Mario … of the North Star

The headline is from my brother. I think this is one of the cooler things I’ve seen.

The Fists of the North Star and Southern Cross must never fight … but they can clean out your pipes. If anyone can translate what the Japanese means, I would be grateful. If not, fine. It’s still my homepage.

SEGA and New Line Cinema unite

This is either good or bad news, I’m not sure. SEGA and New Line Cinema announced a deal to make games based on movies centered around the “His Dark Materials” book trilogy from author Phillip Pullman. So, we have a GAME based on a MOVIE based on a BOOK. I’m worried — that’s a trifecta of possible gaming pain. Of course, if Sega pulls it off, it’ll be quite a feat.

The first film is “The Golden Compass,” which is going to star Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (if you don’t know, he’s the new Bond), and the game is slated to be released at the same time, which is November of 2007.

Check out the site here if you’re not familiar with the book series and the author.

DVD format war done? Ask the British

Reuters reports that a UK-based company has found a way to make an inexpensive multi-layer DVD. The company is called New Medium Enterprises, and the production costs of a disc using the company’s new technology would be around 9 cents, as opposed to 6 cents for a regular single-layer DVD.

If you’re into hearing about low yields and other goodness, here’s the story via ZDnet.

Curse? What curse?

Seahawks fans now have something else to cry about. Aside from the 3-0 start, there’s bad news — Shawn Alexander is out with a broken foot for at least a couple of weeks.

As you know, Alexander was on the cover of Madden NFL ’07.

Now, I’m not saying there’s a curse … but look. It’s starting to get creepy now, and it’s apparent that simply ignoring it isn’t working. Weird.

No TGS … but ‘NBA 2K7′ arrived

Like many people who weren’t able to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun for the Tokyo Game Show, I’ve relied extensively on the likes of GameTrailers, GameSpot, Kotaku and Joystiq to get some inkling of what’s been showing there, and what we can expect.

GameTrailers has gotten the most use out of me so far. They’ve got a teaser for ‘L.A. Noire,’ a PS3 offering from Rockstar, as one of their centerpieces — but what still stands out to me is ‘Lair,’ a dragon game for the PS3. From what I heard, it was either going to look awesome or look like crap — no middle ground. The gameplay footage I saw features a dragon and his rider annihilating a horde of armored soldiers, be it by flame or pimp-slapping them off some stone bridge. It looks like it could be pretty good — I’m not sure if it’s $600 good, but I’m just saying.

This week, I’m trying out “NBA 2K7,” which arrived in the mail today. I could care less about real hoops since football season just started, but I wanted to see how 2K Sports pulled off the plan to make the individuality of each starter and star come to life. They concentrated on just Shaq a year ago, but now they’ve supposedly got the details down for practically everyone worth talking about. We’ll see — EA did this a while ago with its “Lakers vs. Celtics”-style games, and I always thought ultimate personalization was the next logical step. I’m actually surprised it took this long. I’m one of those fans that’ll examine every virtual player to see if he REALLY measures up to the flesh-and-blood version. Frist guy I’m rolling out with is LeBron — from the work-in-progress jumper to the way he attacks the basket — I hope I see it all.

When a game asks you to be a god, you say, ‘YES!’

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It’s too bad more people in the mainstream don’t seem to know about “Okami,” (released today) so it’s going to suffer from the same disease that got “Indigo Prophecy” and “BG&E” — meaning it’s a fun, innovative and engulfing title that’ll be turned away by plenty of gamers because it’s different, and people seem to run away from anything different.

After about 20 tedious minutes of wading through text, this is one of those titles that represents the “experience” aspect of contemporary gaming — you can actually look at it from an artistic standpoint. It’s heavy in folklore and symbology, plus it provides a new spin on the whole “be a god” premise, making it more action-oriented as opposed to a lot of the menu-based, RTS stuff we’ve seen in the past.

I’m only a few hours in, but I’m really taking the time to enjoy this one. It’s been worth it so far — I mean, I can turn night into day by just painting a sun in the sky with a brush. Sweet.

‘Skate’ cometh to next-gen

Today, EA announced ‘Skate’ for the 360 and the PS3, which could end up becoming the next-gen competitor to the long-unchallenged Tony Hawk skating game franchise. The title is being assembled by the people at EA Black Box in Vancouver.

