Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 2009 Golden Duck Awards

Just in case you forgot (Or completely missed) last year's Golden Duck Awards, here's a link to refresh (Or supplement) your memory.

Welcome, one and all, to the 2009 Golden Duck Awards! We don't have any special guests or musical performances... We don't really have much, actually. What we do have, though, are 11 all-new awards given to 11 different games in 11 different (And completely irrelevant) categories. Why 11? Because I like to go one step beyond. Now then, for this year's 2009 Golden Duck Awards!

Best Reason to Load Up on Target-Brand Ibuprofen
"I know one thing... I'm grabbin' pills."

There are many reasons to reach for a bottle of ibuprofen. Headaches, joint pains, zombie claw marks, the list goes on. Well, that last one appears to be exclusive to the Target-branded variety of the drug, at least according to Left 4 Dead 2. Also listed under the added effects exclusive to this brand: Blood stain removal, bone mending and temporary improvement of vital signs, all in an attractive bullet-proof bottle with a zombie-safe cap. Now if only they could increase the concentration. It sure is inconvenient that it takes a whole bottle for any effect to occur. Must be excellent for sales, though.

I think I'll forgive the drug's fictional shortcomings, though. It's not exactly the most pressing issue in the world of Left 4 Dead 2, with hundreds of thousands of zombies pouring out of every door, hallway and sewer. Luckily players have a few good friends on their side, fighting back against the hordes with over a dozen different weapons, including chainsaws, shotguns, assault rifles, katanas, sniper rifles, and Molotov cocktails. With five ever-changing campaigns and some of the finest enemy AI ever crafted, Left 4 Dead 2 is one hell of a zombie-killing good time. Just remember to pack your Target-brand ibuprofen, folks. It's going to be a rough trip.

Best Game With a Robotic Turtle Speed Demon on the Box
"Herf Hoorf this isn't an actual award!"

There have been many great vehicles in the history of gaming. From go-karts to jalopies, hovercrafts to biplanes, there's no shortage of vehicles in which to tear up the track, dirt, skies or sea with. It was beginning to seem as if the possibilities had been all but exhausted... Until the debut of the greatest vehicle of them all, the robotic turtle speed demon, which shall henceforth be referred to as the Tortimer Mk. II. Featuring four wheels, a grappling arm, a sandwich bar and optional passenger-side tambourine, the Tortimer Mk. II has everything you could possibly want in a vehicle... Except perhaps for seating. That may be an issue. Good thing it appears to be remote-controlled, allowing drivers to experience the action from the comfort (And safety) of their living rooms.

We should be glad that Excitebots is merely a video game, for there is no pause button in real life. You see, unlike most racers, Excitebots must occasionally be paused for the purpose of laughing at how uproariously absurd it is. Blazing down the road at over a hundred miles an hour, users will spin up poles, catapult themselves into the air, and assemble sandwiches in ways man never thought possible. Taking the tried-and-true formula of Excite Truck and cranking every aspect to 11 turned Excitebots into what is undoubtedly one of the year's craziest, strangest, and all-out best racers. All thanks in no small part to the Tortimer Mk. II. Godspeed, you magnificent robotic turtle speed demon.

Most Entertaining Method of Punching the Pineapples Out of Someone
"Are you ready? 'Cause I'm gonna put on a show."

There seem to be as many "*Blank* the *Blank* out of someone" phrases as there are people. My personal favourite, however, would have to be "Beat the pineapples out of someone". It's very difficult to do in real life (Especially living so far from pineapple-growing conditions), making me very thankful for the man(?) known as King Hippo. With a seemingly never-ending supply of fresh tropical pineapples stored in his cranium, King Hippo is like a pineapple-lover's dream come true. Me? Oh, no, I don't like to eat pineapples. Just beating them out of people.

Pineapples are but one of the many different things that can be coaxed out of people's heads in Punch-Out!!. Croissants, feathers, fish, birds, roses and much more are all contained within the skulls of opponents in Punch-Out!!, and it takes but a single uppercut to enjoy them. It's getting to that uppercut that's the hard part. Less like a fighting game and more like a puzzler, Punch-Out!!'s fights center around fast reactions and a keen eye. Each opponent has his own strengths, weaknesses and hints. Strike at the wrong time and get showered in a barrage of counter-punches, but strike at the right time and you're rewarded with a cascade of pineapples. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is!

