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Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday good for Nintendo; sales high for Super Mario 3D Land, Zelda

Nintendo's not in that much trouble after all if Black Friday sales have anything to show for it.
According to a USA Today report, sales for Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii are looking great. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said sales for Super Mario 3D Land have topped 500,000 units since it launched Nov. 11. Sales for Zelda, which launched Nov. 20, are at 535,000 copies.
Hardware sales were no different. In what is a complete shocker, the Wii sold more than 500,000 units on Black Friday alone, Fils-Aime said, which makes it the best Black Friday ever. For a system as old as the Wii is, that is completely amazing, especially with the games drought the Wii has been through lately.
Also, Fils-Aime said first-year 3DS sales have already surpassed the first year of DS sales, and this is only eight months in. The DS sold 2.37 million units in its first year in the U.S. when it released November 2004. And the holiday season is just getting started for Nintendo, with Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS set to be released Dec. 4.
Smartphone gaming killing handheld systems? Not yet people.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Test out the PS Vita early...if you're in the area of these 5 U.S. malls

Sony has announced the PlayStation Vita Mall Tour, taking place through Dec. 30 at a whopping five malls spread out across the United States. Doesn't seem like much of a tour, but hey, if you happen to be in the area, why not check it out?
Malls are:
Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif.
Discovery Mills Mall in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Gurnee Mills Mall in Gurnee, Ill.
Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge, Va.
Grapevine Mills Mall in Grapevine, Texas 
Games showcased during the tour will include Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Little Big Planet. Prizes will also be handed out.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sony announces first-party launch titles for PS Vita in Europe, other information

News is slowly trickling in about Sony's upcoming handheld, the PS Vita. Recently on Sony's European blog, they announced first-party games that will be available during the system's launch on Feb. 22 in Europe, which is also the same date for the North America launch.
These titles include the much hyped Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipEout 2048, Little Deviants, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, Everybody's Golf, Gravity Rush, MotorStorm RC and more.
Many other games are in development, too, including Ridge Racer, Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7, and Lumines Electronic Symphony.
Connectivity to the PS3 is a key part of the Vita system. Games like MotorStorm RC allow for both PS Vita and PS3 players to battle against each other in this racing game. Gotta go somewhere? When applicable, a game on PS3 can be saved to the PS Vita, and then you can take it on the go with you.
Besides playing games, the PS Vita will have social applications as well like Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter and Flickr.
I eagerly await more news on the U.S. front as the launch date gets closer, but this gives some idea on what's going on. In Japan, the PS Vita will go on sale in December.

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Mario Kart 7 trailer showcases new and classic tracks, new power-ups

Nintendo released a new Mario Kart 7 trailer, and the game looks like it'll be another classic.
The new hang-gliding and propeller attachments will take racers through the air and underwater. All the classic characters like Bowser and Donkey Kong are back, along with a number of new ones to unlock. I noticed the Waluigi Pinball track will be making a return in a remixed form. Can't wait to try that one out.
And I love that new power-up, the Tanooki tail. First, you get to tail whip Goombas and Koopa Troopas in Super Mario 3D Land, and now you get to tail whip fast-moving karts. What a fun looking power-up to add to the series.
And that begs the question: Will PETA cry foul again after the whole Tanooki suit fiasco from Super Mario 3D Land? Those poor racoon dogs are now tailless because of this game. How sad.
Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS is scheduled to be released Dec. 4.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gary Garcia, half of songwriting duo Buckner & Garcia and co-writer of "Pac-Man Fever," dies at 63

Lots of quarters were pumped into arcade machines during the video game craze of the 1980s, and Pac-Man was a big part of it. Pac-Man was so popular that pop duo Buckner & Garcia wrote a song that turned out to be a classic. "Pac-Man Fever" reached the top 10 in the Billboard Top 100 in the United States.
Unfortunately it was reported recently that Gary Garcia passed away in his Florida home on Thursday, Nov. 17. On the homepage of, Jerry Buckner wrote a special tribute remembering his lifelong friend.
"The pain of losing his friendship is immeasurable to me. He was a kind hearted, loving, caring person who was always there for me and can never be replaced in my life. I loved him like a brother and will miss him beyond words," Buckner wrote.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quick thoughts on Fossil Fighters: Champions for the Nintendo DS

During my first couple hours of Nintendo's latest DS game, Fossil Fighters: Champions, I can already tell you that this is a complete Pokemon clone. Not that that's a bad thing, but it plays just like it. Gotta collect all those colorful dinosaurs, or vivosaurs as they call them in this game. Good use of the touchscreen controls to chip away at those fossils.
Check out my full review of this game at next week.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Do want: West Coast Customs builds life-sized Mario karts

I've played Mario Kart for years and always thought it would be cool if these existed in real life.
Well, West Coast Customs and Nintendo teamed up to make that a reality. On display at the L.A. Auto Show in the lobby of the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center through Nov. 27 are two karts based on the next game of the popular franchise, Mario Kart 7. There is the classic Mario Standard kart, with a glider attachment for soaring through the air, and the Luigi Bumble V kart, which resembles a bumblebee and has a propeller attached for underwater navigation.
Visitors of the show will be able to take photos of the karts and play a sample of Mario Kart 7, which releases Dec. 4.
Want to win one of them? GameStop PowerUp Rewards members will have the opportunity with the Epic Reward Giveaway program. To be eligible, members must make a trade or purchase at a GameStop or on during the month of December. Members get two entries with a purchase. The winner will be announced in February. For more info, visit

The following photos are provided by Nintendo of America.

Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America, and Ryan Friedlinghaus, founder and CEO of West Coast Customs, unveil two life-size Mario Kart-themed vehicles.

Reggie Fils-Aime gets behind the wheel of the Luigi Bumble V kart.

Ryan Friedlinghaus points out key features of the life-sized Mario Kart to Reggie Fils-Aime.

Reggie Fils-Aime and Ryan Friedlinghaus play Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Activision gets richer. Call of Duty: MW3 makes over $750 million in five days

Activision can add more money to their swimming pool. Scratch that. They need lots of swimming pools.
The company announced today that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has smashed the entertainment record for five-day sales, raking in more than $750 million worldwide. This breaks last year's record of $650 million from Black Ops, and two years ago of $550 million from Modern Warfare 2, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information.
According to Microsoft, more than 7 million multiplayer hours for MW3 were recorded by end of launch day, and more than 3.3 million unique gamers played MW3 in one day.
"As I have said all year, we have been singularly focused on making a spectacular game for our fans, and nothing else. Our incredible teams at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have done just that," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO, Activision Publishing, in a press release. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 continues to thrill core gaming enthusiasts as well as draw new people into the medium, which is not an easy balancing act. But it takes more than a great game. I would also like to thank our incredible team for the pulling off the launch of the year, as well as our retail partners around the world. But most of all, I want to thank our fans. They are our toughest critics, and our biggest supporters, and none of this would be possible without them."

Check out my review of Call of Duty: MW3 here.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PETA continues to make a joke of itself with Super Mario controversy

One of the highlights of Nintendo's new game Super Mario 3D Land is the ability to don the Tanooki suit that players loved in Super Mario Bros. 3. Mario dresses up like a racoon, can flutter around the world, turn into a statue, and tail whip the heck out of enemies. Good, harmless fun, right?
Wrong, according to PETA. Apparently they're not happy that Mario is wearing a fur suit of the tanuki, a racoon-dog that's popular in Japanese culture. Because of their fur coats, PETA says it helps promote the animal-skinning industry.
They didn't just come out with a simple statement about this. They launched a "Mario Kills Tanooki" campaign and created a Flash game where you chase down Mario to get your fur back. I won't link the game here, because it's just that bad.
This isn't the first time PETA's gone after video games about their complaints of animal abuse. They've also complained about stabbing a rat in Battlefield 3.
Back to Mario, this has to top the list of ridiculous efforts by PETA to spread their message about animal mistreatment. Are they afraid that all the children that play this game will all of a sudden go out and skin every racoon they see? Ridiculous. All Mario does in the game is grab a leaf and he's magically in the suit. Oh, yeah, the tanuki is also known for its shape-shifting abilities, too, which is what Nintendo was likely going for.
But after all these years of Mario games, why would PETA attack the Nintendo icon now? All those poor Koopa Troopas (you know, turtles) have suffered years of abuse from being hopped on and kicked around. Those poor squid-like Bloopers and other fish Mario loves to attack in the games. And don't get me started on Yoshi, who eats everything in sight to help out Mario. Disgusting.
Maybe PETA should quit worrying about the virtual world and focus on the real-world issues of animal cruelty. But bringing up "controversies" like these, people will just continue to laugh...and laugh...and laugh some more at them.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dress up like a nerd with Dead Rising 2: Off The Record's final DLC pack

Capcom's DLC journey with Dead Rising 2: Off The Record ends with the Cosplay Warrior costume pack. Now zombie killers can dress up Frank West in facepaint and homemade cardboard armor just like comic book and anime enthusiasts around the world do. And the costume isn't pretty, much like many amateur cosplay costumes all over the Internet.

Skill pack bonuses for this costume pack include a 25% increase in PP generation, every attack gives extra PP, and special "warrior" style attacks using a practice sword and shield.

Those who want to level up faster than normal can purchase it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC for $1.99 or 160 Microsoft Points.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Jon Bon Jovi gets his Mario on: Pictures from Super Mario 3D Land launch event

Nintendo recently celebrated the launch of their newest 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land by turning Military Island at Times Square in New York City into a mini 3D Mario World complete with warp pipes and a flag pole finish. Here are several photos from the event distributed by Nintendo of America.

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his family pose with other visitors at the event.

Visitors enjoy the festivities.

Aimee D., Jacqueline J. and Derek C. from Westchester, N.Y., pose in front of "Mario's World."

 Benjamin S., 5, of Long Island, N.Y., plays inside "Mario's World."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Super Mario 3D Land review; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 thoughts upcoming

Check out my review of the 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land, which releases on Sunday, Nov. 13, for $39.99, by clicking here.

