Thursday, April 30, 2009

What do you get when you cross Team Fortress 2 with Barack Obama?

The answer...

This post brought to you by five minutes of Photoshop and the messed-up mind of an 18 year-old Canadian. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nintendo DSi review

Nintendo has always been a dynamo in the handheld market, ever since the days of the Game & Watch. While the software is always central to a system's success, one cannot forget the importance of the hardware that plays it. Nintendo sure doesn't forget, as they always bring out three different models of a console per generation, tweaking and fine-tuning the system to perfection. With the Nintendo DS in 2004 and the DS Lite in 2006, the DSi is the third (And presumably final) version of the handheld, adding cameras, bigger screens, internal memory, and so much more. Do all these changes make the DSi a worthy addition to the best-selling Nintendo DS product line, or has the mighty Nintendo blundered this third design?

When it comes to the handheld's appearance, the DSi sure does live up to Nintendo's current trend of sleek and appealing design. The top of the console is smooth and clean, completely unblemished except for the lone camera off in the front-right corner. The new matte finish ensures the DSi doesn't stick out like a shiny sore thumb, and it also makes for a far more firm grip than the slick and glossy DS Lite casing. The power/charge indicator lights have moved over to the opposite side of the hinge, and they've got a new neighbour in the form of a wireless communications indicator light (Stays lit when passive wireless communications are enabled, and blinks during use. This feature can be disabled). On the left side of the device are the volume controls, which are now buttons instead of a slider (A welcome change, but a bit more precision in volume adjustment would be nice). The front edge of the handheld is completely blank (No more Game Boy Advance slot) except for the headphone/microphone jack on the right side (And the jack is exactly the same as before in every way). Along the right side are the stylus sheathe (Housing a longer and slightly thicker stylus) and the SD card slot (Can be difficult to open with short fingernails). Around back are the shoulder buttons (Which stick out a bit much for my liking), the wrist strap loop (For the wrist strap that isn't even in the box!), and the power jack (Which is incompatible with previous Nintendo DS chargers). Finally, on the bottom, the only thing of note is the battery pack cover (Which feels a little flimsy, and gives slightly when pressed).

Opening the handheld (Which shows off the awesomely-smooth hinge of the new model) reveals two 3.25" screens, 0.25" larger than the screens on the DS Lite. Not a massive increase, but still noticeably bigger. Between the two screens (On the hinge) are the inner camera and microphone. On opposite sides of the top screen lay the two speakers, now consisting of one narrow slat each instead of the six-hole design of the DS Lite. They look a lot better than before, and provide audio quality equal to (Or maybe even better than) the DS Lite. Moving down to the lower half of the unit, all the buttons are in the exact same place as before, except for the constantly-migrating power button. With the Nintendo DS it was above the D-Pad, with the DS Lite it moved to the right side of the case, and now with the DSi it's moved once more to below the D-Pad. This time around, the power button doesn't just turn the system off. While holding it down will result in a power-down, tapping it will instantly return the user to the main menu, regardless of what function is currently underway. Think of it as the DSi's equivalent to the Wii remote's Home button. While not a crazily-innovative addition, it's still a nice little touch.

Looking at the design on the whole, I can really find only two flaws. First, as I mentioned before, the SD card slot cover is incredibly hard to open with short fingernails. In fact, it's hard to open even with fingernails. It's just an annoying little slot cover. It's a good thing most people won't be swapping SD cards out all the time, because this flap is not something I want to deal with anymore than I already have. Second, the shoulder buttons stick out. A lot (See the following picture). Keep this loose in a bag, and something's sure to slide against them and snap them off, or at least loosen them up. With the DS Lite, the hinge was the greatest design flaw. With the DSi, I'm seeing the shoulder buttons taking this dubious title.

There are two other ways the DSi has changed, one good, one bad, and neither as apparent as what was outlined above. First, the good news: DS game cards can be inserted and removed without having to power down the system, meaning those of us who tend to use the backlight as a means of seeing our game wallets late at night can live a little easier. Now, then, for the bad news: The DSi's battery is weaker than that of the DS Lite. Whereas the DS Lite used a 1000mAh internal rechargeable battery, the DSi uses a battery of only 840mAh, resulting in a battery life 16% lower. This is further affected by the brightness of the backlight, where higher levels drain the battery even faster. Just keep your backlight low and a charger nearby, and you should be alright. Those of you who do a lot of travelling, though, may want to keep a spare battery on hand.

