OK, the original Star Tropics has been on the Wii’s Virtual Console for a while, but today you can get the sequel to complete the set. If you never had the chance as a kid to check out this (for its time) amazing action-adventure title about a boy and his yo-yo, deeew eeet.
It Was Nearly Two Years Ago Today . . . November 18, 2008
That the Weiner Daddy and I slept outside on the sidewalk outside a Las Vegas Target for a Wii. Two years later, you still can’t get one easily, and that’s a damn shame to all of us who have enjoyed the five or six fine games for it.
This is also the PS3’s 2nd birthday. We didn’t stand out for that one, though – we just capitulated when Sony threatened to take away our Emotion Engine and make our PS2 library obsolete. It’s a damn fine Blu-Ray player, that system.
Not to be left out, the XBox 360 celebrates its third birthday next week.
Happy Birthday, hardware!
Mega Man 9 DLC is Go! October 7, 2008
Not content to merely talk about downloadable content, Capcom this week released not one but two DLC packs this week for the well-received Mega Man 9. The first is an endless level, which is sort of a brutal Mega Man Le Mans sort of trial. Go and go and go until you inevitably die. The second is playable Proto Man! This MM upgrade gives you a slide, a charged shot, and a forcefield, but doubles damage taken and knockback distance when hit.
The Wii folk are enjoying this already. 360 people can get it Wednesday. Poor PS3 users have to wait until Wednesday. But hey, at least its definite!
Review: Mega Man 9 September 29, 2008
Ow, my most of me.
Welcome back, Blue Bomber. Forget Mega Man X, Mega Man Tutu Adventures, Rush eXtREME, and the rest. Mega Man 9 is the real deal. 8-bit graphics, delightfully tinny rock music, and punishing gameplay. Authentic flicker options complete the thing, making Mega Man 9 a worthy and true sequel.
For those of you who weren’t around or paying attention in “the old days”, Mega Man is a little blue robot designed by the wonderful Dr. Light. He starts out by shooting little power pellets at his enemies as he leaps and bounds through painfully difficult platforming levels. At the end of each level is another robot, this one designed by the Evil Dr. Wily. When Mega Man defeats these evil robots, he acquires their sweet, sweet power. There’s a dog, too. Rush, Mega Man’s canine companion starts with the ability to spring you to new heights, but can gain the abilities to race you across spikes and more.
Mega Man has always been part shooter, part platformer, and part puzzler, and MM9 is no exception.There is a “best” way to make it through the game in that some powers are designed to make traversing other levels much easier. I won’t give away too much here, but isn’t Galaxy Man’s board shiny?
All of this is not to say that there is nothing new under the pixellated sun. This time around, Mega Man can collect screws that he can trade to his buddies Auto and Roll for power ups, including Shock Guards and Beat Calls, which will allow you to avoid one spiky death and and pitfall per purchase. There are also a number of challenges, ala XBox Achievements, such as “Complete the game in 90 minutes” and “Don’t miss with the Mega Buster and finish the game”. Yes, its layering brutality on top of brutality, but isn’t it fun?
In general, MM9 lets you party like its 1989 for only 1000 Wii Points and all the hair you can yank out of your skull while playing. If you have any left, that is. Apparently I’m old, because when I started playing MM9 in front of some of my late 80s baby friends, they began to giggle and squeal that the graphics were so blocky and the music was so annoying, and why did I keep dying? After I threw them out of my house, I continued to enjoy myself, and decided to give Mega Man 9 four weiners out of five.
Review: Alone In The Dark September 25, 2008
The day has come, Weiner fans. This is my first 1 Weiner out of 5. I tell you up front because I believe in fair warning, accuracy and succinctness, concepts with which the developers of Alone in the Dark are obviously unfamiliar.
The original Alone in the Dark series is the scary godmother of the survival horror genre. These PC-based thrillers drew on such diverse source material as H.P. Lovecraft, H.R. Giger, and the voodoun tradition. The original games starred Edward Carnby, a private investigator with a habit of treading into darker paths than he would like due to his passing sensitivity to the parnormal. The original Carnby is a fairly unassuming detective – a bit of the “everyman” with just enough skill and verve to live to spy another day. The original games had everything a gamer could want from survival horror – good stories, decent visuals, okay voice acting, and enough terror to make you want a night light for a while.
In 2005, Uwe Boll released another one of his cinematic abortions, this one based on Alone in the Dark. The movie starred Christian Slater as an overwrought Carnby who was experimented on as a child, giving him the power to see paranormal phenomena. (Shockingly, Boll had to replace Slater with Korean-American actor Rick Yune for the upcoming sequel, because Slater “declined” to return.). Most of the plot points in the film directly contradict the game, and the entire thing is a vomitous heap of bad acting and terrible visual effects.
So, which version of AITD did Atari choose to emulate when they decided to revive the series? You guessed it – Uwe’s baby. Today’s Edward Carnby is a grunting whiner who believes that fire is the answer to everything. The “immersive” Central Park setting is a repetitive grove of dark (and flammable) trees. Yes, you can pick up and interact with almost anything (when the nice buttons announce you can), but the limited “hey, wanna buy a watch” jacket inventory system and the fact that every single thing in the game appears to be completely incendiary makes the whole thing a moot point.
Visually, AITD is a dud. I played the PS3 version of the game, and it looks passably grim. Light help you if you attempt to play the PS2 or Wii versions. Even on the PS3, the cutscenes look like they were rendered by first-year students working on Grape iMacs, and the in-game character modeling has two settings: “brooding” and “undead”.
The controls do not improve the situation. AITD handles like Resident Evil 1’s mentally challenged younger brother. It’s a shame, too, because every time you die you are kicked back quite a ways, and have to relive each cutscene or listen to the exact same ambient noise or dialogue as you burn your way to the next checkpoint. And burn you will, because fire is the answer to everything and if you try to take the time to cobble together some items to find a new way of dealing with a situation, you will be killed thanks to Atari’s “innovative real time action”.
I found myself wishing that Atari had taken a page from BioWare and allowed for pauses to experiment with the inventory. That would have gone a long way toward making this a playable game. As it stands, after five tries, I don’t care if you’re trapped in the elevator ma’am, I just want you to shut your mouth. Permanently.
In the end, AITD’s developers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of very possible victory. They had a strong series of games to use as source material, and adequate time and processing power to make something awesome happen. Instead, they took the road less traveled (at least by cinemagoers) and followed Uwe Boll down the road to damnation.
For being a terrible remake of an excellent series due to shoddy controls, adequate visuals, and the waste of what could have been an excellent inventory and interaction system, Alone in the Dark “earns” 1 Weiner out of 5.
Strong Bad Episode 2 out this week September 15, 2008
Viva la Wii! As per Kotaku, Episode 2 of Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People: Strong Badia the Free can be yours this week for a mere 1,000 Wii points. Play Strong Bad as he protects the King of Town’s tax on e-mail. Check out new Videlectrix titles like “Math Kickers Featuring the Algebros” and create more of your own Teen Girl Squad!
Also on the VC this week is a game called Potpourri. I don’t know much about it other than its a puzzle game and it features GNOMES! (It says leprechauns but look at them – those are SO gnomes.) I am so there.
Oh, yeah, and some little game called Mega Man 2 is also coming to the Virtual Console this week. As if.