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by Ethos

Ah, Springtime

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Sunshine Games – #4: Super Mario Sunshine

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Ethos’ Sunshine Games Countdown is a completely arbitrary list of games that make him smile. They are games that are pure unadulterated fun with none of the heaviness that might come from more epic titles. They are games that make you giddy just thinking about them, and have the same refreshing optimism that Spring yields.

Super Mario Sunshine

D’uh! This one was destined. It has “Sunshine” in the goddamn title! Yes, the GCN iteration of the 3D Mario games is the most controversial one. People slam the setting, the awful cutscenes, and the jetpack for ruining the Mario formula. I, on the other hand, agree about the cutscenes, but am glad Nintendo actually tried something different with their overall-clad plumber. Maybe the island stuff fell a little flat, and the *insert name of stupid fat island idiots here* weren’t as timeless and endearing as good ol’ Ninty hoped for, but the jetpack stuff was a lot of fun, and many of the missions were a complete blast.

Gaining 120 stars (or shines, whatever) had never been more frustrating, however, so despite the cheery nature, and pure fun of the jetpack, the later portions of the game stop this from being high on this Sunshine list. Still, the game’s carefree mood and cheerful art style were complimented well by bouncy physics, a fun sense of humour, and often (though not always) great level design.

That’s all from me today! I’ve got a party to go to, so no Scatter Storming again this week. I know, I’m turning into Riddles. Speaking of that guy, look forward to his #4 “I’m a Depressed Loser” list later on!

Sunshine Games – #5: Snow Bros (NES)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

This list is the follow-up to the equally stupid “Fireside Games“. This will be a completely arbitrary list of games that make me smile. Games that are pure unadulterated fun with none of the heaviness that might come from more epic titles. They are games that make you giddy just thinking about them, and have the same refreshing optimism that Spring yields. So, on with the list!

Snow Bros (NES)

Yes, I chose a snow game to start off my Spring list. Don’t judge me! This, I think, is the very first console game I ever played. If not, it’s the first one I played to any significant extent. I didn’t have any home consoles growing up until the N64, but my friend Sean Osmond had an NES and I went to his house whenever I could. We basically just played Snow Brothers until I had to go home. It’s not terribly original or anything, but it is just pure fun. Local co-op at its best as you and a friend turn baddies into snowballs and strategically send them careening offscreen. It’s the perfect model of “just one more level” gameplay, which is just the sort of pure fun that makes a game sneak its way onto this list.

Looking back, I think I kinda sucked at it and I don’t know if Sean and I ever beat it, but that wasn’t the point so much as competing for more snowballs and seeing who could run to the power-ups first. Maybe if I played it now, I’d think it sucked, but there’s too much nostalgia and history there as my first addictive game to ignore it as a Sunshine Game.

There’s not much more I can say about Snow Bros except that if you’ve never heard of it (and I don’t blame you), check out the old school 8-bit graphics and sound embedded below and see what you’ve been missing!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Preview

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 has been bringing on the surprises this year for me. First was the announcement that it would be released 6 months earlier than anybody expected, then was the fact that I would be able to play it for a lucky short time yesterday afternoon. The demo was closely guarded to make sure no secrets would get out, but I was able to play three levels, hear about two others, and also take a look at the unique blend of old and new hubworlds.

The Expected
This is more Super Mario Galaxy. It’s the first time a 3D Mario game has had a direct sequel on the same console, and even the Nintendo rep admitted that it is largely more of the same. This, of course, is no surprise and not really a downer either because all I wanted at the end of Galaxy was more Galaxy, and that’s more than I can say for 64 or Sunshine. Also, while I didn’t play them, the names “Haunty Halls Galaxy” and “Honeybloom Galaxy” were released to me, and that spells Boo Mario and Bee Mario to me. Fun stuff, yes, but new Mario games are exciting for the new power ups. Still, the worlds look to have the same creative, and varied design as last time, although the environments seem to be more detailed and the backgrounds more interesting. The Galaxy games are truly the best Wii games will ever look. We played Sin and Punishment 2 for a short time after Galaxy 2 and it was like we changed systems even though the former isn’t a bad looking game. SMG2 is obviously in SD, but it’s one of the few games that really don’t make me feel like it’s missing much graphically.

