Nintendo is Once Again Showing That Nothing Can be Old if it is Timeless

Between the hype, and controversy, around “Bioshock: Infinite”, big upcoming titles like “Grand Theft Auto V” and “The Last of Us,” and Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles drawing their initial buzz, there hasn’t been much press from Nintendo, especially considering the somewhat disappointing sales for the Wii U, and how badly they could use some good publicity right now.

However recently Nintendo has unleashed a plethora of news via their Nintendo direct service, that reveals that things have in fact been very busy at the mushroom kingdom.

Among quite a few announcements are a new “Yoshi’s Island,” a re-released “Donkey Kong Country,” a new “Mario Party,” a new “Mario and Luigi” RPG title, a new “Mario Golf,” a sequel to “A Link to the Past,” and, by far the biggest news at all, the long, long, long awaited US and European re-release of the cult classic “Earthbound,” which is now automatically the best game on the Wii U.

I’d say that’s quite a lot of new titles in a short span, but that’s not exactly true is it? Most of the big announcements are sequels, remakes, or re-releases, with nary a strictly new property in sight. For most companies this would be seen as lazy at the least, but Nintendo isn’t exactly most companies are they?

Instead this is not only a satisfying announcement for fans, but a smart one for Nintendo as well. It’s not a stretch to say that the Wii U and 3DS aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, so Nintendo is doing what they always do in times past when they need to spark a system sale or two, and that’s go to the franchise well. Sure they’re drawing deeper from the well than usual (an “Earthbound” re-release pretty much scrapes the bottom), but they’ve proven before that they have the ability to use these franchises to not only boost figures, but show other developers new and exciting ways to creatively explore their hardware (though the Wii U could still use some more Nintendo love).

Whether or not that ends up being case here, if you’re a Nintendo loyalist, you’re about to get a wave of highly anticipated titles that, if history stands true, will be of equally high quality. For everyone else, it’s a reminder that even at this point in the game, Nintendo’s big guns change the focus of any war.

“Bioshock Infinite”…and 8 Other Games Well Worth the Wait

I hereby denounce any public or private doubts I had about “Bioshock Infinite.”

The game really is just that good, as you’ve probably gathered from nearly every review and impression.

It’s hard to not have had doubts at some point about the title though, considering the substantial development time and departures of major developers during which. There is, however, precedent for games surviving that type of ordeal, as an elite group of titles managed to survive long delays, and massive amounts of hype and expectations, to emerge as great games. I can think of 8 in particular that were well worth the wait.

 

Honorable Mention – “Fallout 3” – A definite candidate, but “Fallout 3” gets a lot of love on this site, so just once I wanted to give some other titles their dues.

8. Mother 3

I remember seeing the first blurry and ugly screens of the “EarthBound 64” project in Nintendo Power, and being ecstatic about the prospect to a sequel about my favorite game ever.

As time went on screenshots and other news releases became fewer and fewer, until many started to believe the whole thing may have been an elaborate hoax. Then around 2004-2005, word got out that a third entrant in the cult hit “Mother” series would finally see release…in Japan. Not content with letting the land of the rising sun have all the fun, a dedicated group of American fans released an incredible and thorough translation of the title, so almost everyone could finally play the long awaited sequel.

While admittedly not the best game on this list, the “abandon all hope” mentality was strong regarding this one, and the dedicated translation efforts go to show that you can’t get in the way between fans and the games they really want.

7. LA Noire

Not all long awaited game are continuations or sequels.

The only original property on this list, there were rumblings of a 1940′s noire style video game dating back to 2003 when developer Team Bondi was formed. Originally set to be published exclusively by Sony, as the years wore on the game would switch publishers to Take Two, and seemingly grew in ambition as the release date kept slipping and slipping. Until the game graced the cover of a 2010 Game Informer, many even believed it to be quietly axed.

While reception to “L.A. Noire” was somewhat mixed due to its polarizing gameplay style, there is no denying the technical marvel of the graphics, or the pitch perfect execution of its retro style. The first video game to ever be accepted as an entrant to the Tribeca Film Festival, “L.A. Noire” emerged from an endless development cycle quite possibly something greater than it was originally conceived as.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The only reason this one isn’t higher, is because it was somewhat inevitable.

Still it was 1991 when “A Link to the Past” had Nintendo fans the world over gushing over the series’ brilliance, and outside of “Link’s Awakening” for the Game Boy, it would be 1998 before the true follow up to the series would see release. In the middle was a whole lot of nothing, as Nintendo remained mum about their most anticipated theoretical title, only casually referencing it, and often speaking of only delays.

Of course you probably know how this one turned out, as “Ocarina of Time” is widely regarded as one of the best games ever, and shows anticipation is a benefit if you can capitalize off of it.

