, you know, it's not like he couldn't fight without a weapon. He's only the fastest thing alive.

Of course, this isn't the first time a Sega character has packed some weaponry. The infamous Shadow the Hedgehog game from 2005 featured Sonic's angst-ridden co-star Shadow wielding a gun and trying so hard to be bad-ass. This got me thinking: What if other normally weaponless characters decided to change things up?

Well, Mario is a plumber, after all, so it would only make sense that he'd have a wrench on him somewhere. Yet, for some reason, Mario's never even touched one in all his years in videogames. I wonder why that is? Perhaps Nintendo isn't so keen on their star character beating enemies to death with a plumbing implement. Could get kind of messy.

Sure, Olimar usually has his Pikmin to do all the dirty work, but really, it's foolish to depend so heavily on weird little plant dudes. With all the tiny little objects he finds on that strange planet, you think he'd turn one into a weapon of some sort, just in case he gets separated from his battalion. So why not a push pin? The little captain could surely wield something as small and lightweight as that. Of course, stabbing Bulborbs would probably lead to a far higher rating than the series' standard E for Everyone. Those guys would almost certainly do a lot of bleeding.

The Rabbids have grown tired of their humour-based weaponry. The world is learning to defend against their plungers and fly-swatters. Now, it's serious. The Rabbids have decided to fight fire with fire. Using their industry connections with Builders League United, the Rabbids have secured several dozen flamethrowers for their world-domination scheme. Because if there's one thing that goes well with idiot rabbits, it's lots and lots of fire.

Although the chances of any of these weapon pair-ups happening are slim, the hilarity that comes from imagining them is immense. The day I see a Rabbid wielding a Team Fortress 2 flamethrower is the day I can die a happy man.

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The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Animal Crossing: Wild World review

So, City Folk was finally announced. Seems like the perfect time for a Wild World review to me!

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: December 5th, 2005
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

On the Gamecube, I was absolutely in love with Animal Crossing. Initially purchased on a whim, it quickly became one of my favourite games on the console. There was just something fun and engaging about interacting with a virtual village and doing virtual chores to pay off a virtual mortgage. I know, it sounds incredibly boring in writing, but really, Animal Crossing was one hell of a fun game. You can imagine how excited I was to hear that there was going to be a DS sequel, and it was the number one item on my Christmas list that year. On Christmas morning, I finally got my hands on the sequel to one of my favourite Gamecube games. I pop it in my DS, turn on the system, and the rest is virtual history.

The story in all Animal Crossing games is a strange one, in that it hardly exists at all. As the game begins, you play as a young boy or girl striking on their own. Sitting in the back of a taxi, you just enjoy your ride and chat with the driver for a bit (What you say determines your appearance, and the location of your house). When you finally arrive, you realize you don't have nearly enough case to pay off the mortgage on your new home. The local store owner and real estate agent Tom Nook takes you in to work for him in order to pay off the debt. After a while, all the work he needs you to do is finished, and you're let go from the job. Thing is, you still have a bunch of debt to pay off. This is where the game truly begins, and the story basically ends.

You see, Animal Crossing: Wild World, as well as the preceding Gamecube title, is not a typical game at all. There's no monster battles, no guns, no jumping from platform to platform, and no designated objectives. It's simply a relaxing alternate reality for the player to enjoy. Sure, you've got that mortgage hanging over your head, but there's no real rush to pay it off. Nook's not going to send in two muscle-headed gorillas to break your knees or anything. Animal Crossing: Wild World is an incredibly laid-back, relaxing distraction from the hustle and bustle of the real world, and you get to play it your way.

So, what is there to do in Animal Crossing: Wild World? Furniture collecting, bug catching, fishing, digging for fossils, chatting with the locals, or tending to your flowers. Really, it's quite the vast selection of activities, and taking care of your garden is habit-forming. Miss just two days of watering, and your garden begins to wilt. Keep on it!

Fishing: Just one of the many things to do in Wild World

I suppose that's part of what makes this game so addictive. If you put it down for too long, some of the things you've worked so hard to maintain may go away. Your favourite neighbours may move away, weeds will sprout up everywhere, your flowers will die, and cockroaches will overrun your house! There's always something there to keep you coming back.

One of the "core" aspects of Animal Crossing: Wild World is the player's house. Like a car buff's prized 1968 Dodge Charger, the player's house is like the crown jewel of almost any town. Arranging furniture in creative ways, collecting and placing entire furniture sets and impressing the house-rating Happy Room Academy are all landmarks worthy of bragging about.

Of course, you're not going to impress anyone with that piddly little house you get at the beginning. No no, you've got to pay off your debts first! Once that's through, Nook will upgrade your house, and then through another exorbitant bill in your face. After you pay that off, you get another upgrade, then another bill, and so on until the biggest possible home is yours for the decorating.

The amount of furniture to choose from is so vast, you're likely to change your decor often. From robots to snowmen, Asian to countryside, there's bound to be at least one furniture set for you. According to my Wild World player's guide, there are 562 different pieces of furniture in the game. That's 562 different 3D models all crammed onto a DS game card. Now that's a feat worth mentioning!

In addition to furniture, there are several other items to obtain in Animal Crossing. Wallpaper, flooring, shirts, tools, and a whole lot more! Wild World even lets you customize your character with hats, masks, mustaches and glasses. It's insane how much they managed to fit into this game!

Playing dress up has never been so easy! (Or so non-embarrassing)

Another aspect of the game almost too expansive is how many neighbours there are. Unless I made a mistake just now with my quick headcount (This player's guide sure comes in handy!), there are 143 different neighbours in Wild World! Almost astonishing is how many different types of villagers there are. Tigers, wolves, squirrels, dogs, pigs, rabbits... A total of 31 different types of neighbours! To further differentiate each character from another, there are six different personalities such as jock, grumpy, lazy and snooty. Furthermore, each neighbour tends to have their own little hobby, such as collecting certain types of furniture, having an obsession with fossils, or being a total fashion lover. It's kind of funny with conflicting traits collide, such as cranky old bears that are total suckers for the hottest new fashion. The variety of neighbours is astounding!

