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May 2006 Archives

Video Game Podcast for Wednesday, May 31st 2006

This week the whole gang is here to ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF and any other apparel you may be wearing on your feet. The Geek, Frodo, White Mage and Nevery discuss free gaming magazines, funny Photoshop contests, Wii Karaoke, X-Men and much much more. Check it out!

--Frodo
I'm Juggernaut, BITCH!

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Last Bit Of Wii Functionality: Karaoke?

William Hung and the Wii Singing Karaoke

Nintendo recently snagged the domain WiiKaraoke.com, and people are speculating that this means that there will be a microphone in the Wii controller. Well of course there is going to be a mic in the controller, but what is it going to be used for? Nintendo bigwigs have stated that there is more to the Wii than meets the eye - what if along with a built-in web browser, built in-DVD, built-in Gamecube compatability and more... there was also built in karaoke? Wouldn't that be appealing to non-gamers, who Nintendo is currently trying to court? IT MAKES SENSE COME ON.

--Frodo

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Podcast for Monday, May 22nd 2006

This week Frodo and The Geek get back into the swing of things and discuss New Super Mario Bros and other non-video game related items. That's right, for the first time in MONTHS the geeks talk about Sci-Fi and nerdy things again. Phew! Have some delicious show notes.

--frodo

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Nostalgia Pandering

new_super_mario_bros_20051104.jpgI don't know how I feel about the New Super Mario Bros. I picked it up the other day, very excited about this release, it is the first new Mario platformer (where it is just Mario + Luigi) in about 15 years. There was an interview with the director in Nintendo Power last month which was less than encouraging, he didn't seem to know his own characters (saying that the Koopa Kids were in the game when in actuality it's just baby bowser) and stating odd reasons for artistic decisions (the 3d polygon graphics were used because it was "easier").

After seeing more gameplay video on the official website I was convinced that the game would be worthwhile, and I got very excited about playing a great Mario platformer again. But now I'm not so sure.

Granted, it is a fun game. It's challenging and fun in true Mario style, but there is something off about it. It seems to pander too much to our nostalgia without offering anything new, fresh or engaging. One of the things that made the Mario series so special in the past was the exploration and the feeling of being rewarded for diligent secret block searching. There are secrets in NSMB, there are new power-ups and items, but something just seems off. The pandering gets to me. The sound effects are mostly original sounds from the NES days and the music is remixed old tunes with weird sound effects layered over. Would someone picking this game up who had never played the old NES games be put off by the retro sound effects? Would they wonder why the game has such poor audio on purpose? Hearing the original coin up sound is neat the first time, but after the 5000th time it gets a bit annoying. The music leaves much to be desired, as well. There seems to be one overworld and one underworld song and they just loop over and over again. What happened to the great atmospheric tunes of different worlds in the Mario universe? If I go to a desert level, I want a song to help me get into the spirit of things, I don't want the same song to follow me from the snow level, or from the grass level.

The graphics irk me more than anything else. The polyons are just plain lazy, why couldn't the game just have beautifully drawn sprites? Super Paper Mario, coming soon for the Gamecube, takes the lazy route by using pre-existing Paper Mario sprites but looks gorgeous. The polygonal effects just look horrible scaled on the small screen and make the hit detection awkward and frustrating.

The play controls feel odd as well. One of the huge things about Mario games is that the play control is always tight, smooth, and very well done. There is something loose about this game... I don't remember if this was the case in older Mario games, but if you get Mario running one direction, he just keeps running with a bit of momentum, you can literally let go of the control pad and just jump if you are fast enough. This leads to sliding around and inaccurate jumps - death for platform games.

There are many fun bits to the game. It is challenging, like I said, and holds some unlockables and surprises. Something about it is just strikingly unremarkable to me. It feels like it is fun, and I will enjoy playing through it, but once I complete it I will never come back to it like I used to with the NES games.

Have you played it? What do you think? Leave a comment or send it to our mailbag!

--Frodo

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Podcast for Monday, May 15th 2006

E3 happened and left, and Frodo, Nevery , The Geek and White Mage are left to pick up the pieces. Sony copied, Nintendo soared and Microsoft shrugged. Here are some show notes:


--Frodo

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