The Unexpected
The world map. This has been exposed on other sites, but it’s still a surprise to me. It appears to be a bizarre hybrid of the typical 3D hub worlds introduced in Super Mario 64 and the classic style hubs exemplified in New Super Mario Bros Wii. You can run around on a giant grassy Mario face that has a steering wheel on it – yes, it’s also a spaceship – which takes you to a Super Mario World-style overworld that actually feels a bit like the original Kingdom Hearts. I say that because there seems to be more going on than just the typical New Super Mario Bros progression. The Nintendo rep told me that this decision was made to make the organization of the galaxies more clear, but it seems more convoluted to me if anything. They also wanted to make sure I saw that Mario was able to leave the giant grassy Mario spaceship head, although they wouldn’t let me see to where, so there’s a possibility that there will be multiple spaceships. We’ll see. I was also surprised to see that the difficulty appeared to be ramped up. I know Miyamoto mentioned it, but I wasn’t going to believe it until I saw it. Finally, things really seem to just be more streamlined in this sequel. I guess this came as a surprise because Nintendo isn’t typically good at improving things since it would imply that their earlier formula was wrong. Still, there are now Lumas that accept coins instead of star bits (finally a solid use for collecting coins), skating makes a return but no longer requires ice Mario, and just a general feeling that Nintendo had fun making a 3D Mario sequel for once.

Never tried this move...

Never tried this move...

The Mixed
Yoshi. I’m only hesitant about my childhood favourite character because of how terrible he was in Mario Sunshine. He added nothing to the game and controlled awkwardly. Still, that seems to be remedied in Galaxy 2, and there are cool speed sections that only Yoshi can partake in that are challenging and fun. The pointer controls also help Yoshi feel more natural as the dinosaur’s tongue is controlled with the reticule. Also, I didn’t see any sign of Rosalina, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, or Baby Bowser, and the Nintendo rep wouldn’t say a word when I asked (nor when I asked about Star Fox Wii, Pikmin 3, or any E3 tidbits. I’m trying for you, readers!). I really only care about the first two on that list of missing characters, because Rosalina’s awesome, and I loved the Luigi stuff in the first Galaxy. The missions with him were great, and then playing through the adventure again and actually having him control differently was sweet. I really hope that makes a return. There will also be the return of a semi-multiplayer mode and although I was told it would be modified from the original in some ways, I wasn’t enlightened by details (and yes, I asked for those too).

Anyway, big thanks to Nintendo of Canada for the great event, and I’m definitely incredibly excited for this game. In fact, I haven’t been this excited for a Wii game since the original Galaxy. May 23rd, people. Crap, now I want to play the original.

Oh, and my Sunshine list is coming, so hold your horses. I’m having an off week.

Games where the Sun Don’t Shine – #5: Metroid Prime 2

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

If you haven’t noticed, we’re celebrating the season of Spring here at Riddlethos.com. Perhaps a tad irrelevant to those of you who don’t reside in the Western hemisphere, but unfortunately for you guys, both myself and Ethos do.

Here in Murfreesboro, the icy cold grip of winter is slowly relenting, giving way to… really freaking hot weather, actually. I guess we’re skipping Spring this year, which generally consists of pleasant, 60-80 degree (Farenheit) temperatures. Damn global warming. I wasn’t READY for an 88 degree day.

But anyway. Tennessee’s schizophrenic weather aside, I’ve come up with what’s clearly the BEST way to commemorate the sunny weather and hopeful freshness of the Spring season: Oliver Motok’s List of Dark, Oppressive, and Otherwise Depressing Videogames. Or, as the title says, Games where the Sun Don’t Shine. First up…?

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

If I recall, the original Metroid Prime found a spot on my last super-vague-seasonal-theme-week-list-tie-in. And now, Prime 2 has found a way on to this one. Let’s hear it for the versatility of this franchise!

