Monday, February 28, 2011

Boycott 3DS

Facebook movement is getting a lot of attention for its plans to boycott the Nintendo 3DS. The group posits that the 3DS is made from "conflict mineral" -- material mined in the Congo by oppressed workers led by armed rebel groups. 

The scheme has been hatched by a representative of the Enough Project, a group dedicated to fighting human rights abuses and genocide. According to the spokesman, Nintendo is "allowing people to die and suffer grave human rights abuses for the sake of video game console production."

"What I am asking you to do is to refuse to buy a Nintendo 3DS system until Nintendo announces plans to halt use of conflict minerals in production -- and this can only happen through monitoring of trade systems," states the group. "I am not in any way opposed to the 3DS itself -- I actually think it's one of the coolest things I've never seen in person. But I am not going to be one of the millions who looks the other way purely for entertainment, and I hope you will join me."

It seems that quite a few gamers who joined the group aren't exactly steadfast comrades, having answered the call with vitriolic rejoinders: "Sure, whining like a faggot is cool and all, but seriously. Get the sticks out of your asses, kiddo', a few lost sales isn't going to do Nintendo any."

Seems weird to me that the 3DS is being picked on when there are likely thousands of things that could be accused, but I guess it's all about what gets attention. What about you? Do you agree that Nintendo should be punished for possibly funding human rights abuse? Or do you accept this as a sad fact of capitalism in which the poor must exist for there to be wealth? More importantly ... how excited are you for Nintendogs?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

We Dare

A recently-posted trailer for a new party game from Ubisoft has been raising some eyebrows due to the sorts of activities it shows players teaming up for. In less than two minutes, we see several two-player mini-games, including one where players kiss the Wii remote from either side to eat an apple in-game, and another where one player spanks the Wii remote (located in the other player's waistband) to fly faster. Intrigued?
Called We Dare, the game was originally announced late last year for Wii and PlayStation 3 (as a Move title). A press release claimed that it would "spice up" parties with "sexy challenges." Among the features listed were "provocative controls" and "mature settings." In addition to trivia and dancing, "physical contact" was listed as an example of the "wide variety of game styles."
Now that the trailer has emerged in the past few days, we can see exactly what We Dare is all about. Despite a PEGI-12 rating, the trailer is rather provocative. On YouTube, it directs viewers to several other clips, one of which plays up the possibility of playing the game and then partaking in an orgy. You know, the usual.
Unfortunately, there is no Kinect-enabled 360 version. Not only that, We Dare isn't even coming to the U.S. -- it's a Europe-only release. lists a March 11 release date and a price of just under $27 for the Wii version or just under $36 for the PS3 version. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Police Raid PS3 Hackers Home

Graf_chokolo, who has contributed countless things to the PS3 scene, had his private home raided by police this morning. They confiscated all of his "accounts" and anything related to PS3 hacking. Some of you may remember that graf_chokolo promised if he was pushed, that he would release all of his PS3 hypervisor knowledge to the world. He kept good on this promise releasing what is being dubbed as the Hypervisor Bible. "The uploaded files contains his database which is a series of tools for the PS3′s Hypervisor and Hypervisor processes. It will help other devs to reverse engineer the hypervisor of PS3 further."

Read more: - Police Raid Graf_Chokolo's House - In Response Graf Releases "Hypervisor Bible"


Here's a link to download the file. Grab it quick before it's taken down if you want it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

World Of Warcraft And Starcraft Amusement Park

A report surfaced earlier this month that a new amusement park in China would feature Warcraft and StarCraft-inspired sections. Photos of the park's construction have now surfaced suggesting that it might not open in March as had been planned.
The park, known as Joyland, will be located in China's Wujin district. Its website shows what its five distinct areas will look like -- in addition to World of Legend, Moles World, and The Island of Mystery are the two Blizzard areas: Universe of StarCraft and Terrain of Warcraft. The original plan had been for the park to open in March. Judging by pictures (that's one below) that were said to be taken quite recently, it doesn't look as if it will be ready quite that soon, although stranger things have happened.