I don't know what it is about this game that makes it so damn fun. Somewhere, deep within that little game card is something that keeps me coming back. I've had this same town running since December 2005, and I wouldn't dare let it die! Well, not more than once... Or twice... Okay, so I've ended up abandoning it from time to time. Still, something weird keeps drawing me back to this, even if it's been months. Something buried beneath all the weeds and cockroaches begs for me to return. Plus, there's no way I'm letting Punchy move out! No way in heck!

As you read above, there are tonnes and tonnes of 3D models in this game, with a grand total doubtlessly over one thousand. With so many different objects to be rendered, it's amazing how high quality they all are. For a 2005 DS game, Wild World is quite the beautiful title.

Every piece of furniture is incredibly well detailed

I can't think of a single thing wrong with how Wild World looks. It's truly a magnificent-looking game, and the graphics still stand the test of time over two years after the initial release.

Ah, the music of Animal Crossing... Probably the second most calming thing in the game next to watering flowers. From the soft tunes of late-night strolls to the awesome beats of K.K. Slider (The local musician), the sounds of Wild World are music to my ears. I have an entire playlist on my computer comprised of nothing but K.K. Slider MP3s. You just haven't heard video game music until you've heard K.K. Slider.

The sound effects in Wild World serve their purpose, but I suppose they don't really do anything all that spectacular. However, the way some of them are used is interesting. Hear a strange ticking or buzzing noise? Chances are, there's a bug nearby. Does the sound of croaking fill the air? There's a frog in that pond! The audio cues for some of these things are great. It makes bug catching and fishing so much more engaging, requiring expert use of both sight and hearing in pursuit of the big one.

While it's lots of fun to spend time interacting with your new-found virtual pals, the real fun in Wild World begins when you and your real-world friends play together. Through either local wireless or the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (Yes, there's friend codes. Get over it already), you can visit your pals and check out what's going on in their neck of the woods.

However, while visiting far-off towns can be fun, it does get somewhat stale after a few trips. There's not much to be done with your pals online other than chatting. You can set up little bug- or fish-catching tournaments, but that gets pretty boring really fast.

On the bright side, though, multiplayer visits can lead to neighbour exchanges. If you or your friend has a villager that feels like moving in town, they just might migrate over.

Sharing the game card with someone else actually makes the experience a little worse in my eyes. See, unlike the original game, players don't each get their own house. Instead, players are forced to share one building among each other. Even with the biggest possible house, it just doesn't feel like there's enough room for more than one person. Thankfully, if one of your wants to move out, that's entirely possible. Players can migrate from one game card to another (Local only, of course). So if your little brother really takes a shine to Wild World, he can pick up his own copy and move his character from your game into his new town. A great feature, but it still doesn't change the fact that there should have been one house per player. I would have gladly accepted a few less new items for separate housing. I'm just glad that multiple homes are making a return in City Folk.

As I said earlier, something keeps dragging me back to Wild World. I don't know what it is, but it's resulted in me playing this game on and off for over two years. Not many games can say they've kept a players attention for that long! Wild World is definitely one heck of a long-lasting game, and I'm sure to spend the next little while playing the crap out of it.


Storyline: 9.0/10
To be fair, Wild World doesn't really have much of a storyline. Really, it's more of a premise. However, without that little shred of story, none of this game would be the same. Humans moving into a town occupied by animals, paying off loans to a raccoons, and buying clothes from hedgehogs... Definitely unique, and insanely charming.

Gameplay: 9.4/10
Animal Crossing is one heck of a unique series. It somehow takes the mundane tasks of weeding and makes it fun. It's like a secondary life, yet the obligations are, in some crazy way, entertaining to fulfill. Run around for days collecting fruit and fish? Sounds boring, but in reality, it's just so darned addictive.

Graphics: 9.6/10
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: Wild World is an insanely great-looking game. The models are detailed, yet cartoony. The world is vast, yet lag-free. And the sheer volume of 3D models crammed in is mind-boggling! Seriously one of the best-looking DS games ever.

Audio: 9.3/10
Even though the songs have no real words, I can play at least three different K.K. Slider songs in my head. The background music is calming and fun, too, yet not nearly as memorable. As for the sound effects, they do some amazing things while not being all that remarkable on their own. I never thought of hunting bugs by sound before, but now it's one of the main things I pay attention to when tracking down my next quarry.

Multiplayer: 8.3/10
Visiting other people's towns online is interesting, but once you get there and look around, there's not much else to really do. Still, seeing what some people have done to decorate their homes and towns is really an activity itself. The big problem with multiplayer, though, is how the developer handled card-sharing. One house? Come on! Surely it would have been possible to put in separate houses!

Longevity: 9.8/10
When I first got Wild World, I played it constantly for about two months, after which I played it every now and then. After not playing it for a while, I picked it right back up and dove into my little town. Over the last two years this pattern has repeated, probably leading to Wild World being my most-played Nintendo DS game. Definitely a title worth playing again and again and again.

OVERALL: 9.2/10
Take this rating as you will, folks. When it comes to Animal Crossing, it seems people either love it or hate it. I, for one, am of the former group. As for you, figuring out where you stand may not be easy. Think about it for a while: Do you enjoy unique and quirky? Do you not mind a little repetition? Do you tend to collect things in games? Are you looking for a relaxing departure from the hectic reality of life? If you answered yes to these questions, then perhaps Animal Crossing is right for you. The only real way to find out is to play. As for me, I love it to death! City Folk, here I come!

