Monday, September 30, 2013

Google Search Predictions: Gaming Edition

Why does Nintendo region lock?
To control prices, mostly. For example, they don't want their Japanese customers importing their games from Korea for cheaper. With region locking, they can set the price in each region according to what people in that region are willing and able to pay. Also because Nintendo hates America.
...hate America?
Because the United States does not officially recognize the Mushroom Kingdom as a sovereign nation.

What if Nintendo made a phone?
You and the person you wanted to call would have to add each other's number to your contacts before you'd be able to talk to each other. Otherwise children would be able to talk to strangers, and we can't have that.

Why does Sony copy Nintendo?
Because Soneeds what Ninten do.

What if Sony bought Nintendo?
(via aminatm)
Why does Xbox One suck?
Well it doesn't look like it'll suck as much as it was going to, now that they changed a lot of those restrictions on used games and online connections. It still sucks because it's stupidly expensive for little to no benefit over the Playstation 4 and because it still requires a subscription to play online which is also more expensive than the PS4's required subscription. Meanwhile, it's still free to play online on PC or Wii U. And half its features aren't available in most of the world.

What if Xbox One was a girl?
(via pulsarmedia)
Do video games cause violence? 
Probably not, but your bad parenting might.

Why does Mario wear a hat?
It's part of his work uniform and helps to make the Super Mario Bros. Plumbing Co. brand recognizable.
...look Mexican?
This is a little known fact, but Mario actually is Mexican. Nintendo has only recently tried to cover up this fact and claim that he is Italian because they realized that Mexico is part of North America, which, as we all know, Nintendo hates. For further proof, pay attention next time you start a level in Super Mario 64; what's commonly misheard as "Let's-a-go!" is actually Mario's shout-out to his home country of Mexico.

Why does Luigi sniff his finger?
To check whether it's ripe enough to eat yet.

Why does Zelda always have to save the princess?
Because Zelda is a pretty cool guy and eh doesn't afraid of anything. Same reason Metroid can't crawl, really.

Why does Mega Man look like that?
Like what? Like this? Because that's a pumpkin, not the actual Mega Man, silly.
...have to kill Zero?
Because there can only be One.
...sound like a girl?
C'mon, everyone knows this one. If you read chapter 4 of volume 23 of the Japan-exclusive Rockman Goes to Hollywood spinoff manga, you'd know that Dr. Light had to install a girl's voice when he made Mega Man due to a recall on the male voice parts during the time of his construction.
...shoot lemons?
He shoots like 8 different weapons in every Mega Man game and you're worried about lemons? If you must know, it's because every robot is weak to lemons.

Why does master chief need / have / wear a cloak?
It's cold in space. Really cold. If you don't dress warm you're gonna regret it and I'm not gonna want to drive you back home just because you didn't plan ahead, so bring your cloak, just in case.

Why does solid snake smoke?
He's slowly and stealthily killing his enemies with second-hand smoke.
...have a mullet?
You don't need a reason to have a mullet. I once saw a painting of Jesus with a mullet. If mullets are good enough for Jesus, they should be good enough for Snake.
...wear a bandanna?
It goes with the mullet, obviously.
...age so fast?
One year in real life equals five years in a video game. This is also why technology goes out of date so quickly.

How do I get married in animal crossing?
First, your friendship with the villager you want to marry has to be as high as possible. You'll be able to tell that it's high enough when they've given you three or more pictures of themselves. Next, buy five royal crowns, wrap them (you can buy wrapping paper at the store), and send them to the villager you want to marry, one at at time, on five consecutive days. The last letter must arrive on that character's birthday. (For a list of birthdays, check here.) On each letter write out "Will", "you", "marry", "me", "?" without quotes and with only one word per letter. The last letter will only contain a question mark. After that, the villager will have a 30% chance of accepting your offer and will approach you with their response, as they do with public works project suggestions, sometime during the next six months.

Why does GTA 5 look so good?
It's because of the anti-rasterized bump mapping of the aliased pixels.

Video Game Painted Pumpkins

Update (10/3/13): Here are a couple pictures of the pumpkin my girlfriend painted!

Original post:
On Sunday I painted pumpkins with my girlfriend (is that even a thing?). I made Mega Man's head and she made Kirby with a witch's hat (which looked more like Hitler's hair to me).

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Terrible PC Version of Super Mario Bros.