Ahem. You can ignore the above paragraph if you’d like. The reason Prime 2 makes this list is because it’s probably one of the more oppressive Nintendo games you could ever hope to play. And, I say that with a bit of a dual-meaning. On one hand, Metroid Prime 2 is a showcase for atmosphere. Like the original game, the stunning feeling of solitude and the ambient sci-fi locales make this one of the more haunting experiences that can be had on the GameCube.

The other reason Prime 2 garners this mention is because, for a vast portion of the game, the sun quite literally does not shine. In fact, it doesn’t even exist. Like A Link to the Past before it, Prime 2 makes use of a “light world, dark world” mechanic – in order to advance, Samus must frequently jump through portals that transport her to one side or the other. Neat mechanic, if not terribly original.

In fact, it could almost be said that Prime 2 is a bit too oppressive. A matter of taste, obviously, but I frankly felt that a little too much time in the Dark World was required – and you haven’t seen a “dark world” quite as dark as this one, let me assure you. I love fighting Dark Grenchlers in the middle of a deadly purple haze that drains your life force as much as the next guy, but… not that often.

But I digress. Metroid Prime 2 is a solid, atmospheric, and uncommonly challenging sci-fi adventure. And one thing’s for sure: start playing it and you’ll quickly forget about that pretty spring weather outside.

Hey! Look! Listen! #51

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Well! Things may have began somewhat awkwardly this week, but we’re certainly on track now. Or, at least I am. No idea where that bumbling fool Ethos is hiding out. Hopefully you’ll see something from him today.

As you’ve already been informed, Hey! Look! Listen! is now a once-weekly affair. Ethos will be providing Friday news in the form of his deranged Tingle-themed column. I think the arrangement is mutually beneficial, and should keep things varied around here. And, maybe in the future, Ethos will find the time to include more than one news story.

Heh heh. Anyway. On to the topics of interest!

Apple’s iPhone 4.0 Lost, Recovered by Gizmodo

That’s right. An Apple employee managed to lose an iPhone 4.0 in a bar, and Gizmodo ended up swiping it for $500.

Gary Powell is a software engineer for Apple. About a month ago he was celebrating his 27th birthday at a bar in Redwood City, California. He had with  him a next-generation iPhone, cleverly disguised as a normal 3GS. Unfortunately for him, when he left the bar, he left the phone behind. The phone ended up in the hands of some unnamed guy who eventually sold it to Gizmodo for $500.

Gizmodo, of course, proceeded to blow the lid off of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. They were unable to turn on the device, but they managed to glean plenty of information nonetheless. Check it out at Gizmodo.com.

I personally think it looks pretty damn sweet. The flatter, sharp-edged new design is a huge draw to me, I think it looks far better than the curved models. The increased screen resolution is a huge plus, and even the new frontal camera could be neat. (Video chat calls, anyone?)

Ugh. My internal smartphone conflict remains unresolved. Apparently, Apple was pretty eager to get their prototype back, and it’s been returned to them. Hopefully they won’t go too hard on the poor schmuck who lost it in the first place. (Gizmodo)

Ubisoft Getting Rid of Paper Game Manuals

Yep, that’s right! In the interest of being eco-friendly, Ubisoft is doing away with paper manuals for their games. Instead, you’ll access an in-game digital menu. From their official statement on the matter:

Ubisoft internal data shows that producing one ton of paper used in Ubisoft’s game manuals consumes an average of two tons of wood from 13 trees, with a net energy of 28 million BTU’s (equivalent to average heating and energy for one home/year), greenhouse gases equivalent of over 6,000 lbs of CO2, and wastewater of almost 15,000 gallons.

Shrug. Hard to find fault with this, I suppose. But, at the same time, I kinda hope this doesn’t catch on. It reminds me of when DVDs stopped coming with paper inserts. Sure, they were fairly useless, but they made it feel like you were getting more for your money. DVD’s felt much… chintzier when they stopped coming with them. (VG247)

Three New Villains Revealed for Arkham Asylum 2

Hell yes. I can’t wait for Arkham Asylum 2, and it’s great to finally get some new info on it.

First, actress Stana Katic, who stars on ABC’s Castle tweeted that she was voicing Talia al Ghul, the daughter to classic Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul.