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The Duck Has Spoken.

Letters to the industry 2

Not the article I was planning on doing. That should be available for your viewing displeasure tomorrow. As for now, try to enjoy this.

To: Sega
Subject: Sword-swinging hedgehogs

So, I saw the scans and details regarding Sonic and the Black Knight. It looks like you're really putting some effort into the content of this game, and I really appreciate that. The problem, though, is the premise... Sonic with a sword? He's the fastest thing alive, people! He needs no weapon but his insane speed and agility!

I will admit that the game looks fun, possibly even more so than Unleashed, but still... Sonic with a sword? What's next, NiGHTS wielding a crowbar Gordon Freeman-style? Actually, that might be kinda cool...

The point is, I really don't believe hedgehogs and weaponry mix all too well. Need I mention Shadow the Hedgehog? Didn't think so, as I'm sure it's permanently stapled to your cubicle wall with the words "NEVER AGAIN" scrawled on it in blood.

To: Nintendo
Subject: Mario is Missing

So, I'm really excited for Animal Crossing: City Folk and Wii Sports: Resort, but... Where's the main man gone? Not a single game with Mario in it has been released since Dr. Mario Online Rx, and after Super Sluggers, the big guy's future looks pretty barren. I'm very surprised to not see any word on another New Super Mario Bros., or even the next Mario Party. What's the deal?

Of course, I'm not at all considering you'd abandon a character as iconic as Mario, but it's just so incredibly weird to not have any word at all on more than one upcoming title with the pudgy plumber in it. Well, at least Wario Land: The Shake Dimension looks solid. Sure, it's not Mario, but it will still be a blast, I'm sure.

PS: What happened to Disaster: Day of Crisis? If I hear that's been canceled, I'm sending Weegee after you!

To: Electronic Arts
Subject: This is Spore-ta!

I've been a big fan of the Spore idea ever since I first heard of it, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on the final copy. However, I also have a few concerns to voice.

One, please don't bombard us with tonnes of add-on discs right out of the gate. That sort of thing may fly with Sims 2, but when it comes to Spore, please leave well enough alone. Well, unless one of the discs includes a "Blocks penis-headed animals", in which case I'd be camping out for it.

Second, if Will Wright wants to delay it, let him! I know this isn't a concern of any sort right now, but I'm just tossing that out there in case a situation like this arises in the future. If Will says it needs more time, give it more time. Do not question The Will Wright!

Alright, so I guess that's all that truly needs to be said about Spore. One minor note on a slightly different topic, though: Please just give the Wii real sports games, and not this "All Play" crap. I applaud you for trying, of course, but... Wait, were you even trying?

To: Nintendo EAD
Subject: Animal Crossing: City Folk

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

PS: Thank you

To: Readers
Subject: Guess what?

You can discuss this article on the forums if you please. Or the comment section, too, if that's more your style.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poll #49: "What do you think of the Wii MotionPlus?" results, banner *ARTICLE DELAY*

"Awesome!" 24 votes (50%)
"Could be cool" 14 votes (29%)
"I don't know" 3 votes (6%)
"I'm not too keen on it" 1 vote (2%)
"Another freaking peripheral?!" 4 votes (8%)
"What's Wii Motion Plus?" 2 votes (4%)

I really think that Wii MotionPlus could bring along the second wave of Wii madness, as well as lengthen the Wii's lifespan by a year or two. It's just a pity that the third-party developers were so in the dark about it.

Along with Wii MotionPlus, another project announced last week was Animal Crossing: City Folk. As you can probably assume, I'm incredibly excited about this. To honour this announcement, I have made the following banner. BEHOLD!

In keeping with the celebrations, this week's poll is "What do you think of Animal Crossing: City Folk?". Of course, I don't really have to say anything here. You already know what I'm voting.

New article in a little while!

EDIT: Sorry, folks, but that new article will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm really trying to make this one great, and writing at a quarter past 3:00 AM sure isn't going to help make that happen. I'll resume writing tomorrow, and it should be completed by the evening. Again, sorry for the delay. I assure you, though, it will be for the best.

Now, to get to sleep before my legs collapse while sitting. Yeah, I'm that tired.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

No article tonight

Sorry, folks, but I just won't be able to write anything for tonight, or should I say, this morning. It's simply too late for me to be able to concentrate. I really, really hate when I have to miss an update, but it just isn't happening today. I tried to write something, but it just wasn't coming together at all. So then, I apologize for not having anything to post. On the bright side, though, I do have a good idea for Monday, and I'll be sure to do my best in bringing that idea to you in a timely manner. But for now, it's late, and I need my sleep. Again, I apologize.

See you all on Monday.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hands-off impressions of the games shown today

Two posts in one day? This is insanity! So, um, yeah. Taking tomorrow off unless something wicked happens.

I watched the conference. I downloaded all the relevant press packages. I checked out every last screenshot and video so far released. I've done everything but play the games Nintendo discussed today. After looking everything over, I've come up with some hands-off impression of every major title and accessory shown today.

First, lets start with the one everybody saw coming: Animal Crossing: City Folk. From what we've seen, it seems to be the same basic idea as the other installments, with a couple little twists. First, there's the city that gives the game its new title. While hardly a "city" by size standards (About one eighth the size of a town in Wild World, if even that much), it still manages to cram in a whole lot of different things to do. Based on what we know so far, the plaza plays host to an auction house (Presumably online), Gracie the fashionista's shop, Harriet's hair salon, a theatre, and a few more things yet to be fully revealed. Overall, the city looks like a nice new addition, but nothing truly game-changing.


