Mario Kart of old, Halo 3 Beta of new, & Sonic, well he’s blue – Welcome to the column that so borrowed that this writer will end up in a clearance sale @ the Salvation Army store known as Dare to Play the Game.
Welcome to another edition of Dare to Play the Game. Make that Staff Sergeant, yes I am still improving at Rainbow Six Vegas. (don’t expect me to be Sergeant First Class this week though). I like playing because I get to talk to my friends, but honestly if they wer…n’t there I wouldn’t have even bought the game much less take it to the level I have. In the weird news department, I picked up three calendars this week. Two for the office (Mini-Coopers & Charles Addams Cartoons) and one for the home (Veronica Mars, because she’s hot) for $1.00 a piece. Why did I wait so long, because I’m cheap and because thanks to calendar makers, most calendars are made for 14 or 16 months. Which means I can wait until the liquidation sales hit and pay 1/10th of the price.
Ode To Morgan Webb
Milk it does, milk, it does the body good…pass it on! Milk as you can see has done wonders for Morgan Webb. I bet when she sports her milk mustache, she does so with pride and honor. (and a small katana) She also seems to be drinking the chocolate variety. I’m slowly gaining secrets by studying these pictures that will ultimately score me a date. Just wait, time will tell 🙂
Quick news stories of interest
With Crackdown’s release coming in just a few short days, the excitement surrounding the included Halo 3 beta is starting to grow. To help answer some common questions, Bungie.net has been updated with a Halo 3 beta FAQ.
The key piece of information is the bit about when the beta will begin. If you’re looking to quickly hop into the Halo 3 beta after purchasing Crackdown next week, it looks like you might be out of luck. According to Bungie, “The beta will not start when Crackdown is released. The beta will go live when it’s ready, which should be sometime this Spring.”
The FAQ goes on to explain that there will be a few surprises for beta testers including the function of the much talked about X button, though the feature may not be actually mapped to the X button (that is still subject to change) and it probably won’t be very surprising. “Just cool,” Bungie says.
It doesn’t appear that every map, gametype, or playlist will be included in the beta. Bungie is looking to only include enough to get the data it needs. What data is that exactly? While Bungie says it will keep an eye on message boards for feedback, the primary goal of the beta is to do stress-testing and, “gain valuable technical information that’s only possible when we have tens of thousands of simultaneous players across the world.”
So if there is anybody who bought Crackdown for the Halo 3 beta and not Crackdown, could you send it to me. I’ll send you a $20 spot :-P. Yes, everybody and their dog will get Halo 3. But all of this beta nonsense and what feature does the X Button hold (it better hold a potato and egg taquito or a feature that will enable me not to die every 20 seconds when playing a group of 8 year olds) is getting slowly on my nerves. Maybe I’m just bitter because I didn’t get a chance at the beta in the first two stages. Now I would like to play Crackdown but I don’t think it’s worth the $60 and I don’t want to get it because of the promotional crap behind it. As for the X button; most likely it will be a neat little feature that dozens of games after it will attempt to copy to little or no avail. I do like the fact that Halo 3 beta will not have any disclosure agreements so that we can hear about it from others on their impressions and their experiences. So expect tons of more information in the upcoming months.
Mario Kart Back in Arcades
If you thought this was going to be a story about a new Mario Kart arcade game running off a new Wii-based arcade board, then you obviously aren’t aware of the snails pace at which the arcade industry likes to update its hardware. No, Mario Kart Arcade Grand Prix 2 runs on the good old Triforce board just like its predecessor.
In fact, the sequel to the Namco/Nintendo cross-development racer seems more like an update to the original rather than a true sequel. The game adds Waruigi and Tamagotchi to the cast of racers, along with a couple of new courses. New items, and new frames for the “Namcam” avatar system have also found their way into the game.
The biggest change appears to come in the form of color commentary, provided (in the Japanese version, at least) by Koichi Yamadera. This is a feature we hope Nintendo puts into the eventual Wii version of everyone’s favorite kart series.
I guess this proves the whole if it ain’t broke philosophy. I honestly have not played Mario Kart in the arcades, heck I’ve not touched Mario Kart since the SNES days. (I might have played it for 10 minutes on the N64 but we all know my problems with that system). However, I have played many racing games in the arcades and would expect this to do very well if there were many arcades left. An unfortunate dinosaur due to the uprising of console games and how much they surpass their arcade equivalents. I do like the idea of color commentary; however like most it will probably become overly repetitive (OH HE HIT THE WALL IN TURN 4!, THAT’S A DOOZIE!) Supposedly, a Silent Hill arcade game is making way to some of us. How they get from adventure to arcadey type game and still keep the horror aspect is beyond me but it should be fun.
