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Sears Makes ESRB "BooBoo" with National TV Spot

Joystiq is running a great post about a potentially nasty booboo at Sears--they've got a tv spot featuring some silly kid telling us how much he likes Halo and Halo 2, and how he bought them at Sears. The problem? Uh, the kid's too young to have bought those games legally, at least if we care to observe the ESRB's ratings.

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NES Turns 20; celebrate with Dinner at Bushnell's Uwink

Perhaps one reason why we've been seeing so many features about the NES lately was in preparation for today--can you believe the NES is 20? Classicgaming.com is celebrating with a nice overview of the unit's history, starting with the Famicom and going through some of the "might have beens." No matter what you think of Nintendo today, you have to give them credit for pushing through the wads of nay-sayers after the "Videogame Crash" and showing that, duh, videogames are here to stay. To celebrate the NES's big 20, you might consider stopping by Nolan Bushnell's new restaurant--Uwink Unlike Bushnell's other restaurant chain (Chuck E Cheese), Uwink is catering to an older, more mature crowd. The idea is simple--lots of tech, but an emphasis on using the tech to get people socializing (rather than draw them into the autism of World of Warcraft!). The place is definitely big on Mac, and I'm not talking Big Macs here (most dishes appear to be vegan-compatible). It all looks incredible, and I only wish I lived closer to California! Anyone in the Woodland Hills area care to check it out and report back?

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Legend of Zelda Retrospective Video & NES quiz

Nintendo and particulary Zelda fanboys will want to check out this video retrospective on the legendary series. It's a fun trip down memory lane and makes some interesting if potentially inaccurate statements about the series. I am serious about the "fanboy" part, because less biased gamers will no doubt cringe at some of the over-the-top claims the commentator makes about the game. For instance, he claims it was the first RPG to allow the player to wander about an expansive map, the first RPG to "pioneer a complex combat system," and so on. You get the idea--sheer rubbish. The commentator also claims that Zelda was the first console game to offer saved games (can anyone confirm this?). While I find the video entertaining, I am a bit put off by the blatant inaccuracies, which unfortunately seem all-too-common with these otherwise well-produced viddies. On a positive note, see what you can score on this awesome NES screenshot quiz! I apparently "suck"...

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Review: Her Interactive's "Danger by Design" (2006)

Her Interactive's fourteenth and latest entry in the Nancy Drew series, Danger By Design, has met with mixed reactions among fans of the series, and I'm no different. There are certainly some interesting innovations here, and I have to give Her Interactive credit for being willing to take the series in new directions and experiment with new types of gameplay. This is the first time in the series that Nancy Drew has actually fought an opponent in hand-to-hand combat. It also introduces one of the series' wackiest yet memorable characters, the masked Minette. Finally, like much of the Broken Sword series, it's set in Paris, a setting which never fails to provide amusing cultural eccentricities for the bumbling American. Overall, I must admit to being somewhat disappointed by Danger By Design, but it's nevertheless a highly playable and enjoyable game. The key problem is a couple of counter-intuitive puzzles that'll probably leave you stumped--a problem that must explain why Her Interactive decided to include "the official strategy guide" with the game. In cases like this, Her Interactive is its best competition--if we consistently compare each new game to past masterpieces like The Final Scene and The Secret of Shadow Ranch, we're raising the bar a bit high.

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A Review of DynaMicro's The Dungeons of Daggorath (1982)

DynaMicro's Dungeons of Daggorath, released in 1982 for the Tandy CoCo, is one of the earliest examples of a first-person computer role-playing game. I recently had the chance to play this innovative title a few weeks ago as part of my research on the Tandy CoCo, and I must say that I'm impressed with the title--and can easily see why the game has managed to retain such a devoted cult following that's lasted nearly a quarter of a century. So, what makes the game so great? What I want to talk about here are three features--the immensity of the game world, the intensity of the action, and the creative use of sound. Although Tandy's CoCo arguably suffered from a rather dismal game library, DoD really stands out as a true classic.

Essentially, DoD is a game in the tradition of first-person "D&D" games in the vein of Richard Garriot's Akalabeth (1980, Apple II) and Sir-Tech's Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (1981, Apple II). All three of these games focus on exploring 3-D wire-frame dungeons, killing monsters, and picking up various goodies along the way. The basic story behind DoD is of the usual ilk; an evil wizard has built his home deep in a monster-infested dungeon. A terrible curse has come upon the village, and the only way to lift it is for some foolhardy warrior to saunter down there and liquidate him.

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Thinking about the Ultimate Controller

Although Nintendo fanboys like to act like the Wii's new remote controller is only a wee bit short of a revolution (sorry, couldn't resist), the real future seems to lie in something a bit more radical: Say, controlling a game of Space Invaders with nothing but your brain. Some clever spudboys at the Washington University of St. Louis decided that the best way to help them treat a severe case of epilepsy in a 14-year old was to hook his brain up to the game and watch what happened. In no time at all, the kid was clearing whole levels just by thinking about where he wanted the ship to move and fire--as easily as moving a hand! You've got to see this video!

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Witch Pricking--The Game?

American history buffs and folks just interested in weirdo history have probably heard of witch prickers. These were basically traveling charlatans who made their living providing "expert testimony" during witch trials (think Salem). The idea was that a real witch had a "devil's spot," or a mark somewhere under the skin that wouldn't hurt if pricked with a needle. Sound dumb? Well, you're talking about people who actually believed in witches. At any rate, now "witch pricking" is making a come-back in the form of a really bizarre Japanese game called DOKIDOKI MAJOSAIBAN (NON-WORK SAFE LINK. In what might sickeningly be called "innovation," you use the Nintendo DS's stylus to "prick" teenage girls to see which ones are witches...!

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Where are they now? Street Fighter II Warriors

A site called College Humor has a really well-done and funny video up called Street Fighter: The Later Years. The video picks up 10 years after SF 2, and shows what life is like now for two SF characters--Zangif and Dhalsim. It appears to be part of an upcoming series of shorts, and I'm already looking forward to the next installment.

Secondly, though it can't compete with Bill's massive retro studio, you should definitely check out Jeff Kinder's Gameroom. Kinder is a Dragon's Lair freak with one of the sweetest basement arcades in the US! Bill--Kinder lives in northern New Jersey. Coincidence?

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The 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition--Download the games and vote!

If you enjoy playing interactive fiction (aka text adventures), you should know that the 12th Annual IF Competition is underway. The games have been submitted; now it's time for you to download the 44 games and vote for your favorite entries. You can either download the whole collection via Bit Torrent or check out individual games. The time limit is six weeks (November 15th, 2006), so you'd better get a move on if you want to be a judge in the contest.

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Afraid to get Left Behind? Game or Propaganda?

Left Behind: Good, wholesome entertainment. Yuck!Left Behind: Good, wholesome entertainment. Yuck!I bet everyone here has heard the news about the Left Behind games. These games are based on the best-selling Christian novels by the same name. The appeal of these novels isn't hard to fathom. They take place after the "Rapture," when all the good people are suddenly whisked away to heaven and only sinners are left to deal with the Antichrist and the Apocalypse. It's one of the most fascinating and compelling stories in the Bible, and even if you're a devout atheist, it's hard to deny the possibilities for really interesting stories set in this time period. Everyone finds diabolical and thoroughly evil figures like the "Antichrist" fun to think about! However--will any self-admittedly "Christian" game ever hope to succeed in the marketplace? Or will this game be another "Mama bought it for me" cull that you got instead of Grand Theft Auto?

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