Starting up the DSi, after the obligatory health and safety screen, presents the user with a menu far different from what was on the previous DS models. Several new menu options are spread out along the DSi's version of Wii Channels, all entirely customizable in order and with plenty of room for additional "channels" down the road. When first starting up the DSi (After inputting your personal information and preferences), the available channels are as follows: System Settings, Play *Currently Inserted DS Game Card*, DSi Camera, DSi Sound, DSi Shop, PictoChat and DS Download Play, followed by a large amount of empty slots (Software purchased from the DSi Shop will occupy these spots). See below for an example of the menu, with all channels shown in the order previously listed.

This new interface is very easy to use, and it looks great, too. The view can be slid left and right either by dragging with the stylus or using the D-Pad. Dragging a channel upwards and then either left and right lets the user re-arrange the icons, allowing for complete personalization. Want all your games at the far left, and applications off to the right? It's your call.

As you can see on the top screen of the above-pictured DSi, users can choose pictures taken by the DSi's cameras to display as a background image. Several pictures can actually be designated as backgrounds, swapping images every time you re-enter the menu. While not a thrilling, revolutionary addition, it's still a nice little touch.

As for the Nintendo DSi Camera software itself, it's just as user-friendly as you'd expect from a Nintendo product. Taking pictures is quick and easy, and even transferring images to an SD card is as simple as a few quick taps of the stylus.

When taking a picture, the user can select one of many different bizarre lenses, from a "Distortion Lens" where the view can be pulled and squished, to a kaleidoscope-like "Mirror Lens". Most of these lenses are also available for use on pictures that have already been taken, as was the case with what you see below. The downside is, while these different lenses are good for a laugh or two, chances are they won't keep anyone's attention for more than a few sessions.

This is a DSi box

This is a DSi box on drugs

As you can see from the above pictures, the DSi cameras are of somewhat low quality. The white section of the DSi box shown above is speckled with many different colours in the photograph, but is pure, blemish-free white in person. The officially-released resolution for both DSi cameras is a measly 0.3 megapixels, even less than the clarity and size you'd get from a cellphone camera these days. Fear not, Kodak: Your cameras are in no danger from the DSi. Of course, nobody should really have expected such things of the DSi. Nintendo's about fun, not multi-functionality. These cameras are for use in games and light-hearted application, and were never meant to replace a photographer's trusty, tripod-mounted, $3000 camera. So yeah, the cameras suck. What of it?

Continuing along with the DSi's built-in software, Nintendo DSi Sound is basically an audio version of Nintendo DSi Camera. Sounds are recorded through the DSi's built-in microphone, and can be filtered in many humourous ways. Music can also (Apparently) be played off of an SD card and manipulated in a similar manner. In the end, it's just about exactly like the camera software, but aural instead of visual.

Now, you're probably wondering why I said "Apparently" in the previous paragraph when referring to the DSi's ability to playback music from an SD card. It's not because I don't have an SD card or the means to encode the music into the otherwise never-used AAC format (A choice by Nintendo that baffles me to this day). It's because, despite trying several times with at least five different songs of varying lengths and audio quality, I've never once been able to get the DSi to recognize an audio file placed on the SD card. Not once. I figure if, after all that, I still can't get it to work, it isn't worth the effort. From what I can tell about the DSi's music playback capabilities, it's just like the DSi's picture-taking function: It's meant to just be a fun little diversion, and not a replacement to the MP3 players just about everyone has nowadays. The difference Nintendo DSi Sound and Nintendo DSi Camera, though, is that the latter is easy to use when it comes to SD card functionality.

