Xbox Live Goes Mobile, Rebuilding Atari Chips, & Warcraft gets its own Magazine? – Welcome to the column that will have a happy new year even if he has to gag & tie up several game executives to do it known as Dare to Play the Game.
Christmas has gone by in the Kedrix household and it turned out to be a very nice holiday. For Christmas as most of you know, I gave Sarah a Wii with all the trimmings and fixings. On Christmas day, I also took the opportunity to download for her the original Super Smash Bros. For myself, I received the original Grand Theft Auto IV which I have wanted to play ever since I got my hands on the Episodes DLC disc. I also got two awesome shirts, one of TMNT and the other, a Horde Warcraft shirt that looks pretty bad ass.
I do want to apologize for the column being up a little late today. It’s one of my few weeks off from work and I’m not exactly on my usual schedule. Anyhow, the column will also be a little different this week due to no Xbox Live Arcade release or any retail releases either for that matter. There are still some Nintendo downloads and I will be going over those. Oh, a special treat for those who read this column today (Wednesday). Castle Crashers on Xbox Live Arcade, only 560 points today only. I’m out of points but it’s many levels of awesome.
I thought I would end 2009 with one of my favorites. I happened to review Extract this week on Blu-Ray and realized how cute Mila Kunis is. For those who need the gaming tie-in, she’s been in Max Payne the movie and she did the voice for Meg in the Family Guy game. But the most important tie-in? She’s a huge World of Warcraft fan. So with all of those factors, it seemed only fitting that we end 2009 with Mila. Enjoy.
The Atari Museum is reconstructing several of the original company’s proprietary chips – including those from the 2600/VCS, 5200, and the 8-bit personal computer line – using data recovered from the reel-to-reel tapes used in their original manufacture.
The Museum’s Curt Vendel says the project has a practical application beyond the living history factor.
“What is the potential of this?” he said to Atari Age. “Doing the chips in smaller SMT packaging, and potentially bringing back to life some of the later CMOS designs of combo chips which could lead to a SoC – System on a Chip.
“The future just got a little brighter in terms of preserving and continuing the legacy of Atari’s custom IC chips,” he added.
The more technically inclined can follow a deeper discussion here. The project involves the TIA, used in the Atari 2600; the GTIA, used in the 5200 and the 8-bit line (the Atari 400 and 800) and the MARIA (used in the Atari 7800).
As current and future consoles turn more and more into small personal computers, there is certainly a desire and need to turn back the clock on older systems and see what makes them tick. The Atari line of consoles represented a huge boom to gaming but sadly also ushered in the first modern day gaming ice age (Thank you E.T.). Still, with homebrew gaming on the rise and to teach people learning to become game programmers, things like this are an invaluable tool.
By reconstructing a 2600 or 5200 from the ground up, you can create a new system off old technology. That way you don’t have to worry about the system breaking down, only the carts. Something I’m wrestling with my old TurboDuo. My hu-cards and cds work fine…I’m scared to death I’m going to break the system (if it isn’t messed up already). The other thing that this research and rebuilding can do is make a combo system, one that would have all of the Atari chipsets in one. Imagine a 2600/5200/7800/400/800 system. Very sexy and very awesome to preserve gaming history.
World of Warcraft
The official World of Warcraft magazine, which has been coming for what feels like years now, still isn’t out. That’s the bad news. Good news? The mag’s site finally gives us a good look at the publication.
Each 148-page issue is funded solely through subscriptions (and, presumably, Blizzard), so there’ll be no ads. Just articles and pictures. Below, you can see what those articles and pictures will look like, each $10 issue (available only through an annual subscription) claiming to be “more like a softcover book than a magazine”.
Which sounds ridiculous, but to WoW fans- who will buy this in their thousands – it rings as true as it can ring.
Lately, I have been playing as most of you know…splitting time between my dwarf priest (56) and my undead lock (23) and still being successful in not taking the game seriously. Despite how many times when I’m in a dungeon and somebody pipes up: please dismiss your voidwalker/succubus and take out your imp. Or, your priest is dual spec….would you off-heal please? (When I primarily go shadow).
Anyhow, a real World of Warcraft mag sounds great. The 148-page issue full of content and no ads sounds great too. The ten bucks an issue sounds a little too adventurous in my opinion. True, there are a lot of magazines out there now that are in the $7-$10 range. But I can tell you how often I buy one of those…maybe a couple of times a year.
Then we read that you can only get this through an annual subscription which means $120 or $60 if they go every two months? I’m sure the magazine will be awesome to read, but the price except to the hardcores is going to seem all out of sorts. Of course, then WoW will get smart and start including redeemable pets in each issue and suddenly gamers will start rubbing their hands together in anticipation by the thousands.
An article on tanking. I can do healing in small doses but I don’t think I could ever play a tank(warrior, pally, death knight or bear druid) and actually succeed in it. DPS is certainly more my game.
We’ve known for years that Microsoft would be expanding Xbox Live beyond the Xbox console. Heck, with Games For Windows, it’s (practically) already started. Still, new info is always appreciated!
A job posting on Microsoft’s site for a Principal Program Manager specifically asks the successful applicant to “drive the platform and bring Xbox LIVE enabled games to Windows Mobile”. That’s the part we knew.
Some new stuff, however, comes in how they’ll be doing this, saying “This person will focus specifically on what makes gaming experiences “LIVE Enabled” through aspects such as avatar integration, social interactions, and multi-screen experiences”.