(PC-8801 version)
Nowadays, you'd never imagine that Nintendo would release an entry of their beloved Super Mario Bros. series on a PC or anything that wasn't their own console, but it turns out that they have in the past. They let good old Hudson Soft take a crack at bringing the hit Mario game to the NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X-1 and the result was the 1986 game, Super Mario Bros. Special (and actually, two games based on plain old Mario Bros. as well). Never heard of it? That's probably because it took everything great about the NES version and took a messy dump on it. The controls and physics are terrible, the levels are poorly designed, the graphics are poopy, and in general it's one of the worst Mario games I've ever played. This is one of those times when "special" is just a nice way of saying "severely handicapped in every way compared to its older brother".
The hammer and barrels from Donkey Kong make an appearance.
Also, this screen lags terribly. (PC-8801 version) (img source)
What you've got here isn't really a port of Super Mario Bros., although some parts do resemble the original, but more like a crappy sequel. For the most part, the levels are new, but follow the same themes as levels in the original (overworld, underground, underwater, tree tops, castles, etc.). It has a few weird quirks here and there that make it feel out of place however, like a pool of water in the overworld that you can stand in or bonus areas in castle stages. There are also some new items like the hammer, which works similarly to the hammer in Donkey Kong, and a wing, which allows you to swim in air for a short time. To go along with these items are some new enemies, which are actually old enemies from Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. such as barrels, sidesteppers (crabs), and fighter flies.
Sure would be nice to know what's after that platform... (X-1 version)
All that new stuff would be pretty cool if it wasn't for the incredibly awkward controls and poor level design. It's difficult to explain what's wrong with the controls, except by saying that they all around suck. Inputs are delayed, jump height and distance are hard to predict, and every surface feels slippery. Then, there's the huge detail that the screen does not scroll until you reach the edge. That means that, to be safe, you'll want to slow down at the edge of each screen so that you don't accidentally run off an immediate cliff on the next screen or bump into an unexpected enemy. There are many times where you're forced to make blind jumps from one screen to another and just hope that there will be a platform to land on when you get there. Since a game over sends you all the way back to the beginning of the game, dying due to the trial and error of figuring out how to make the blind jumps isn't cool at all. Bouncing on koopa shells for infinite 1-ups is pretty much essential if you want to have any hope of finishing this game. Besides not adequately accounting for the screen transitions in the level design, there are also trap pipes that send you back to the start (probably to your death, since the timer runs out fast). There's no way of knowing whether a pipe will be a trap or a bonus area or both, so it's safer to just ignore every pipe. There's also a part where, inexplicably, a required platform will not appear unless you break the "pulley platforms" on the previous screen. Trust me, it's bad.
Click to enlarge.
Graphics comparison via hardcoregaming101
The quality of the graphics varies between the X-1 and the PC-8801 versions, but both are inferior to the graphics of Super Mario Bros. on NES. Of the two, the PC-8801 version is worse, containing less colors and way too much orange. And if you have the gall want to have both Mario and a background object in the same place, you're gonna have to deal with a graphical abomination that looks something like a regurgitated Cheez-It. But don't worry about the PC-8801 not being able to display the color green; it's not like Luigi or any kind of multiplayer is in this game anyway. In both versions, the game and music speeds way the heck up when fewer things are on-screen, but then drops down to a crawl when more than a couple enemies are visible. In some areas where two or more fire bars are on-screen, the game lags so badly that the hit detection actually stops working and you can lag right through a fire bar.
Mario, in regurgitated Cheez-It form (via MrPodoboo)
I like Mario games as much as the next guy, but there's a good reason why Super Mario Bros. Special isn't a famous classic like most other Mario games. It outright sucks, and the only fun it has to offer is the sick "fun" of looking at this circus freak of gaming and realizing how lucky you are to have other, good games to play.

To see the game in motion, check out MrPodoboo's series on youtube or play it yourself. Also, check out these other things from Nintendo that seemed like they had to be jokes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Barbie: Race & Ride - This horse is coarse around the edges