Best Game Based on Wildlife Loose in Downtown Toronto
"A wild doe has invaded downtown Toronto and is terrorizing people!"

It was a quiet, ordinary day in downtown Toronto, when suddenly, chaos struck! Chaos in the form of... A harmless doe. A deer. A female deer. It was perhaps the city's strangest news story of the year (Tied, perhaps, with the mayor's ineptitude at ending a garbage strike. It's a long story. A long, painful story.). So what is the internet to do? Make a Flash game based on it, of course!

DEERTASE is a classically-styled RPG encapsulating the thrilling life-or-death battle faced that day. A fight of man against deer, technology against nature, human against... not-human. With naught but the standard-issue Toronto police officer equipment available, you must somehow overcome the serious, city-threatening menace that is a doe. Can you possibly succeed? And if you do emerge victorious, another challenge awaits... DEERTASE is a thrilling new saga of Flash-based entertainment, just begging to be experienced by all. Are you a bad enough dude to save the city?

Best Glorification of a Boring Factory Job
"[BOX]Life is like a box of chocolates"

I've never worked in a factory, but I imagine it's not all that fun. A week of 9-to-5 shifts of the same exact thing over and over and over. One of the most mundane of these jobs would have to be manual box assembly. Just thinking about the endless hours of folding makes me drowsy. Now, if perhaps there were some sort of challenge involved. Say, an infinitely-long sheet of paper with a grid pattern printed on it, which could be cut, folded and turned into boxes like some sort of puzzle game. If only there were such a game... something I highly doubt anyone ever thought in the history of mankind. That didn't stop the fine folks at Skip Ltd. from making that very game, though, and they called it BOXLIFE. With gameplay consisting of everything I said above and nothing more, BOXLIFE is not exactly a complex game. What it is, though, is incredibly fun, and inexplicably addictive. I don't know what it is, but somewhere in this insanely skimpy design is a golden nugget of infinite replayability. Come to think of it, I don't even care what it is. All I know is that this is the best 500 points I've spent on DSiWare so far.

Best Adventure Within the Bowels of a Gigantic Turtle

One of the oldest standbys of cartoons is the classic "inside the body" episode. It always begins with some cheesy method of the characters shrinking down and entering the body of another character, where they have a whole bunch of wacky adventures or learn biology or some crap like that. Whatever the case, it's tired and overdone, with every cartoon from The Magic School Bus to Spongebob Squarepants having done it. Trust Nintendo to look at this tired old story and make the one game we've all secretly desired our entire lives: A game primarily staged within the body of Bowser himself. Truly it is the game to end all games.

Joking aside, Bowser's Inside Story really is a fantastic platformer/RPG hybrid, featuring the greatest parts of the two genres of which it is composed. Classic Nintendo platforming perfected over the last two decades years and the vast and exciting world of role-playing games come together to create the greatest Mario & Luigi series game so far. The writing, battles, storyline and animation are better than ever before, which, compared to the amazing quality of the franchise up to this point, is saying quite a lot. Not only that, but the main boss of the game is probably the best one out of all bosses I've fought this year, whether or not he is, indeed, "beefless".

Best (Hopefully) Fictional Portrayal of Life in 2077
"War. War never changes."

I like to think my later years will be ones of peace, sitting on some lakeside dock and watching the boats go by. I don't like to think of them taking place in times of war, with military jets flying by, troops patrolling the streets, and warships flooding the waters. Thankfully at least one possible timeline leading to this situation is an impossibility, with events causing it having never taken place. For those of us interested in such a timeline, though, there exists the Fallout series. This alteration of history sees 2077 being a time or great strife for the world, with one of the main conflicts centered upon China's invasion of Anchorage, Alaska. This (hopefully) fictional war serves as the premise for Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage.

Upon the discovery of a virtual reality device in the post-war ruins of Washington D.C. (Do keep in mind that this is merely a fictional situation), the group that made the discovery searches long and hard for a person equipped to tackle the brutal game-within-a-game. This person, of course, if the player. What kind of game would it be if it wasn't? The simulation is no mere virtual reality adventure, though, with death having real-world consequences. That's right, folks; "If you die in the game, YOU DIE FOR REAL!". This program is a recreation of the war at Anchorage, and only by fighting their way through this historically-significant battle can the player escape it. Operation: Anchorage is a nice twist on the usual Fallout 3 formula, and it certainly helps add more to the already huge overarching storyline of the franchise. Let's just hope this particular story remains in fiction.

