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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Physical or Digital?

One of the greatest feelings associated with gaming is going to the store, looking at the games on the shelf, finding the game you want, or something you weren't expecting to find, making your purchase and then leaving, excited to get home to try out your games. As typical as that is, it's a wonderful feeling. Of course if there's a particular game we want, we can always shop online and avoid some stress that unfortunately sometimes comes with that experience, like rude people, the trip to the store and what have you. The digital age also provides a similar feeling when it comes to shopping for games but without the aforementioned hassles. However, since our purchases are digital, we end up with a game that exists only inside a machine and isn't something we can hold in our hands
Finding a physical copy of this game isn't always easy
and if you do find it, expect to pay around the price of
brand new console release. The Xbox Live Arcade version, however,
is a much cheaper and easier option.
Having a game sit on your shelf, being able take it down and actually hold it in your hands, as ordinary as that is, it's a great thing to be able to do. To look over the cover. To flip through the manual, it's nice to be able to do all that stuff. These are things that we cannot do with a digital game. Now that's not to say that digital releases shouldn't be appreciated like a physical release. Just because I can't treasure Mega Man 10 in the same way I can Mega Man 3, that doesn't make Mega Man 10 any less valuable to me. Mega Man 10 is actually one of my favorite Mega Man games. But despite my feelings on the matter, there are people out there that wished Mega Man 10 was released in physical form, some even going so far as to want it on an NES cartridge.

It's not just Mega Man 10 either. Mighty Switch Force, Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury and other retro inspired titles get digital releases and many of them are sold for chump change. Maybe publishers feel that their games won't move as many copies in physical format. As competitive as the market was in the late 1990s, it's even more so now. It's not just about placing your game up against Sonic, Mario or Zelda. There's the Batman Arkham Cities, the Call of Duties, Skyrim and a slew of other mega high profile titles. It really is a jungle out there and even good games that see a physical release get eaten alive. As nice as it would be for every game to get a physical release, that just isn't the game industry that we have.

Mega Man 10 is just as important to me as any
physical release in the series.
I'm personally a big fan of digital releases, especially for older games. I never owned a PC-Engine or a TurboGrafx so I was never able to play Blazing Lazers, Lords of Thunder, Gate of Thunder, New Adventure Island, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and many of the other standout games for those systems. This all changed when I started checking out PCE and TG games on the Wii's Virtual Console. Rondo of Blood is a superb, yet brutal Castlevania title, New Adventure Island is now my favorite game in that series, and Blazing Lazers is another solid shooter entry from the now defunct Compile. I could have tracked down a PCE and TG and these games, but the Virtual Console saved me the hassle as well as cash.

Sonic CD can be experienced by a wider audience
thanks to digital releases.
Sonic CD, held in regard as one of the best Sonic games was originally released on the ill-fated Sega CD (Mega CD for you European readers) hardware and for a long time, it remained a Sonic game that not many played. Sure Sega rectified this when they released it on the Sonic Gems Collection for GameCube, but the recently released Xbox Live and PlayStation Network version of Sonic CD is easily the most definitive version of Sonic's first CD-based adventure, allowing you to hear both the Japanese/European and American soundtracks and letting gamers play as Tails. This version of Sonic CD is also ridiculously dirt cheap, around the price of a value meal at McDonald's. So for less than the price of a few comic books, gamers can easily play one of Sonic's best games without having to find the original hardware or a compilation game. And it's all because of a digital release.

So to answer my own question in this editorial title, physical or digital, I say, why not have both? They've both got their good points and I'm a proud endorser for both anyway.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Game Art #10: Misc Showcase

By spacecoyote
By WakaBee
By silentgecko
By Om
By super-tuler
By Orioto
By Tervola
Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist
By Orioto
By Orioto
By pyawakit
Unknown Artist
By Orioto
Unknown Artist
By Orioto
Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist
By Luda
Unknown Artist
By excluded
By Place of

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mighty Switch Force! Official Soundtrack

Mighty Switch Force, the third game in the Mighty series (the first two being Mighty Flip Champs and Mighty Milky Way) was released on the 3DS eShop on December 22 in the USA, UK and Australia. What also dropped on that same day was the Mighty Switch Force! Official Soundtrack

I've never played any game in the Mighty series, but I've heard good things about them. I have, however, been a fan of Jake "virt" Kaufman's video game compositions and arrangements for years and since he's written the music for Mighty Switch Force, it shouldn't have come as a surprise at just how awesome the game's music is.

