Monday, October 20, 2014

Concept 4 Racing Wheel for N64 by InterAct

Anything had to be better than that worthless Rally Racing Wheel for GameBoyAdvance, but this Concept 4 Racing Wheel for Nintendo 64 is actually impressively well designed in every way! This thing has a rubberized wheel, metal trigger thingies, an optional foot pedal, adjustable sensitivity, reassignable buttons, rumble compatibility, a memory card slot, and a pivoting base.
As you can see, there are buttons on the wheel and they're just waiting to be pressed. Every button on the Nintendo 64 is represented here, so you'll be able to navigate menus and play any game you want. On the left, there are L and R buttons, which are in addition to the metal triggers which also function as L and R by default (you can reassign them to whatever you want by holding down the set button and pressing the buttons you want to swap). In order to move on the Y axis, you can use the analog slider to the right of the L and R buttons or the D-Pad. You can even map the Y axis slider to a foot pedal if you want. The only complaint I have when it comes to buttons is that the C buttons are not very easy to reach. Obviously, the Z button isn't either since it's in the middle of the controller, but it can be easily reassigned if the game requires it. Actually steering works great and the sensitivity can be changed by holding the Set button and pressing a direction on the D-Pad.
The Concept 4 Racing Wheel does have a fair bit of cables, but they're almost all optional. First of all, is the cable connecting the pedals which control the A and B buttons and are supposedly analog even though the N64 controller's A and B buttons are digital. The function of these can also be swapped, or, since there are A and B buttons also on the wheel itself, you can unplug the pedals and not use them at all. The underside of the pedal unit also has convenient grooves which lead out the front or back so you can secure the cable in either direction. Even the power adapter is only required for the wheel's rumble function (for compatible games) and rumble can be turned on and off by holding Set and then pressing Start.
Check out my video demonstration of the wheel here with Mario Kart 64, F-Zero X, Star Fox 64, and even Super Mario 64!

The wheel is designed to be usable on either a table or your lap and is comfortable in both positions. It can also pivot up and down to whatever angle you find to be most comfortable.

The final word:
Personally, I still prefer to play racing games with a controller simply because that's what I'm most accustomed to, but if you want to play with a racing wheel, I definitely recommend the Concept 4 by InterAct. It's all around well designed, easily usable, and solidly constructed. I really couldn't ask for more.

While we're on the topic of racing games, have you tried the fantastic and sadly overlooked Excitebots?

Monday, October 13, 2014

GameCube Pre-Release Preview Minidisc

Before the Nintendo GameCube was released, I received this promotional preview minidisc from somewhere... I don't even remember where, but it looks like it might've come in the mail.
Even though it looks like a GameCube game, it's only playable on a computer and it has a Flash menu from which you can see information on the console, screenshots and trailers for upcoming games, and get wallpapers for your computer. There are also some outdated links to Nintendo websites like Nintendo Power and Nintendo Cube Club.

Check out the video tour I recorded of the interface and information inside. Interestingly, it advertised an SD-Memory Card Adapter, which I don't remember ever being officially released.
The disc contains previews for a bunch of early Gamecube games: Star Wars Rogue Squadron: Rogue Leader, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet, SSX Tricky, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Pikmin, NBA Courtside 2002, Madden 2002, Luigi's Mansion, and Extreme-G 3. If you want, you can watch all of the trailers as they are on the disc here:
That's about all there is to it. For the good of the internet, here's a zip of all the files on the disc (it's just flash, videos, images, and html, so you probably don't need an iso). (157.27 MB)

I hope you enjoyed this small blast from the past. For more Nintendo stuff from around this time, check out that time Nintendo sent out mannequin hands to promote the DS or Camp Hyrule wallpapers!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FTW: Incredible Rhythmic Mario Platforming Hack on a Dance Machine (And More!)

I've written before about the ingenuity of the tenacious group of remaining dance game players and about the incredible ways they've been able to mod the In The Groove 2 (ITG) arcade machines with "gimmick charts". Last time, there was a song with a secret code which would display the message "Player # took their shirt off!" to the song "Take Your Shirt Off", as well as a playable version of Rally-X. Before that was a song from Rhythm Heaven made playable on a dance machine.

