Archive for October, 2007

Sega gives us a “Happy Halloween” with new Condemned trailer


Sega has given all its fans, a lovely treat (or possibly a trick…), this Halloween, in the form of a new (pretty short) Condemned 2 teaser trailer.

The original Condemned, is possibly the scariest game I have played (well it’s tied with Enemy Zero), and from this video, the sequel is looking to be just as pant-changingly good.  Not a lot more to say on the matter, really. 

Condemned 2: Bloodshot, is coming to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in Q1 2008.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under , , , ,

Virtua Fighter 5 reviews are in



Great news gang, the Virtua Fighter 5 review scores are in, boys and girls, and we are proud, but not surprised, to say, Virtua Fighter 5 is officially awesome! Yep, it’s true, so lets get stuck in shall we?

1UP: 10/10

If you love fighting games and want to play a fighter that continually unveils new wrinkles day in and day out and rewards dedication like no other, this is the game to get. Virtua Fighter 5 may not have kangaroos or weapons or bridges to fall off of, but it has unmatched playability as its calling card, and that’s the only thing that counts.

IGN: 9.0 (outstanding) Editors Choice Awards

Fighter is the best fighting series in videogames. Sorry Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, DOA, and every other contender. No series has offered greater depth and complexity over its lifetime than SEGA-AM2’s Virtua Fighter.

Euro Gamer: 9/10

You already know just how much we love this game. And now, with an online mode that actually works and a wealth of new goodies to round up (not to mention the lure of Gamerpoints making us more likely to push for the higher ranks or actually play through arcade mode for once), we love it even more. Best fighting game on the 360, easily. Best fighting game of this generation, easily. Best version of this sterling beat-’em-up, easily.

OMX UK: 9.0

There is no such thing as perfection. It’s something every developer aspires to but ultimately, can never reach. It’s the impossible ideal. Bioshock is not perfection. Jessica Alba is not perfection. Even waking up on Friday morning to find you’ve been given the day off for some whimsical reason, seeing a £500 cheque addressed to you in the post and finding a missed phone call from the ex you’ve been lusting over since you split, that’s not perfection. Perfection simply doesn’t exist so while the quest to attain it is admirable, the quest to find it as pointless as returning that phone call is (she was actually drunk and trying to call a cab. Sorry. Perfection doesn’t exist, remember?).However, there is such a thing as pretty damn close to perfection. That’s where Virtua Fighter 5 sits. As far as fighting games go, it is unrivalled as the king of the genre. That’s the good news. The better news is this Xbox 360 version the absolute best version of Virtua Fighter 5 possible, making it well worth that torturous wait following the PlayStation3 release.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under , , ,

Why star classification would fix game reviews


Star classification should be used in game reviewsKotaku’s Mark Wilson perceptively describes the current and outdated state of video game reviews.

If there is no such thing as a perfect game, then why are you scoring out of 100?… Movie reviewers solved this problem a long time ago. That’s why most adopted a simpler rating system in which a 4-star movie didn’t imply “perfection” but supreme excellence.

The star classification system (preferably four over five) just works better. It would allow gamers to quickly gauge a game’s quality while paying more attention to the actual review, all without taking the review score too seriously. One star is “poor.” Two stars “mediocre.” Three stars “good,” and four stars “excellent” (never perfect).

Then again, Metacritic would just convert the score to a 10-point scale, but at least you’re doing your part.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under ,

An exploration of Zelda theory


Ah, Infendo, let’s embrace it — we loves us some Zelda.

