Halo 2600

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Ever wonder what Halo would have been like if it came out in the early 80s on the Atari 2600? Would it be better than Pac-Man?

Ed Fries, the former VP of Microsoft’s game publishing division, cobbled Halo 2600 together while doing a little retro research into learning how to program for Atari’s classic console. It debuted at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas and he even went as far as to create a hundred 2600-style carts complete with label art.

In case you happen to be like me and now have the urge to pull your Atari 2600 out of mothballs, but no RF connector on your LCD TV, no worries. You can use your browser to play the game instead. Clicking on “Reset Game” starts it up, arrow keys handle movement and the spacebar is for shooting…once you find a gun, that is. You can also only shoot left or right it seems. Fortunately, there are shields that can protect you from one hit if you can find them.

It plays partly like a mix between Swordquest, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and maybe even a little Wizard of Wor. And it’s definitely all fun.

Try it out here.

Review: LIMBO

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Prepare to die. A lot.

That’s the first thing I’d tell anyone ready to delve into LIMBO on Xbox Live Arcade. The same can be said about a lot of games, but not many of them carry the theme of death with such a spooky, dark and minimalist quality.

Playdead has created a masterfully entertaining mindbender that comes across as not only a visionary challenge to interpretations of the afterlife’s gray area, but also as an old-school lesson in perseverance and pain.

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Staring down the new Xbox 360

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When I heard about the slimmed-down, redesigned Xbox 360′s unveiling at last week’s E3 in Los Angeles, one question came to mind — does a new design mean I won’t have to worry about it suddenly dying on me, like its predecessor?

Both critics and devout fanboys of the original 360 would acknowledge that the engineering of Microsoft’s vaunted console has always been an source of dynamic discussion, the kind that brings out sentiment ranging from typical nuts-and-bolts talk to the passionate (though sometimes wayward) deconstruction of Western and Eastern design philosophies. By now, even casual gamers or people asking about the Big Three systems (Wii, 360 and PS3) have heard about the 360′s famed “Red Ring of Death,” it’s penchant for overheating, the “towel trick” and other tales.

The new 360, armed with a few extras, is hoping to change some of that. So, as a shopper or a new gamer, you have a choice to make. If you’re looking to break in the family’s first game system, is this the time the 360 separates itself a bit more from the pack?

I’m going to share some of what I’ve seen in the new 360, and hopefully it’ll make that choice a little easier for you.
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E3: A look back on Day Two

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Day Two started off earlier, mainly due to the first day starting at noon. A few appointments were penciled in including another one with Activision who had given us a chance to check out the new True Crime. My brother was ready to hit most of those leaving me to wander the floor to take a look at what else was being shown. The first day was a brief tour in the West Hall. Now it was time to hit the South Hall where the third parties, and Microsoft, was lurking.
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A Holiday Gaming Guide

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So it’s another year of holiday gaming as parents try and figure out just what they should get their kids (or themselves), and I’m willing to bet that a console might be on the minds of those willing to camp out storefronts in Black Friday or battle each other for the last copy of Super Mario Bros. Wii left on the shelves.

With Sony’s new pricing policy for their PS3, Xbox 360 bundles, and the Wii joining the moneymaking fracas, it’s as if it were launch day all over again.

A few days ago while browsing, couple had asked me what kind of games they could get their thirteen-year old daughter on the Xbox 360 and told me what kind of titles she loved to play. They were buying an Xbox for her because her brothers were living elsewhere and wanted to keep her connected, but were wondering what she could play on her own.

After hearing them gush about Guitar Hero, I pointed out Beatles Rock Band. They said she already had it for another system. I asked if she liked to play first-person shooters or sports games and they said no.

I didn’t know what to tell them, only that it was tough finding something for their daughter’s tastes on the Xbox 360 that wasn’t a first-person shooter or a sports game…both of which they said she was not interested in it, but her brothers were. In the end, they opted to get a flat screen TV instead. But if she had been a huge shoot ‘em up fan like her brothers, she’d find more than enough to be happy about on the system.

