3D Zelda game marathon run!

OB_IMG Wind Waker LinkA group of, let’s face it, insane Zelda fans at cameronbanga.com have decided to play straight through Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess in the span of 48 hours! Go check out the live video feed! They’re also reading email during the event, so send them a message to show them your support, and let ’em know who sent you! They’re also accepting money donations, and whatever they don’t spend on food is going toward Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity; if you’ve got any money to spend, Child’s Play is a great cause (I’ve talked about it in years past, they donate toys and video games to children in hospitals), and this is an awesome way to support a fine charity. But we can all agree that these guys are still a little crazy.

Crazy brilliant.

Please be aware that they sometimes say naughty things in the feed. I’m not gonna hold that against them, but you kids out there should tread lightly.

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Meteos character made out of twisty-ties

I’m not one to brag, but I consider myself to be something of an amazingly skilled artist (please note subtle sarcastic undertones). One day while bored at work (fixing computers doesn’t really tax the artistic muscles much), I noticed I had a large amount of twisty-ties at my disposal. Remembering that the characters in the excellent DS puzzle game Meteos were generally stick-figureish in design, I realized I could probably recreate one of them!

So I did! Press on to see the pic and revel in its artistic awesomeness!

Continue reading Meteos character made out of twisty-ties

Solid Kirby!

Yeah yeah, this is another post about the Smash Bros. Dojo updates. Screw it, this one had some quality imagery.

We’re probably fairly well-acquainted with Kirby’s ability to copy his opponent’s powers, so at first glance this update may have appeared to be nothing new. But wait! New characters means new powers to copy and, more importantly, new looks to Kirbify! My favorite had to be Kirby as Snake, but there’s plenty of fanboyin’ to go around. Check him out won’t you:

Kirby as Solid Snake Throwing Grenade

(courtesy of Smash Bros. Dojo; Go check out the rest of the Kirby hats!)

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How difficult is the ESRB rating system to figure out, anyway?

2007-12-04 - Preview ImageMediaWise has released the latest edition of its Video Game Report Card, keeping an eye on various trends in the video game-playing and -selling industry. The 26-page PDF seems to mostly read as I would expect (a lot of kids are playing M-rated games and have little difficulty purchasing them from most retail outlets, parents don’t play games with their kids, kids and parents argue about how much they should play). But the statistic that disturbed me the most had to do with parents’ knowledge of the ESRB rating system.

Or lack thereof.

In collaboration with Harris Interactive, MediaWise conducted a “national survey of parents and children to determine the role of video games in their lives.” This survey found, among other things, that 72% of parents “know little or nothing about the ratings system overall and many could not identify the meanings of specific ratings such as AO (Adults Only) and EC (Early Childhood).” It goes on to state that twice as many parents said they understood TV ratings as those which understood video game ratings (54% vs. 27%)!

This sad state of affairs has bothered me for some time, but I didn’t realize it was quite this bad. The survey brings up a few possible causes, such as a lack of effort on the part of retailers to educate their customers, but I honestly don’t understand what’s so impenetrable about the rating system that makes parents so clueless about the whole thing. Is it that the labels aren’t exactly the same as the MPAA rating system used for movies? I don’t have any hard numbers on it but people seem to be pretty well-versed in that department. It’s not like this information is difficult to come across either. A very quick Google search for “video game ratings” yielded a handy guide from the ESRB themselves! Here it is in its entirety:

ESRB Rating System Chart

And in case you think even this is too difficult to find, every game sold in every store has an ESRB rating and explanation printed on the back of the box. Sure, the ESRB system isn’t perfect. The difference in maturity between 17- and 18-year-olds is probably not well-defined enough to deserve two ratings, and yet we have M and AO. The addition of an E10+ adds unnecessary complexity. But these concepts boil down to a damn simple buying guide: if your kid is younger than the recommended minimum age, or if the game contains specific content you find objectionable, you don’t buy them the game. Yes, even if they really really really wanna beat up hookers with baseball bats because their friends have the game and why won’t you buy it for me if their moms and dads bought it for them you don’t really love me I hate you.