An exploration of Zelda theoryAnd we’re far from alone in our affinity for sword-slashing and Hyrulian dungeon-crawling. The Legend of Zelda has been one of the most revered video game franchises of all time, selling nearly 50 million units of software and spanning more than 20-years-worth of games. And if the recent release of Phantom Hourglass for the DS is any indication, Zelda fans are as passionate as ever for their series; in the midst of Halo-mania, the touch-controlled handheld masterpiece sold more than 230,000 copies in North America during its launch week and quickly surpassed one million sales worldwide, according to the video game sales-tracking Web site

But during lapses between Triforce quests and Stalfos slaying, and increasingly since the release of Ocarina of Time in 1998, many dedicated Zelda players have begun to question the stories being told by Nintendo. Specifically, how do these games fit together? What is the chronological progression of the individual legends of Zelda? Though simple in purpose, the question hints at dramatically complex answers and has spawned elaborate and detailed analyses of the Zelda canon. Entire Web sites have been built, filled to the brim with points and counterpoints in regard to the Legend of Zelda, and communities of Zelda devout have grown, all in the name of exploring perhaps one of the nerdiest – but damn, if it isn’t interesting! – fields of pseudo-study known to man.

The multi-faceted, the multi-branched disciplines of “Zelda theory.”

Though fans almost certainly pondered the timeline for years beforehand, the intricacies of the plot presented in Ocarina of Time essentially gave rise to modern Zelda theory. Fans began to perceive sharp inconsistencies in the stories being told by Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aonuma and the rest of the Zelda development team, and given the questions posed by Ocarina of Time, players started looking for answers. The mystique grew quickly due in large part to the fact that Nintendo never released an official, comprehensive timeline of the Zelda titles, nor had it (at that point) ever implicitly stated one exists at all.

Interviews and developer commentary sometimes reveal a brief flash of insight, only to contradict it in later exchanges. In a 2004 interview with Game Informer’s Billy Berghammer at the annual Game Developers Conference, Aonuma claimed Four Swords is “the oldest tale in the Zelda timeline,” but when questioned later about inconsistencies with his claim and the events of Ocarina of Time, he admitted he “didn’t actually put the story for (Four Swords) together.” Because of the lack of concrete information in regard to a Zelda timeline – most Zelda theorists hold only in-game material as relevant, and even then, there are seemingly inconsistent messages – and the shroud of mystery Nintendo maintains around its renowned franchise, Zelda theory is exactly what the name implies: it is a highly theoretical practice upon which very little can be considered absolute.

Because of these inherent difficulties, Zelda theories are wildly varied and crafted with a painstaking attention to detail. And most importantly, they are loads of fun to discuss with like-minded, passionate fans.

(Author’s note: By no means is this meant to be a revolutionary expose on the definitive timeline of Zelda theory. Rather, this is merely a basic exploration of some of the important concepts, timeline theories and the practice itself. We’ll get our feet wet here, but there are countless Web sites – doubters need only Google “zelda theory” or “zelda timeline” for proof – to help you really jump in the pool. And I would certainly encourage such a dive.)

An important step to take before approaching the individual lines of theory themselves is to understand the constants present across them. Despite the sharp differences between the theories, nearly all of them recognize that certain elements of the Zelda canon are indisputable. Therefore, most experienced Zelda theorists will accept certain concepts as historical facts within the overall Legend of Zelda, regardless of the timeline they subscribe to.

Perhaps the most important constant involves the characters themselves, particularly Princess Zelda and the green-clad boy hero Link. Because the events of some games in the series take place centuries apart, the Links and Zeldas in a given game may not the same people as in other Zelda games. However, this does not necessarily imply there is a different Link and Zelda in each game. Rather, it varies depending on the game.

Confused? Really, it’s not bad. Take it slow.

So when is the Link in one game the same Link as in another, and how can a player be sure? Consider Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. These two games are directly related; the latter takes place immediately following the events of the prior. In other words, Majora’s Mask is a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, so the Link who rescues Hyrule from the evil Ganon in Ocarina of Time is the same young boy who saves the parallel world of Termina in Majora’s Mask. A more recent example would be Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass; the introductory scene in Phantom Hourglass picks up immediately after the closing scene in Wind Waker, so the cel-shaded Link in both games is the same boy hero.