Joyland construction

A local news report covering Joyland's development can be seen here -- just don't expect to learn much if English is your only language.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Gaming Between 10pm - 8am

Gamers in Vietnam will soon have to rearrange their schedules if they're used to playing videogames online at night. The country's Ministry of Information and Communication is requesting that local internet service providers block online games access between the hours of 1 0pm and 8am.
ISPs will have until March 3 to implement the restriction. Vietnam News reports that the ministry's Deputy Minister, Le Nam Thang, said in a statement, "Provincial departments of information and communication will inspect online games activities nationwide and deal with organizations that violate regulations by canceling their services."
The story notes that previous restrictions have also been put in place to "mitigate the side effects of online games." Certain ISPs are arguing that this latest block will cause problems for online game maintenance and will reduce "entertainment access" to adults paying good money for internet service.
And to think, many of us in the U.S. complained at one time or another about our parents telling us to stop playing games at night; just imagine if the government demanded it. Many a late night World of Warcraft raids would be interrupted, that's for sure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Police Suspect Murder With Knect Boxing

Be careful what it looks like you're doing near the windows of your home -- it could lead to police raiding your house late at night.
A group of people in Sweden were playing a boxing game on Kinect at night. The police were called around midnight after someone walked by and saw shadows of punches being thrown. This led to a raid of the house by six to eight police officers who were under the impression that someone was being murdered, UK news outlet Metro reports.
"It was pretty embarrassing when they came in and asked who we were attacking," said Robert Johansson, who was among the six people inside. "It was just a computer game."
A Stockholm police spokesperson said, "We always react to calls regarding domestic violence. Luckily this time it was a false alarm." Hopefully the door to the house wasn't busted up too badly when the officers swarmed in.
I hope we've all learned a valuable lesson from this: Don't murder. Also, avoid your Kinect-playing shadows from being seen by passers-by late at night.

Monday, February 21, 2011

25 Things You May Not Know About Zelda

1. The Japanese Versions of Zelda I and II Had Different Music
Many NES classic weren't released on the proper NES (Famicom) in Japan. Rather, they were released for a peripheral called the Famicom Disk System.
The FDS hooked up to the original Famicom and offered the ability to save games, along with a few hardware tweaks like an extra sound channel. This meant that not only did Nintendo have to put batteries into cartridges to allow for save games, many developers had to cut the music entirely.
In Zelda's case, the extra sound channel meant that some of its musical tracks and sound effects sounded richer.

2. There Was a Dedicated Zelda Handheld
Nintendo released a Zelda game in its line of dedicated LCD Game & Watch units in 1989.
Based on the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, the game is significant as not only the last Game & Watch, but as the last handheld Nintendo would release before the Game Boy.

3. A Chip Shortage Delayed Zelda 2
There were more reasons for gamers having to wait for NES games than slow localizations. The demand for titles was so high that many famous games, including Zelda 2, were significantly delayed in their American releases due to a chip shortage in 1988.
At least, that's what Nintendo said at the time. The company was operating in the wake of the Cabbage Patch Doll craze, and Coleco had allegedly used artificial sources to generate the hype. Even the the ABC show 20/20 questioned the authenticity of the shortage.
It reminds us of the release of a certain console in 2006...

4. Link's Awakening Was Censored in America
Oh, the days of Nintendo's draconian content restrictions. They gave us a boring and bloodless Mortal Kombat and censored localizations of many Japanese games, including Link's Awakening.
The character Schule paints a picture in the game, and while American gamers were none the wiser, Japanese players were treated to a tasteful nude hippo.

5. Link to the Past Had A Hidden Room You Probably Haven't Seen
Nintendo Power used to have all sorts of contests that would let fans design content or get their names into sequels to their favorite games. On lucky fan got his name into Link to the Past.
Too bad nobody could find it- it was hidden away in a secret room only accessible by breaking the game, with a plaque than simply read, "My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my top secret room. Keep it between us, okay?" problem. 

6. Fox McCloud Hates Link
As Smash Brothers proves, not all Nintendo characters get along. Fox McCloud of StarFox fame apparently hates Link and even goes after him in Ocarina of Time.
With a little coaxing from the Action Replay or similar cheating device, players can discover a very aggressive version of Fox's starship, the Arwing, that will attack Link on sight.