As for the rest of City Folk, it seems to be fairly the same. You still buy a house, Nook still haunts you for your mortgage payments, fishing is still a major pastime, and filling up the museum remains a goal attainable by only the most determined players. Nothing's really changed. Some may be disappointed by this, but I'm pretty happy. I didn't want Animal Crossing Wii to be a huge departure from what I'm familiar with, and Nintendo delivered. Really, no new entry in the series has ever added anything insanely new or notably different, and I never expected the Wii version to go against this pattern. And dang, am I ever happy to see the real holidays come back! Halloween and Toy Day, hooray!

If there's one thing that disappoints me, though, it's that online play is still limited to four players at a time. Come on, Nintendo! You took Mario Kart DS' four and turned it into twelve in Mario Kart Wii! Why can't you do the same with Animal Crossing: City Folk? Not necessarily twelve players, but is six really that much of a stretch? I really hope this is changed by launch, but I don't suppose I should really expect it to happen. Besides this little problem, the game looks solid to me.

Unveiled alongside Animal Crossing: City Folk was Wii Speak. Unlike most traditional game console microphones, Wii Speak is not a headset. Instead, it's a box that sits somewhere near your play area. The sound from the entire room is broadcast across the internet, allowing entire families to have conversations among each other.

The brand-new Wii Speak, coming to a living room near you this November.

On the plus side, I see this as a great way for far-separated family members to get in touch with their brethren and play some games at the same time. Sure, it's not exactly private, but do you really expect to be having intimate conversations in your living room? And the way I see it, Wii Speak looks to be far less "scary" for the non-gamers than a full-blown headset. Just imagine if you weren't a gamer. Would you rather put a box on top of your TV, or wear some weird headset? I feel the choice is obvious in this case. Also, with one central microphone, people won't need to buy a new headset for each player in the house in order to play simultaneously. One central microphone, with the sound played through your TV speakers.

I suppose the downside is it doesn't seem to be shipping in a bundle with any known game. I thought that it would be a perfect fit to have two Animal Crossing: City Folk packages, one with the Wii Speak, and one without. Instead, though, we'll have to shell out an additional $30 for this thing. Doesn't that sound like a tad too much for you? I remember getting my DS headset for $12, not $30. A little bit pricey, don't you think? I was thinking $20 at most.

Well, no matter. This should still shut up all those people obsessing over voice chat. You got it now, okay? Not good enough? Too bad for you, I guess. I'm sure some third party will make a headset soon enough. When that day comes, it's all yours.

Although we really didn't hear all that much about Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades, I still feel like mentioning it for one key point: Song sharing. Really, this is a great idea. If you have a copy of the original On Tour, and a pal has Decades, you can swap songs among each other and still play together. That's some cool stuff right there. Activision really does seem to be trying, and I applaud them for that.

Next up we have Wii Sports: Resort. From the three sports shown (Frisbee toss, water skiing and sword fighting), Resort seems to be shaping up as a completely new entry in the Sports series. And honestly, that's got me pretty excited.

Wii Sports finally gets a sequel in Wii Sports: Resort

Of course, Wii Sports: Resort just wouldn't be possible without the new Wii MotionPlus. Available in a bundle with Resort next year, MotionPlus adds so much more to the Wiimote's motion sensing abilities. Finally, we can get the true 1-to-1 experience in our own living rooms. If the amazing sensitivity shown in Wii Sports: Resort is any indication of future titles, we're in for one hell of a treat.

Wii Music finally made its return to the limelight today. With practically an entire orchestra at your disposal, there's sure to be at least one instrument right for you. Saxaphone? Piano? Drums? Tamborine? You got it. The variety of instruments is astounding to say the least.

The controls are something that many people seem to have misunderstood, sadly. Everyone reading this please take note: Wii Music is much more than pointless waving around of the controller. Buttons are pressed to the beat to keep the song going, and the motion controls are there to allow the player to give their performance a little pizazz. With the option of saving a recording of your concert, you're going to want it to be exciting!

The long-lost "Wii" game returns at last

I was somewhat confused at one part of the presentation. Six people took the stage, but the Wii can only support four players. Not quite sure what was going on there. They said that two of the musicians were computer-controlled, but then... Why call those extra two people on stage? Bah, I'm probably making too much of a minor misunderstanding.

I like that Wii Music seems to allow the player to make the song their own. There's no high scores or strict button press timing. Just play the way you want to play. It's a great approach to music-based gaming. Rock Band: Mii Edition this ain't, but it's still going to be one hell of a concert.

Overall, I was fairly impressed with the games showcased today. Sure, they weren't a new Zelda or Mario, but for what they were, it was a good showing. I just hope everything remains as awesome between now and their too-far-away release dates.

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The Duck Has Spoken.

Reviewing Nintendo's pre-E3 2008 press conference

A little over four hours ago, I sat in front of my computer staring at a live stream window, waiting for Nintendo's press conference to begin. I went in expecting little more than Animal Crossing Wii and Wii MotionPlus, and in that regard, I left happy. As for how the conference was on the whole? That's a slightly different story.

From the beginning, the conference wasn't looking too hot. You'd expect this sort of thing to start with a bang, but instead we sit here listening to Cammie Dunaway yapping about a snowboarding trip she went on. Yup. Then it segues into a presentation for Ubisoft's Shawn White Snowboarding. Wait, WHAT? The conference isn't even starting with a Nintendo title? No, apparently Nintendo thought it was a better idea to focus on Ubisoft's iffy-looking snowboarding game instead. I guess they forgot the phrase "Put your best foot forward".

And then Mr. Iwata takes the stage, speaking about how far the company has come since 2003. Oh boy, here come the sales numbers... On a high note, he mentions in passing that both the Mario and Zelda teams are hard at work on the next installment of their respective series. Good! Just what I like to hear. Also, the Wii seems to have moved 10 million units since launch in the US alone. Okay, that's cool. Can we get to the games yet?