Best Use of Fireworks

Fireworks are always one of the best parts of any major celebration. The bright lights, the vibrant colours, and of course, the loud crack of the explosions. It's bright, pretty and ear-splittingly loud. There's something in it for everybody... Well, except for the shoot 'em up fans, that is. Fireworks are nice, but they lack the action and excitement of games like Xevious, Nanostray and Gradius. And while games like Xevious, Nanostray and Gradius are nice, they lack the Summertime thrills of fireworks. Fireworks are just begging to be put into a shoot 'em up. Begging I say!

Well, the Roman candles need beg no longer, thanks to a little game known as Big Bang Mini. It's the same basic shoot 'em up we've all been playing for years, but with an explosive twist. Forget about rockets and missiles and Photon torpedoes. Nah, the real firepower's in a firecracker. It's all the greatness of classic shoot 'em ups with the wonders of fireworks. Seriously, what more could you want?

Best Game Featuring a Rooster Hat in a Leading Role
"Buck buck bu-gawk!"

Hats are only recently getting the attention they so dearly deserve. Mario's been wearing a hat since day one, but nobody truly appreciates it. Valve noticed the lack of love for hats, and added them to Team Fortress 2 earlier this year. While it was a good step, there just wasn't a rooster hat. They were on the right track with the Pyro's Respectless Rubber Glove, but they stopped just short of paying respect to the hat that deserves it most. It wasn't until Scribblenauts debuted two months later that the rooster hat finally got its break-out role. Simple, elegant, presumably floppy. Clearly it is the hat of the gods!

Also of the gods is the core concept of Scribblenauts. The game's tagline is "Write Anything, Solve Everything", and it just about delivers on both accounts. Not everything can be written (What, no Dromiceiomimus? Well, crap, there goes my Dinosaur Comics reunion!), and some puzzles are so punishingly hard they may as well be impossible, but the game does, in general, pull off what it was advertised to do... If the crummy controls don't result in that marvelous rooster hat plummeting off a cliff. So sure, it's not a perfect game, but dammit, it finally gives the lord of all hats the exposure it deserves!

Best Head-On Collisions
"Vroom vroom, quack quack"

People love car crashes. It's some sort of morbid fascination built into the human mind that, whenever there's a car accident, we just have to go look at it. Just yesterday I saw a white car halfway through the front wall of a dental office while I was riding the bus, and everyone else turned to look. There's just something within a human that makes them need to see these things. What could be better than seeing a car wreck? How about playing a video game where one of the main objectives is to create them? That's exactly what some developers thought years ago, and lo, the Burnout franchise was born.

2008 brought us Burnout Paradise and a few expansions, with 2009 bringing all of those goodies wrapped up in one nice little package. The best package. The Ultimate Box, you could call it. It's all the car-wrecking goodness wrapped up in one convenient disc! With an extensive online mode, a huge virtual city to drive in and more cars than any dealership I've seen, there's no end to the various ways, places and vehicles in which you can get your crunch on. Pack your roll cages and fasten your seatbelts, folks. It's going to be bumpy ride.

Most Wanton Wontons
"Hello, City Wok, may I take your order please?"

Next time you order Chinese food from your local Chinese restaurant, look that delivery man a little closer in the eye. Look out for anything suspicious, because you never know. You local Wok On The Wild Side could very well be a front for the mafia. If that turns out to be the case, what will you do? You could call the police, notify the FBI or, if it comes to it... Order pizza instead. It's a last resort, but sometimes it just has to be done!

In Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, the situation above is a reality, but it's okay, because you're on the side with the guns and explosions! Far better than the cold chicken balls and lumpy fried rice, believe me. Chinatown Wars brings the winning Grand Theft Auto formula to the DS for the first time ever, meshing together the gigantic world of Grand Theft Auto IV with the birds-eye view perspective of the original game. It's truly amazing how much they managed to squeeze onto that little game card, and it's a huge shame that so few people got to enjoy it. Come on, people! There's a mission where you play as one of those big Chinese dragons you see in parades. If that's not worth the $20 sticker price, nothing is!

And so ends this year's 11 all-new Golden Duck Awards... But wait, there's more! Notice I said there were 11 new categories... I never said there couldn't be an oldie coming back for one more go! And so, without further delay...