7. Twilight Princess on the Wii is Backwards
Outraged fans cried foul at the right-handed Link in the Wii version of Twilight Princess. Link had always been a lefty (unless you count the right-handedness caused by NES sprite flipping.) Shigeru Miyamoto modeled that aspect of the character off of himself.
Well, most people -- around 85% -- are right handed. Nintendo didn't want any confusion with the sword controls in their flagship Wii title.
Except they didn't just change Link, they mirrored the entire game world, making life a pain for underpaid strategy guide writers everywhere.

8. Ocarina of Time Had An Expansion Pack
The N64's signature title was not originally an N64 game. During the early production of Ocarina of Time, it was developed for the 64DD, an optical disc drive that never came out in America and lived a short, inglorious life in Japan.
Even after the game moved to the N64 proper, Nintendo continued to work on Ocarina of Time: Master Quest, an improved version of the game with lots of new content. It never saw release on the short-lived peripheral, but was released as a pre-order bonus for Wind Waker on the GameCube.

9. Skyward Sword is Not The Same Game Announced in 2009
The Skyward Sword we saw at last year's E3 is not the game Nintendo originally started working on. In 2009, Miyamoto claimed the next Zelda game would not be "radically different" from previous versions.
However, four months later, the game's producer Eji Aounuma said that he and Miyamoto had agreed to not follow the same template and to change things up. Miyamoto echoed those sentiments in May of 2010. So sometime in 2009, Skyward Sword underwent a major design revision.

10. Ocarina of Time Had a Song Removed
Remember the Fire Temple music from Ocarina of Time? Don't be so sure. If you played the game immediately after its release, you heard a slightly different track than those who bought later versions of the game.
The original version had a Muslim prayer looped into it, and was later removed to avoid causing offense. 

11. There Was Almost a Zelda 1 Remake for Game Boy
The Oracle games originally started life out as a remake of the original NES Legend of Zelda. Yoshiki Okamoto of Capcom approached Miyamoto with the idea and, after much back and forth, got the go-ahead.
Unfortunately for Okamoto, he was in over his head and his team's tweaks to the original game resulted in an entirely new overworld map.

12. There Was Supposed to Be a Third Oracle Ganme
When Okamoto ran into trouble attempting to remake the original Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Color, Miyamoto came to the rescue with his idea for a trilogy called the Triforce series. Over time, this planned trilogy produced the two GBC Zeldas, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages.
What happened to the third one? Even Miyamoto's reworked concept proved too difficult and Capcom scaled the planned trilogy down to two titles.

13. Link's Awakening is Based On a Non-Zelda Game
Fans have always noted how different the story of Link's Awakening is from other Zelda titles. That's because despite the Zelda skin, it's more of a sequel to a little-known Japan-only title, The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls, than any Link to the Past.
There are even characters from TFWBT in the game- the exiled prince Richard makes a cameo.

14. Tingle Has His Own Games
Tingle is a very confused man who thinks he's a faerie. Western fans love to hate him, but he's popular enough to have his own series of games in Japan.
His four-game series reign began in 2007 with Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, which tells Tingle's origin story and was released only in Japan and Europe. Nintendo of America passed on the opportunity to publish the game.
Tingle's Balloon Fight DS was a prize for Club Nintendo Platinum members. 2009 saw the release of Ripening Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love in Japan, along with the Too Much Tingle Pack for DSiWare.

15. Crazy Tracy from Link's Awakening is In Another Game
Captain Rainbow, a Japan-only Nintendo game featuring washed-up Nintendo characters that never earned a following, features the oft-forgotten Crazy Tracy from Link's Awakening. She lives in the center of the island where the game takes place, in a grand mansion where she plots to enslave the men of the world.
When talking about Captain Rainbow, many overlook Tracy's appearance in favor of discussing an unfortunate scene where the player must scour Birdo's room for her vibrator (no, seriously.) 

16. There's a 16-Bit Remake of Zelda 1
While children were busy being bored by the Sega Channel in America, kids in Japan were playing around with the Satellaview, an add-on peripheral for the SNES that hooked up to satellite TV like the Sega Channel hooked up to cable. Games were broadcast at set times, and system owners had to be ready to play. All titles had to be played in one sitting.
Three Zelda titles were released for the system, one of which was a remake of the original NES title with freshly updated 16-bit graphics and sound, a la Mario All-Stars.

