Archive for February, 2007
Writing letters is for chumps. From now on, you make music videos parodying currently popular songs.
Watching that video/listening to the song, I don’t know how you could think anything but the fact that the PS3 is really going down the crapper. I went to Target today and I saw 0 Wiis, 3 360s (2 premium, 1 core), and the PS3 shelf was full…
[let’s all kill our brand]
Alas, I think it’s true what they say: “How you killed your brand.” I think it’ll be a story similar to what they said about Nintendo years ago, about how the word ‘Nintendo’ was synonymous with ‘video gaming’ as well as representing the peak of the pillar of it all. Now, undoubledly that lofty title was held by nothing but the word ‘PlayStation.’ How they killed their brand indeed… But hey, perhaps it’s all part of their plan…
Thinking about it all, I think that they would have been better off sticking with their PS2s for another year or so before releasing another console. It’ll be a while before those consoles stop selling, and they definitely had enough of the ignorant + hype machine backing them up for the PS3. Additionally, they could’ve had another small price drop for the PS2 making it sell even better along with the feeling of the necessity to “upgrade” being nonexistant… leaving their brand with the power it has. But now instead, they won’t be able to do a price drop, people won’t want to buy a PS2 so they can instead get a PS3, and they won’t be sure and won’t have the mony for a PS3, causing both consoles to sell poorly… thereby, killing their brand.
There is a chance that they are working on a really cool new redesigned PS3, that’ll give the gamers all what they wanted out of PS3 all along. Something that would, despite completely screwing over their current obsessive fan base that bought PS3s already, would otherwise have a similar rise of victory such as Nintendo, but Sony is not that fiesty or conniving. Nor does Sony have the skill or talent or ingenuity to pull themselves out of a rut such as this. Once your brand is dead, it’s hard to come back from that. I can certainly see the 360 as the PS2 of the next generation. Alas, what the next generation has in store, only time will tell.
February 26th, 2007
Uniracers was a game Nintendo came out with for SNES way back in 1994. Perhaps game isn’t the right word. Let’s try underrated masterpiece. The basic concept is that you’re a unicycle that rides around on crazy loopy, twisty, sometimes goopy race tracks. As a unicycle, you are prone to enjoying tricks, and this is where the game kicks into gear. It has the speed and crazy movement of a Sonic game and the intuitive point and style-based trick system of a Tony Hawk game. Thing is, this game came before Tony Hawk. A little ahead of it’s time? Indeed. Read on for the breakdown.
The aforementioned features alone would make for a great game, but Nintendo decided to throw in some personality to boot. Your uniracers are alive, they aren’t just your typical rusty clown-ridden one-wheelers. The seats are their heads and the seats tilt and track the other players, looking behind them if you’re ahead or looking above or below you if there’s somebody, well, above or below you. There’s some very smooth and simple physics, which come through not only in the air you catch of a jump or the speed you gain going downhill, but the uniracer itself squashes and bounces appropriately. UNIRACERS was just one of those games that felt right.
So how would it feel on the DS?
As the DS’s face buttons are pretty much the same as those of the SNES, you could maintain the same basic control scheme:
Hold X: Z Flip
A Button OR tap D-Pad L then D-Pad R: Twist
L button: Flip
R button: Roll
Tap X 2x: Tabletop
Stop, jump, hold X: Head Bounce
There are of course more moves than this, but these are the basics. They can be correctly timed to string together for combos for even bigger point scores, and the better the trick, the more boost you get after you land it (if you land it).
So that takes care of the face buttons, but how would it use the DS’s other functions?
NOT SO LONELY ANYMORE
This is where the true sequel aspect of the game starts coming in. The original game only featured 2-player multiplayer. Let’s just say UNIRACERS 2 kicks it up to 8 with online functionality. Sweet, no? If you happened to not be paying attention, that would be a yes.
Not only would the 8 players be allowed to challenge eachother in ranked race modes or stunt modes, but there’d be an entirely new mode:
The most visible aspect or signature of the original UNIRACERS wasn’t the design of the uniracers themselves, it was the insane, colorful, loopy, twisty tracks. There seems to me to be obvious potential here to use the touchscreen to design your own tracks and trade and race them online. Kinda cool, right. But let’s kick it up a notch, what if you had a designated designer design the tracks while you were racing on them?
Two teams would play in this game (hot colors vs. cool colors, where one team picks uniracer colors from hot colors and the other cool colors), with up to 4 on each. One player on each team would randomly be chosen to be the designer (unless he opts out of the duty in his preferences). The goal is to design a track that gets your teams 3 racers the most points. Finishing at a higher placing will give a small boost to your score, and the races will be timed, but the meat of the mode is getting bonus tokens and setting up sweet lines to trick off of. Think of it as a competitive Kirby: Canvus Curse, where one person designs and three people control their racers on top of that line.