Best Way to Beat the Crap Out of Your Friends Without Getting the Police Involved
"Let's-a go!"

Super Smash Bros. Brawl now hands the legal assault-granting torch to this year's Nintendo masterpiece, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Four-player Mario platforming... Even someone completely unfamiliar with the game should know what kind of chaos such a concept can bring. Oh, the satisfaction of tossing your whiny sibling into a never ending pit. The joys of leaving that annoying family friend to die in the fires of Bowser's castle. And the best part is that it's perfectly legal! If this isn't the best Wii game of the year, nothing is!

...well, I suppose I can't say that just yet. I'll admit, I've only played the first couple worlds of this game, but what I did play was fantastic... And frantic. I still can't decide if it was a good idea for my initial exposure to this game to be in four-person multiplayer. Whatever the case, it was a complete blast, and I'm very much hoping to find it beneath the Christmas tree tomorrow. And if I don't... IF I DON'T GET THIS GAME FOR CHRISTMAS I'LL... I'LL... Eh, I guess I'll play something else.

So ends this year's Golden Duck Awards... For real this time. Another 12 useless, meaningless, overly-specific trophies have been handed out to another 12 more-than-worthy games. That makes 20 total Golden Duck Award recipients. Quite the exclusive group, don't you think? Not a very prestigious group, but certainly exclusive. Do you have any random, pointless awards to bestow upon 2009's finest games? Feel free to have your own merry little awards ceremony in the comment section, or in this forum thread.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A bit of news *UPDATE*

The Golden Duck Awards may be a little late this year due to unforeseen delays arising from holiday preparations and the like. The article is currently a little more than half-written, and due to go up tomorrow night. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, but I am going to be very busy tomorrow, and I'm unsure if I'll be able to finish them on time. I will, of course, do my best to do so, but I cannot promise anything.

I'd also like to apologize for the lack of updates so far this month. As I said (And you are no doubt aware of), the holidays are approaching, as well as all the associated work and anticipation associated with them. On the bright side, in addition to this year's Golden Duck Awards, another article is on the way, and should be out by the end of the year.

That being said, it's time for me to get some sleep. I must be off in the morning, and I'd like to be rested for tomorrow's trip. Heck, I'll probably end up sleeping on the subway anyways. Anyways, goodnight, folks. I hope to see y'all later tomorrow.

*UPDATE*: I'm so sorry, but I am just too tired out from the trip to finish the Golden Duck Awards tonight. I'll probably have an hour or so of free time available tomorrow, and I'll do my best to finish things up within that time. Again, I apologize, but continuing to write while barely being able to keep my eyes open just wouldn't make for a very good article, would it? It's generally a better idea to be conscious while writing, I find.

Friday, December 4, 2009

By This Time Next Year: Volume 3

This is but the first of two annual traditions taking place this month. Tune in on the 23rd for the second annual Golden Duck Awards!

Beginning in November 2007 and continued in December 2008, "By This Time Next Year" (Now properly capitalized!) comes back for its third iteration, with past predictions reviewed and a whole new set crafted for the upcoming year. First up, as usual, revisiting those predictions made on December 3rd, 2009!

" least one more console will be added to the North American Virtual Console" = Correct!

Released the same day it was announced, Virtual Console Arcade was added during the 2009 Game Developer's Conference this March, bringing classic arcade games to the living room, bedroom, or wherever the heck you stuck that console!

...Star Fox Wii will have been announced for an early 2010 release (I'm not giving up on this!) = WRONG

I've been posting this one for two years now, and it still hasn't happened. Eh, I give up... Which, of course, means it will now happen.

...the true successor to the DS line of handhelds will have been announced = WRONG

You know, I'm honestly not sure what I was thinking here. It was preposterous to imagine Nintendo doing such a thing. The system's still flying off the shelf like mad, and it would be stupid to stem sales by pushing out a successor. They did release the DSi XL, though, which makes my prediction slightly less inaccurate... Slighty.

...Nintendo still won't have released a true solution to the Wii storage problem = WRONG

This one requires a little backstory for anyone either new to the site or prioritized enough to not bother remembering the ramblings of a random internet weirdo. At the time the previous edition of "By This Time Next Year" was written, Nintendo had announced a solution to the Wii's greatly-limited storage space, but the wording was so cryptic that it sounded as if it solved no problems at all. In reality, though, it appears to have been lost in translation, as the solution did indeed arrive in March 2009 (Same day as Virtual Console Arcade), and it sure did deliver. In short: I misinterpreted a cryptic Japanese press release and made an ass of myself. Next!