EA is touting the game’s focus on realism, from the way the city reacts to the player to the physics-based skating controls, dismissing the “button mashing gameplay of past skating games.” (is that a dig?) Essentially, they sound like they’re pitching the experience as a skateboard sim rather than a playground-style skate party.

It wouldn’t quite be EA without some kind of pro endorsement, and it appears skaters Danny Way and P.J. Ladd are on board. Is there such a thing as a cover jinx if the sport leads to various crippling injuries anyway?

On Nov. 19 … Wii-joice?

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Nintendo made their formal announcement regarding the release date and the price of the Wii console. As the headline says, the system is set for a Nov. 19 release in the U.S. (as the fanboys go ‘wooooo’) and will erase about $250 bucks out of your wallet, or a more than half of what one might pay for the higher-end PlayStation 3. In Japan, Ninty execs announced the Dec. 2 release date.

The out-the-box package includes a Wii Remote and a Wii Nunchuk (the pair of motion-sensing controllers), and one disc containing five Wii sports titles. Sadly, no Zelda, which would have been truly outstanding. However, Zelda IS going to be a launch title.

Nintendo is expecting about a 30-game lineup between launch day and the end of December. First-party (that means Nintendo original) titles are going to cost $49.99. Wii will also be able to play every GameCube game.

Then there’s the Wii Channel Menu, which lets players either pick stuff they can play or access stuff like the news or weather. You’ll also be able to view and send photos. There’s also a system of Wii Points that you can redeem — and you can also download classic games to the Virtual Console, which is a godsend for retrogamers.

From what Nintendo says, you’ll be able to play stuff from the Super Nintendo, the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, and even some titles from the Sega Genesis and the Turbografx 16. Bonk’s Adventure, anyone? Perhaps a little Altered Beast (“rise from your grave” … BOOM).

Now, the circle is complete. Basic info on all three next-gen systems (probably with more on the way), and it comes at a time where more ambitious holiday shoppers are already assembling gift ideas.

There’s the Wii, which you just read about, which is the friendly, fun system built on a philosophy of inclusion. It also helps that it won’t cost you a piece of your soul, and comes with ready-to-play games as well as access to a massive library of classic Nintendo stuff.

You’ve also got the Xbox 360, which certainly costs more, but also already has an established fan community and next-gen games library. Oh, and it also has mighty Xbox Live, where the Marketplace and Arcade have tapped into the casual gamer market.

Finally, there’s PlayStation 3. The mere mention of this system either gets you a storm of expletives from people in shock over the $600 price tag or a tingling of anticipation of what could be the most powerful console on Earth.

Sony has taken a public relations beating concerning everything from the price, execs’ remarks about how the system is a computer, not a console (and will make the PC obsolete), to the fact that the controller can’t vibrate. Sony-bashing has become something of a trend — it’s hard to toss out the term “massive damage,” or belt out “Riiiiige Racer!!!!” to gamers without them knowing what it means. After that, you usually get a derisive laugh.

However, Sony is still seen as the king — royalty more of the Nero variety, but on the throne nonetheless. There are still some great releases coming out for PS2 (God of War II), and if any one system has the potential to make a lot of critics eat their words in a very short time, it’s PlayStation 3. I hope it does well — not for Sony’s sake, but for gaming in general.

As for the Wii, you can check out the official Web site for the console for extra knowledge. The system’s going to get huge props in Japan (Shigeru Miyamoto is still viewed as a gaming deity), and the fact that it comes out two days after the PS3 shows some moxie.

And of course, there’s the “gaming for everyone” philosophy. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from readers and non-gamers is that they certainly have the desire to try games, but everything from the controllers to the consoles themselves caters to people who’ve been playing for years. Telling a non-gamer to simply “get-used” to a contemporary controller is like asking someone to operate on their own heart. With the Wii, the learning curve is roughly the same size. Therefore, no intimidation.

I’m not saying Wii will rock the holidays, but if a few families check in and make the plunge, who knows?

Jump away to see the Wii early lineup, via press release. Keep in mind, this is the stuff we’re hoping to see from Nov. 19 to Dec. 31.
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