However, the Link in Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask and the Link in Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass are two completely different heroes in two completely different time periods. This theory is not only supported by the stories told by the games themselves – one Link lives among the eternally young Kokiri in an expansive forest, while the other is raised by his grandmother in a bustling island community – but is proven by the dialogue of the Wind Waker itself, which confirms that any time an evil arises to threaten the land of Hyrule, a young boy named Link will appear, as if out of nowhere, to defend it. This recurring cycle is also alluded to in the game’s dramatic conclusion, when Ganondorf, having experienced defeat several times at the hands of a green-clad boy hero, considers it fate that he “would again gather the three with the crests” in accordance to the repeating prophecies of Hyrulian legend.

There are other consistent concepts present across most theories, ranging from the acknowledgment of specific events to the roles of certain characters. Many games reference an epic battle, such as the “fierce war” described in Ocarina of Time and the “great battle” mentioned in Twilight Princess. It is accepted that these are references to the same war, which occurred before Hyrule was unified. There is also a “Seal War,” as described in A Link to the Past, in which Ganondorf’s entry into the Sacred Realm – and subsequent acquisition of the Triforce, transformation to Ganon and invasion of Hyrule – is described. Constants such as these allow for theorists to have a concrete historical context to reference in their approaches.

And of course, there are many approaches to Zelda theory.

One of the simplest is single-timeline theory, which proposes the entire Legend of Zelda canon takes place on the same timeline. As with every discipline of Zelda theory, individual single-timeline theorists differ in their opinions of the exact order of the games, but their practice is constant; they consider the events of each game and attempt to place them in a logical, linear timeline.

Investigating the functions of single-timeline theory is an excellent way for new Zelda theorists to attain an understanding of the basic principles of the discipline. Because of the simplicity of the concept – analyze the events, story lines and dialogues within each of the games and piece them together – it is a fairly easy theory to put into practice. However, while single-timeline theory is an excellent means of warming up to more advanced Zelda theory, the light it sheds on the overall Legend of Zelda is becoming increasingly dim. Any timeline proposing that the entire legend takes place in a linear fashion, or on the same timeline, is likely flawed in one major regard:

The events in Ocarina of Time.

In order to understand Zelda theories beyond those of a single-timeline, a full play-through and understanding of the closing events of Ocarina of Time is absolutely crucial. It is the turning point within Zelda theory.

Think back to Ocarina of Time. After Link slays him amidst the burning rubble of his fallen castle, Ganon is sealed away by the sacred sages and peace is restored to Hyrule. As Zelda thanks Link, she expresses regret that Link gave so much to the land of Hyrule, but was robbed of his precious childhood by the sages. To make amends, Zelda sends Link back in time seven years to before Ganon took over their sacred land. The game then ends with a strong sense of deju-vu; a young Link again sneaks into Hyrule Castle, as he did at the beginning of the game, but this time tells young Zelda of his adventure. His warnings about the actions the Gerudo thief Ganondorf will take against her father’s kingdom would then presumably inspire the king to prevent the adventures of adult Link in Ocarina of Time from ever happening at all.

It may initially seem that the game ends by erasing the adult portion of Ocarina of Time from history. After all, Link leaps forward seven years early in the game, and at the end, his adult version is sent back to his original time period to relive those seven lost years. Again, at first glance, this would make the adult-portion of Ocarina of Time obsolete, but such an interpretation is flawed; it does not account for the game’s “first ending.” Though adult Link is sent back in time at the end of Ocarina of Time, adult Zelda is not; the world Link leaves behind remains, and from this two-world ending, split-timeline theory is born.

This new theory differs dramatically from single-timeline theory, and given the events of newer Zelda titles, has generally become the most practiced discipline in Zelda theory. Split-timeline theory maintains that each of the games in the Zelda canon can logically be placed into one of two alternate Hyrule dimensions: the ravaged one adult Link saves at the end of Ocarina of Time and then leaves behind, and the unscarred one Link returns to as a child thanks to Zelda. Though individuals may disagree on which games take place in which timeline and their specific order on the two timelines, nearly all split-timeline theorists concede that Ocarina of Time marks the point at which the timeline splits in two.

