Results tagged “video game” from kwc blog

Lego Star Wars remastered

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six months ago:

Every geek wants a lightsaber. When I was playing m's Wii we discussed updating the Lego Star Wars series to use the Wii controls... because it would be awesome. If you can selling a half a dozen different 'remastered'/'special edition'/'classic' versions of the movie, why not have a remastered version of the game as well with cleaned-up graphics and new Wii controls?

Looks like I'm getting my wish: Lego Star Wars to come back with all six movies in one game. "The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions will have online gameplay with drop-in and drop-out capabilities, while the Wii and DS editions will make use of those systems' unique control interfaces."

Eye of Judgement

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I was never fan of the PS2 EyeToy, so I barely blinked at the announcement of the new HD "Playstation Eye"... but I really started blinking when I saw the Eye of Judgement. Regular readers will recall my fascination with video games in Japan that allow you to interaction using playing cards -- one in particular allowed you to control the movement of your forces by moving your card for that force across the table. That technology, I'm assuming, was RFID-based.

The Eye of Judgement, if I'm interpreting the screenshots correctly, recognizes your playing cards using the EyeToy and then superimposes 3D animations on top of them. It's like Battle Chess for the 21st century. I still won't buy a PS3, but I might marvel at what I'm missing.

eoj.jpg

Zelda: Twilight Princess (a bit of a letdown)

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zeldaI beat Twilight Princess a couple of days ago but I can't say that it was the pinnacle of Zelda gameplay that I had hoped it would be. Instead of propelling the franchise forward, I felt more that it stepped backwards to Ocarina of Time with spruced up graphics. If I had played Twilight Princess before Ocarina, then I'd probably be inclined to call Twilight Princess the best game ever, and plenty of reviews have referred to it as the best Zelda ever. For me, the lack of novelty occasionally left me bored. The visual design was also a step backwards. Wind Waker was the most expressive Link to date and it truly helped the storytelling. The Twilight Link is a plastic doll barely able to raise a single eyebrow of emotion. For someone like me who buys the next Nintendo platform to play Zelda, I perhaps have unsurmountable expectations that, until the Wii, have been met. Strange, considering that the Wii has been the most impressive platform release for me, ever.

My reaction is best understood when touring of some of the past Zeldas. (bolded titles were the next-generation releases):

  • Legend of Zelda: this game was amazing for its time, but without friends and Nintendo Power to tell you where to bomb, I probably never would have finished this game.
  • Zelda II: never played more than a dungeon or two as the side-scroller never caught my attention
  • A Link to the Past: this game greatly expanded the Zelda story and universe. It established the story elements and puzzle mechanics that are general basis of later Zelda games (Hyrule Castle, hookshot, parallel universe, master sword as story element).
  • Ocarina of Time: took Zelda into 3D and ranks as one of my favorite games off all time. I'm still amazed as to how well the designers were able to translate Zelda-ness into 3D.
  • Majora's Mask: I enjoyed this game, even if it did reuse of the Ocarina engine. It was not a next-generation Zelda, nor was it meant to be, but it had an entertaining 3-day story construct that made it different from previous Zelda. It also had a complete lack of a Hyrule/Ganon storyline, which kept it a fresh experience. I am impressed that they managed to deliver a game that was so similar to its predecessor in technology and feel, but different enough to remain entertaining.
  • Wind Waker: The Gamecube-based toon shading helped deliver the best visual design of any Zelda (still) with Link actually able to emote and use facial expressions as clues. It also introduced a continuous world, but had to hide load times in large expanses of sea. I appreciated the fact that they took a risk and did away with the Hyrule-Castle-spoke-and-wheel map model and I loved the game overall, but like many, I eventually tired of the sailing -- you know its bad when you can point your boat, go to the bathroom, and still not have arrived where you need to. With an outboard motor and a more densely populated world, it could have been a perfect game.

Then you come to Twilight Princess. Twilight is weird because it is a Gamecube game ported to the Nintendo Wii, so its not truly a next-generation effort. But it is also entirely different from its Gamecube-brother Wind Waker. Regardless, it is not a game designed for the Wii. This isn't necessary a bad thing, but for Zelda games its uncommon. I've often joked that Nintendo designs each next-generation controller for Zelda -- the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube controllers both seem a bit odd until you play the Zelda game for that system. Along this line of thinking, for Twilight to truly be a next-generation Zelda experience, the Wiimote would have to be more than a tacked-on experience. Unfortunately, it's clear that you could play the game with a Gamecube controller as everything (except for fishing, which I hate) has the same mechanics as Ocarina/Wind Waker.