Next in the line of built-in software is the Nintendo DSi Shop. Much like the Wii Shop Channel on the handheld's big brother, this software is for connecting to the internet and downloading software (Called DSiWare) in exchange for Nintendo Points (The new name for Wii Points). Nintendo Points can be purchased either via credit card or pre-paid card, as always. Unlike the Wii Shop Channel price range from 500 to 1500 points, DSiWare price categories are Free, 200 points, 500 points and 800+ points. Of the software I've tried so far, the level of quality is right up there with what you'd find on the Wii Shop Channel, although far less complex, as is expected (Note: Reviews of DSiWare games will be surfacing in the coming weeks).

While early buyers of the DSi are treated to 1000 free Nintendo Points (A promotion that will be running until this October), not a single point need be spent to get the first "Free" piece of DSiWare: The Nintendo DSi Browser. As the name suggests, this is the DSi's very own web browser. Running off the same Opera engine as the Wii's Internet Channel, the Nintendo DSi Browser is a handy little way to catch up with your favourite text-based, non-Flash-heavy websites. It's fast and easy to use, but not exactly powerful. Don't expect to catch up on your favourite, full-page webcomics using this, unless you like a whole lot of pixelation in your dialog boxes. Since I can't take screenshots off of my DSi, I fired up Photoshop and scrambled up a recent Dr. McNinja as an example.

Can you read that voice bubble? Because I sure can't. Also, I prefer my art not looking like a compressed image used in an SNES game. Smaller, simpler comics work just fine, though, so readers of Dinosaur Comics can rest easy.

As suggested a couple paragraphs ago, the Nintendo DSi Browser is completely unable to render any sort of Flash animations. Those hoping to catch up on the latest episode of Homestar Runner should just go back to their computers instead.

Despite these problems and a few other smaller ones (Column View doesn't work on this very blog for some bizarre reason, making it just about unreadable), the Nintendo DSi Browser is still a great way to check up on the latest news on Go Nintendo without having to fire up your computer. Unless you use the USB Nintendo Wi-Fi Connector like I do, in which case it'll have to be on anyway. So if you're incredibly lazy...

Two features from the previous DS models return with the Nintendo DSi: Pictochat and DS Download Play. Working exactly the same as before (With DS Download Play even displaying running off of the old operating system), the inclusion of this software is a welcome touch to those of us with friends still clinging on to their previous DS systems (Join usssssss!). One minor addition is the Rainbow Pen in Pictochat, which allows users to doodle in a constantly-changing selection of colours. Don't worry, though: Your friends with DS Phats and Lites can still see your rainbow-powered creations.

And that, my friends, is the DSi. The third (And supposedly final) model of the Nintendo DS brings a lot of new features to the table, all of which are fun and, in some cases, useful. Of course, no system is perfect, and the DSi does have its fair share of downsides as well. When weighed against the positives, though, I still feel the DSi is superior to the DS Lite, if just barely. This statement brings up a good question, though: If the DSi is better than the DS Lite, is it worth upgrading? I'd have to say...

No, it isn't. The DSi is a great little handheld, but if you have a perfectly-functioning DS or DS Lite in your possession, I don't believe it's worth what it costs to upgrade. Will it be worth it in the future? If DSiWare takes off, and DSi-exclusive games start appearing in large numbers, then I'd say yes. As of now, though, I think it's only worth the upgrade if your previous DS model is broken, or if you have a whole lot of money just sitting around.

In the case you don't have either of the previous DS models, though, I'd say the DSi is a great way to get started. Of course, going for the DS Lite instead won't kill you, but considering the superior model is forty bucks more, I don't see why you'd settle for the 2006 model (Unless you're a total Game Boy Advance freak).

The Nintendo DSi has arrived, and I'm not afraid to say it's the best model yet. Now, as for when I think we'll be getting the next generation of DS... No, that's an article for another day.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

A new Zelda at this E3? Don't count on it.

The folks at Nintendo love taking their sweet time with their heavy-hitters, and The Legend of Zelda is no exception. In the 23 years since The Legend of Zelda first graced the Nintendo Entertainment System, only six other games in the series have hit home consoles. Six games in 23 years. That works out to roughly one game every 3.83 years, and it's been less than 2.5 years since Twilight Princess was released.