...Wii sales will surpass 60 million worldwide = WRONG

Oh, but I was so close! The Wii didn't quite reach that landmark, stopping just short of the predicted number with... Oh, this is painful... 58.37 million, according to (Which I find to be quite accurate, thank you very much). Now this is just crazy. Well... I was close!

...the combined sales of the Nintendo DS, DS Lite and DSi will overtake the Playstation 2's record sales of 140 million+ = WRONG, however, I was slightly less accurate. The DS, DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL (Man there's a lot of them!) came up 23.53 million short at 116.47 million. My predictions aren't faring so well this year, are they?

...Mother 3 will still be landlocked in Japan, without any sort of announcements made for a release outside of its homeland = Correct!

Okay, I admit, this was a bit of a "Well, duh!" prediction, following in the painfully-obvious footsteps of 2007's prediction of "Duke Nukem Forever will remain unreleased." Sadly, Professor Obvious couldn't be here today to cover this prediction, as he's having a stick of chalk removed from... Uh, on second thought, you don't want to know. least two more Pokémon games will have been released (Main series and/or spin-offs) = Correct!

In fact, four have been released since then (Seven if you count the slightly different versions some games were released in)! Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon (WiiWare), and Pokémon Rumble have all seen release since this prediction was made. Oh, that Nintendo and its Pokémon!


And this year's overall prediction accuracy is... Five wrong, three correct. Heck, that's almost the exact opposite of last year's results! Well, perhaps these new predictions will fare better:

...Pikmin 3 will have been formally announced
...Half-Life 2: Episode 3 will have gone another year without any sort of official announcement
...a long-standing, long-since-forgotten Nintendo franchise will make its triumphant return
...Project Natal will have been delayed until 2011
...people will still be erroneously calling the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 "next-generation"
...Mario Party 9 will have been released
...Zelda Wii will have been confirmed for a Summer 2011 release
...yet another same-as-before Call of Duty game will have been released, and people will still be yet to tire of it
...a brand-new Nintendo IP will have been announced
...SEGA will once again bring shame to the Sonic brand

And thus ends the list of predictions for the year of 2010. Hmm... Ten predictions, tenth year of the century... COINCIDENCE?!

...okay, yeah, it's a coincidence. Neat, though. Well then, what do you think of my predictions? Good? Bad? HORRENDOUS? Let your opinion be heard (And maybe even make a few predictions of your own) in the comment section, or in this forum thread.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A look at in-game advertising

It used to be that an ad on television would be seen by nearly everyone in a household, but with the emerging popularity of video games, less people are seeing these commercials. Advertisers need to reach their target audience in new ways, and one of these ways is via in-game advertising. By cleverly inserting products and logos into the in-game world, companies can reach a whole new demographic, perhaps even subconsciously. Of course, that is if it's done properly...

As with product placement in television and movies, if done well, I actually like it. It adds more authenticity to the world. I'd rather see a can of Coca-Cola on-screen than a can of "Crazy Cola". There's also brand-name parody (Nuka Cola in the Fallout series, for example), but that's a different story. The point is, if done properly, product placement can increase the believability of a fictional world. If done improperly, though, it just gets annoying.

Two games in my collection stand out most when I think of in-game advertising: Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Far Cry 2. I love both of these games, but I can't deny that the product placement within is a little ridiculous. To start we'll take a look at Most Wanted, which is, in my opinion, the best game so far in the Need for Speed Series.

Infamous among players of Need for Speed: Underground 2 was the Burger King. There was only one, but you were forced to drive by it repeatedly. Just about every race in that part of the city had a stretch of track driving by it, force-fed advertising made even worse if the race had multiple laps. I was relieved to read in an EGM that we could expect "way fewer Burger Kings" in Most Wanted, and I couldn't wait to go out and-

...uh, as I was saying, I cou-


...well, they said we could "expect" fewer Burger Kings... We can also expect to win the lottery. Now, to the game's credit, it's not as if Burger King is dominating the city. There are other products and services advertised in-game (Axe body spray, AutoZone, Cingular, and a few other brands), keeping things somewhat in balance. Burger King does seem to be a little more visible than the other brands, but perhaps I just notice it more due to past experience with Underground 2.