About the only time I found the Wiimote really engaging was during certain boss fights that required Link to plunge his sword into the big boss. I found myself gripping the Wiimote like a dagger and violent plunging it into the air. These were the moments I was hoping to have more of. I'm hoping that Miyamoto has a true Nintendo Wii Zelda cooking in the oven, one that takes previous Zelda mechanics like the ocarina, wind waker, and howling and gives them the fun, stand-up experience of the Wii.

Mortal Kombat for Wii

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Gamespot has an interview and demo video with Ed Boon of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Watching Boon swing around the controller forward and back to throw Scorpion's spear has me pretty excited to see the fighting game genre adapted to Wii controls, even if I was more of a Street Fighter II player than Mortal Kombat back in the day. Quarter-circles, semi-circles, and forward-back motions look far more graceful when executed with a Wiimote.

Mortal Kombat is the first game that I've seen to take a different control perspective for the Wiimote. Wii Sports, Warioware, SSX: Blur and Madden: 07 are all first-person control systems that requires you to think of the characters on the screen as your avatar. Mortal Kombat appears to have chosen a god-perspective control system that makes the character on the screen your puppet. Instead of flinging the Wii controller forward as you would if you were Scorpion in the game, you flick it from left-to-right or right-to-left depending on whether Scorpion is facing right or left. The Mii Creator shares this same god perspective and I'm sure that there are others, but this video was a fresh take for me.

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I'm only throught the first temple in Zelda: Twilight Princess, but I'm already struck by how much more similar Okami and Zelda are than I originally thought. More specifically, I'm shocked by how close Twilight Princess and Okami are. It's as if they shared the exact same concept art when they were being created. The spirits that you free in Twilight Princess are very, very similar in design to the gods you free in Okami, both feature darkness covering the land that you clear bit by bit, both have a wolf as the main title character, and both have an annoying companion character that rides your back as a wolf. Above you can see screenshots of the spirits/gods for comparison -- I wasn't able to find good screenshots on the Web, but these should give you a general idea.

They are still very different games and I am enjoying both. They are twins that were separated at birth and grew up in to very different adults. Both feature unique gameplay features that are fun to explore: Okami has its brush system and Twilight Princess delivers the Wii remote fun. The overall stories, despite their similarities, are also very different. But I'm still surprised when I come across yet another thing in Twilight Princess that makes me think that someone snuck a peek at the concept art from the other.

Getting closer to awesomeness

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Every geek wants a lightsaber. When I was playing m's Wii we discussed updating the Lego Star Wars series to use the Wii controls... because it would be awesome. If you can selling a half a dozen different 'remastered'/'special edition'/'classic' versions of the movie, why not have a remastered version of the game as well with cleaned-up graphics and new Wii controls?

Perhaps its best to call it a proof-of-concept of awesomeness, but checkout WiiSaber. WiiSaber lets you connect your WiiMote to your Mac and wave it around with appropriate lightsaber noises. It's an update to MacSaber, which lets you swing around your MacBook and make lightsaber noices. Engadget has videos.

New Super Mario Bros

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newsupermario.jpgI don't think I've ever reviewed a game on my blog, except to briefly note when I beat Zelda: Wind-Waker. This is mainly because I don't play that videogames that often. I will often buy the latest Nintendo console just to play Zelda, and while the SSX series had me obsessed with virtual snowboarding, it's really the classics that bring me out of semi-retirement. When I saw that New Super Mario Bros was coming out, it was the first order I placed when I returned from Japan with my DS lite.

It's a fun remake of the original side-scrollers and I love the nice touches they added in, like when the enemies jump in unison to the music. I also like that they maintained the ultimate boss-defeating strategy of the original (I view that as a spoiler as much as saying, "Kong dies"). The main game doesn't make that much use of the dual screen capabilities of the DS, which would probably interfere with the remake quality, but the minigames will test your dexterity with the touch pad.

I stopped caring about the Super Mario series when they went into 3D, which is not a complaint about 3D: I became even more obsessed with Zelda when it went into 3D. The transition into 3D for Zelda was a natural progression of the series for me, whereas Super Mario Bros lost its essential character. Zelda is a game about exploration; Super Mario is about getting from point A to point B in a straight line, occassionally taking a shortcut through a pipe. The levels are short, which is good because I don't want to aggravate my wrists, and even though the overall game is fairly short, there's plenty of sub-missions like, "collect all the gold coins," to keep completists occupied a bit longer.