Of course, an average is made of numbers both higher and lower than it, and, going by that alone, it's entirely possible that we'll see the new Zelda at E3. Also, going purely by that, it's equally likely that we won't. An average is good for getting a rough idea of when the next game will be out, and works well when compounded with other factors, but it's nowhere near dependable on its own.

That being said, I bring up this matter: A new Zelda on the Wii would most likely require a brand new game engine. Twilight Princess was a Gamecube game ported to the Wii that still ran on Gamecube hardware. This new Zelda will be a true Wii game made exclusively for the Wii and will run on Wii hardware. It will utilize far more resources than Twilight Princess, and Nintendo is sure to push the console to its limits in every way, just as they always do with their big-name games, and will more than likely be running on a brand-new engine. Granted, the Wii's architecture is quite similar to that of the Gamecube, but that doesn't mean that this new engine can just be made up overnight.

But hey, I'm no game developer. For all I know, the entire previous paragraph could be wrong, wrong, wrong. So what else is there that points to a new Zelda not being at E3? Well, how about Miyamoto himself? In April 2008, the man himself was quoted saying "The Zelda team is forming again to work on new games!". Keyword: Forming. As in, at that point, they'd not begun any real work on the game. They were probably still brainstorming back then. A year later, they may have made some progress, but enough to show off even a teaser? I don't think so. With them just beginning in 2008, I'm guessing the game won't be out until 2011 at the soonest. I somehow doubt they'd show their hand a full two years before playing them. Twilight Princess was a unique situation, in that it was delayed to coincide with the Wii's release. This next Zelda will most likely not be delayed by such an event.

What's that, you want even more reason why a Zelda probably won't surface at E3? Well, in the December issue of Official Nintendo Magazine (No source available; Information comes from Wikipedia), it was said that "the teams [are] still in the planning stages", and that "we wouldn't expect to see or hear anything more until the E3 event next summer at the earliest", and "even that may be optimistic". Words such as these are hardly encouraging. Of course, the magazine also says "we WILL know something in 2009 [about the title]", but there's a whole five months between E3 and the end of the year. Chances are, we'll only see a preview of it at some other convention in the fall.

Finally, as of late, Nintendo has begun only announcing games closer to their planned release date. We learned of Punch-Out in October, and it's out next month. Heck, Excitebots was only officially announced in February, and it came out last week! Chances are we won't be waiting two and a half years from announce to release like we did with Twilight Princess.

So then, here are the reasons I've pointed out:
  • *The average amount of time between console Zelda games' release dates is 3.83 years, and we're currently not even at 2.5 years since Twilight Princess.
  • *An entirely new game engine will probably be utilized in this new game, and that can't exactly be whipped up overnight.
  • *Miyamoto himself said the development team was only even beginning work on the game just over a year ago.
  • *Official Nintendo Magazine has said that the game was still in the planning stages a mere six months ago.
  • *Nintendo has taken on a new trend of only announcing a game when its release date is determined and close at hand.
While some of these factors may not stand up well on their own, when lined up together, I feel they create a compelling argument against a Zelda game being revealed at E3. What's your take on the situation? Will E3 bring solid information on a new Zelda, or will we be waiting longer before we get a glimpse of Link in the first true Zelda game on the Wii? Also, what do you think of my points? Are they solid and convincing, or flimsy and weak? Please, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section, or this forum thread.

Poll #86: "Are you happy with your DSi?" results, banner

"I'm very happy with it" 7 votes (31%)
"I'm content with it" 2 votes (9%)
"I'm disappointed in it" 0 votes (0%)
"I don't have an opinion on it" 0 votes (0%)
"I don't have a DSi" 13 votes (59%)

No surprise at the majority of voters not having a DSi yet, but a pleasant surprise came from seeing nobody regretting their purchase. Either the DSi is truly awesome, or we're just really easy to please!

This week's banner is really what last week's should've been, but hey, better late than never. Excitebots: The only place where racing robots assemble sandwiches while playing soccer.

This week's poll question is as follows: "Will E3 bring a new Zelda?" E3 may be over a month away, but that hasn't stopped people from going mad with speculation. Popular this year (And really, just about every year) is the notion of a new Zelda game (Because, you know, it's not as if we're getting a new DS one soon or anything...). Personally, I don't see it happening. Check out this article for my full reasoning. Long story short, I'm not expecting it to be revealed at E3. After all, we have to leave some space for Pikmin 3 to shine, don't we?