In order to effectively grasp the often-complex principles of split-timeline theory, it is useful to explore one of the promising theories within the discipline, as outlined by last year and currently viewable on YouTube. In this specific example of split-timeline theory, the world adult Link leaves behind sets the stage for Twilight Princess years later, and even longer after, the flooded land of Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. This timeline chronicles the events of a Hyrule that, for simplicity purposes, is called “Hyrule B.” In the world Link returns to as a child after Ocarina of Time, young Link accidentally entwines himself in the struggles swallowing the parallel land of Termina in Majora’s Mask. This timeline outlines the events of “Hyrule A.”

This proposal is interesting in that, coincidentally, both of the timelines are unique in the games they encompass. While “Hyrule A” is mainly chronicled by the events of the classic Zelda games, the story of “Hyrule B” is slowly being revealed by newer games. Both timelines, however, are capped by one of the two Oracles games, Ages and Seasons.

Single-timeline and split-timeline theories are obviously separated by jarring differences, but they at least have one basic idea in common: each of the games does, in fact, tell a different story. There is a segment of practitioners within Zelda theory, however, who believe the exact opposite, literally throwing all of the theoretical intricacies discussed up to this point aside. It emphasizes these games are telling a story – specifically, a legend – and therefore, it is logical to assume that the Legend of Zelda is, literally, a legend that evolves with the passage of time. This discipline of Zelda theory, known as literal legend theory, proposes the simplest explanation for a timeline of the Zelda canon.

Quite simply, there is none.

Literal legend theorists often point out the general parallels between each of the games. Despite their differences, most Zelda games follow a very similar overall story: a green-clad hero named Link rises against an ultimate evil to save a desperate land. These theorists propose each Zelda game is actually a retelling of the same story, and the differences between them can be accounted for by the natural evolutions that any oral tale will take through the years. Though it may seem a relatively generic approach to the Zelda canon, literal legend theory is the only approach to logically account for each of the inconsistencies often appearing in the games. These theorists answer such pressing contradictions – which are devastating to more complex lines of theory – by simply embracing them.

As eloquently stated by, “as the Legend of Zelda is passed down from person to person, it changes, it evolves.”

As confirmation for their proposals, some literal legend theorists lean on the opening cinematic of Wind Waker, which begins with an important phrase:

“This is but one of the legends of which the people speak.”

As simple as these twelve words may seem, they can provide a very mixed message depending on which theories a player subscribes to. At their most basic level of interpretation, they seem to support timeline-related Zelda theories as relevant exercises. Because it prefaces Wind Waker as “one of the legends,” the immediate implication is that there are many different legends “of which the people speak.” This could mean that each of these legends would be related to each other as part of a comprehensive Legend of Zelda.

But if Wind Waker is “one of the legends,” are the others “of which the people speak” actually evolved versions of the same story? This logical interpretation gives strong validity to the proposals of literal legend theory and, when applied well, call timeline-reliant Zelda theory into severe question.

Could all of this exploration have been done in vein?

Fortunately for the theorists, there seems to be no end to the speculation. Nintendo is certainly not shedding any definitive light on the subject, though many of the Zelda developers continue spilling vague hints. In an interview with IGN at E3 2007 devastating to the proposals of literal legend theorists, Miyamoto confirmed long-held rumors that a “top-secret” document outlining an official Zelda timeline does exist; so secret is the document, he said, that only a select few employees at Nintendo have been privy to its contents.

Despite his confirmations, however, he would give no divulge any information on the specific order itself.

And so the speculation – and the tireless attention to every line of dialogue, geographical contradiction and character lineage presented by the Zelda games – continues. Zelda fans play through Phantom Hourglass and Twilight Princess, each of which contributes vast new ideas to the realm of Zelda theory, and almost instantly begin the painstaking waiting game for the next chapter of the Legend, which Matt Casamassina and Mark Bozon of IGN speculated is already in development in their latest “Wii-k In Review” podcast. Ultimately, it seems that any official, definitive timeline – such as the sacred lineage outlined in a document likely locked in a solid gold vault somewhere in Japan – is like the bunny-hooded Marathon Man who challenges adult Link to a race across the vast expanse of Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time.