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Gaming’s Greatest Hidden Weapons

Ever since I bumped Mario’s head into an invisible block in “Super Mario Bros.,” I’ve been a fan of secrets in gaming.

When you consider the amount of work put into making a complete game even functional, it’s amazing that game developers have the time to create some of the coolest objects in the game, and hide them places where they may never be found. Yet ever since some hidden credits in “Adventure,” video games and secrets have gone hand and hand.

Of these secrets, the best are the hidden weapons. Often maniacally tucked away and requiring a great deal of luck and effort to ever wield, they usually serve as unopposed killing machines worth every ounce of time and energy used to harness them, though the journey to do so is often more difficult than the game ever would have been if you’d chosen not to seek them out.

I love them though for their holy grail like status in many of the titles they are featured in, and these are five of my favorites.

The Sword of Kings – “EarthBound”

Any day I get to mention “EarthBound” is a good day.

My favorite game of all time has a series of items that you only have a 1 out of 128 chance of acquiring after beating certain enemies in specific spots. Of those items, the most sought after may be the Sword of Kings.

While not the most powerful of the 1/128 items, it is the only weapon that one of your characters can use in the game, giving him a significant offensive boost. It also must be unlocked against a very tough enemy at a point where, if you haven’t been level grinding, you are lucky enough to survive a battle with, much less play the odds of defeating enough to find the fabled sword.

To this day I’ve never unlocked the Sword of Kings, though I regularly try.

The MIRV – “Fallout 3″

There is a weapon in “Fallout 3” called the Fat Man that shoots a mini-nuclear warhead that nothing in the game can withstand. The MIRV shoots 8 of those warheads at once.

To unlock it, you must find five transcripts from the Keller family spread throughout the world. Unless you’re cheating, these are not easy to just run across, and even doing so yields no guarantee you know what the hell they lead to. Piece it all together though, and you’d find your way to a hidden section of the national guard depo where the most powerful, and unnecessary, weapon ever in a video game lies.

Even in a world built upon, and still teeming with, nuclear atrocities, the MIRV might just be the greatest war crime ever constructed. It’s also happens to be fun as hell.

Biggoron’s Sword – “Ocarina of Time”

A gaming secret in a major release that few people knew about? There was a pre-internet time when such a thing was possible.

You may think there is no greater sword in “Ocarina of Time” than the Master Sword, but you would be wrong. To get it though, you have to complete a VERY lengthy quest of which there are very few hints of its existence, or where to go next during it. Make it through this hellacious and confusing journey though, and you’ll be rewarded with a two handed sword that does twice the damage as the Master Sword, and looks 10x as intimidating.

Finding the Biggoron’s Sword without the step by step instructions was a truly rewarding experience back in the day. Even with the walkthrough, it is still one of Link’s greatest all time weapons.

Scarab Gun (Main Location)- “Halo 2″

The Scarab Gun is like the lost Ark of the Covenant in that it may be something man was never meant to find, and is face meltingly powerful.

Whoever discovered this gun in the game, and the sequence to get it, is an obsessive compulsive evil genius. The Scarab was clearly not meant to be found by 99.9% of the people who played “Halo 2,” as the commonly accepted process to acquire it demands tremendous skill, potential hours upon hours of patience, and a split second moment of reaction thats absence negates the previous two requirements.

Your reward is a normal looking gun floating above a warning marker in a seemingly unreachable part of the level, that just so happens to pack the firepower of a tank, and will obliterate any single obstacle in your path. The gun only lasts one level, but the thrill of acquiring it is forever.

Excalibur II – “Final Fantasy IX”

Though I’m sure this isn’t factually true, from my personal knowledge and experience, this is as hard of a hidden weapon to unlock as exists.

See, if you play “Final Fantasy IX” the normal way (beat the main game, do a few side quests, enjoy yourself) it takes you about 45-50 hours to complete. To unlock the Excalibur II, you’ll need to get to this 4-disc adventure’s final boss in under 12 hours.

Yikes.

It’s not a challenge any sane individual would ever undertake, and requires all of your powers and efforts to complete. Manage to do so though, and you are rewarded with a sword that can deal the series’ 9999 damage max to even the most powerful of enemies at will, not to mention more hardcore nerd bragging rights than you could acquire even through sex with an actual un-paid human.

 

So I’m very curious to know what your favorite hidden weapons are, and which are the most difficult you’ve ever personally found. Be sure to let me know in the comments below.

What does “Earthbound”, the Vice President of the World, and a Homeless Guy Have in Common? That Would be New RPG “Citizens of Earth”

It’s not uncommon for good ideas to not translate into good video games. However, even in instances where creative games bomb spectacularly, they can still lead to very memorable experiences.