Now then, about that article I've been working on... I haven't been able to touch it all day. Left 4 Dead ate up my time faster than you can say "BOOMER!", so that article will have to wait. Have no fear, though! My reasoning for my vote in this week's poll will be coming up within the next few hours, so there will still be something to read. Hold tight!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Excitebots: Trick Racing impressions

Before anyone freaks out and says "That's IT?", no, this is not the article I've been working on for the last few days. I'm just whipping this up quick as some filler until that article is done (Probably tomorrow. Yes, I delayed it AGAIN. I suck at this). Alright? Alright.

After staring at the box yesterday for 4 1/2 hours, I finally got a chance to play Excitebots: Trick Racing today. In one word, my overall impression is "...WHAT?".

Excitebots is no ordinary racer. You thought Excite Truck was crazy? Bots is everything Truck was, plus darts, anthropomorphic vehicles, pie-throwing, bowling, soccer, football, chattering teeth, backflips and more. If Truck was crazy, Bots is flat-out insane.

One of the first things I noticed when I started up this game is how incredibly bright and lively the environments are. It's amazing how vibrant all the colours are in this game, from the common dirt path to the lush green foliage. Overall, Excitebots looks quite a lot like Excite Truck, but with a far more cartoony appearance.

Excitebots retains the same basic control scheme as its predecessor, along with the same excellent level of precision. A few new ways to control are added, most notably the seesawing motion needed when the bot takes on its "Leg" form (As seen above). I find it quite difficult to control where you're going in this mode, though, but maybe I just need to practice more.

The music in Excitebots, as opposed to Excite Truck, is actually pretty fun and suited to the level's theme. This is great news considering that, unlike Excite Truck, 'Bots has absolutely no support for SD card music. Such a pity, too; I was dying to peel across the Mexican countryside in the form of a praying mantis robot to the sounds of Born to Be Wild. Who can honestly say they've never wanted to do that at least once in the past?

Perhaps the biggest and most-wanted addition to the game is the one thing Excite Truck truly needed: Online play. I have yet to give it a go myself, but if Mario Kart Wii's buttery-smooth experience is any indication, Excitebots is sure to boast an amazingly fast and lag-free online mode. A six-player, online, crash-tastic race featuring flying bowling pins and explosives? I gotta check this out, and fast! Of course, if your friends are a little more local, there's always the option of local multiplayer. The major downside to this? A maximum of two players at once. Bummer.

Excitebots is already a whole whackload of fun, and I've barely even begun playing it. Stay tuned for the full review sometime in the near future!

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

I don't freaking believe this

So, I sat down today, all ready to go, got out all the materials I needed to get writing, stretched my hands over the keyboard, and...


The freaking power goes out. No, really. Check these out:

See any lights on? Aside from the one emergency light in that lobby, not a single light was on in my apartment complex for a solid 4 1/2 hours. The plaza across the street was dark, the condo building behind us was out, and just about every house up the street was powerless, too. You wanna hear something really crazy, though? You want to know what caused all this trouble?

A freaking tornado. In Toronto. Right after the power went out, wind ripped through the driveway and blew everything everywhere. A kiddy pool I've never seen before in my whole life is under our balcony. I heard on the radio that some guy's 160 lb. dog nearly got blown away. There were reports of funnel clouds and tornadoes all over southern Ontario. So yeah, I got owned by a tornado. How was your day?

Needless to say, I'm in no mood to right (Anymore >_> ). I managed to pick up Excite Bots earlier today, and even though I said I wouldn't play it until after I finished this article, I need to let off some steam, so yeah, nuts to that. I'll get writing tomorrow after we finish house-hunting (Yay!). Oh, and if you want an apology for this delay, I got nothing. Next time you see a tornado, though, feel free to ask it for one.

Oh, and if Mother Nature's reading this on her godly Blackberry, I have one thing to say: I won't be forgetting this, old lady.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bad news, everyone ***UPDATE***

Farnsworth returns, but with somewhat less-disastrous news.