Apparently, the time for actual news has arrived at this point. A short video interview with Animal Crossing series creator goes over the goals the franchise has set to achieve. Yadda yadda yadda... Yay, Animal Crossing: City Folk! A lot is said about its various features, which is always a good thing to say during a press conference. Alright, that was good.

And then comes the announcement of Wii Speak, the Wii's answer to online chatting. It's not a headset, but a microphone that sits atop the television and records all audio in the room. Cool little device in my opinion, but this article is about the conference itself, not what was discussed. Moving on.

Reggie finally makes the scene! Hooray! He makes a quick note to say that Animal Crossing Wii will be in our hands this Holiday season, which makes me smile from ear to ear. And then... More sales talk... I literally stopped paying attention around here, just keeping an ear out for some interesting stuff.

And now they start showing a series of trailers for upcoming Wii games. Star Wars Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels, Call of Duty: World at War and Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party. Except for World at War, I'm fairly unimpressed. Would it have hurt so hard to show some MadWorld or Disaster: Day of Crisis?

Oh boy, Cammie's back on stage. Blah blah blah, female gamers growing in numbers... Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades is announced, which is kind of a bad sign. If they're occupying their time with this, that probably means they don't have much more cool things to show. I get ready to become disappointed.

All of a sudden, a random game announcement spills out: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Okay, nobody can say they saw that one coming. Woah, wait... No footage? No screenshots? Not even a developer interview? What the heck? Why'd you even bother mentioning it? With the way that went, I'm not expecting Grand Theft Auto for quite some time yet.

Cooking Navi's seeing a North American release. I actually think that's a neat little program, but not exactly what I wanted to hear about today. Come on, bring on the awesome already!

So Reggie takes the stage again. That's awesome enough for me! Finally we get to see Wii Motion Plus in action thanks to the new and improved Wii Sports: Resort. A neat little presentation, as long as you ignore the parts where Cammie talks. Her and Reggie duking it out in virtual sword-fighting was cool I guess, but I preferred the first round when the Regginator won. What? No game until NEXT YEAR!? Why show it so early?!

Ah, finally the coolness returns. Miyamoto takes to the stage to demonstrate Wii Music, the long-lost entry in the "Wii" game series. Miyamoto plays some sax while his Mii-self twitches around on screen. Presentation could use a little work, but otherwise, neat stuff (Again, I'll talk more about what was presented in another post. This is about the conference itself).

Miyamoto, Dunaway, Fils-Aimes and a professional drummer all jam for a while, playing a terrible rendition of the Super Mario Bros. theme. Don't quit your day jobs, folks.

And, well, that was it. A good amount of games were revealed, and whether or not they revealed the right ones is up to you. Personally, I was excited about Animal Crossing: City Folk, Wii Sports: Resort and Wii Music (And I'm curious to hear more about Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars). The other games were all pretty "meh" to me, but hey, that's just my opinion.

So, this conference was okay in my eyes. A good variety of games were shown, although a couple extra of the more anticipated titles would have been nice. Heck, I'd have settled for a Mario Super Sluggers demonstration. The biggest problem, though, was probably the stage presence. Reggie seemed significantly less awesome than usual, and Cammie was just annoying to me. Next year I'd like to see some more Iwata, as he got very little stage time.

Overall, I'd say this conference gets a 6.9/10. For comparison, I'd say it was better than last year's, but nowhere near as awesome as the infamous 2006 show. So, it was a good conference, but not great. I got my Animal Crossing: City Folk, though, so I'm happy enough. And remember, folks, E3 has just begun. More announcements are bound to appear between now and Thursday. Super Smash Bros. Brawl wasn't revealed until the day after Nintendo's press conference in 2006, so don't lose hope. Also, on the contrary, don't expect too much. It's never a good idea to be too hyped up, as it usually ends in disappointment.

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E3 2008 predictions

So, it's that time of the year again: E3 time! That also means it's time for my significantly less important annual E3 predictions post. Sorted by probability, here are my guesses.

Almost certainly going to happen

Do I even have to say it? Everyone else has been screaming this for weeks now... Animal Crossing Wii is pretty much a sure-thing for this E3. It just has to be there! So many signs are pointing to it that if it didn't happen, I'm almost positive the world would implode from shock. Animal Crossing Wii will be there in some shape or form.

It's pretty much a no-brainer that we'll see some sort of demonstration of the Wii MotionPlus during tomorrow's conference. I can already see Miyamoto standing on stage, flailing around the new device like a madman to demonstrate its capabilities. What game he'll be playing, though, is beyond me. Perhaps a new title we've yet to see? We can only hope!

Somewhat likely

It just seems like showing some more info on Disaster: Day of Crisis is the thing to do right now. We haven't seen a single screenshot all year, and not a clip of footage since E3 2006. It's about time we get a little more eye-candy. Concept art, screenshots, or a small video are likely going so surface at this E3. Not quite a sure thing, but definitely likely.

Also, I believe that there's a good chance we'll see an old franchise make a comeback this week. I'm personally leaning towards the trio of Pikmin, Starfox and Punch-Out specifically. Of course, I doubt we'd see all of them, but I'm somewhat confident one of them will show up. Again, not a sure thing like Animal Crossing, but a distinct possibility.

How about a new Zelda? Not necessarily the true Zelda Wii or anything, but perhaps a new DS game? Or maybe even a WiiWare release of some sort? I'd like to see a revised version of Tetra's Trackers hit the Wii's download service for sure. Will we see a new Zelda? I've got a good feeling about it. Whatever system or service it comes out for, though, don't expect more than a trailer. Just my two cents on the subject.