This 23 track digital album is a nice blend of chiptune, metal, funk and it sounds marvelous. There's a lot of standout tracks here, but my favorites would have to be Level Select, Caught Red Handed, Love You Love You Love, End Credits (which is actually a remix of Caught Red Handed), Whoa I'm in Space Cuba (awesome for the name alone), and Yummy. As if the regular tracks weren't enough, there's also some delicious remix tracks such as the coda remixed Love You Love You Love (Good Morning Onee-san Mix) and Yummy (Electronugget Remix).

Hearing this album has me dying to give Mighty Switch Force a go and check out Mighty Flip champs and Mighty Milky Way as well. If you have a 3DS, head on over to the eShop and give the game a purchase. It's only $5.99, next to nothing. The funky soundtrack is free and is an absolute must have. This sucker is going on my MP3 player right now.

Mighty Switch Force! Official Soundtrack

Monday, December 26, 2011

NiGHTS: Lucid Dreaming

NiGHTS into dreams was a unique kind of game, memorable for it's fantastic 3D flight-based gameplay and it's dreamy musical score. Arranged NiGHTS music may not sound like a good fit. It's the kind of music that one may not even want to have remixed for fear of straying too far off from the source material. However, NiGHTS: Lucid Dreaming, OverClocked Remixes' 26th album manages to put it's own spin on the beloved NiGHTS tunes while still sticking closely to the original tracks.

Spanning 3 digital discs, NiGHTS: Lucid Dreaming contains remixes of favorite tracks such as Message from Nightopia, Paternal Horn, She Had Long Ears, and the unforgettable vocal track, Dream Dreams. With Dream Dreams being a fan favorite track, it's no surprise that it received as much attention as it did on this album. There are no less than four different versions of Dream Dreams to be heard here. The first one, Dream Dreams (Disco NiGHTS Mix) is a fast, shorter version of the original track. Even though the original tune is more slow going, this is still a superb arrangement and one of the best tracks on the album, which is already saying a lot. Slumber on a City Corner (Dream Dreams : In Silent Memory) is a jazzy, non-vocal tune, taking things much slower in contrast to Disco NIGHTS Mix. More good stuff there. The third version of Dream Dreams, The World is Dreaming is probably the closest of the four covers that's the mirrors the original song and it's nothing short of brilliant with phenomenal voice work and music to match, making it one of the best arrangements of Dream Dreams. The final version of Dream Dreams is a Karaoke version of Disco NIGHTS Mix. I got so used to listening to the vocals on Disco NiGHTS Mix that it seemed a bit odd not having them in the background, but I learned to appreciate both tracks and ended up putting both on my MP3 player.

So what about the tracks that aren't remixes of Dream Dreams? Reverse Rain (The Amazing Water), which was one of my favorite tracks in NiGHTS, is outstanding and maybe even more beautiful than the original (please don't lynch me, NiGHTS fans, I did say maybe.) From Dusk til Dawn (Fragmented NiGHTS) makes me long for more piano arrangements from OCR. She Had Angry Pixels is a wonderful chiptune cover of She Had Long Ears, one that I actually prefer over the original. Sixto Sounds hits another remix out of the park with Beyond the Dream (Gate of Your Dream), one of the most stunningly beautiful arrangements I've ever listened to. Speaking of Gate of Your Dream, A Dream, the close out song of disc 2 is another fine remix of said tune and as cliche as it sounds, the track feels just like that, a dream. A very, very good dream.

In case you couldn't tell, there's a lot to like about this album. I've greatly enjoyed listening to it on repeat numerous times. NiGHTS: Lucid Dreaming is without a doubt, some of the best work to come out of OverClocked Remix and is a shinning example of just how talented the fans of video game music are. I like to think Naofumi Hataya, Tomoko Sasaki, and Fumie Kumatani, the original composers of NiGHTS' music would be proud of this arrangement album. It's a splendid love letter to their work. Head on over to the homepage below, download Lucid Dreaming and enjoy.