Sorry, folks, but I've got to delay this article just one more time. I just wasn't happy with how the first half turned out, so I decided to start it over. I'm already far more pleased with the bit I've written so far of version 2.0, so I doubt we'll be seeing another rewrite.

One thing I want to say, though, is that I hope you guys don't get your expectations too high for this article. Although it is the first article of its kind I have ever written (A large factor in my decision to rewrite it), it's nothing you haven't seen before. Still, I'm sure you'll enjoy it when it rolls around, so be sure to stay tu- Er... What's the new internet version of "Stay tuned"? Is there one? Huh. Well, anyways, make sure to check back later tomorrow for the finished product. But hey, it's not like a little delay has ever killed anyone! ...has it? Oh dear.

12:58 AM, April 25th, 2009 UPDATE: I did not get nearly as much work done on this today as I hoped I would. After running some errands tomorrow morning, I'll get right on... Writing on. Sorry for all the insane delays! Really, I am!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poll #85: "Have you ever played a Virtual Boy?" results, banner, explanations ***UPDATE***

9:31 PM, Wednesday, April 22nd: The article won't quite be ready to be posted tonight, but there's a good-sized chunk of it already done. It will almost certainly be ready for Thursday, though!

"Yes" 6 votes (26%)
"No" 16 votes (69%)
"I'm not sure" 1 vote (4%)

So that's six who have, sixteen who haven't, and one that just can't remember. Don't worry, I'm sure it'll come back to you soon enough!

This week's banner is themed on the DSi. Why? Because I can't think of anything else to theme it on (Except ExciteBots, but all banners based on that ended up looking like complete ass). More on that later.

As for this week's poll, the question is "Are you happy with your DSi?" I'd have to say I vastly prefer my DSi over my old DS Lite, but that's mainly due to my old DS Lite being horribly disfigured... Or, to put it less grotesquely, in a NERF case. That aside, I am quite happy with my purchase.

Now then, for the explanation. You'll probably notice that this post is a full 24 hours later than it should have been. Why is that? Basically, it's because I hit a writer's block at 120 MPH... About two weeks ago. This is evident from the grand total of two articles posted over the last fortnight. I've been unable to do much real thinking over the last two weeks, with reasons ranging to personal problems I'd rather not bore you with to a sudden renewed addiction to Garry's Mod. On the bright side, this mental blockage seems to have just about passed, and I've got a good feeling about something substantial being posted tomorrow, with one of three solid ideas ready to go.

Alright, so with all that out of the way, I'll get that new poll up and running and probably head to sleep a little afterwords. You folks have a great night, and I'll see y'all tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MotionPlus meets jacket: A troubling combination

News broke today that the Wii MotionPlus will be encased in a permanent, extended Wii remote jacket, and will look like what you see above. My first thought when seeing this wasn't "Oh it's ugly!" or "Time to get my exacto-knife". No, it was "How the hell am I supposed to get the remote in there?".

Maybe you do it differently, but the way I put the Wii remote into the jacket (On the rare occasion I bother to) is entirely incompatible with this design. The bottom part where the MotionPlus now is usually ends up the last part of the jacket I slide the remote into, but that new little nub in the way is not going to let that happen. Let's hope that new jacket is a little stretchier than the old model, because I'd rather not bend the MotionPlus to get it to work.

Not looking forward to figuring this out...

Another problem I'm seeing is incompatibility with just about every Wii remote add-on/accessory in existance. This was already a problem with the original jacket, but now it's made even worse by the fact that people might actually use this sleeve, like it or not. When I found the old jacket to become a nuisance, I just took it off and tossed it in with the rest of my game controllers and such, and I've barely even seen it since. But if this motion plus catches on, it'll be another annoying little step I'll have to take whenever I charge my remotes, play a game NES-style, or use just about any other controller add-on I've accumulated over the past two years. A deal-breaker? Not really, but it's sure an annoyance.