50/50 chance of happening

I wish I could say that there's a good chance of seeing Pokémon Platinum this week, but really, I'm not at all sure. It definitely could happen, but I have a feeling that they'd release info in Japan rather than in The United States. The Pokémon games have a tendency to detailed more in their home country than anywhere else. Still, Nintendo has never been a predictable company, so who knows. Still, I have a slight feeling we'll see something.

Somewhat unlikely

When people started saying a few months back that they expected a DS redesign come this E3, I thought they were all nuts. Really, the DS Lite is doing just fine! Do we need another model yet? I don't think so. But, for some reason, I just can't shake the feeling that it'll happen. Nintendo does love their money, and sales are starting to slow down in Japan... But still, I'm not entirely sure a new model will be shown off this E3. Maybe at the next major event, but I don't think we'll see it tomorrow.

Ain't gonna happen

If you think we'll see the "Wii 2" tomorrow, think again. It's way to early for this sort of thing, and yet, people still think it's right around the corner. Well, it isn't. Wii MotionPlus pretty much confirms it. No new Wii any time soon, folks.

I suppose that's all I have to predict this year. Really, we're going into this E3 very much in the dark. All we have to go on for predictions are industry mumblings, which have been fairly quiet as of late. Oh well. As long as a lot of cool stuff happens tomorrow, I'll be happy.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Poll #48: "When was the last time you played a Wii game?" results, banner

"Today" 17 votes (45%)
"Yesterday" 5 votes (13%)
"A few days ago" 5 votes (13%)
"About a week ago" 2 votes (5%)
"A couple few weeks ago" 2 votes (5%)
"About a month ago" 1 vote (2%)
"Quite some time ago" 4 votes (10%)
"I don't know" 0 votes (0%)
"I've never played a Wii game" 1 vote (2%)

So, you know how I said last week that I'd hardly played Wii at all? Well, since then, I've played Mario Kart Wii basically every single chance I got. Man, now that I'm talking about it, I want to play again...

So, since it's E3 week, I figured it fitting that we have an E3 banner. So, here ya go. Nothing too special, but hey, it's something.

So then, Nintendo sprung a surprise announcement on us this morning: Wii MotionPlus! It'll apparently allow for more precise interpretation of it's position in 3D space, which sounds good to me. But what do you think? Make your thoughts heard in the poll!

Alrighty, new article in a little bit.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Friday, July 11, 2008

No update tonight

I'm sorry, folks, but I just can't concentrate tonight. You see, one of my cats has recently fallen ill, and she likely only has a few months left at most. This was very sudden and an incredible shock, and I'm still working on getting over it. As of now, I really just can't think all that well. I'm going to do some thinking and such over the weekend, and I should be back in full force come Monday. It's almost E3, man! That's something to look forward to!

Until then, keep on gaming, folks.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Animal Crossing Wii ideas 7: The last one ever?

There's a very good chance that this, the seventh edition of Animal Crossing Wii ideas, could be the last. E3 begins on Monday, and with it shall come the nearly 100% sure-to-happen unveiling of Animal Crossing Wii. And so, for what will almost surely be the last time ever, I present you with yet another collection of my Animal Crossing Wii ideas.

A new shop in town: The Craftsman's Corner

Cut down a tree in Animal Crossing, and it disappears. Makes for easy clean-up, I suppose, but what if the fallen wood could be used for something? For example, what if it could be used to make furniture?

I've heard a few people suggest over the months that players should be able to make their own furniture and such out of raw materials. I thought this to be a good idea, but it seemed a little too complex for Animal Crossing. Adding a whole new building mode for making chairs and such would just be too much work, and it would feel really out of place. So, I thought, what if there was someone who could take your raw materials and make them into something? The little light in my head lit up, and I decided that a new shop would be the perfect fit.

The Craftsman's Corner would be a log cabin-like structure, owned, managed and staffed by one man (I was thinking a beaver, personally). Basically, you run on down to The Craftsman's Corner and plop your raw material on the counter (Mostly wood, but maybe scrap metal and plastic junk found in the dump and scattered about, too). The shopkeeper shows you a list of available furniture (Which varies from town to town), each of which is accompanied by a material requirement. For example, a simple wooden chair would require 5 pieces of wood, a couch would take 15 and a bookshelf would need 10. Different types of furniture require different materials, and some may even require a little bit of several materials.

Now, this wouldn't come free, of course. You'd have to pay Buck (A beaver named Buck. I'm so bad with name making) a couple hundred bells to cover labour and such, and your furniture would be ready the next day. Each piece of furniture would be exclusive to The Craftsman's Corner, or at least be very rare otherwise. Also, anything made at The Craftsman's Corner would be impossible to order via Tom Nook's catalog. It just doesn't work that way.

I feel this helps add a neat little feature to Animal Crossing without at all making the game more complex. Animal Crossing is a simple game with a decent bit of depth, but a new feature couldn't hurt. Just so long as it doesn't make the game overly complex, I'm all for it.

Make the other villagers do some of the dirty work

Ever notice that everyone else in town seems to have not a care in the world? Running around all day catching fish, buying shirts and yakking endlessly. What if some of them actually had a day job?

Each Animal Crossing game starts off with the player in debt to Tom Nook, and they begin paying off their mortgage by working for the fuzzy little con artist. Something's a little odd, though. Ever notice that you're the only person who seems to work there other than Nook? Don't you think that maybe that conniving raccoon could use an extra pair of hands? I know a great way to solve both this problem and the one from the last paragraph: Have a villager work there!