17. There Are Two Zelda Games You'll Never Properly Play
There were two more BS (Broadcast Satellite) games. BS The Legend of Zelda: The Ancient Stone Tablets, was a complete Zelda title broadcast over four weeks in 1997. The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods was a version of Link to the Past broadcast especially for the system.
While technically ROM files for these games are out there and playable, the live nature of the original BS broadcasts means you'll never be able to play them as they were originally intended.

18. Zelda Games Came Out for Non-Nintendo Systems
Well, excuuuuse meee, princess. You say you've already seen clips of the disastrous CD-i Zelda games on YouTube. But do you know the reason Nintendo allowed these abominations to exist?
In the mid-nineties, Sega had made significant inroads in the console market, and though their Sega CD add-on was a commercial flop, Nintendo still felt the need to combat it. It struck a deal with Philips to create a CD-ROM add-on, but as most of us know, it was never actually released. The deal left Philips with the rights to use Mario and Zelda in its own CD-i games, which it did, ensuring fodder for YouTube comedy videos for years to come.

19. Some Non-Nintendo Zelda Games Were Actually Good
Not all instances of Nintendo lending out its IP to outsiders ended in disaster. When Nintendo teamed up with Capcom, it gave us three separate handheld classics: Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, and The Minish Cap were all designed by Capcom, not Nintendo.
Despite Capcom's success, Phillip's failure still makes fans flinch when Nintendo announces new partnerships.

20. Zelda Is Part of a Complete Balanced Breakfast
The 80s were a Nintendo-crazy era. Zelda and Mario even got their own breakfast cereals. Called the Nintendo Cereal System, each box was divided into Mario and Zelda sides.
It was a typical marshmallow-based licensed cereal (yes, there were enough of these things to call this 'typical.') Like all other sugar-packed cereals, it was billed as a part of a complete nutritious breakfast that, according to the commercials, consisted of milk, orange juice, two bowls of cereal, a stack of heavily buttered toast and a premature death due to childhood diabetes. 

21. The U.S. Version of Zelda 1 Removed A Feature
The NES we got in the U.S. was not completely identical to the original Japanese Famicom. The Famicom featured hardwired controllers, a top-loading cartridge slot, and a microphone.
The Pols Voice enemies that populate the game could be killed by yelling into the microphone. With no such peripheral on the NES, the functionality was removed from the American version. However, hints to the original nature of the game still exist in the English instruction manual, which claims that Pols Voice is sensitive to loud noises.

22. A Work-In Progress Version of Zelda 1 Leaked On the Internet
Nintendo is renowned for their secrecy. That's why it was such a big deal when a prototype ROM of the Legend of Zelda leaked onto the internet in 2010.
Made for the Famicom Disk System, this version of the game is not only significantly easier, but even features different art for some of the enemies.

23. There is Lots of Debug Stuff Left on the Wind Waker Disc
When game makers finish a game, they don't go through and meticulously wipe their footprints away. Instead, they lock up the data and call it good enough. This means that clever hackers can access this data to get a look at possible alternate versions, levels, or cut features (as Rockstar learned the hard way with the Hot Coffee scandal.)
While Wind Waker doesn't have any hidden sex scenes, it does feature music, weapons, and superfluous rooms used for bug testing.
The recent advent of PC GameCube emulation has allowed curious individuals the chance to access and play around with these hidden items. 
24. Ocarina of Time Was Almost a First-Person Game
Early on, Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto was pushing for Ocarina of Time to take place entirely in first-person, so as to emphasize the vastness of Hyrule field. Thankfully, he changed his mind once the young Link/old Link dynamic was put into place, as he felt it important that the player see the difference.
The idea would be revisited in Link's Crossbow Training for the Wii in 2007.