Her particular needs were very specific, but the question remains the same for many parents and newcomers unfamiliar with all of the gaming jargon that kids, and perhaps as many adults, speak as a second language.

So here’s a little help from Tech-Out on what to look for when you head out into the busy shopping season and are trying to decide which console, and what extra games, you want to bring home.
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Review: Forza Motorsport 3

Editor note: There is no definitive shape, size or style of a game review, and this is proof. This piece from Derrick Hopkins not only reviews the game, but it also challenges it by comparing it to a very real, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy.

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By Derrick Hopkins
Editor, deadpixellive.com/special contributor to Tech-Out

The Nurburgring is a 13-mile-long race track in located Nurburg, Germany. Nicknamed the “Green Hell”, it was built in 1927, has 72 corners, constant elevation changes and is considered one of the most dangerous race tracks ever constructed. And for about $15, anyone can drive on it.

A lot of games have included the Nurburgring on their list of locales to simulate. The latest is “Forza Motorsport 3,” which claims to be the most “realistic racing experience ever.” “Forza 3″ gives Xbox 360 owners the option of taking on the Nurburgring and dozens of other tracks in a collection of SUVs, exotic sportscars and purpose-built racers.

My brother and I had flown to Germany for the express purpose of driving on the legendary track. And we’d do it in a rented Mercedes C230 sedan.
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Windows 7 is cuter than Vista

Driving all the way out to a Windows 7 launch event in the wee hours of the morning was worth the effort if only for the chocolate muffins that they had ready for breakfast (the free software was a good incentive, too, but I wished they had included the 64-bit version).

So why care? Windows 7 is MS’ new operating system that promises to do everything that Vista does while being much friendlier and easier to use (among other things, better driver support, GUI enhancements, much fewer annoying messages asking if you “want to do this” or not because the UAC was tweaked after much feedback…). Does this mean that Vista is now obsolete? Of course not, but tech-addicted users may feel the urge to upgrade even harder to resist since it seems to be getting a much more positive response from the pros that have been playing with it.

Besides, how can you resist it after watching this?

Getting into Wiihab

We’ve all read, seen, or heard the reports about the Wii, albeit indirectly, breaking televisions and turning living rooms into obstacle courses. That strap on the control isn’t just a gray tassel that you can hang your keys on while boxing Wii avatars, after all.

But what not a lot people may know is that it has also helped others as a part of their physical rehabilitation. The Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Nebraska is using the Wii as a part of their program in helping brain injury patients get back onto their feet as you can watch in this clip below:

They’re not the only ones doing this, either, as a rehabilitation center in Norfolk has also incorporated it into their program. “Wiihab” seems to be catching on as hospitals and other medical centers are using Nintendo’s console to help their patients.

Seeing the Wii used for something more than simple gaming is a refreshing twist to the stereotype that games are just for fun and with Microsoft’s own full motion system for the Xbox 360, Natal, on its way, it will be interesting to see just how it might be put to similar use. Peripheral interfaces have come a long way since R.O.B. and the Lightgun for the NES, and so have the ideas that people have come up with in using them to heal as well as entertain.

Halo ODST unexpectedly shows up on the internets…

I just caught this browsing around on the ‘net for news and can only think that 2009 is turning out to be the Year of the Leaked Game.

Halo ODST is a standalone expansion to the Halo series casting the player as an ODST trooper sent in to back up Master Chief with their own mission. The leak was already reported earlier as having come from France with Microsoft making the magnanimous decision NOT to ban early recruits, especially when they claimed that only about a hundred copies had actually gone out.

You can catch some of the footage below (which is all in French with English subs). It probably goes without saying that if you don’t want to be spoiled before the September 22nd release date, don’t watch it.

But now it looks like there’s an actual distro out on the ‘net as reported by several sites such as fan-based halo.bungie.org. It was only a matter of time before this happened, but you can bet that Microsoft won’t be looking at this particular incident in the same way as the accidental release of legit copies above.