Bankshot Billiards 2 – XBOX Live Arcade
This week I found myself at the right end of an Ebay deal where I was able to secure a Bankshot Billiards download card for $6.25 (regularly 1200 points or $15). I’ve done this recently also with Joust (that one I snagged for $2.49; regularly 400 points or $5). The great thing about this is you can get some of the xbox live games for half or better of what they are worth on live marketplace and enjoy the same fun. The games that I’ve found you can do this so far is Uno, Robotron, Contra (after people start completing the Old Spice Challenge), Joust, Frogger, Time Pilot, & Bankshot Billiards. People get these cards from XBOX Live Subscriptions and various other promotional offers. Bankshot Billiards 2 is a fun little pool game and to be honest it is just like a lot of other pool games. There is 8-ball, 9-ball, cutthroat, trick shots, and other games you commonly think of with pool. The graphics and sounds are top notch as the pool balls do look great. The tables can also be customized to a certain degree which add to the realism. The balls certainly sound real enough as well and supported by the 5.1 Dolby Digital. The most important part of the game, ball psychics is nicely handled; it doesn’t seem overly hard to get a ball in the pocket with good aiming and bs shots aren’t rampant all over the place. Since this is XBOX Live Arcade, thankfully it does have Live Multiplayer where you and your friend can play pool against each other. There are also a couple of different modes that aren’t necessarily found in other games. One is a Time Trial mode where you are competing against the clock to sink all of the balls. The other is golf mode where you are trying to sink balls in a certain # of shots and avoiding obstacles so that you are “under par”. This game has 200 points in achievements and most are fairly easy. I recommend this game, however not for the 1200 point pricetag. Your best bet is Ebay, just do a search for Bankshot Billiards.
Arcade Classic of the Week
Guerrilla War, a game that followed in the footsteps of Ikari Warriors by the wonderful minds of SNK. This featured the familiar 8 way rotating joystick to get your character to run and gun. The story was 2 rebel commandoes who invade an island in order to free the island of the evil dictator. The game is based on the exploits of revolutionary Che Guevara, and the defeat of the Batista regime in Cuba in the late 1950s. The original title of the game was Guevara but was later changed I guess because it would have a little too controversial. Apparently on Famicom (japanese release) it retained this title and is now highly sought after. I actually remember going through and beating this title, once in the arcades and once on the NES port. It’s rewarding and if you like Ikari Warriors, then this is a slam dunk in the same exact direction.
Arena Football: Road to Glory
Metal Slug Anthology
Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner
NBA Street Homecourt
Virtua Fighter 5
Sonic and the Secret Rings
F-24 Stealth Fighter
Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja
Micro Machines V4
Finally, something you can call a good release week and a little bit of everything. From Football to Basketball to Fighting to Arcade to Platform and all types in-between we have a nice complete week. The three big stand outs are Crackdown which includes the Halo 3 beta (the game is fine without it), Virtua Fighter 5 (am I the only one who thinks that this game has not changed since the Sega Saturn days?) & Sonic and the Secret Rings (which gives the Wii the power of Mario and the power of Sonic, I think that’s like crossing the streams or something). Metal Slug Anthology is good for PSP owners in need of an arcade fix. I’ll wait for the PS2 release that comes out in mid march since I don’t own the portable or a Wii.
Some Final Thoughts and Mutterings
I finally started that Old Spice Challenge for the MS 360 Achievement points. Silly me lost 65 points because even I joined up for MSRewards, I didn’t click on the link that said to join the challenge. At least I wasn’t one of those guys who did the same thing and had already completed the challenge. I also took a little break from Gaming reviews and did three DVD reviews for our site. Go check out Idiocracy, Dog the Bounty Hunter – Best of Season 3 & The Quiet. It was a good way to handle a Sunday afternoon. Too bad now with March coming, I guess I have to venture out into my yard again. Cut the grass, pull weeds, all the stuff that I didn’t much to mess with during those winter months. Now I have no excuse. I’m too lazy to cut my grass on a regular basis but too cheap to pay somebody to do it for me. If that isn’t funny, I don’t know what is. Have fun kiddoes.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)