Bad-with-naming-them-but-still-undeniably-legendary-videogame-designer Shigeru Miyamoto has confirmed to USA Today that the forthcoming New Super Mario Bros. Wii will be first to incorporate a special "help" feature, otherwise known as "demo play". What this comes down to is whenever a player so chooses, they can pause the game and let it essentially play itself, then resume control whenever he or she chooses. While superficially this sounds like it's turning interactive videogames into passive entertainment no better than television, as someone who sometimes gets impossibly stuck in games and doesn't like to use cheat codes, I can see this being a useful feature. This is also one of those "so obvious, why hasn't someone done this before" type of deals.
While I support the concept, I can't help but feel a bit "icky" about the whole thing, just like I do with cheat codes. Certainly the whole idea of this is to continue to make videogames accessible to everyone, from the very, very young to the extraordinarily uncoordinated, but wouldn't dynamic difficulty adjustments or even - at its simplest implementation - having more selectable difficulty levels at the beginning address this issue just as well, particularly for what is ostensibly an action game (i.e., no difficult puzzles to figure out, just hard jumps to make)? What do you think of this new design wrinkle that will surely make its way into lots of other games?
I was one of a handful of videogame journalists invited to a 2K Sports' Major League Baseball 2K8 conference call that ended a few minutes ago with producer Ben Brinkman and others. Despite some static (the person who didn't mute did eventually jump off the call, but then the static came back) and technical issues with the conference call (not on my end), I was able to record the full presentation on my Windows Mobile cell phone. UPDATE: Or at least I thought - the phone recorded the whole thing but only as silence, so that's not a good future option obviously. I'll have to use an alternative recording method in the future. I would have uploaded the entire conference call exclusively for the benefit of Armchair Arcade members if it had worked. Even if you're not a fan of baseball or videogame baseball, it would have still been interesting to hear some of the behind-the-scenes stuff (if the recording is made available to me, I'll upload it and make it available).
LAST UPDATE: 20pGaming.com has made the audio available, here: http://2opgaming.com/2008/02/22/mlb2k8-conference-call-full-audio/
As a long time videogame baseball fan, I'm on record in regards to modern interpretations as being a fan of Sony's "MLB The Show" series (PS2, PSP, PS3) since the demise of 3DO's "High Heat Baseball" series after the 2004 edition (my favorite being the Xbox version). I actually liked EA's first version of "MVP Baseball" (Xbox, PS2, etc.), but it never really evolved properly to my liking from there. 2K Sport's "Major League Baseball 2K" series has had some interesting elements, but they never quite came together in my opinion to form a cohesive and fun videogame baseball experience (and its audio-visual presentation was comparatively lacking). Based on the data already released and this conference call, it looks like 2K Sports' "Major League Baseball 2K8" is on a very, very promising track to being a top game, finally, if not THE top game. I should be receiving a review copy of the game very soon (Xbox 360 version was my first choice for the achievements, though it's available for several other platforms including Wii and PS3) and I'll see first hand how it ultimately plays, which is really 95% of what matters.
We were invited to submit three to five questions ahead of time. It seems a lot of questions were focused on technical aspects, though mine, as I always attempt, were more focused on other areas that don't typically get asked...
2K Sports Reveals Renowned Lineup of Current and Legendary Stars for Top Spin 3
Tennis greats get back in the game, marking a first for next-generation consoles
New York, NY – February 20, 2008 – 2K Sports, the sports publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is pleased to announce the all-star player lineup for Top Spin 3, the industry’s most realistic and action-packed tennis video game experience. The star-studded lineup features today’s sensations, including Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, as well as Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg and Monica Seles, three of the sport’s legendary players. Top Spin 3 marks the first time these iconic pros have appeared in a next-generation video game.
Well, it happened sooner than I thought--I got a refurb Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) in late November 2007, completing the "next generation" console trifecta. With enough time passing now, I thought it would be a good time to provide some insight into my thoughts around this current generation of consoles and handhelds. I'll start in the order of consoles I purchased and then finish up with the handhelds.
I'm not even sure if I should link to such a thing, ok I'm kindof (seriously, kindof should be one word, without the space, think kinda, then do the proper pronunciation, sometimes that's fun) sure I should since it is relevant (to what I'm not sure, social mores in post-milennial America perhaps.) Scantily clad women have long been a successful marketing ploy for beer, bikinis, beer, men's magazines, beer, women's magazines, lingerie, beer, calendars, and beer. Did I mention beer?
David Taylor of Gaming Target has an interesting article up about whether the Wii can save adventure gaming. Taylor's argument is that the Wii's much-discussed controller setup makes it ideal for point-and-click adventure games like the beloved Gabriel Knight, Sam & Max, Space Quest, and Tex Murphy series. Furthermore, a slew of top-quality adventure games might distinguish the Wii further from the FPS-heavy competition imposed by the 360 and PS3. While I'm not sure that the adventure game "needs saving" (there are still plenty of adventure games released for the PC every year via The Adventure Company, and Cyan's latest Myst entry was only last year!), I would like to see the genre better represented in the console market. I could even see some unique puzzles based on the Wii's controller; perhaps a door could be opened only by tracing a certain pattern in the air, or perhaps a game could feature a magic system based on a similar scheme.
Do you remember the infamous Power Glove for the NES that was featured in the movie The Wizard? Some clever guy has adapted his old Power Glove to use on on his Wii (yeah, this kind of double-entendre is never going to get old!). See the video below and let us know what you think! Personally, I'm not sure I like the idea of modding a classic piece of gear like this--but it also makes me wonder if the Wii's default controller setup won't soon suffer the fate of the Power Glove...
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...!
In a surprise move, Nintendo announced that the official price of the Wii in the US will be $249.99, which is actually $50 or more than many were predicting. "There is one price, one configuration and one color -- the same white Nintendo uses in its Nintendo DS." It is also expected to ship November 19th worldwide.
This will no doubt be dissapointing to some (to put it mildly), as the low end Microsoft Xbox 360 is priced at $299.99 and may drop a bit lower by November (the low end PS3 is expected to be $399.99). We'll see as events unfold and do a more complete value comparison once all three systems are actually released, but Nintendo superficially at least is not really offering superior value over the competition with what the Wii comes with and what a second controller set and games cost.
"The Wiimote has a MSRP of $39.99 and the nunchuk has an MSRP of $19.99 -- they are sold separately."
"Wii points [similar to Microsoft points] will be used to purchase Virtual Console titles. 100 Wii Points equals a dollar, NES titles cost 500 points ($5), SNES titles 800 points ($8) and Nintendo 64 titles cost 1000 points ($10)."
"Citing a series of quotes from developers supporting the Wii, Fils-Aime points out that 30 titles will be available in the launch-window, with about half of them available on day one. They will, as reported, retail for $49.99 (ten bucks less than [most third party] Xbox 360 titles)."