So…your avatar can hang out on your 360 and your phone. That was a given. The “multi-screen” part is interesting, though. Remember how the GameCube and GBA could link up and share game info? Like, how in Wind Waker you could get little maps and bonus info on the Game Boy Advance’s screen? This might be like that. Only, people might actually use it.
Rule #1, never bring up Games for Windows in an argument. You automatically lose. That aside, the move to the mobile platform is an expected one but I’m not so sure something that everybody would jump for joy on. Avatar integration would be welcome but can we work on not charging $5 because I want a lightsaber? Needless to say I haven’t changed my avatar since they started charging points for accessories.
Multi-screen could be interesting as well but most of us do remember how forcing somebody to have a GameCube and a GBA at the same time would simply be too much. The audacity of making somebody own a GameCube is simply terrible. But the trick is that everybody has a cell phone and most of us in the gaming world have phones like the Android or a Blackberry. Well except me, cause I actually use my phone for calling and texting people. I know…I’m such a dinosaur. This could go somewhere, but we’ll have to see what it involves.
At least Nintendo had the sense to release a few things this week. The first game is an action adventure game in which you become Popo, a light spirit and your mission is to guide Lukus, a tree spirit to each stage’s goal but you can only move within the shadow. We didn’t say the releases had to be winners. Anyway, Popo must figure out how to use light near magic obelisks and that will help you to create and connect shadows to solve the various puzzles.
We all knew that the mass wave of WiiFit, Biggest Loser, EA Sports Active, & Carmen Electra Dancing on my Pole exercises…I mean err…Jenny McCarthy Fitness Training, yeah…would lead to at least one company going against the grain. Tecmo has made a Sumo game for all of us to enjoy that celebrates eating, getting fat and fighting. There are actual mini-games around training (translation = eating) and learning moves to squash the competition. There are all sorts of tournaments to get you to the top and achieve the title of yokozuna.
Imagine the original Castlevania revitalized and in high definition. Now you might just have a taste of what Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth is like. It will have six stages and include some decisions on which path to take, similar in aspect to Castlevania III. The game will support Classic Controller as well as the WiiMote and hopefully deliver on the classic Belmont whipping experience. I do have some reservation about the graphics and the original Castlevania for NES VC is 500 points as a reminder. But maybe this will be worth the extra bread.
Another one of those WiiWare games that belongs more in the line of silly application than actual full fledged gaming. Here you get a virtual Rabbid to play with. Feed him, play with him and then you can give all sorts of new features in the editor aka the Lab. Then once you have made him unique you can take photos and send it to your friends across the Wii network. You know, I hear they have these Facebook apps like Super Poke Pets & Pet Society where you can do many of the same things and its free for the most part. Just a thought.
Perhaps the flight simulator fans out there can explain this one. You take to the skies and embark on a range of aerial activities with a biplane. It’s a predetermined flight path where you fly through rings. One can also use a hang glider or participate in skydiving at 3,800 feet. There are specific objectives to score points within the set time limit. If you can succeed in many of the activities you will be rewarded with an attack helicopter on a rescue mission. Well, at least eventually you get some excitement.
Xbox 360 / Playstation 3
Borderlands: Mad Moxxi’s Underome Riot ($10 – December 29th for Xbox 360 & January 7th for the PS3)
Since Xbox Live Arcade and general game console releases are at a standstill for this week, I figured I would highlight a DLC release instead. This is the second wave of DLC fro the Borderlands game and is affectionately named Mad Moxxi’s Underome Riot. The major focus here is not a new area but a new playing mode. It’s called Riot but think of it like some bizarre gameshow with the voluptuous Mad Moxxi who has a certain problem keeping husbands. Smells like Running Man or possibly Mad Max to me.
Anyhow, you face wave after wave of enemies to Mad Moxxi’s delight. There are three new arenas called Hell-burbia, Angelic Ruins & the Gully. Be warned that this add-on is for the hardcore fans only as you try to take on wave after wave with hopefully your friends by your sides. No time for Cheeto breaks and you rarely get a breather of any sort. All the while with the ringleader chanting down at you manically. Hey, if you win…maybe she’ll marry you next instead.
Well, I did actually take the time this week to play something on my Wii besides Sports, Sports Resort or a VC game. I tried out Puzzle Kingdoms. I quickly realized this is where the gimmick has the potential to fall flat on its face. The game is very simple, it is a lot like Puzzle Quest. I would actually keep playing except for one thing. The controls are some of the worst I have experienced in a while. A puzzle/rpg game shouldn’t need motion controls (the graphics are ridiculously tiny as well). Actually the funny thing is that if they had just taken all of an hours time to map the option to use the classic controller, I probably would be more interested in it.
In the past week, I have also purchased the following Wii games but haven’t tried them yet. They include Twilight Princess, Metroid Trilogy and Super Mario Galaxy. Now, I’m not going to judge the system by one bad experience, but it does fill me with a little bit of doubt going forward. Hopefully the three games I mention provide a more entertaining experience. Honestly, the most fun I’ve had so far involve the VC games I’ve downloaded (River City Ransom, Punch-Out & Super Smash Bros) unless I’m playing with Sarah & Wii Sports Resort. I just really want to find another reason to love the system. Enjoy the new year and I hope to bring you 52 more columns next year. Take care kiddoes.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)