E3: Nintendo’s Press Conference

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Nintendo came on strong in their press conference. Hot on the heels of the 25th Anniversary of the Legend of Zelda, Nintendo also took the time to finally unveil their successor to the Wii. Did they win everything? I felt their conference did really well for them. But calling it the Wii U? Either they’re being zen about the name, or Nintendo is basically telling everyone that no matter what they call it, they’re ready to print money.

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It’s confirmed: Nintendo has a new console at E3

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A number of news outlets on the ‘net from MCV to VG247 have confirmed that Nintendo’s long rumored successor to the Wii is coming out to play at this year’s E3. MCV’s report, in particular, mentions that the new hardware is slated for a 2012 release.

Now the big question on many players’ minds is if it’s going to cater equally to both casuals and ‘hardcore’ gamers.

The distinctions between the two crowds have often been pointed in what games they prefer – hardcores have generally bemoaned the plethora of titles such as Carnival Games and Wii Play, while a game such as Mad World seemed out of place on the console by so-called casuals. It also doesn’t help that its shelves have been flooded by shovelware – cheap games with equally as cheap gameplay – diluting the overall quality of its library. Everyone wanted a piece of the huge Wii pie and Nintendo apparently had no problems in letting them grab for it all at once.

Of course, it’s way too early to tell. It’ll be years before we can see just what the new system is actually capable of and to whom it will mostly appeal to – the games are what will set it apart and we haven’t heard too much about those yet. Likely guaranteed are a new Zelda and Mario game sometime in its future. After all, this is Nintendo.

E3 will have more of the answers – and probably provide as many questions. Only one thing’s for certain: Nintendo hasn’t stopped surprising us yet.

Nintendo: Last shipment of Super Mario All Stars is away

Nintendo has dispatched its final shipment of “Super Mario All-Stars,” a Wii re-release of the Super NES package that was itself a reissue of four Mario games, upgraded from 8-bit to 16-bit graphics.

The package includes “Super Mario Bros.,” the game’s Japanese sequel (known in the United States as “The Lost Levels”), “Super Mario Bros. 2 (issued as the Mario-less “Doki Doki Panic” in Japan) and “Super Mario Bros. 3.”

The package also includes a CD with music and sound effects from the Mario franchise and “Super Mario History,” a 32-page booklet on Nintendo’s signature series.

Review: GoldenEye 007 (Wii)

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Rare’s GoldenEye was a sharp reply to PCs of how exciting the FPS genre could be on a console – especially the N64 – in 1997. It also stands out as what is probably the only movie-based game to actually expand on its own material while being good at what it set out to do.

With those two things in mind, it’s easy to see how GoldenEye became such a influential legend, one that fans would even go so far as to bring the experience back to where the FPS began on PCs with mods recreating its famous levels with Half Life 2′s engine, Source.

Those same fans had also clamored for Nintendo to release the classic game on the Wii’s Virtual Console as a downloadable game only for the idea to die a slow and license litigated death.

And then developer, Eurocom, stunned everyone when they announced their own GoldenEye game built from the ground up as a re-imagined reboot. But far from being sacrilege, Eurocom’s remake is both an unmistakable homage and a fantastic FPS in its own right.
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Candid Kinect

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Kinect came out yesterday amidst much hoopla and joy for those that managed to snag one. If you haven’t heard of what it is, it’s the motion sensing accessory for the Xbox 360 that essentially follows your body to do stuff onscreen – like control your dashboard or actually play games using it.

It’s got a leg up on the Wii and the Move by not forcing you to hold anything, but did you also know that it takes pics of you? That’s what Destructoid is reporting.

Apparently, someone “got too hot” while playing Dance Central and took off their clothes. What they didn’t realize is that Kinect randomly took pics of them and now they have no idea how to delete the potentially embarrassing album on their console.

So I guess the moral of the story is: Kinect is watching you? Play safe, my friends.

Review: Metroid – Other M

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Samus Aran isn’t supposed to need anyone. Ever since she let her hair down decades ago in one of gaming’s watershed moments (“what? Samus is a girl?”), she has been the quiet and revered standard-bearer for strong, female lead characters. She needed no rescuing and wasn’t prone to inner monologues about stars, life or making people happy. She didn’t wish for love or try to counter her femininity by acting macho.

Basically, she was just damn good in that awesome, alien-killing armor of hers.

At least, that’s what I and others want to believe — some of this imagery, in a way, is our fault. With other female lead characters grunting, bouncing their chests and splattering bits of sex appeal on everyone’s screens, many fans who’ve known Samus since the original Metroid have crafted a mental ideal around her minimalist nature. With her cloudy past, abundance of weapons and gadgets and her reputation as a bonafide ass kicker, she’s almost like an intergalactic Batman.

And this is where Metroid: Other M becomes both a satisfying and confusing experience. The gameplay says one thing about this legendary heroine, while the storytelling says something completely different — and sad. Team Ninja succeeds in taking Samus to new action heights, but I can’t shake the feeling that the mystique that made Samus so appealing in the past has been damaged.
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E3: A look back on Day One

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Another E3 has come and gone leaving behind clouds, motion controls, and a bevy of sequels. So what does it all mean? I’ve had a few days to gather my thoughts on what we’ve seen on the show floor and behind closed doors, so here are a few ideas on the message left by waggling hands and brutal teddy bears.
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Fans select Drew Brees for sacrifice

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New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will be the latest to test his fate against the Madden Cover gods, thanks to the results of first-ever online fan voting for the game’s next cover athlete for Madden ’11. Brees beat out Minnesota sack machine Jared Allen and Indianapolis wideout Reggie Wayne. If you remember, the famed “Madden Curse” decided to smite Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu following his joint appearance on the cover of Madden ’10 with Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Then again, Brees IS the QB for the Saints. Surely a Saint can negate the curse … right?

Among the game’s new features in its effort for a “simpler, quicker, deeper” experience, according to EA:

Simpler: Call plays like an NFL coach with ease using an all-new play-calling system, GameFlow, which executes an authentic, situational game plan for you.

Quicker: The new play-calling system will enable players to spend more time on the field and less in the playbook – completing games in half of the time.

Deeper: Madden NFL 11 is feature-rich, with improved animations and control options, enhanced online functionality, and new broadcast and audio presentation that delivers the NFL experience fans have come to expect.

BOOOOOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!

EA has revived a classic from the nineties for the Wii with the announcement that NBA Jam is coming out for it. Yes, THAT NBA Jam, the same one which came out in the arcades and consoles in ’93. The arcade version was known for its four way co-op and pit two-on-two teams against each other with helicopter slam dunks, face planting fouls, and catching the players’ basketball on fire if they were…on fire.

It even featured real NBA players, their mugs digitized and animated onscreen, and now that’s coming to the Wii in some kind of form. The official website is up with polls asking who players want to see in the game, but I’ll have to admit to being a little disappointed in not seeing anything for Mutant League Football. Maybe next time? For now, if you need a refresher course on what it might look like, you can catch footage of the original arcade version below.

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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