No matter how ferociously as we chase, he is always ahead.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under , ,

Wii Virtual Console gift-giving channel launching worldwide in December, Wii TV guide channel announced for Japan, “practical” non-gaming DS functions coming


Satoru IwataSatoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, has made some very interesting statements in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, regarding the future of the Wii and the Nintendo DS.

As far as the Wii is concerned, Iwata dated the Wii Virtual Console Gift-Giving Channel, that allows gamers to purchase virtual console games as gifts for another player, and those games will be downloaded directly to that person’s Wii for their playing pleasure. This Wii Channel will be released worldwide this December.

In addition Iwata said they are working on another all-new Wii “Interactive Television Guide” channel for Japan that will is currently set for release in Spring of 2008.

As far as the Nintendo DS is concerned, Nintendo has already attracted scores of non-gamers with the DS Brain and Vision training titles and most of their Touch Generation series, including games like various Soduku titles and Clubhouse Games. And Iwata stated that they will be pushing the DS non-gaming system functions even further in the future. He said the company plans to roll out these “practical” functions that “will be useful in places like train stations, amusement parks or museums. This is the first device that is portable and wireless and anybody can use,” said Iwata of the DS. “With so many devices out there, it would be wasteful to not turn it into a tool.” Iwata did not go into details about what exactly they have in store for the DS.

Examples of non-gaming functions already in use include during baseball games in the US where Nintendo has already used the DS to transmit stats, trivia games, and video replays to fans who have their DS on in the audience (for a fee) at Seattle Mariner gamers (Washington State being where Nintendo HQ is located). And in Japan, museums have allowed visitors to download a virtual tour guide to their DS’. And it’s likely these type of features, such as a GPS system I’d be willing to bet, that Nintendo is talking about.

I for one am all for this. Since the N64 days Nintendo has seemingly been against adding extra functionality to their systems. While other platforms got CD and DVD playback and such, Nintendo users were left without that extra functionality. Which was fine, we were there for the games! But if Nintendo does have the option to include extra functions, then I think they should definitely offer them. It can’t hurt, and anything that can better help the DS in it’s war with the PSP (even though it doesn’t quite need the extra ammo considering the absolute pounding the PSP is getting in sales) is a good thing. And this type of functionality and non-gamer attractiveness is good for the industry, the more people we can pull in with stuff like Wii Fit, the better. — Via GS

Published on October 31st, 2007 under , ,

New DS Lite colors in America: Gold and Metallic


DS Lite Gold Metallic colors
American retailer Sears is prepared for the “Black Friday” shopping craze that happens every year before Thanksgiving. Part of it is Nintendo’s new bundles for new colored DS Lites. These are the options for sale, presumably limited editions, meant for the holiday season.

1. DS Lite Gold Phantom Hourglass bundle for $149.99.
2. DS Lite Metallic Pink Nintendogs: Best Friends Edition bundle for $149.99. — Via DSfanboy

Published on October 31st, 2007 under ,

New Enemy Territory: Quake Wars PC 1.2 patch released


Quake Wars - Special Edition for PCA new patch, version 1.2, has been released for PC version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars from Splash Damage, id Software and Activision.

The new patch for the multiplayer sci-fi shooter adds the very requested voice chat feature along with user interface improvements, game balance changes and more.

Download the Enemy Territory: Quake Wars patch 1.2 if you have the game for both client patches and a full 1.2 server install.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under ,

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots delayed to 2nd quarter of 2008


Pre-Order Metal Gear Solid 4 on PS3It’s official. Konami has delayed Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PS3 once again! The game is now scheduled for release in the 2nd quarter of 2008, which means it won’t be hitting U.S. shores until at least Spring of next year at the earliest probably.

Although apparently it is still scheduled for release simultaneously in Asia, North America and Europe. Originally it was scheduled for release “this Winter”, but let’s be honest, did anyone actually expect that? I know I didn’t! (Ok, apparently Kotaku did :P )

The reason for the delay? “Konami has decided to delay the title’s release in order to make further improvements to the quality of the game and provide even greater enjoyment for more customers worldwide. We will continue our efforts to make MGS4 meet everyone’s expectations.”