25. Each Zelda Has a Distinct Theme Written By the Same Guy
Koji Kondo, the man responsible for the most memorable Zelda and Mario tunes of all time, still works on the series. To keep things fresh, he likes to have a different theme for each game, as he told Nintendo Power in 2006.
"Each game in the Zelda series has a slightly different vibe. Majora's Mask had an exotic Chinese-opera sound; and Wind Waker had sort of an Irish influence on its music. As we started thinking about the music for Twilight Princess, I got some guidance from the developers that they'd like music reminiscent of eastern Europe." 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Next Week Release

Next week's batch of new video game releases covers almost every genre under the sun, including adventure games, real-time tactical, sims, splatting paint, puzzlers, face-shooting games, RPGs and face-shooting games with lots of swearing.
Skip to PCPlayStation 2PlayStation 3Xbox 360WiiNintendo DS or PSP sections if you'd like, or just read on through for the full breakdown of this week's releases.
Bulletstorm, Cities in Motion, EverQuest II: Destiny of Velious , Gemini Rue, Gray Matter, Men of War: Assault Squad
PlayStation 3
Bulletstorm, de Blob 2, Killzone 3, Killzone 3 Helghast Edition, Knights Contract
Xbox 360
Bejeweled Blitz Live (Xbox Live Arcade download), Bulletstorm, de Blob 2, Dreamcast Collection, Knights Contract
de Blob 2
Nintendo DS
de Blob 2, Radiant Historia, Tin Can

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hackers Can Unban Their Consoles

This game of one-upmanship between Sony and the PS3 modders is getting seriously heated. Responding to the news that Sony was permabanning modded consoles, a new hack claims to worm into the PSN and allow people to unban themselves. 

The hack can also be used to ban another console, although they'd need access to that console's ID, which would have to be obtained from a refurb warehouse/secondhand seller or willingly given up by an idiot. 

The mod scene is justifying its actions by calling Sony bullies and criticizing its strong-arm tactics. Sony, of course, is sticking by its EULA and claiming to protect its interests.

Whichever side you find righteous, there is no denying that this war is going to get even more bitter -- and likely more idiotic -- before it's all said and done. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

MMOFPS From Bungie

Since finishing up with the Halo franchise, Bungie has moved on to develop a new game for Activision Blizzard that we know absolutely nothing about. According to a new report, Bungie is staying within the realm of first-person shooters for its next game -- except it'll be a massively multiplayer FPS.
A source spoke with Kotaku claiming to be a contractor who, along with around 30 others, was let go from Bungie. Besides talking about the layoffs, he or she also shared some information about Bungie's next project: The MMOFPS will have a science fiction setting and be called 'Destiny,' although it currently carries the codename 'Tiger.'
The source says Bungie let go "every employee who wasn't full-time employed," including "producers, artists, programmers, most of the IT staff, and security." This was due to "performance related" issues, although an IT contractor who was also laid off supposedly received an email that pointed to "project sensitivity" and "budgetary concerns from our publisher" as the real reasons behind the layoffs.
Since the report was originally filed, Bungie has publicly denied that any such event ever took place. "Bungie has never been asked to lay off any employees or contract employees by our publisher, Activision-Blizzard, for any reason," a post on reads. "The talented professionals who grace our offices day in and day out are the lifeblood of Bungie -- our most cherished commodity ? and the unsubstantiated rumors posted today are in direct opposition to the culture and values that we believe make Bungie an exceptional place to work, and to call home." It's also noted that Bungie is currently hiring for a variety of positions.
With Bungie outright denying that any "layoffs or group firings of any kind" have taken place, it makes it difficult to believe the source's claim that an MMOFPS is the Halo developer's next game.GameSpot notes that Bungie writer and design director Joseph Staten made some comments last year that could be taken as an interest in working on an MMO.
"I think it's a shame that we spent so much time working on this world called Halo and then we only let people spend six or eight or 10 hours in it," Staten said. "Wouldn't it be great if we could make a world that was always there for you, with lots of stories to tell, like a big, infinite storytelling horizon? Man, that would be great."
That sounds like he might be talking about an MMO, where the story can continue being told indefinitely. But all that can really be taken as is interest on the part of one Bungie staffer -- it's not necessarily an indication of what the developer is working on.
For what it's worth, Bungie has said that it's developing a new engine for its next game. Last year it was also looking to hire individuals who had experience with "branching or non-linear" narratives, as well as a Player Investment Designer who would be "designing mechanics which drive in-game player reward and incentive" and working to provide players with long-term goals "to invest them in the world and their character."
Given that it still would be an FPS game on some level -- a genre that Bungie's become pretty comfortable with over the last decade -- an MMOFPS doesn't seem like such a stretch. Even so, for now, we'll have to keep this idea filed under 'rumor.'