Now, for DivinElegy's 3rd Annual Gimmick Competition, the latest and greatest original gimmick charts are coming in. One of them is Steve Reen's "Long Invulnerability", a musical Mario platforming experience akin to Bit.Trip Runner and inspired by the music levels in Rayman Legends. In it, you have to use the arrows on the dance pad to jump and grab coins, hit blocks, avoid obstacles, smash through walls, and kill enemies, all to the beat of the music. At the end, you're scored according to how many coins and enemies you got. It's amazing enough that this kind of thing was able to be made in the first place, but more amazing still how well the music goes with the gameplay. It could've been just a proof of concept, but it's not. Check this thing out:

While we're at it, here are a few more games within a dance game...

Mega Man
Rhythm Minigames

Space Shooter Minus the Shooting

Mash Arrows to Make Sonic Jump
Game and Watch Manhole with Ponies

Thanks to reader "Bran" for suggesting this post! 


Something that reminds me of Rez but isn't really the same at all

Monday, October 6, 2014

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie - Review

Watch it on Vimeo On Demand
Since 2004 (before it was cool), James Rolfe has been reviewing old crappy video games on the internet as his character, the Angry Video Game Nerd. The Nerd's claims to fame have always been playing the worst and most infuriating retro games, making angry faces, taking swigs of beer, and finding new ways to string together swears and vulgarities. His scripted rage at poor game design can be amusing, but after ten years of video reviews, it's not the cursing that brings back the fans, it's the nostalgia, it's learning something new about gaming history, it's the camaraderie of having experienced the same or similar games yourself, and it's the likable character of AVGN who has somehow managed to make vulgarity endearing.
It's like Grumpy Cat stole AVGN's signature grumpy face.
The movie is more of a story and less of a review, although it does have that too. It turns out that in all his years reviewing terrible games, the Nerd had yet to review the infamous, worst game of all time, E.T. for Atari 2600, and his fans are demanding it. The Nerd, however, has found that his reviews of terrible games aren't warning people to stay away from the games, but actually driving his fans to try them and see how bad they are, and so he refuses to give E.T. the review his fans demand. Meanwhile, [a now confirmed] rumor has it that the game was so bad that Atari buried all the unsold copies in a landfill in the desert in New Mexico. The movie takes this urban legend and runs with it, throwing in conspiracy theories, aliens, and Kaijuu to expand the would-be simple story into the plot of a full-length movie. If you imagine National Treasure mixed with Spaceballs, only about video games, it's kind of like that. It's a fun roller coaster ride of craziness, humor, and a self-aware deconstruction of film clichés that will make real life AVGN fans squeal with glee. (Although, I should note that fans of Mike or the guitar guy, will be bummed to see that they are reduced to a cameo and that the Nerd is joined instead by two new costars.)
Some of the special effects are intentionally low budget...
James Rolfe's appreciation for cinematography frequently shines through by way of nods to similar films, and in camerawork that feels professional. The movie also makes use of a fair bit of special effects which range from surprisingly good to intentionally and hilariously low budget (obvious dummies and vehicle models). While I can't fault the film for its cheesy-by-design special effects, I did notice some audio hiccups on occasion where a character's monologue seemed audibly broken up by multiple takes that weren't well blended together. Also, while the writing is generally good and funny, the story of the E.T. desert burial gets told a few too many times (we get the picture already!) and even though the movie intentionally pokes fun at old and modern movie clichés, it overdoes it on occasion and gets a bit dangerously cheesy itself at points. And this might be just, like, my opinion, man, but when E.T. appears as a character in the movie, his voice and script felt like Jar Jar Binks levels of obnoxious.
Overall though, I found AVGN: The Movie to be quite enjoyable; more so than I anticipated. While it could have relied on a crutch of inside jokes from the AVGN web series (like the official AVGN game did), it almost never resorted to that and instead managed to break new ground in humor and story telling, putting it leaps and bounds above a regular Nerd episode. However, while you don't have to have seen AVGN's game reviews to enjoy this movie, it's definitely a movie for the fans. Even though its story is self-contained, I have a feeling that people who are unfamiliar with the Nerd just won't get the same enjoyment out of the movie as longtime fans. And, of course, if you don't like AVGN at all (or are my mom), you probably won't like the movie either. For fans of the Nerd, however, you owe it to yourselves to watch this fun and funny tribute to film, video games, B movies, and you, the fans.
Final review: Not bad!

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