NiGHTS: Lucid Dreaming

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Latest Game Purchases #18

While I was out doing my last rounds of Christmas shopping, I treated myself to something of a Christmas gift with a few games, which will more than likely be the last games I buy in 2011.

King of Fighters IX is another game I used to own but never got back from a friend when I moved. I didn't play it as in depth as I did other KoF games but it was still a lot of fun. All I need is Kingdom Hearts and I'll have all the games that I loaned to pals back before I said adios to Ohio.

The Legend of Starfy is a DS game I've had the chance to pick up at Best Buy on the cheap numerous times. And what happens when I finally decided to purchase it? Every copy was gone. Luckily, Wal-Mart had some in stock for just $15. Score.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, they had one copy of Kirby Mass Attack left, a game I've been wanting to play for months now but either couldn't spare the cash or was buying other games at the time. They also happened to be selling it for $29.95 as opposed to Nintendo's SRP of $34.99. So screw you, Nintendo. Looking forward to playing this and unlocking the mini games.

When I picked up a gift for my brother-in-law at K-Mart, they were having a deal where if you bought a Sonic game, you got a Mini Sonic figure free. All of the figures are based on classic Sonic designs and they had Sonic, Super Sonic, Tails and Knuckles in stock. At $5.99 a piece, the things are a bit pricey, but since I was getting it for free, I couldn't complain. My pick was Super Sonic. Some searching on Google showed that, as I suspected, the entire collection of mini figures (which also includes Metal Sonic and Amy) can be picked up in a single set. Beats $5.99 for each figure separately. But at least now I'll have another mini Super Sonic when I eventually buy the whole set.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas 1991

Best Christmas gift ever? It's a stronger
contender, that's for sure.
I can't remember each and every Christmas, but thanks to some of the awesome gifts I've received, I've been able to single out certain ones. The Christmas of 1991 is one I remember with utmost fondness. 

News of the Super Famicom first hit me in the summer of 1990 via newspaper article. I didn't read much newspapers outside of the comic section back then, but anything game related was sure to grab my attention. The console wouldn't release in the United States until the summer of 1991 and like the Nintendo Entertainment System before it, it was given a name change, being called the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES for short in America and the UK. Not only did the SNES appeal to me but so did the game that was focused on with the article, Super Mario Bros. 4, which would later go by it's subtitle, Super Mario World.

When August of 1991 arrived, I coveted a SNES more than anything. I didn't want toys, nor did I want a Sega Genesis, no matter how much Sega tried to sway me with Sonic's attitude. The SNES and Super Mario World was all I cared about. But my dad knew how gullible I was back then. He had me convinced that I was getting a Genesis for Christmas and I fully believed him. I even told my friends that's what I was getting. I thought that maybe owning a Genesis wouldn't be so bad. I mean, Sonic certainly looked nice. But dang it, I wanted Super Mario World!

December 25th finally arrived (when you're a kid, it seems like it takes Christmas forever to come) and I had only one present, a big box. I assumed it was the Genesis like my dad said, but when I unwrapped it, a huge grin hit my face. It was the Super NES Super Set! It came with the system, two controllers, and of course, Super Mario World. I couldn't believe it. My dad just smiled seeing me so happy with my gift. Back in the late 1980s, my mom and dad got my sister and I and NES, but the SNES was 100% mine. This was the first time I'd ever received such a large scale gift. I was truly wowed. 

The system itself was amazing to look at. Yeah, the American SNES model seems more clunky compared to it's UK and Japanese counterparts, but I still loved the way it looked. Even the controller was a marvel. The curves, the four button layout, the shoulder buttons. I'd never seen a controller like it. My sister and I just felt the comfort of the SNES controllers (this was back when Nintendo actually included two controllers AND a game with their systems) as my father hooked the system up to the TV. NES controllers were fine, but they felt rougher compared to the SNES controls. 