Even though we don’t have much to go off of regarding it at this time, it still seems like recently revealed indie RPG project “Citizens of Earth” is guaranteed to at least be a memorable experience as it has not one, but several very interesting ideas forming its basic blueprint.

It comes to us from developer Eden Industries who crafted one of those aforementioned brilliant, but flawed, games with their first title, “Waveform”, and has players taking the role of the Vice President of the World in his quest to rid his small home town of various weirdos and presumed evil doers. Now being a politician, and not wishing to get his hands dirty, the VP takes on a “team leader” approach and recruits denizens of the town to fight his battles for him. The character types range from body builders, to baristas, to homeless guys, and each not only brings unique attributes to combat, but when left out of your party, can provide certain abilities based on their character type with services like discounted items in their shops, town expansions, and exploration rewards.

Few specifics are known about the game, but it is confirmed that it will be much in the style of a classic JRPG, only with no random encounters (enemies will be viewable on the game world) and a combat system that will allow for battle restarts for party member swaps. Other than that, the games creator’s are sooner to talk about the broadstrokes and style of “Citizens of Earth”, and it’s easy to see why, as the game uses concepts from some of the greatest games of all time. It’s party leader influencing combat mechanic is straight from “Pokemon”, the expanded party, and their unique abilities, are reminiscent of the “Suikoden” series, it’s got a hyper Americana sense of character and environment design that reminds me of the artwork from “Fallout”, and best of all the entire game, from the humor, to the enemies, to the  basic design, borrows heavily from my favorite game of all time, “Earthbound”.

No a great idea doesn’t always mean a great game, but when you are taking your cues from games that are both some of the greatest of all time, and in some cases the most criminally underappreciated, and using them to enhance what is already a unique story concept, you come away with something that stands on its own, and looks to be an always welcome breath of fresh air for the medium. In any case fans of classic RPGs, and bold games in general, should set aside time to keep an eye on “Citizens of Earth” as it progresses, and aims to start a Kickstarter campaign later this year.

Team Fortress 2 and Other Games That Would Make Great TV Series

If you head over to Adult Swim’s website right now, you’ll find an interesting teaser. Apparently, next week Valve and Adult Swim are going to be revealing a collaboration that they describe as “their video game peanut butter… our network chocolate” and “something that you’ll probably enjoy.” The picture accompanying the announcement makes it pretty clear that this is something “Team Fortress 2“-related, and speculation everywhere has it at everything from the long-awaited “Meet the Pyro” episode of the “Meet the Team” series, to a full-on new TV series based on the insanely popular online shooter.

Considering that “Team Fortress 2″ is one of the most purely entertaining games of all time, with a comic style and personality that is unmatched in its medium, and that those “Meet the Team” videos are some of the funniest things ever produced in relation to a video game, whatever comes of this announcement is sure be a bonafide success.

Personally, I’m hoping for a “Red vs Blue” style online miniseries.

It is odd, though, that video games and television shows are two mediums that don’t have much of a celebrated history, or anticipated future of collaboration. Video games made into movies have been a popular subject of discussion for years, but for some reason very few people ever consider the potential for games as TV shows. While “Team Fortress 2” might be the strongest argument for the games to series transition in the history of video games, the truth is that I think there are at least five other titles that would do very well in an episodic format.

“Fallout”

How It Would Work: Three letters. H-B-O. The world of the “Fallout” series is one of the most brutal, bleak and terrifying of all time. Around every corner waits a new horror and atrocity, and just about every person left has become a hardened bastard because it’s the only thing that’s allowed them to survive.

It’s the perfect world for HBO’s no limit programming.

More than the violence, though, this show would need HBO’s creative freedom to really showcase the  ”Fallout” series’ biggest success, and that’s the world it takes place in. The 50s style atmosphere, mixed with the total apocalypse, is the thing that made the series stand out above all others, and it leads to some of the greatest dark humor in any medium. From the always gleeful “Fallout Boy” mascot to the incredibly inappropriate yet oddly fitting classic soundtrack, there is so much in this series that you wouldn’t have to change a bit of to make it shine as something truly unique and incredible.

What’s better is that you wouldn’t be stuck with the parameters of the series story either. There are so many tales waiting to be told that you could just borrow ideas from the established parts of the series and have more than enough foundation for even a mediocre script writer to build something truly compelling with.

In fact, with the possible exception of “Team Fortress 2,” “Fallout” is the series perhaps most primed for television. Just please… no Deathclaws. They scared me enough in the game already when I accidentally found Old Oney too early, and I certainly don’t need any more of them.

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