In the end, I suppose it isn't too unrealistic. Companies advertise, stores are built, and products are visible, all in places where they should be. Nothing is pushed in your face, and it feels fairly organic. Of course, there's more brand variety in real life, but Electronic Arts couldn't very well get rights to every product on Earth. I'd say Most Wanted is a moderately-good example of how product placement should be implemented in a game. A bit more subtlety and it'd be perfect.

Next up is Far Cry 2, and this time around the brand in question is Jeep. Randomly spawned along with many other generic-looking trucks and cars are two Jeep vehicles: The Liberty and the Wrangler.

I first saw the Wrangler about two or three hours into the game, and I thought it was pretty neat. Eventually, as a bit of a personal joke, I took to driving the Wrangler exclusively, only driving a different model of car between one Wrangler breaking down and finding another (Yeah, I'm a little weird). It's inclusion made sense to me. It's a rugged vehicle, well-suited to the rough terrain of the nameless African country in which the game takes place. Its abundance was a little questionable, considering the country is also ear-deep in a civil war with little or no planes (And thus, car shipments) landing on local soil. Maybe there's a factory hidden somewhere, and I haven't just found it yet. Probably tucked behind a zebra or something.

As for the Jeep Liberty, it's somewhat more scarce... In the first act of the game. Get into that second act and the associated new world map, though, and the place is freaking CRAWLING with them. One town has a Liberty on practically every corner, and every last one is in near-mint condition. The Liberty is also a more expensive and fancy vehicle than the Wrangler, and I doubt the warring factions care much about how plush the seats are when there's bullets and rocket-propelled grenades whizzing by. It doesn't really seem to fit.

Hey man, did you know this Jeep has a 3.8L V6 engine? Yeah, me either.

Remember towards the beginning of the article when I said that, if done properly, product placement could contribute to the realism of the fictional universe? This isn't an example of this. The Jeeps barely make any sense at all in this setting, and makes a big rift in the believability for me. What are the odds that mint-condition, current-model Jeeps would be so prevalent in a war-torn African country with naught but the most flimsy connections to the outside world? It just doesn't fit at all.

It's kind of funny, really. Ubisoft Montreal worked so hard to craft an incredibly realistic world. They succeeded in many ways, with realistic fire-spreading technology, destructible plant life, weapon degradation and truly impressive graphics. Then along came a sponsor... Yes, I understand, bills need to be paid, and sponsorship can help ease production costs, I just find it funny that they put all this effort into realism, then dump a cargo ship full of brand-new Jeeps into a poor, war-ravaged African country of no title. It also doesn't help that all the enemies are about as smart as a flat tire, but that's another article altogether.

I consider Far Cry 2 to be a poor example of effective and believable product placement. The Jeeps are entirely out of place, and ridiculously common in the second part of the game. Perhaps if they were a little rarer and banged-up it would feel more real, but hey, I don't know what kind of exposure Jeep paid for. In fact, I'm just helping further advertise the product by writing this article. You win this round, Jeep!

With developers focusing more and more on realism these days, it's disappointing to see such poor or non-existent examples of product placement in video games. If a game is to be truly realistic, real products must be present in believable locations and quantities. Without this, games will never truly achieve realism in my eyes. You can have your photo-realistic graphics and destructible environments, but the second that flawlessly-animated background character reaches for a Crazy Cola the whole things comes crashing down.

EDIT: Thanks to Kalava for reminding me of Pikmin 2's product placement, a perfect example of how to do in-game advertising right. The game takes place on Earth, and there are Earth brands in places they belong. Tonnes of them, in fact. Duracell, Carmex, 7UP, Vlasic, Skippy, Snapple, Nintendo and more are inserted into the game world. Some may have sales pitch-like names, such as "Quenching Emblem", but that's the case for all the items found in Pikmin 2, as the eventual intention is to sell them on Olimar's home planet.

There really is nothing wrong to be found in Pikmin 2's implementation of product placement. It's perfectly believable, and done in a way that isn't blatantly screaming "BUY THIS PRODUCT". There's also the likely-unintended humour factor that comes from seeing such things in a Nintendo game. No matter how hard I try, I just can't keep from cracking a smile every time my Pikmin dig up something with a real-world logo on it. It's just so out of the ordinary that it becomes funny somehow.

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