I had the honor of placing Super Mario World in the cartridge slot and turning on the power. I can still hear that chime and the picture the Nintendo logo appearing on that old SD TV as I type this. The Super Mario World logo appears along with the title music. We see Mario and Yoshi teaming up to take down some Koopa Troopas. If there's a better way to spend Christmas morning with the family, I haven't heard of it.

My first stage was World 1-2, where you first encounter Yoshi. Despite having never played the game, I played as if I'd been playing the game for years. I didn't need to know how to run or how to eat enemies with Yoshi. Everything just felt so natural to me. The SNES controller having more buttons than the NES pad didn't throw me off one bit. It wasn't long before we passed World 1 and went off to the much larger, secret-filled World 2.

Each time I think back to Christmas 1991, I just smile. I'd not only gotten what I wanted for Christmas, I got what is my favorite video game console of all-time. The SNES is the system that got me into shooters, despite it's processor not being as fast as the Genesis. I discovered Gradius here, Final Fight, Street Fighter and a wealth of other franchises. The SNES really did open up a new world of gaming for me. My love for RPGs is largely attributed to this system. On top of that, it's also the prime reason I can remember a Christmas of 20 years ago. So there's yet another reason the system rocks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stars of Famicom Games

During a trip to the library, avid Nintendo fan Chris Covell picked up a children's book titled Stars of Famicom Games. While the book may have been found in the children's section, the book is still interesting for Nintendo fans of all ages.

Originally published in 1989, Stars of Famicom Games shows some development pictures of Super Mario Bros. 3. The book also contains pictures of a younger Shigeru Miyamoto and music composer Koji Kondo. Not only does it give you a look at the development behind one of the most popular games of all-time, it also takes you inside Nintendo's headquarters to show you how game manufacturing and distribution was done at the time. It's very fascinating stuff. The entire book has been scanned and translated into English for your viewing pleasure on Chris's website, which can be viewed here. As a fellow blogger put it, this is "a piece of Nintendo history," one that no one should miss.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mega Man, Happy 24th Anniversary

In Japan on December 17, 1987, a little blue, pixilated robot stepped out into the gaming world and fought for everlasting peace on the Famicom in Rockman. While he was called Rockman over in the land of the rising sun, over on American and European shores, he would go by the name Mega Man. Regardless of what you choose to call him, I think everyone is pretty much in agreement that his games are made of awesome.

Has it really been 24 years? Twenty four years of ladder climbing, jumping, shooting, sliding, Mega Buster charging, weapon-getting fun? Why, yes, yes it has. I guess those of us that grew up with Mega Man really are getting older.

2011 certainly hasn't been the kindest year to the Blue Bomber. Two games canceled and a glaring omission from both versions of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Still, it hasn't been all bad. Udon has translated the excellent Mega Man Gigamix manga and Archie Comics is on a roll with the new Mega Man comic series. There was also that sweet Mega Man Tribute Book that Udon also published. On the gaming download front, we saw the release of Mega Man X (Wii Virtual Console), Mega Man 5 (Wii Virtual Console), and the elusive Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (3DS Virtual Console).

I honestly can't say what the future holds for Mega Man, but I refuse to be all gloom and doom. I doubt Capcom has any plans for Mega Man's 24th anniversary (most game companies only celebrate "the big" anniversaries, 10, 20, 25, etc.), but that really hasn't gotten me down. I've been a Mega Man fan for over twenty years and it's been a really fun ride. Do I think we'll see a new Mega Man game some time? I like to think so. Until then, I'll just kick back and enjoy his 24th birthday and replay some of my favorite Mega Man games. Happy 24th anniversary, buddy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

MEGA MAN: The Robot Museum

Released back on March 25th of this year, MEGA MAN: The Robot Museum is an OverClocked Remix album (the site's 24th album, to be precise) by the very talented Joshua Morse. Before this album was released, I was already foaming at the mouth in anticipation based off the samples I'd heard. It was easily one of my most coveted albums of 2011 and it couldn't be released soon enough.

"The Robot Museum is an idea I've had up my sleeve for a while now. Ever since playing Mega Man 7 years back and reaching the mid-game robot museum stage, I thought the concept of a robot museum was a great one. It wasn't until I played Mega Man & Bass that the thought of an arrangement album in the style of a robot museum had occured to me."