ArsTechnica Review of New Super Mario Bros

Akihabara is awesome

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... but if I lived there I would quickly spend all my money on every gadget and toy ever known. I visited both the old Akihabara with the various small shops with various specialties as well as Yodabashi Camera, which is pretty much Akibahara sanitized and compressed into a single giant building. My purchases were as varied as Akihabara: a SATA/IDE to USB converter, model Shinkansen trains, an LED light on a cellphone strap, a Godzilla toy out of a capsule machine, an R2-D2 bottle cap, and pixel blocks for recreating Nintendo sprites. Yes, a bunch of crap, but now I own it all. I would have bought a radio and hopups for my unfinished R/C car if only I had a bit more room and actually remembered what I needed.

One of the coolest things I saw was that they have video games where you use trading cards to control the action. In a military strategy game, you manuever and command your units by moving their cards across the table. In a soccer game, you control your lineup by positioning your player cards on the table. We tried one of the more boring card games that just involves sticking your cards into the machine, but we didn't get beyond the tutorial section -- that darn goblin just wouldnt die!

I also saw a Nintendo DS Lite for the first time. I would buy one if they weren't sold out everywhere. I didn't fully understand the coolness of that platform until y's sister showed me an America travel program that teaches American English. It fully utilizes the two screens of the DS. If you select a phrase to 'say' something in English, you can display that phrase upside down on the top screen so that the person you're talking to can read it. You can also use the touch screen to practice writing English phrases displayed on the top screen. There's currently programs for America, Germany and Thailand, among others, but that's not too helpful for me as they are all in Japanese. I wish that all of our Japan guides could be compressed onto a signle DS cartridge.

Katamari Damacy (Evil Cute III)

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honeyfields, ln m, and I teamed up to beat Katamari Damacy (actually, it was honeyfields who did most of the work, we just came in near the end). Unlike Grand Theft Auto, Katamari is family friendly because it makes horrific death and destruction of animals, people, and towns cute.

Steven Johnson gave a talk at Books Inc. in Mountain View in order to promote his new book, Everything Bad is Good for You. (a shortened version of his Apple Store Talk for those who saw that).

His stated purpose for the talk/book is that is an attempt to talk on conventional wisdom that things have gotten worse, that newer media (TV/video games) appeal to the lowest common denominator. It is a "contrarian but honest argument" that looks, not at the content, but at the cognitive complexity of these media (# of characters, plots, etc...)

I've transcribed my notes into the extended entry. Before the jump you can checked out kottke's review or Gladwell's review (the kottke review includes some links to other resources). Or, you go straight to the source, Steven Johnson's blog, where he's be reviewing the reviewers, posting his schedule, and whatnot.

Finally, you can read Watching TV Makes You Smarter, which Johnson wrote for the New York Times Magazine and pretty much summarizes the arguments in his talk/book.

Brian Magerko, John E. Laird, Mazin Assanie, Alex Kerfoot, Devvan Stokes

Information on a storytelling environment built in Unreal Tournament.

AI in computer games

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I like video games. I work in an AI lab. I am compelled to post this: AI in Computer Games - Can Computer Games Employ AI Artfully? (ACM Queue)

Zelda Complete!

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The first sign that my vacation is productive: I finished Zelda: Wind-Waker today. I got far really fast in the game, then I stopped playing. I think I was really, really bored of sailing from island to island. Note to developers: at least let Link get an outboard motor or something. Even with the warp tune you still spend WAY to much time sailing around. For example, to get a Triforce shard you have to 1) sail to the island with the map, 2) sail to Tingle's island to get Tingle to read the map for you, 3) sail to the location on the map to pick up your piece. Given that there are 8 triforce shards, this just seems like an artificial way to make the game longer.

My verdict: while the game is beautiful, and the game play is fun, there simply is not enough content to justify how long it takes to finish the game. Although I think the other Zelda games had plenty of travel time, its a lot more interesting to be walking on land where there's scenery than it is to be sailing around with nothing but blue around you.

Environmental Video-gaming

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KoKoRo posted a link to a new Gameboy Advance game in Japan that has a sunlight sensor on the cartridge. In order to use the "Sun Gun" weapon, the player has to first get power from real sunlight. This seems like a really novel idea - in addition to being a way to keep the kids out of the house it reminded me a lot of the Context-Aware Photography folks that want to include sensors in digital cameras to affect the image taken.
- KoKoRo: A Sun Sensor ame : Go outside, Get sun light and play GBA!

BRE: The End

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I'm finally finished with BRE. I got annihilated by Datastream, Gameland, and Gargoyle's. This board that we picked turned out to be completely lame, with the three best boards ganging up on the mid-tier boards. The matchup wasn't even close, and the conduct was hardly respectable.

BRE: First day of freedom

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A friend of mine got me into playing BRE, which is this old BBS game that they've updated to allow inter-BBS play (you telnet into the BBS server). The game brings back a lot of memories of old BBS days. Today is my regions first day of freedom, so we'll see how things go.