The line never breaks, so you can’t intentionally kill your racers. Anybody who abuses their designing duty can be kicked off the server and all that, but you’d just have to try to hook up with some reliable teammates.
Not only can you design the tracks, drawing moguls, huge rises and falls, jumps and loops but you can try to guide your racers towards powerups that will let you have limited amounts of special tracks to draw. If you get them over to a Tornado icon, you get Twisty Tracks, which lets your players spin around the track like a barrell roll to add to their trick combo, and also acts as a boost. If you hit the Water icon, you get a limited amount of slippery track to draw, which gives your team a huge speed boost if they go over it, but they won’t be able to land any tricks on it, and if it’s on an uphill segment, they’ll have trouble getting up the hill.
When they hit the icon on their screen (you have a map on your top screen that shows their location) the icons will show up on the top-left of your touch screen to tap so you can use them. If they trick into the icon, they get a 2X multiplier. The third icon in the pic sets the track style back to default.
Before each match you can pick the color theme of your default track, as well as setup a teamname and a voice taunt (which can be activated three times a match per team by hitting select). Players can also choose to have their username displayed above their uniracer, and choose from a menu of possible taunt animations that your uniracer will perform at the victory screen should you win. Winners show up on the top screen with their stats displayed, the losers show up on the bottom screen, where the winners can use the stylus to throw old cans and boots at their uniracers.
So there you have it, UNIRACERS 2, a game that would have you turning more tricks than an LA hooker. Though the likelihood of a sequel ever being made is ultra-slim, the original did show up on the very first leaked list of Nintendo’s games they plan to have available on the Wii’s Virtual Console (when it was still known as the “Revolution Download Service”). As much as I would love for this to be a DS game, as the gameplay would be perfect in short bursts, it could also double as a great Wii game. Perhaps a release of the sequel as a 1000 point or so Virtual Console download would be in order. Keep those fingers crossed.
February 23rd, 2007
It was only a matter of time before someone totally made some amazing software to take advantage of the Wii’s amazing Internet Browsing capabilities. Whether it be the ability watch/play Flash animations/games, or watch YouTube videos, or just otherwise, browse the web in style, we knew it was coming.
Well, I am happy to point a video to what will otherwise, as far as I know, be the first in this series of innovations. It’s called Wiiminder, and it’s brought to us by Warp Pipe. Warp Pipe, for those of you that may not know, are the guys that, about 3 or 4 years ago, implemented the means of playing otherwise local multiplayer games for the GameCube, such as Mario Kart Double Dash and… games such as Mario Kart: Double Dash available to played online versus other players provided you had an internet connection and a broadband adapter.
[the first step not the final one]
Although their software didn’t get much use due to the lack of even LAN supported multiplayer games, low supply of broadband adapters, and even lower supply of people willing to invest the effort required to set up the connection, the software worked, believe me, I was one of the few that actually set it up at home to play people online. It was an excellent step in software development, and I can’t begin to describe how good of a learning experience it must have been for them. Well, I’m glad to see their next software creation, and I look forward to using it as well!
Anyway, as for Wiiminder itself, I am happy that the this software was developed, but I additionally think that its use will be limited in quantity. Outside of the novelty of using your Wii to surf the web, I don’t think most people will spend much time actually sitting at their Wiis surfing the net because it’s just not currently practical. Though what they did with Wiiminder makes what uses for Wii surfing that would otherwise be desirable, quite practical. Quickly accessing your stored bookmarks, easy searches on Google as well as the wealth of YouTube videos to play in your living room, use of your entertainment center to play your favorite music with finetune in the comforts of your living room with your Wii (despite other setups making this undoubtedly easier).
Regardless though, we are currently dealing only with the trial version of the Internet Browser for the Wii, so I wouldn’t be too suprised at all if something including these kinds of options make their way into the actual full version of the Internet Browser. Needless to say, Wiiminder is definitely a must when surfing the web on your Wii!
As I said, this is the first step, I believe, of things to come. It is a look at the window of possibilities that the Wii has opened for us. An easy means to let anyone with knowledge in developing a website, being able to create individual, unique applications for the Wii. Sure we currently view the Internet Browser as a means of simply surfing the Web, but what about in the days to come when we have flash games designed exclusively to be played on the Wii? What of other new and interesting development that simply make use of the internet and the Wii’s browsing capabilities to make use of these applications? Imagine instant messaging, pictochat, logging onto your favorite online sites with Wii Interfaces and exclusive Wii Services? On the internet, anything is possible, and it is that kind of gateway that this all represents.