"The following is the idea that has come into fruition. I've arranged a robot master's theme from the original Mega Man all the way through Mega Man 8 with the addition of a bonus track from Mega Man & Bass," says Joshua Morse.

The robot museum mini-stage in Mega Man 7 was one of my favorite areas out of the entire classic Mega Man series. It was short, but very sweet, containing robot masters from games gone by. The robot museum was revisited again in Mega Man & Bass and it  was expanded upon even further into a full blown level. So the fact that Joshua was inspired to create this album from two highly memorable stages from separate Mega Man titles is pretty cool.

As an avid Mega Man fan for more than two decades, I've been in love with the original songs throughout the series and have heard some excellent remixes, both from official album releases and from fans. MEGA MAN: The Robot Museum does not disappoint, featuring some of my favorite Mega Man arrangements. Spark Man has what is my all-time favorite electrical theme from the entire classic series so I was very pleased with what Joshua did with it here. Spark Shock (the tracks are named after the powers of the robot masters) starts out slow, misleading you to believe that the whole song might be of lesser speed than the original track. But after about 30 seconds, it picks up to a head bobbing beat. I like a great deal of music in Mega Man 5, but I always considered Stone Man's theme to be one of the weaker tracks from that game. So it's a little surprising that Power Stone ended up being one of my favorite songs from this album and as it stands, it's the best remix of Stone Man's theme that I've ever heard. Mention must also be given to Air Shooter, which is perfect lounge music. You will never hear better elevator music than Thunder Beam. It doesn't feel right to call it that, but that's exactly what it reminds me of. Soothing, relaxing elevator jams. Capping off this fantastic album is the ninth track, Data Base Accessed, an arrangement of the CD Data Base from Mega Man & Bass. The original CD Data Base Track was a very calming tune. In this album, the tune plays much like an infinitely enhanced version of the same track. It's beautiful stuff and a great way to end a superb Mega Man remix soundtrack.

Do I have any complaints? No, not really. Though how cool would it have been if the actual Robot Museum stages from Mega Man 7 and Mega Man & Bass had been remixed on this album? Can you imagine those tunes being given that unique Joshua Morse flavor? That would have been an extra thick layer of icing on an already sweet, sweet cake.

I've been a fan of Joshua's works for nearly three years now. He's got a very distinct style that puts him in a league of his own from other video game music arrangers. I can instantly tell when I'm listening to one of his songs. MEGA MAN: The Robot Museum ranks as one of his best works and that's saying a lot. If you're into Mega Man music, or you just like music in general (and really, who doesn't?) this free download deserves a spot on your iPod/computer/MP3 player.

MEGA MAN: The Robot Museum

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Too Many Games

I don't have this many games. Yet.
Being a gamer is an infinitely enjoyable hobby, but it is not without it's faults. For one, it can get pretty costly. Most new titles generally run for $50 or so and that's just on the consoles. If the 3DS is an indication, $40 could be the standard for portable games. Then there's time investment. Some games require more time to finish than others. Metal Gear games can take about 10-12 hours to complete. An RPG like Dragon Quest? Look to spend 60 or so hours on that sucker and that's if you're not screwing around with side quests. But perhaps what I'm finding to be the biggest negative about my favorite pass time, is that there's just too many games to play. How does one find time to play all that he/she owns and will eventually own?

The only current generation system that I have in my possession is a Wii. As of this writing, I have over 30 games for the Wii and I'm not even close to having all the games I want for it. There's also quite a few games I haven't finished (like Klonoa) and some I've bought that I haven't even started. So I'm already building a sizable backlog on just the Wii alone.

Circa 2001, my copy is still sealed.
What happens when I eventually get a PS3 and a 360? That's two system's worth of gaming catalogs I'll have to dig through. The fact that many of the best games for both of those consoles are now dirt cheap just means the backlog for both of those will add up even faster.

On the portable gaming front, there are still DS games I need to pick up. I'm planning on getting a 3DS sometime next year so that'll just be adding to the pile. I'll more than likely get a Vita so I can finally get around to playing PSP games, so that's even more games.