I wonder if Konami is re-considering releasing Metal Gear Solid 4 for Xbox 360 . . . .

Published on October 31st, 2007 under ,

Mister Rogers meets Donkey Kong meets Halo 3’s Arbiter


Fred Rogers - America's Favorite Neighbor DVDIn this 80’s episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, we follow Mister Rogers to a local Arcade Hall. Watch as Mister Rogers and a friend play the video game Donkey Kong and find out how exciting it is in- and outside. Special cameo by Keith David who nowadays plays the voice of the Arbiter in Halo 2 and Halo 3. If you’re not used to hearing Mr. Rogers talk, keep in mind that this man was genuinely nice to everyone and throughout his life he was an advocate for the education and welfare of children. Enjoy this video flashback.

PS: Yes, the plumber Mario started out as the carpenter Jumpman in Donkey Kong.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under ,

Mutant Storm Empire is the Xbox Live Arcade release today. Plus the schedule for November


1600 Microsoft Points Card for use on Xbox LiveFrom today, October 31st at 9AM GMT (2AM PDT), you can play Pom Pom Games’ Mutant Storm Empire on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360. Mutant Storm Empire will be available worldwide for 800 Microsoft Points (that’s US$10 / €9.60 / £6.80 / CAN$12.40 / AU$13.20).

Key features include:
* The art of blasting: Practice the way of “Blastikkidoo” or the art of blasting, as you plow through the different worlds in Mutant Storm Empire. This all-new sequel to Mutant Storm Reloaded ratchets up the competitive challenge!
* Numerous levels: The four different worlds feature sixteen challenging levels, all in gorgeous high-def 3-D graphics.
* Multiplayer modes: Play co-op offline with a friend, or head into Xbox LIVE territory and go multiplayer for up to 2 people.
* Achievements: Twelve new achievements to master ranging from easy, such as getting a single combo of beasties, to difficult, such as completing the game on the Black Belt level.

Ready to challenge the full might of the evil emperor’s minions? Try the demo (video shown below) and upgrade to the full version for sixteen levels of ever-increasing excitement and cheerful mayhem, alone or with a buddy. It’s time to start the frenzy! Watch it:

Microsoft announced that in the coming weeks in November, the following titles are scheduled for release:
• “N+”(Slick Entertainment and Metanet Software) – Play as an acrobatic ninja in this addictive action-puzzle platformer. N+ features inadvertently homicidal robots, stylish graphics, a level editor and intense multiplayer awesomeness.
• “Screwjumper!” (THQ) – Players take the plunge in “Screwjumper!” and free-fall into the depths of the chaotic underworld as a Screwjumper, driving aliens back to their home world by destroying their precious mining equipment.
• “SHREK-N-ROLL” (Activision) – Gamers join “Shrek,” “Fiona,” “Donkey,” “Puss in Boots” and 20 other twisted fairy tale friends in this hilarious puzzle game designed for ogres of all ages.
• “SpongeBob SquarePants: Underpants Slam” (Nickelodeon and THQ) – In this quick and fun game, players search the kitchen of the Krusty Krab, the Flying Dutchman’s ship and the Armoury of Atlantis for 99 pairs of underpants.
• “Switchball” (Sierra Online) – Based on real-world physics, “Switchball” is an intricate puzzle game set in a stunning 3-D world where players control an ever-changing ball along a narrow, winding course suspended in midair.
• “Undertow” (Chair Entertainment Group) – This fast-paced action-shooter sends gamers underwater as they battle up to 16 players for control of the oceans! Players race to upgrade their units as they engage in non-stop conquest-style battles through multiple levels of combat action with some of the most stunning graphics ever seen in an Xbox LIVE Arcade title.
• “Word Puzzle” (InterServ International) – The classic pen-and-paper word search game is brought to a new level of excitement on Xbox LIVE Arcade, complete with combos, high-score achievements and the ability to compete against others online.

Published on October 31st, 2007 under , ,

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