Monday, November 26, 2007

LEGO Universe Site

Happy belated Thanksgiving! According to my inbox, the LEGO Universe official site launched just before the holiday. Though there is not much content up there at the moment, they are runnning both a "name our newsletter" and "design our logo" contest. Jeez, what else to they want the users to do? How about "design our quests" and "script our game"? Just kidding, of course.

The game site also benefits from the official LEGO message boards, so there's a link to those, too. But otherwise, not much to see here, folks. I will keep checking back to see what's happening, though.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's-a Mii!

Hooray! Super Mario Galaxy is here, and my pre-order should be arriving tomorrow. Fortunately, I just finished Metroid Prime 3, so I'm ready for some hot Italian plumber action. At some point, I'll post some thoughts about Prime. But for now, that blonde bounty chick Samus Aran is totally upstaged by Mr. Mario.

Now, I love game blogs. They are great for the daily dose of the web's best game news and clips, but in terms of thoughtful insight...well, not so much. Interestingly, Kotaku's Mike Fahey has posted some thoughts on the arrival of SMG, and I found his assessment to be extremely fair and well-written...not to mention getting me totally psyched for the game! (Granted, I haven't played the thing either, even though I've seen it in action once or twice and heard from those who got to try it that it was awesome.) Kudos to Kotaku and Mr. Fahey for this entertaining review.

Finally, I spent a little time last night on the Wii's recently-launched "Check Mii Out" channel. (Stand by as I taste the "Check Mii Out" channel like a fine nerd wine.) "I find it to be fun, yet somewhat disappointing. And with a hint of unseen potential." Good: the "popular" Miis that you can browse are a total hoot, and you can download your favorites directly to your console. Last night, I saw amazing Mii versions of Darth Vader (pictured), Jack Black, Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, Charlie Brown, that guy from Naruto, Dr. Zoidberg and more. Also good: you can enter your own Mii creations into contests. (Current contest: Mario without his hat.) Bad: It is not clear how you can track the Miis you upload. For example, I uploaded a Samurai Jack Mii and a Dexter Mii. How do I know if anyone "checks Mii out"? Do I have to hope that, in the off-chance, my creations appear in the Top 50? Not likely! This kinda sucks, but can probably be easily improved with a "track my Miis" feature later. Also bad: you can browse Miis both "in your area" and "worldwide" but there is no indication of exactly where these Miis are being picked from. And what if I want to browse the Miis in New York, or in Michigan? Not an option. Also bad: you can't browse Miis by type, you can only see their "friends". Selecting Darth Vader's friends, for example, just pulled up a whole bunch of similar Darth Vader Miis. Bo-ring. Despite these flaws, I remained entertained throughout the "Check Mii Out" experience. I am still amazed at the variety one can create with the Mii tool set. I am actually starting to think that this particular feature of the Wii is sort of a sleeping giant. There are so many things that can be done with the Miis, especially once we get some more robust multiplayer games on the platform. Even in its early stages, the "Check Mii Out" channel shows lots of potential. And it is always exciting to see the proliferation of fun user-generated content, when it is so often just the opposite.

Games on Wax

Okay, this is just amazing. I can't believe I'd never encountered this before, and thanks to KJ for bringing it to my attention. Apparently, back in the good ol' 1980s, bands were recording games on vinyl that could be played back on the ZX Spectrum. Not surprisingly, the majority of these bands were from the UK, where the Spectrum was most popular. (It never really took off in the USA, as far as I know.) How did it work? Listeners could dump audio "code" from the vinyl to tape and play the tape in their Spectrum. Sounds like a dicey proposition, but I suppose it worked. It's hilarious to think that, back in the day, an audio tape could contain a game. Heck, I remember playing "Hunt the Wumpus" off a tape on a Texas Instruments something-or-other.

Anyway, even more incredibly, some of these games have survived and been preserved on the Interwebs. Why, you can play the Thompson Twins Adventure right now if you want to! It appears to be some kind of text adventure in which you try to prevent the Thompson Twins from dying of heat stroke. Maybe you can "lay hands on Thompson Twins" to give them a health boost! Har-de-har-har. Simply incredible. I applaud the geeks who took the time to make sure these random games didn't get lost into the ether. I don't have the time to really look into this at the moment (I shouldn't even be posting right now), but I plan to get back to this at some point and play these things. For example, how awesome is the following:
The goal of 'The Shaky Game' is to drive Shakin' Stevens' car to the center of a maze while avoiding bats, who bite you.
I love Shaky's line when the player dies:
OH DEAR!! a bat bit you
Oh, Shaky, you gotta watch out for those bats!

Battle Garden

This month's Games For Windows magazine plugs a little (Japanese?) Flash game called Battle Garden. It's a shooter on rails, and extremely fun and fast for a Flash game. There's not much variety, as the game simply loops the same dozen or so scenarios over and over, but the gun mechanics make it worth it. Nerdy and noteworthy are the sound effects -- you will recognize some gun sounds lifted directly from the N64 classic, Perfect Dark. Oh, and the headshots are fantastic...your opponents literally explode! The game is on many different "free game" sites, but GFW posted this link. Try it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Unbelievable Game Auction

An incredible eBay auction that is worth looking at: over 1,700 pieces including some random handhelds, TV games, Texas Instruments, yadda yadda. Most impressive is the seller's painstaking listing of every item, lovingly crafted by an obvious game fan. It must be really hard for this person to part with all this stuff, but I'm sure it will find a good home. Current bid: $7600. You must REALLY like games if you want to buy this collection!

Thanks to Gideon for the head's up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Don't Stop Soloing!

Seriously, how does anyone even have the finger dexterity to do this? It's like a super power or something.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Massively

The Joystiq/Fanboy network has just launched Massively, a new blog dedicated to MMOs. This would explain why the Joystiq editors were looking for MMO-knowledgable writers a month or two back...

Looks pretty good, although no mention of FusionFall anywhere. C'mon, guys!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Zero Punctuation

If you are a gamer you are probably already familiar with Zero Punctuation, a collection of game reviews by some guy with an accent named Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Sometimes complimentary, usually scathing, but always hilarious, this weekly video column is not to be missed.

Of course, I did in fact miss it for a number of weeks and caught myself up. Enjoy hugely entertaining reviews of Halo 3, Peggle, and BioShock, just to name a few. (Not to mention some funny MMO commentary in relation to Tabula Rasa.)

Even if "Yahtzee" is nasty -- and he usually is -- he's almost always right. Which makes this video column such a breath of fresh air. Plus, the little cartoons and asides are often hysterical and the eclectic mix of games (did I mention Peggle?) means there's something for everyone. Although I'd really like to see what this guy has to say about Madden!