Those inconveniences aside, I understand why they went with this design. First of all, the jacket will keep the MotionPlus from falling out during intense play (One good yank with a Nunchuk plugged in would spell tragedy otherwise). Second, Nintendo sure doesn't want to deal with those crazy damage lawsuits from back in the pre-jacket days. If the MotionPlus shipped outside of the jacket, the old sleeves would be incompatible with the new size and shape of the remote. All it takes is one more hand-meets-fan incident, and the lawsuits roll in once again.

The directionality of the blood drop suggests the victim was standing still whe-Oh, wait, this isn't CSI.

Despite the problems I (And many others) may have with this design choice, there's no denying the awesome possibilities the Wii MotionPlus brings to gameplay. This new add-on is supposedly so accurate that it's actually over-responsive, meaning we're in for one heck of a treat come this June. After all, it's what's inside that counts, even if it's permanently attached to something really ugly on the outside.

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Poll #84: "The DSi is now out in all major markets! Do you have one yet?" results, banner

"Yes!" 8 votes (38%)
"No, but I want one!" 10 votes (47%)
"No, and I don't want one" 3 votes (14%)
"It's not available where I live" 0 votes (0%)

Well, if these results are in any way proportional to how everyone feels, I do believe the DSi will at least manage to outsell the Game Boy Micro... If it hasn't already.

While the following banner may seem somewhat out of date to most of you out there (Dragon Quest V's been out on the DS for nearly two months now), I myself just picked it up over the weekend, making it quite relevant for me! Who knows, maybe this banner will make me get off my ass and actually write a review for it. Hey, you never know.

And finally we have this week's poll: "Have you ever played a Virtual Boy?" The only Nintendo console that can even be remotely considered a failure, the Virtual Boy isn't exactly as common as a Nintendo Entertainment System. I've only ever seen one a handful of times, and I've never even once had the pleasure (Or displeasure) of playing one. How about you guys?

Sorry about how lacking last week was, folks. I'm still pondering that post originally scheduled for the Tuesday update, so maybe that'll surface sometime this week. As for the Dragon Quest V review... Well, maybe I shouldn't push my luck.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The two-slot DSi and the Dragon Quest IX delay: Related?

A little while back we heard that Dragon Quest IX was being delayed, and then we also heard that the DSi originally had two game card slots. Two completely unrelated events, right? Maybe not. Personally, I think that the removal of the second DSi slot is directly related to the Dragon Quest IX delay.

Keep the following two facts in mind while reading this article:
  • The DSi had two game card slots until late in the console's development.
  • Dragon Quest IX was delayed due to a critical glitch
Got it? Alright, now I can begin.

We all know Dragon Quest IX is going to be a huge, huge, HUGE game. If you thought Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was big, then Dragon Quest IX is going to be gigantic. To illustrate just how big people think this game is going to be, one Photoshopper even whipped up the following little gem:

While the above is believed to be fake, I think the creator was on to something...

Now, imagine this was true: Imagine Dragon Quest IX really was so big it required two game cards, and Nintendo created the dual-slot DSi as a way to accommodate this game and any others too big to fit on one card. But then a problem arose: The dual slot DSi was too big. Nintendo wanted it smaller. So they cut out one of the slots in the interest of appearance, and told Square-Enix they'd have to figure out another way to do things. Thus dual slot DSi had come to an end, and Square-Enix's problems had just begun.

Could the canceled dual slot DSi be behind the Dragon Quest IX delay?

When we get to this point, though, I have two different theories. First is the one I think is more likely to be true:

Nintendo didn't just drop the slot and tell Square-Enix to fend for itself, though; They had an idea that just might help. They added to the DSi the technology to allow game cards to be removed and inserted without turning off the console. A solution was found: Just swap out the first game card for the second at the end of the first half, travelling back to the days of the multi-disc Playstation games. Something didn't quite work out, though. Some sort of glitch arose, and Square-Enix needed more time to combat it. By then, though, the DSi was already released in Japan, and it was too late to switch back to the old design. So now Square-Enix is stuck working out this problem with a one-slot DSi, and we have to wait even longer for the epic-length Dragon Quest IX.