Some gamers only deal with "too many games" around the holiday season when publishers release a ton of triple A titles to get the most sales. It would be nice if I only had to face this situation around Christmas time, but the fact is, I'm floored with a mountain of games all the time. I'm not just counting games on current gen hardware. I've got tons of PS2 games I haven't finished or even started. Since I missed out on the first Xbox, God only knows how many games I'll end up buying for that system.

Basically, I don't think my backlog of games will ever stop growing. Every time I buy a game, just one game, it gets even larger. I usually like to finish each game I start but that doesn't always happen. Sometimes I lose interest or get sidetracked by another game. I like to think that if I've put enough hours into the game or come close enough to finishing it, that that's enough. Really, does everyone really finish every single game they play? I can be a bit of a perfectionist, but not to that extent.

This game is good. I really should finish it.
Being a huge fan of old-school gaming, I often like to go back and play the classics from the yesteryear. In doing so, that's time I could be investing in newer titles, or a game that I could be finishing up. But dang it, playing through those old greats again is just so much fun!

The digital age has added even more to my plate. Thanks to the Wii's Virtual Console service, I've been exposed to some awesome TurboGrafx/PC Engine titles like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, and Lords of Thunder.

There are times when I fear that there are just so many games that I'll never be able to experience them all. Seriously, who has that much time to dedicate to so many games? Most of us have full-time jobs, families and other matters to attend to. It was so much simpler when we were kids. No job, no responsibilities. Just sit in front of the TV and game your heart out. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those times, but being an adult means being able to afford many of the games you want. Which brings us right back to the current problem. Aggghhh!! I can't win here!

Sigh. You know, it could always be worse. There could be nothing but crappy games and then I'd have nothing to play at all. As it stands, I have a ton of awesome titles in my library so I'm never really bored. Well, I'm off to agonize over what I should play.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Latest Game Purchases #17

I'm in the middle of Christmas shopping so I'm trying not to do much in the way of shopping for myself, but these games were so insanely cheap that it was hard to pass them up.

Another game that I used to own, loaned to a friend, said friend moved, and well, here we are. I never did get around to playing Xenosaga Episode I, but I heard good things about it. I've also heard it has some pretty lengthy cut scenes so I'll be sure to not play this game before going to work. I ended up paying even less for this when I bought it than I did the first time, so I view that as a win.

Since I was buying the first Xenosaga, I figured I may as well get Episode II. Never played this one and I'll hold off on it until I finish the first one. If I ever get around to either one, that is.

Crazy Taxi was one of the first games I bought when I picked up a Dreamcast in the summer of 2001. Still own my Dreamcast copy to this day. But I did play the PS2 version at Best Buy when it released and it was identical to the Dreamcast version. I know the cover art it simple, but I just love the way it looks. The log painted on a yellow background. That's just brilliant to me. Crazy Taxi is the prefect game to take out when I feel like going for a high score or playing something that doesn't involve some convoluted mission objectives. Looking forward to driving like a maniac again.

And speaking of driving with no regard for public safety, this is another game I own for another system, the GameCube version to be exact. Burnout 2 was the breakout game for the Burnout series. I feel this Burnout had the best Crash mode and the best AI out of all the games I've played. It's been years since I've played this one and getting a second version seems like as good a reason as any to play through it again.

When I originally went to buy a Classic Controller for my Wii, all I could find was the Classic Controller Pro. Much like Wii Motion Plus, The Classic Controller Pro has became the standard Classic controller, but I came across this baby a few weeks ago while I was in GameStop. Amazingly, it was still there, even after 50% off all Wii controllers on Black Friday. I didn't think I'd have another chance to grab this again, so I picked it up while it was still available. Despite lacking the grip handles that the Pro version has, this is still a very nice controller.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shigeru Miyamoto is Staying Put, Says Nintendo

On December 7, 2011, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto told Wired in an interview that he had plans of eventually "retiring." Many saw that key word "retiring" and went into a panic. But there was really no cause for alarm.

"I'm not saying that I'm going to retire from game development altogether," the Nintendo senior managing director told the site. "What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position."