Ahem.

The sad fact of the matter is that I know parents that won’t let their kids see an R-rated movie, but they’ll let them play an M-rated game. I personally don’t believe a violent video game will beget a violent child, but if you think your child isn’t mature enough to watch The Godfather, then they’re not mature enough to play it either. Don’t feel too bad about it though, I heard that game wasn’t much to write home about.

(numbers and percent signs courtesy of 2007 MediaWise Video Game Report Card; it’s a good read, and there are even positive upbeat parts! A few)

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DDR workout update

I’ve been chatting about this off and on in the discussion thread for the previous entry, but I figured I’d give all y’all a more official update on my Dance Dance Revolution workout experiment. Since my initial post, I’ve transitioned over from Konamix to the GameCube’s Mario Mix. I seem to get a little extra kick out of dancing along to classic Mario tunes (though my favorite song in the game is the “Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka”-inspired “Always Smiling”), and the songs tend to skew a little easier than DDR games proper. It felt good to be able to ace the whole set of Hard mode songs and get a workout out of the deal too. I’ve reached a bit of a stopping point in terms of personal advancement; I got an ‘A’ in every song on Very Hard except for Bowser’s Castle (that green ‘B’ mocks me!), but the Super Hard songs seem to generally be beyond my ability to get above a ‘C’.

My initial goal was to burn at least 100 calories in a half-hour exercise session. I’m proud to say that I’ve improved well enough to obtain this goal well within the time frame (usually 7 or 8 songs can hit the mark, since I tend to stick to the World 4 songs, Very Hard, Mush Mode off), and often am not even breaking a sweat at the end! So today I decided to try and bump it up to 120 calories. If I can’t make it work in that timeframe, I’ll do my best to wake up a little earlier in the morning, but I’m very excited by what I see as a marked improvement in my workout times.

On top of that, I found out that I have access to a scale in my house! I don’t know how much of a good thing that is, but maybe it’ll give me a better indication of progress. We’ll see how that goes!

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Pokémon Snap Updated For Virtual Console!

Huh, can’t say I expected something like this (though I did kinda hope). According to IGN, the Japanese Virtual Console release of Pokémon Snap (a wonderful and underrated N64 game where you try to take the best possible photographs of Pokémon in the wild) will be updated to include the ability to send your photos to friends via the Wii Message Board! I absolutely loved this game back in the day, and would buy it up immediately, if the game ends up over here as well. I’m assuming it won’t offer some kind of magic Wii Remote pointer integration as well, but the analog stick worked just fine for its purpose. Even if you didn’t care for the original game, this is pretty exciting news! A Virtual Console game is getting a Wii overhaul! Dare I dream for eventual online multiplayer updates? I probably shouldn’t dare, but I do anyway. Just a little.

(courtesy of IGN)

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Charles "It'sa Me!" Martinet To Write Autobiography

Charles Martinet photo Charles Martinet, perhaps better known to most of you as the voice actor for Mario of Nintendo fame (I don’t think he provides my voice, I’ll have to look into that), has announced his intention to write an autobiography detailing his history working for Nintendo. I’m always intrigued to hear from various folks on their perspectives on the videogame industry, so there’s a good chance I’ll be picking this up when it’s available. Plus, come on. It’sa him, Mario!

I must say, however, that his perspective on the ever-present issue of violence in video games is…. well it’s not exactly troubling, but it’s not like he’s bringing anything new to the table:

Violence in videogames, if you can call it violence – you have to take it into perspective. I don’t think that people go out and steal cars because they play a car stealing game, any more than I think that someone is going to shoot somebody because they play a shooting game. You don’t do that because that a game.