And now for the other theory, which I think has a slightly lower chance of being the real situation:

Looking at the DSi and trying to figure out a solution to the problem, Square-Enix noted the SD card slot. Why not have part of the game in the game card, and part of it in the SD card? Inside the retail package would be a standard DS game card (Containing some of the game data) and an SD card (Containing the rest of the data and some spare rewritable space so as to not remove all other SD card functionality when the game is being played). This was a new and vastly different technique, though, and as is the case with just about every new and innovative technology, something went wrong, and the game had to be delayed to fix it.

One slightly different ending to either theory is that adapting to the new technology just ended up taking longer than they thought, and development ran past its original deadline. Also, you've probably noticed that, with either theory, the game has become exclusive to the DSi. Could Dragon Quest IX end up being released in two formats? Maybe the DS/DS Lite version would feature all the extra data on a Game Boy Advance cartridge, and the DSi version would use one of my above ideas? I suppose we'll just never know until it actually comes out, will we?

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Poll #83: "What do you think of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks?" results, banner

"I can't wait to play it!" 11 votes (36%)
"It looks fun" 11 votes (36%)
"I'll need to see more before I decide" 5 votes (16%)
"Doesn't look too hot" 0 votes (0%)
"Oh god, it looks terrible!" 2 votes (6%)
"Wait, new Zelda? WHAT?" 1 votes (3%)

I must say I'm amazed at these results. I was so sure it would be more of an even split between approval and hate for Spirit Tracks, but the results came out overwhelmingly positive! Maybe the naysayers are just that much louder than those who approve?

As for this week's banner, well, it goes without saying that it'd be DSi-themed. As of yesterday the system finished launching in all major markets, so it's pretty much the first thing on most Nintendo gamers' minds by default. For anyone wondering, that's an incredibly scrambled picture of one of my cats serving as the background image. That DSi Camera can be quite the fun little application!

And this week's poll question is "The DSi is now out in all major markets! Do you have one yet?" From the above banner, I suppose you can guess my answer to the question!

There should be a little article up later tonight, with a more substantial one tomorrow sometime. And yes, they're both DSi-related. How did you know?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

PETA sues Nintendo over Star Fox game; Cites cruelty to animals

One Duck's Opinion is now affiliated with PETA, meaning the upcoming change of blog name to "The Opinions of a Duck Who Is an Upstanding Member of His Community" (TOoaDWIaUMoHC). With this partnership also comes exclusive news stories straight from PETA whenever video games are involved. Following is the first article from this new and exciting partnership.

Redmond Washington (ODO) - The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have filed a lawsuit against Nintendo Co., Ltd., alleging that the video game series "Star Fox" endorses cruelty to animals. "It's sick, I tell you! SICK!" exclaimed PETA grand-poobah Waterfall Sunrise "These poor, digital animals are forced into cramped, digital cockpits and forced to engage in space combat against other poor, digital animals who have also been forced into cramped, digital cockpits! Oh, the pure, digital horror!"

When approached for a comment, Nintendo of America president Reginald Fils-Aime had this to say: "Are you ****ing kidding me?".

This is only the first of many charges PETA has pending against Nintendo, with dozens of others waiting to be filed. "They've been doing this for over twenty years now.", continued Sunrise "First that poor, digital ape is felled from the top of the construction site by that cold-hearted carpenter, and then dozens of innocent, digital turtles and many other poor, fictitious, digital creatures are ruthlessly murdered as they emerge from pipes in the very next game they release. And now, all these years later, the cruelty continues in games like Animal Crossing, forcing poor, digital animals to pay off hefty loans to another poor, digital animal! This can't go on any longer!"

When approached for a comment, Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto had this to say: "私は冗談****ですか?" ("Are you ****ing kidding me?").

"And they're not done yet, either!", continued the never-silent Sunrise. "I've received word from a very reliable source that lists many, many more offensive games coming in the near future! Look at these pending names... 'Love and Cuddle a Kitten', 'Do Absolutely Nothing Wrong to a Puppy', 'Have Fun and Frolic with a Pony', it just keeps going on with the sick, disturbing, animal hating games! This ends now, Nintendo!"

When approached for a comment, Nintendo Co., Ltd. president Satoru Iwata flipped off the reporter and drove off on a motorbike while breaking the necks of rabbits.

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