I can just imagine other people in town actually having daily routines to attend to. Sure, there would still be the aimlessly wondering fools, but a few neighbours would surely get a job somewhere. It's all so easy to picture! Tangy lending a hand at the Able Sisters, Drift helping sort mail at town hall, and perhaps even Walker washing dishes at The Roost. Giving jobs to some of the villagers would really make them feel more like real "people". Instead of a neighbourhood full of slacking animals, it would become a living, breathing society, full of far more interesting villagers than ever before. Also, having Punchy doing stock at Nook's Cranny is sure to provide a laugh or two. A shovel in the furniture section? Oh, that Punchy!

A better look into the shopkeepers' lives

In the first two Animal Crossing games, you could get a bit of personal information out of Nook, Phyllis and Sable by talking to them consistently and/or at the right times. That's as far as things go, though. I'd like if we'd get to see more into the lives of these retail industry characters. I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to suggest that we can visit them in their houses when off duty, but seeing them casually walking around town would certainly be a nice addition.

Once free from their jobs, these workers would act just like normal villagers, except with maybe a unique personality and a few more things to say. Otherwise, though, Pelly would fit in perfectly with Alfonso. Asking you to run errands, chatting like everyone else, and even engaging in hobbies such as fossil hunting and bug catching would be commonplace for these formerly work-only souls.

Now, say we could go into their houses... What would their abodes be like? In a word, "normal". After all, people are people. Of course, since they're at work a lot of the time, I'm guessing we'd see the occasional cockroach running around in their house. Nobody's perfect, especially not when they're working for 12 hours a day!

I'd really love to get a better view of the workers' personal lives. Maybe we'd even see some of their relatives! I've always wondered if there was any truth to the rumours of Nook having a wife...

A more customizable house

(Before I start writing this, I should say I've had this idea for a while, and I'm pretty sure I posted it online somewhere before. However, it doesn't seem to have appeared on One Duck's Opinion, so here you go. If I have posted it here, though... Oh well.)

Every time that you pay off your mortgage, that money-loving, monopolizing rodent offers to add on to your puny house. The additions are always pretty much chosen by Nook, with the only input you get basically being whether you want the basement or second floor first. But what if you had complete control over how your house was expanded upon? Every time you paid off your mortgage, Nook would ask you how to expand your house. Add another floor? A basement? A second room on the main floor? It's up to you!

The combinations are mind-boggling. A towering home of several tiny floors, a sprawling bungalow, or even a tiny little shed that hides a massive underground complex that plunges several floors into the Earth. You got the money, Nook's got the construction crew.

One new expansion option this could add would be to have several rooms on the upper floor. Of course, you can't put another room up there without another beneath it for support, but other than that, your options are pretty much unlimited. Of course, you would only have so many opportunities to upgrade, so choose your additions wisely!

And so ends what is almost certainly the last ever Animal Crossing Wii ideas post. Oh well, I'll think of some other series, I'm sure. If for some terrible, terrible reason Animal Crossing Wii isn't shown next week, though, I shall do my best to resurrect this series until it's inevitable unveiling. Lets just hope it doesn't come to that, though.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mini-Article: Is there a wrong way to Brawl?

A short article, but I feel it was something that needed saying.

If there's one thing that seems to divide the Super Smash Bros. fan base, it's whether or not to use items. Some people prefer the chaos of random items, while others think that the game better enjoyed with nothing but the fighters on the stage. Personally, I belong to the former group, loving the insanity of Bob-ombs and Smash Balls popping up here and there. Am I wrong? Are the other guys wrong? Are we both wrong? Could both sides be right?

Really, it all comes down to what the player prefers. If you're the kind of person who prefers to carefully calculate every move, leaving nothing to chance and allowing naught but skill to determine the outcome of the match, then you're best off without items.

On the other hand, you may be a bit more chaotic in your battling. Perhaps you prefer to let not only the skill of the players determine the winner, but also allowing the variable of luck to become a factor. If this sounds like your style, then you'll probably enjoy playing with items more.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the kind of game that's practically impossible to play incorrectly. It all boils down to what you prefer. Sora Ltd. made it so you could tweak each match until it was just right for a reason. There is no such thing as a wrong way to Brawl, as well as there is no one definitive way to play it right.

So go ahead, folks. Grab your controller of choice, pop in that dual-layered disc of glory, and play the game the way it was meant to be played: Your way.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Poll #47: "Who's your favourite female Nintendo character?" results, banner

"Princess Peach" 4 votes (10%)
"Princess Zelda" 9 votes (22%)
"Samus Aran" 19 votes (47%)
"Princess Daisy" 1 votes (2%)
"Toadette" 2 votes (5%)
"Other" 3 votes (7%)
"I don't know" 2 votes (5%)

Can't say I'm surprised at who won. After all, she's Samus Aran, the ass-kicking space bounty hunter. A little disappointed to see Daisy only get one vote, though.

This week's banner is just something random I whipped up. The theme? 8-bit. Relevance? Almost none. Moving on!

And now we have this week's poll: "When was the last time you played a Wii game?" To be honest, I really haven't touched it since... Last Tuesday. I've been meaning to get back into Brawl, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I'll definitely try to fix this tomorrow.

Alrighty then. Tonight's article will be posted sometime within the next few hours. No clue when exactly it'll be up, but chances are, all sane people will be asleep by then.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bits and pieces: Random game ideas volume 4

I hope all you Americans out there had a great Independence Day!

As always, my brain is going nuts 24/7, spewing out random crap at such a rate to make one's head spin. Once in a while, though, something good does come of it, such as a couple game ideas. Here they are, with laughably bad Photoshop images accompanying them.

Mario Hockey

First of all, there's the idea of Mario Hockey. Now, I'm pretty sure I wrote about this somewhere before, but it surely wasn't in as much detail as this will be. Anyways, the game would be just what it sounds like: A standard Mario/sports crossover along the lines of Strikers, Baseball and Hoops. Like those other games, the sport would be significantly spiced up with the addition of many Mario items, power-ups and craziness. As you can see from the above picture, I'm thinking of items such as Bob-ombs, banana peels and Koopa Shells would join the fray, along with a few rink hazards. Holes in the ice? Random ramps? Perhaps even randomly-falling Whomps?