Miyamoto further explained to Wired that he wants to "be in the forefront of game development once again," building smaller projects solo or in groups consisting of younger developers. Much of Miyamoto's time these days is spent on long term game projects spanning upwards to five years. He hopes to begin work on one smaller project in the near future and show it off before 2012 ends.

Despite the clarity of the article, many assumed Miyamoto was leaving Nintendo altogether. This caused Nintendo to come out with a few statements to put people's minds at ease.

"Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto's role at Nintendo is not changing," the company said in a statement. "He will continue to be a driving force in Nintendo's development efforts."

So while it appears that Miyamoto's position at the company will change, he'll still be with Nintendo.

This man's worth is not to be underestimated. As the spearhead of creations such as Mario, Zelda and Pikmin, Miyamoto has given much to the industry. He's made some of my all-time favorite games and the industry would be all the poorer without him. But if anyone's earned some time to rest and step back to do what they truly desire to do, it's Shigeru Miyamoto. So if he wants to do other things within the company, I say let him be.

Source: GameSpot 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Virtual Console Review: Mega Man

System: NES
Genre: Action/Platformer
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Virtual Console Release: USA Aug 18, 2008 / EUR Jun 22, 2007 / JPN Jul 29, 2008
Original Release: USA Dec 1987 / EUR May 1990 / JPN Dec 17, 1987
Cost: 500 points
Players: 1
Rated: E for Everyone
Controllers Supported: Wii Remote, Classic, GameCube

The original Mega Man game is a title that is unfortunately overshadowed by it's superior successors. Despite being the game that introduced the world to the Blue Bomber, many didn't even realize that he existed until Mega Man 2 arrived. Even so, without the first Mega Man game, that much celebrated sequel along with the numerous spinoffs, would never be. Mega Man introduced the majority of the series' staples, chief among these being memorable tunes, non-liner gameplay, precision platforming and a difficulty that may very well have been responsible for introducing children the world over to expletives.

In the year 200X, Dr. Wily, like all mad scientists, dreams of world domination. To attain this, he steals the robots of Dr. Light, reprograms them and sends them off to wreck all kinds of havoc across the land. Rock, Dr. Lights lab assistant volunteers to go after the rampaging machine men and put and end to Dr. Wily's mad ambitions. To this end, Dr. Light makes the tough decision to modify Rock, giving him combat abilities to stand a chance against such powerful odds. Thus the super fighting robot, Mega Man is born (or Rockman if you live in the Land of the Rising Sun, or you just feel like calling him by his Japanese name).

Well, this fight isn't off to a very good start.
Unlike a lot of other platform games of the '80s era, you're given some freedom in where you can go in Mega Man. The six robot masters, Bomb Man, Guts Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Ice Man, and Fire Man can be disposed of in any order of your choosing. But like the announcer from Street Fighter Alpha 3 says "It all depends on your skill." To fight these androids, you have to get to them first, which can be an uphill battle in and of itself. A few of the robot masters will sustain good damage from Mega Man's default arm cannon, but more powerful foes like Elec Man will barely feel anything from it. For this reason (and because some bosses are tougher than others) a rock/paper/scissors formula has firmly been implemented. In other words, all six of these robots are vulnerable to another one's weapon. Although if you're confident or you're just looking for a challenge, the game doesn't force you to find the weakness chain. It's this kind of flexibility that really helped Mega Man stand out at the time.

The Thunder Beam will undoubtedly be your favorite toy.
Even though it's the first game in the series, the original Mega Man game boasts some very useful weapons Elec Man's Thunder Beam shoots off in three different directions in one shot and packs a punch to boot. Ice Man's Ice Slasher can stop enemies in their tracks, Cut Man's Rolling Cutter comes back to you like a boomerang, and Guts Man's Super Arm allows you to pick up certain blocks and hurl them at robotic mooks. The ever-useful Magnet Beam is one of the best adapter items in the history of Mega Man games, creating platforms to elevate Mega Man to higher ground. There's really not a dud in the lot. Even Fire Man's Fire Storm and Bomb Man's Hyper Bomb have their uses.