Platform: PS1   Genre: Simulation   Release: 1999
Guys, holy crap, guys, it's Barbie monkeyflippin' Race & Ride. I know with all the great games always coming out, it's important to have reviews to reference so you can figure out which games are right for you, so here I am, reviewing this Playstation Barbie game. And chances are that unless you're a five year old girl, this game isn't for you (and even five year old girls ought to be playing better games than this).
All opposed, say "neigh".
Essentially what we've got here is a horse game where you race and - get this - ride around one of five scenic trails. Before that though, you get to choose from one of four different horses which you can name, just as long as the name you want is one of the preset options that Barbie knows how to say. Also outside of the trails, you can feed your horse, put on its riding gear, and wash it! All of these things have no effect whatsoever, but Barbie assures me that giving the horse a bath is "so much fun". In fact, all throughout the game, Barbie feels the need to comment out loud about how cute, fun, or pretty whatever we're seeing or doing is. It's as if the game is self aware of how un-cute, un-fun, and un-pretty it is and has to desperately reassert that it's worth playing as often as it can just in case the player starts to have second thoughts.
Yes, please. I could stop any time now.
The main part of the game is out on the trails, which each consist of a day segment and a night segment. For Playstation 1, the graphics aren't all that bad, but that's because almost everything is pre-rendered. Being pre-rendered, it's also only slightly more interactive than a DVD menu. For the most part, the game plays itself and the only influence you have over your horse is making it speed up, slow down, lean to the sides, or jump. There's never any reason to go slower than full speed and leaning to the sides is only useful for avoiding the very occasional obstacle and otherwise does nothing but make your horse look like it's going to the side. Jumping is also just used to avoid obstacles, which will only slow you down and make you try jumping again if you run into them.
Get the rabbit to the carrot by guessing the correct holes. If you guess wrong, you start over.
Along each trail are various points of interest that you can stop and examine. Many are as simple as watching an animal run around and make a noise when you click on it, but there are also a few minigames, which are all incredibly simple and mostly based on guessing until you win, and a couple boring races (these have a 2-player option, by the way). These little stops are also a big part of the game, should you choose to stop at them, and they show off how crappy this game is better than anything. On each trail, there are two minigames in particular that, when completed, will give you a fragment of the postcard that unlocks the final level. Completing the final trail will reward you with a heartwarming cutscene of a foal. How nice.
Essentially this game is just an interactive video of a horse running through pre-rendered environments with a few terrible minigames thrown in. The visuals and sound effects that show off these locations aren't actually that bad, but Barbie's incessant comments and the game's overall lack of interactivity really bring the quality down. Parents, if you feel the need to follow gender stereotypes and buy your daughter a cute, pink game, try getting an actually good game like Kirby or something. Or, if it's about the horses, let them ride around in Shadow of the Colossus. Almost anything would be better than playing this game.

For another horrible game, check out Home Alone on NES.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Amnesia: A Machine for Pugs

(Pug via kevrus)
I heard that the sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent is out so I had to see what all the hype was about. You guys were right. A Machine for Pugs is way scarier than the previous game and every other horror game in recent memory. I still can't get the image of that monster out of my head and I probably won't sleep for days.

For more crappy photoshop, check out Firefly: The Game Collection.

Monday, September 9, 2013

7 of Nintendo's Best Practical Jokes That Were Actually Completely Serious

Nintendo has always marched to the beat of its own bongos so it's to be expected that they'd have a few weird and unexpected ideas along the way. Surely, a lot of thought was put into each crazy new product and idea, but all the public saw with each announcement was the off-the-wall finished product with the explanation only coming later. At times, it was honestly hard to tell whether Nintendo's latest announcement was an elaborate practical joke or an actual product. Here are some of the best examples of when actual Nintendo products and announcements could have been confused as jokes:

1986 - I Am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater lets you design and order real sweaters
It's the 80s and Christmas is approaching. You know that your kids want that new floppy disk reader for their Famicom, but you also know that Christmas wouldn't be complete without an ugly Christmas sweater. It's a conundrum that's all too common for parents each year. If only there was a way to kill these two birds with one stone...
But there is! Nintendo (actually Royal Industries Co. Ltd.) has got you covered with I Am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater for the Famicom Disk System. While the service was available, this game / application allowed you to design your own sweater and then send in the game to order an actual sweater from your design for the low, low price of 2,900 yen. Surely, this is every parent's and child's dream come true!

1996 - Nintendo 64 controller is built for three-handed people
"Guys, guys, guys! Sega and Sony are making next gen games on CDs!! How are we gonna compete with that?!"
"Hmm......... They may have CDs, but do they have... three-handed controllers?!"
"They don't, sir! This'll open up a whole new market of previously ignored three-handed people! Brilliant!"
And so, the Nintendo 64 controller was born. Surely, when it was first announced, there was some confusion about how to hold it and why there were three handles on it. Even in practice, N64 games rarely used the D-Pad, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a completely terrible idea. The N64 was in a transition period and 3D games on consoles were relatively new. Supposing a developer didn't want to mess with all that variety of motion, the option was still there to use the good old-fashioned D-Pad. It's a lot like the Wii remote in that regard, which you can either hold like a remote (ideal for motion controls), like a NES controller (ideal for traditional controls), or connect to a nunchuck (ideal for a combination of traditional and new). At any rate, in the event of a three-handed alien invasion, we'll be prepared in advance thanks to the N64.

2001 - Scan cards just like your mom does at the grocery store, but with an e-Reader 
That's not to say that your dad can't do the grocery shopping or anything.
Sometimes GameBoyAdvance games were just too good and the system was just too portable. For those times, Nintendo released the e-Reader, which attached to the top of the GBA in an only slightly less unwieldy way than all those Sega Genesis attachments. Not only that, it could play games that were simple enough to be entirely contained in dots printed on ordinary trading cards. All you had to do was scan five cards, twice, and you could be playing classic NES games like Balloon Fight and Golf. If that sounds like a hassle, that's because it was. The joy of swiping cards wears off quick. On the other hand, collecting trading cards never gets old, and e-Reader cards weren't completely limited to NES games; there were also cards that unlocked new content in Animal Crossing, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire, and Super Mario Advance 4. There was even a Mario Party card game that utilized the e-Reader, albeit in rather forgettable ways.