February 19th, 2007
It has been months since I saw old Supes’ on the big screen in Superman Returns, and in that time, I had diligently reflected on the happenings of the movie, and formed an opinion as such. But despite all of that, it wasn’t till tonight that I truly made up my mind about the movie. A friend of mine purchased it on DVD, and I had been anticipating seeing it again, seeing it after already knowing what was going to happen, therefore being able to study the effect the movie aimed to have and the actual effect it created, being able to properly critique events after already experiencing the dreaded 2-week waiting period that a movie need after being seen to be properly critiqued. But most of all, because I couldn’t remember some of the small seemingly insignificant moments in the movie, moments that can often define the quality of the rest of the movie, subconsciously or not.
[darkseid attack and more, after the jump!]
First, I must discuss my initial feelings coming out of theaters. I was happy, but part of my happiness was biased towards my strong love of Superman. Part of my happiness was a facade led only with the purpose of making up for what disappointment some of my friends may have shared watching the movie, a disappointment that would otherwise have been fueled by reasons I myself was disappointed in the movie. To my surprise, most of them actually enjoyed the movie very much. Well this didn’t change what I felt coming out of theaters regardless. The amazing music still ringing in my ears as well as images of Superman looking incredibly cool plastered in my mind, how could be anything but happy?
After two weeks, after giving it more time, I had such a negativity about the movie. So many things gone wrong, so many disappointments, so little originality… I have to say one thing and that is that it took balls to go with the movie plot and not go for a total reinvention of the character starting with the beginning more in tune with the comic books. And while I personally would have preferred that route, again, I couldn’t fault the movie in taking the angle that it did. So what if it wants to do that? The questions is of the quality, not of the content. So my disappointment grew and grew, still with all these close-minded reservations in the back of my mind. So I anticipated greatly seeing it again on DVD.
After seeing it on DVD, I was thrilled. The movie was good again! I mean, really for what it was it wasn’t flawed other than some minor things. There weren’t any clear-cut mistakes, or so I thought. While watching the DVD, while I was happy that the movie was good, I was filled with a wave of disappointment because in that same moment, the movie had inspired me. I saw clearly what the movie could have been, compared to what it was. Saw the evolutionary leap that could have been in the future for the movie versus the sub-standard plot that was presented otherwise. …I thought of Batman (Begins).
Here was a movie that delivered. It took the plot we all know and love and reinvented it the way it was meant to be; not the campy cheesy crap that we had grown accustomed to with Adam West and jokes such as George Clooney and Val Kilmer as Batman, Arnold and that loser Bane (in the movies). Here was a movie that delivered for the comic book fans. The badass that is Batman was born, and Christian Bale couldn’t have done it better. Then we’ve got the Ra’s Al Ghul and the amazing mind-boggling trickery instilled by that plot arc. Anyone who has read the comics and/or been a fan, or is at all familiar with the story line knows the past of characters such as Henri Ducard and Ra’s Al Ghul, and their presentation in the movie went in line just like in the comic books, and there is where they trick even us, the people that knew Batman in its entirety. They use our own knowledge against us, our own assumptions, and predictions and seeming omnipotence to show us that we are still an audience to be entertained.
Where was that moment in Superman? Where was that feeling? Where Bryan Singer, where? You gave us Usual Suspects and X-men and X-men 2, you could be considered a pioneer and a genius by those merits alone; so where is our revolution for Superman? You said it yourself, you were making a movie about comic books and this was Superman. Superman! On the one hand I’d like to think that you failed, but you didn’t, you didn’t really fail. You did good, but what about doing great? I’d like to think that you would’ve liked for the movie to have been better, but you were limited by the roles of us as an audience as a whole, and what we would or wouldn’t handle. Maybe you wanted to kill Superman, and do something that would’ve literally taken our breath away, but you couldn’t because perhaps we couldn’t handle it. I see your writers and I see the script, and alas I see that this isn’t the case…And that is what Superman was lacking…
We’re talking about heroes. Superheroes. Superman is the one hero that would never question the value of his own life versus the life of anyone else. He represents the pure part of every hero that believes in doing good without the self-conflicts that makes them impure. This is the single trait that really separates Superman from all other superheroes. I think what the writers did with this movie was sort of pathetic. They treated it pretty much entirely as an introduction. Sort of like they created bounds for themselves that they couldn’t cross, which to me is very disappointing. But at the same time, with this out of the way, now we can finally and safely anticipate what is in store for us with the next movie. I suppose that’s really the only way I can look at this and not feel let down. That this was just the first pass, getting done what needed to be done, to establish what was needed from Superman before he could be more than that.
And, Happy Birthday Shivi.
February 6th, 2007