Just imagine the chaos. There you are, the famous plumber himself, dashing towards the opposing team's net. A Snifit comes out of nowhere, charging at you with a speed-boosting mushroom. You quickly toss out your only item, a banana peel, causing the speeding foe to spin out and fall into a hole in the ice. You keep going, dodging flying shells, exploding Bob-ombs, and various other obstacles. Finally, you reach the net. Bowser stands as goalie, staring you down as he prepares to roast you with his fire breath. You quickly charge up your special shot (A la Strikers), pull back your stick and slam it right between the big reptile's legs. Score one for Mario's team.

Seriously, wouldn't this be great? And just imagine how certain items could affect the rink, too! Bob-ombs causing those pesky holes in the ice, Bowser's fire breath melting the rink's surface into a temporary puddle (It would re-freeze over a few seconds), and even slamming into the ice so hard to make it crack and form a ramp. The possibilities for a Mario Hockey are mind-blowing, and I really hope some developer is busting their ass on this right now. I need the hectic, Mario-fueled ice hockey now, man!

As you are probably aware, a DS game by the name of Pokémon Dash was released back in 2005. Another bit of common knowledge is that this game sucked dramatically. Really, I rented this, and even the standard $8 fee felt like a rip-off. Dash was very close to ending up in last year's Three worst DS games article. It was that bad. The sad thing is, though, the concept was pretty great. Racing with Pokémon? Hell yeah! Nintendo has the technology. They can rebuild this. And thus I propose Pokémon Chase.

Like Dash, Chase would be a racing game starring, of course, Pokémon. The similarities just about end there, though. Instead of being restricted to playing only as Pikachu, players would be able to select from a wide variety of race-ready Pokémon, such as Rapidash, Tauros, Mightyena, and Houndoom. Also unlike Dash, every usable Pokémon in Chase would have it's own special abilities, speed, jump height, and level of maneuverability. For example, a Tauros would be able to knock opponents aside and run very, very fast, but it would have a terrible turning radius and wouldn't be able to jump very well. Rapidash would be quite the same, but would instead have a Flamethrower-like ability enabling it to scorch and slow down its foes temporarily.

Instead of Dash's scattered checkpoint-style gameplay, Chase would be a more straightforward racer like Mario Kart. As in Kart, each track would have its own theme of sorts, each of which mirroring a location in the Pokémon world. There could be a race atop the mountain surrounding Indigo Plateau, a circuit involving the Cycling Road, and perhaps even one taking place on a series of connected rooftops high above Saffron City. I can see so much potential in a completely re-vamped Pokémon racer, and it would be amazing if someone were to make this game a reality. For now, though, I suppose I'll just need to get my Pokémon fix separate from my racing dosage. But getting both at the same time... Wow.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mini-Article: What if game rules and such applied to real life?

Just imagine if the video game rules, physics and logic were real. Take the world you live in, but imagine it as if it were inside a video game. This could be a really great thing, but it also has the potential to be very bad. Read on to find out more.

You'd never have to worry about injuries. Just pick up a health pack, and you're good to go. Broken bones? Separated shoulder? Have no fear, Medkits are here! Heck, you could probably get your head nearly 100% blown off, and a single Medkit would fix you up. Just so long as you didn't actually, you know, die. Games have their limits, you know.

Falling from great heights? Get in a car! After all, cars in games are almost entirely impervious to damage sustained hitting the ground. So long as the wheels hit first, you'll just keep moving like you merely drove off a curb. This would sure make going over Niagara Falls a whole lot easier... Just bring the Volkswagen!

Who needs U-Haul? After all, your invisible inventory has all the space anyone could ever wish for. Collapsible bike? Huge-ass sword? A queen-size bed? Just pick it up and shove it in your knapsack. Even the limited inventories in most games are insanely expansive, of course. Still, don't be surprised when you can't fit more than twelve couches in your pocket.

Low on cash? Break some boxes. It's bound to work. Some of the places you can find rupees are insane. Up a tree, in the grass, hidden in a pot, and sometimes even misleadingly placed in a treasure chest. Oh yeah, that big song and dance was totally worth five cents. No, if only I could resist the urge to hold everything I get above my head...

Don't worry about getting it right the first time. You can always just reset, right? Unless, of course, you live in one of those towns. Oh, you know the kind of town I mean. The kind with that ugly little dude who never shows his face until you hit the reset button, and then it's nothing but yak yak yak for days and days... Good thing there's plenty of exterminators in the phone book. Oh, and taxidermists, too. Great for cleaning up afterward.

Are you hopelessly stuck on a difficult puzzle? Don't worry, just talk to enough people and eventually one will tell you how to figure it out. After all, if there's one thing people exist for, it's standing around doing nothing but giving tiny little bits of advice to anyone who asks.

Breaking and entering? Bah! There's no such thing anymore! Everybody's door is open all the time. Just walk in, open up, and sit down. Will they call the cops? Kick you out? Yell at you? Nope. They'll happily entertain you, striking up conversations and telling you how much they love bread (Or something stupid like that). And I can pretty much guarantee that if a door is locked now, it'll be locked forever. At least until you do something completely unrelated that somehow triggers the home owner to open up, of course.

Cats aren't the only creatures that have multiple lives. Every $100 you earn, you get another chance at immortality! No wonder the really rich people never seem to die. I bet they just bathe in Medkits.

The preceding was but a minor glimpse into what life would be like if it were like a video game. Crazy stuff, hmm?

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