“I’m voicing Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra al Ghul (played by Liam Neeson in ‘Batman Begins’)”

She took the tweets down quickly, but plenty of people saw them thanks to Google’s cache.

Second, we have Maurice LaMarche who’s probably best known for voicing Kif Kroker in Futurama. He spilled the beans while speaking on the Geekcastradio podcast:

I’m about to go in and do Mr. Freeze for Arkham Asylum 2 … He’s out for blood right now because, err… I can’t tell you the situation, but he’s actually somewhat a sympathetic character within the framework of the game.

And finally, we have the voice of Batman himself, Kevin Conroy, speaking during a panel at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo. According to Mr. Conroy, Arkham Asylum 2 will be “really, really dark.” He went on to compare Arkham Asylum 2’s “tone” to Batman: Return of the Joker. A bit strange, seeing that it’s Sega Genesis title from 1991.

In addition to all that, however, Mr. Conroy managed to reveal that Two-Face will be a villain in Arkham Asylum 2. So, there you have it. Three new baddies that will grace our presence in Batman’s next adventure. Let’s hope to see more at E3 2010. (VG247, Kotaku)

Rumor: Nintendo 3Ds Coming This October?

Previously, Nintendo’s only given a window of “before March 2011″ for the release of their 3DS. But now, CVG is very confidently reporting that the handheld will be released a full two months before Christmas – October of 2010, to be specific.

According to “a very senior publishing source:

It’s a surprise – we were expecting it much closer to Christmas. But I suppose it gives Nintendo the opportunity to get it front and centre in people’s minds nice and early.

In my experience, you don’t launch a product that early to Christmas unless you’re confident in it – and going to spend a lot of money on it. We’re reassured that Nintendo is going to give it some decent backing in Q4.

Nintendo’s dismissed the story as “rumor and speculation,” but CVG seems resolute. I suppose I wouldn’t be too surprised, frankly; I mean, why wouldn’t they attempt to take advantage of the Christmas season? At any rate, we’ll probably know for sure when Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference rolls around. Until then, this is technically just a rumor. (CVG via Gizmodo)

QUICKIE: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Announced – That’s right. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Spring 2011. Full title is Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.

Well, that was enjoyable. Hope you’re all having a delightful evening! Look for the kick-off of our stupid theme week-inspired lists soon.

Welcome to Spring Awakening Week!

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

HALLELUJAH. Problem solved. The banner is up, and we can now officially kick off Spring Awakening Week.

What kind of content will you see this week? Well, I’m glad you asked. In honor of our fine tradition of pointless, arbitrary lists, we’ll each be bringing you exactly that. (A pointless, arbitrary list.) And, like Winter Week, the lists will barely, vaguely tie into the current season. (In North America, at least.)

Starting today, I’ll be bringing you my list of “Games where the sun Don’t Shine.” And yes, it will be every bit as stupid as it sounds. I promise.

Ethos will be bringing you the opposite in the form of a “Sunshine Games” list or something like that. Appropriately fruity, and surely utterly stupid.

So. Be excited. And enjoy this pretty springtime picture.

God, I Hate Wordpress

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Good evening, all. It’s a new theme week here at Riddlethos.com, but you wouldn’t be able to gather that by looking at the banner.

Or, rather, where the banner should be. I sometimes hate Wordpress. A lot. It’s really confusing and arbitrary in so many aspects. I have a pretty banner made, but can I upload and display it for the viewing pleasure of all? No. No, I cannot. I hate wordpress. Did I mention that already?

I guess I can blame our hosting too; nothing’s gone quite right since our host switched servers.

Blah. While I’m here, I apologize for the lack of Soapbox. I was supposed to write one yesterday, but in all honesty, I could not muster the inspiration. Ethos, supposedly, will be bringing you some sort of belated something-or-other to make up for it, but I wouldn’t count on that. Or on him in general. He’s a bit of a sketch.

I mean, he bought a PSP Go. What more proof do you need?

Anyway. Stay tuned for a proper introduction to this new theme week. Apologies for the delay.


Banner and Belated Soapbox Forthcoming

Monday, April 19th, 2010