It seems that the e-Reader met with more success in Japan, where there were actually two versions of the device (the second one added the link cable port as an F U to all the early adopters who bought the first version). It never seemed to catch on much in the US, and for good reason; the unlockables and simple games it provided simply weren't worth the trouble and cost. Not to mention that the cards weren't all that special since you could just print your own with the right printer settings.

2005 - Nintendo's next console, code-named "Revolution", is officially called Wii
Super Pii Pii Brothers, via ThinkGeek
Imagine, if you can, the hype of a new Nintendo console announcement, specifically the successor to the GameCube code-named "Revolution". Nintendo's higher ups had been dropping hints for a while that something was going to be different about this next console. Then, finally, they reveal the remote shaped controller and its motion sensing capabilities! For my young mind it seemed that the age of virtual reality was upon us. But then I heard the official name of the next console: Wii. 

"What? 'Wii'? Like, 'I have to go wee wee' or 'a wee little man'?" I thought to myself. My friend who was informing me of this news simply had to be joking. It turned out that it was "we" as in the first person plural pronoun. Even with that being true, it didn't make sense why a Japanese company would base their console's name on an English word. Who knows what kind of meaning "Wii" might have in other languages or what kind of puns it's vulnerable to. Don't even get me started on all the people who only saw it written and couldn't figure out how to pronounce it because of the "i"s. "Wii" still may be the weirdest name for a video game console, but it must have done something right since it's one of the best selling consoles ever.

2009 - Wii Vitality Sensor peripheral for tracking player's pulse is announced
"Oh, thank goodness! I'm still alive! I just had to pop on this Wii Vitality Sensor™ to be sure."
E3 is when all the game companies bust out their latest and greatest upcoming games, consoles, and accessories. It's a joyous time of hype that is celebrated by gamers each year. That's why when Nintendo revealed their Vitality Sensor accessory for Wii, everyone watching was put in an awkward position. Should they laugh at the joke or should they politely clap just in case this was a real thing? Well, if you paid attention to this article's title, you already know this was a real thing. Basically, it did it all: checked your pulse, tested blood sugar, trimmed your nails, recognized your fingerprints, gave manicures, and predicted the future... 

Nah, just kidding, it only checked your pulse and, indirectly, the oxygen saturation of your blood. It never even had any announced games or applications to go with it, but Satoru Iwata assured the audience of the E3 press conference that it could be useful "in games used for relaxation, sometime, maybe, I guess". Since then, the Vitality Sensor was scarcely heard from again apart from a quiet mention of its discontinued development. Even though it never made it to market, Nintendo was totally serious with this. Or maybe it was a joke all along and they just played it off as a real product when nobody laughed.

2013 - Wii Fit Trainer is a playable character in the next Super Smash Bros.
"Yoga-nna regret picking a fight with me!"
(Dang, that pun sucked.)
A bunch of different Nintendo characters fighting each other is pretty much Super Smash Bros. in a nutshell. The series has even had unexpected characters before like R.O.B. and Mr. Game & Watch, so it shouldn't have been such a surprise to see that the Wii Fit Trainer was going to be in the next iteration of Smash Bros.. But it was a surprise. Wii Fit isn't exactly the sort of game from which you'd expect to have a character for a fighting game taken, considering all you do in the game is stretch, exercise, and do balancing minigames. It isn't even the sort of game you'd associate with having any recognizable characters. Surely the trainers couldn't work, they're just pale colored humanoid examples for how to do the exercises. The character choice and timing (after the main E3 announcements) was just so unexpected, I had to double check to make sure the reveal trailer wasn't just an elaborate spoof. It wasn't, but by now, most fans have gotten used to the idea of a Wii Fit Trainer in the roster. Now we're just waiting to see what Kirby looks like with her ability.

2013 - A 3DS model is announced that lacks 3D, called 2DS
For all the people out there who were on the fence about getting a 3DS and just wanted something without all that 3D, portability, and stereo audio, Nintendo delivered when they announced the 2DS. It plays all the 3DS and DS games you know and love, but it doesn't have any of that pesky 3D, so you don't have to worry getting too immersed in a game.
Honestly though, as weird as it looks, the 2DS made some decent business sense. Set to be released at the same time as the new Pokemon X & Y games, it offered a cheaper, more durable alternative for parents looking to get their kids playing the new Pokemon games on the cheap. Still, that won't protect it from becoming the butt of many a joke in the future or from making the spoof product, the 1DS, actually look believable by comparison.

Are you a Nintendo fan? Then maybe these lesser known, but still awesome N64 games would be relevant to your interests.
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