I suppose if the only person he was arguing against was Jack Thompson, this might hold some water. But I don’t think any rational person decrying violence in video games (and yes, there are intelligent people making this argument intelligently and reasonably, as in people who aren’t Jack Thompson) is saying that performing X action in a game equates to X action in real life. I guess I’m getting a little off-base here, but I hope that the finished product ends up being a little more insightful and a little less “duuuuuuh, really?“. I’ve enjoyed the man’s work (even if he did do the voice of *shudder* Toadsworth), and I feel like his decade+ of experience in an industry I hold near and dear to my heart should make it an interesting read.

Now he’s just gotta write the thing.

Oh yeah, don’t watch the video on his seemingly-made-like-10-years-ago website. You’ll probably like him less.

(courtesy of ComputerAndVideoGames.com, by way of Nintendo Wii Fanboy)

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Like sunshine on a cloudy day

In my efforts to maybe start to become a grown-up a little, I’ve decided to start a regular workout routine. I’d love to be a little more physically fit, and maybe shave off a few pounds while I’m at it.

Of course, in my efforts to work video games into my life as much as possible, I’ve decided to accomplish this workout routine with Dance Dance Revolution.

Has anyone else tried out the DDR workout? Got any advice to give? Would you recommend using the Workout Mode (this short eHow article that I wish I’d found before working out this morning seems to)? I like the thought of it tracking calorie burning, but the Game Mode breaks up the action into three-song groups, which makes for a good water break. Also, it keeps score, so that sets more clear goals in my mind (Get an ‘A’ or better! Stretch a combo through the whole song! And so on). Please comment away on the forum, I’d love to hear your opinions on the matter (I’m a little new to working out on a regular basis in general, so input from non-DDRers would also be appreciated).

For the curious, I’m playing DDR: Konamix, so suggestions on good workout routines on a song-by-song basis are also welcome.

[Discuss]

Confessions Of A Stuck Gamer

I bought Resident Evil 4 as soon as it came out (on GameCube, a-duh), and loved the hell out of it. The game did a wonderful job at retaining the spooky atmosphere of the previous entries in the series proper while fixing some of the more glaring technical shortcomings (not even the diehard RE fans actually liked the fixed camera angles and inability to see where you were shooting half the time). The overall proliferation of ammunition and weaponry did nothing to reduce the sheer terror that comes when you’re down to your last shotgun shell in a crowded room of zombies Spanish-speaking Eastern European peasants and you have to decide whether to run or whip out the knife. I watched the story unravel, the enemies grow tougher, and the plot twists, uh, twist. I was having a blast.

Garrador But then I got stuck.

I (as Leon) walked into a nondescript room at the end of a long dining hall. A treasure chest stood in the center, but as I approached it, a cage lowered from the ceiling, trapping me with a Garrador. Of all the scary sights in this game, the creepy Chainsaw Man, the freakishly fast and deadly Colmillos, even the oppressive El Gigante, nothing scares me more than the Garrador. I don’t know what it is about them, but unless I’ve got a wide berth, I tend to panic and forget that they’re not actually terribly difficult to fight. The cage gives you no space to make a break for it, forcing you to deal with your immediate surroundings in the few seconds before the Garrador hears you and slices your head clean off. For whatever reason, I kept panicking and focusing on the wrong targets, trying to pick off the annoying zealots firing crossbows at me from outside the cage. The doors outside are secured with padlocks, and I was consistently being picked off by that God-damned Garrador.

I can’t believe I didn’t think to shoot the padlock.

I feel so silly admitting that here. I keep telling myself, There were padlocks to shoot earlier in the game! Why wouldn’t you retain that knowledge, fool? But my irrational panic in the presence of the Garrador made me completely ignore this glaring oversight on my part. Paul had mentioned this little strategy to me in passing recently, and I begrudgingly spun up the game disk for the first time in months and found that, yes, this solved the problem perfectly. Now I was free to pick off the zealots while the Garrador blindly ran around inside the cage, and could take him out from the outside without worrying about him charging at me. Finally I moved on! Go me!

Then I ran out of ammo in a fight with two Los Gigantes and died trying to cut their shins up with my knife. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

I can just hear that blind bastard taunting me in my dreams. Fuck you, Garrador.

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