One of the series' biggest annoyances all started
with the very first Mega Man game.
Mega Man games have a reputation for being rather difficult and this can be traced all the way to the series' first entry. Many fans believe that even by today's standards that the first Mega Man game is no cake walk. You may have heard of a certain boss in the first Dr. Wily stage that is a brick wall to many players, but let's be real here, he's far from being the only hurdle keeping you from reaching everlasting peace. Some of the robot master levels are absolutely brutal. Guts Man's stage, while shorter than most, has an excruciatingly painful platform section that takes place on moving platforms over a bottomless pit. These moving platforms move across a line that has drop points that require perfect timing to make it to the next one. Jump too soon or not at all and you're dead. Ice Man's stage is even worse. You're Platforming over a bottomless pit over moving, shooting platforms called Foot Holders. These Foot Holders are about as reliable as a sheet of thin ice supporting the weight of an army of sumo wrestlers. It's not that they break, but it's easily possible to have one of them shoot you and knock you into the abyss. And if that doesn't happen, you can glitch clean through them and die. Unless you're some kind of masochist, going through Ice Man's stage without the Magnet Beam is not recommended.

The Magnet Beam is in Elec Man's stage. You can't
miss it. No, really, you can't miss it, because if you do,
you won't be able to pass the first Wily stage.
It may not have received as much praise as Mega Man 2's score, but the original Mega Man does house some very catchy tunes. As frustrating as Guts Man's stage is, it has one of the best themes in the game. Fire Man's stage is pretty hectic and his theme captures what it would feel like to be surrounded by blistering flames and lava at all times. Bomb Man has one of the most underrated songs in the whole series. It's a slower theme that goes well with a stage that's easier than the others.

For 500 points, Mega Man is quite a bargan. Sure, most of the sequels are better games, but this one is still worth checking out, though the difficluty may turn off some. It's harder than the games that came after it since there are no E Tanks but the Virtual Console version does make things a bit easier with being able to save. Mega Man fans and those looking for a game that requires a fair amount of skill should download this without hesitation.

Box Art Disaster 

Like many video games in the 1980s, Mega Man's American box art was radically different from it's Japanese counterpart. It was thought that Mega Man's anime look wouldn't be all that popular in the West (which is ironic when one considers how huge anime is in America now) so Capcom USA's art department scrambled to come up with a new cover. The end result was a character that looked nothing like his in-game sprite, instead resembling a middle aged man with a bizarre blue and yellow color shceme, sporting a hand blaster. Mega Man's American box art is widely regarded as some of the ugliest video game box art in the history of gaming. And yet as awful as it was, Capcom payed homage to it when Mega Man 9 released with T-shirts featuring retro American-ized Mega Man artwork. Mega Man 10 received similar artwork upon it's release.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Xenoblade: Coming to America

Ladies and gentlemen, the impossible has happened. Xenoblade Chronicles, what has been hailed as one of the most popular JRPGs of all-time is actually coming to America. Who says Nintendo doesn't listen to their core fanbase?

Developed by Monolith Soft, Xenoblade Chronicles was released in Japan on June 10, 2010, in Europe on August 19, 2011, and Australia on September 1, 2011. It was thought that the game would never see the light of day on American shores since Nintendo of America said they had no plans to release it, despite it already being translated to English. Xenoblade Chronicles now has a set release date of April 3, 2012 in North America. Thus far, the game is only available for purchase at GameStop and Nintendo's online shop.

One has to wonder if Operation Rainfall had anything to do with Xenoblade coming state site. For those of you not in the know, Operation Rainfall was a fan made campaign to get Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower, all high profile Wii games, to come to America. Operation Rainfall received coverage from numerous media outlets in the gaming press. On top of that, Tetsuya Takahashi, the director of Xenoblade has viewed Operation Rainfall in a very positive light.

"This is going to be quite interesting after everyone made all that noise about these games not coming over here and then they're finally bringing it out. Will it be too late? Will people who have gotten sick of NOA's bs who have already imported bother to buy it again to support it? If the game doesn't make enough sales will NOA blame it on the people who said they wanted it and didn't go out and buy it despite the fact that they took 2 long to bring it out? Will sales of this game even have any effect on the other 2 games of Operation Rainfall? There's a lot of stuff going on behind just this game alone," Said forum poster Sonichuman at the forums.

Source: GameSpot