Coming soon to The Oakland Press, I will give you my thoughts on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Become a firefighter, pay to cheat in new Dead Rising DLC packs

Today, Capcom released two DLC packs for Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, which features original Dead Rising hero Frank West.

The Fire Fighter skills pack will give players immunity to fire damage; increased speed when carrying or assisting survivors; the ability to kick doors open; and a new attack and more durability with the fire axe. For those who really love firefighters, the pack only costs 160 Microsoft points, equaling to $1.99.

And since DLC can be a little mind boggling at times, this next pack will certainly anger many veteran gamers. The Gamebreaker pack allows players to change the way they play the game. Features include Instant PP for quick leveling up, God mode, super speed, dumb zombies, big head mode, and more. Yes, you are paying to cheat. Remember when cheat modes were free? Or had to unlock them doing certain tasks like in N64's Goldeneye? These different modes are fun to mess around with, but I would never find myself paying for something to make the game easier.

For those interested, the Gamebreaker pack is available for 400 MPs, equaling to $4.99.

If you happen to be in Times Square this weekend, take an adventure inside Mario's world

Nintendo's much anticipated 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land hits store shelves Nov. 13, and to celebrate they will turn a part of Times Square in New York City into a Mario 3D world on Nov. 12. Life size warp pipes, trampoline coin jumps and a flag pole finish just like in the game will await participants.

Gamers will also have the opportunity to play the game in advance of the next-day release. Those who attend will have the chance to nab a set of Tanookiears and tails featured in the game. Get hungry? A Mushroom Kingdom pizza truck will be nearby handing out free mushroom pizza slices to the first 1,000 people on site that tweet using the #SuperMario3D hashtag.

Can't wait to buy the game on release date? Nintendo will reward its biggest fans by allowing them to buy the game early at Toys R Us in Times Square.

The event starts at 10 a.m. Nov. 12 at Military Island at Times Square, located on Broadway and 7th Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets in New York City.

Check out my review of Super Mario 3D Land later this week at

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Capcom is betting you'll pay $50 for Resident Evil: Revelations on 3DS

Capcom's done some crazy stuff in relation to the 3DS. They pulled the plug on Megaman Legends 3, which sparked an uproar on the Internet. To fight off the used game industry, they eliminated the ability to delete your save data on Resident Evil: The Mercenaries. Another uproar ensued.

Now they've done it again. The much anticipated Resident Evil: Revelations game releasing early next year will have a slight price boost. Typically 3DS games retail for $40, but Capcom's new game will cost $50, unprecedented for a handheld title.

Crazy? Risky? Maybe, but the company gives logical reasons for doing so. According to Kotaku, Capcom claims the new title will boast more than 20 hours of gameplay, and have 3D cutscenes that will make you leave the lights on at night. "A true console experience on a handheld device," all the content in the game will require a 4GB cartridge, which adds to the price.

The $50 price point equals to what most Wii games retail for, and is not far off from Xbox 360 and PS3 games at $60. But handheld games are typically much less. Regular DS games normally cost $30-$35.

When it was announced that 3DS games would cost $40, I thought that was maximum handheld software should go for. Most handheld games don't have the depth or content to justify console-like prices.

And, of course, people will bring up the whole smartphone issue, of gamers moving away from more expensive games, which is just plain silly. People don't buy smartphones for games, and while casual gamers crave the 99 cent ones (more because of the cheap price if anything), there will always be a market for dedicated handheld gaming systems for hardcore gamers. Yes, there are more expensive games for smartphones, but not enough yet to have an impact.

That said, I don't doubt Capcom's claim that Revelations will feature a hefty amount of original gameplay. From the trailers and previews I've seen, it definitely looks like it's worth $50.

We'll find out next year if people will bite on it.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Couldn't they have found a couple better scores to promote Dead Island on television?

Note: The video above is not the exact commercial, but it sounds and looks just like it. You can use your imagination on where the scores would be.

Second note: I'm reviewing a video game ad. That's just crazy.

If you're a Walking Dead fan like me, you've probably noticed the same commercial over and over promoting a recently released game called Dead Island, developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver. Big shocker, it's a game about zombies.

Now, the game released with a lot of hype, mainly due to its very emotional trailer filled with tear-jerking sad music and reverse slow motion effects...mixed with zombie mayhem. Reviews for the game were so-so. Lots of 8 outta 10s. Some worse, some better.

Now this TV spot I'm seeing is mimicking that original trailer with the same tear-jerking sad music and zombie mayhem. Of course, since the game's been out a while, they wanna hype it up and get it noticed again, especially since the big holiday season is approaching. So adding review scores and quotes are the logical way to do this.

First review score shown: 4.5/5 from Gamespy. Nice. A nearly perfect score.
Second review: 8.5/10 from Game Informer. OK, not a bad number but the .5 helps some.
Third review: 9.5/10 from EGM. Bingo, another great score to promote it.
Final review: 8/10 from MSNBC.

First off, MSNBC? How do you go from three gaming sites to a regular news site? Was Fox News not available? Secondly, while 8/10 is in no means a bad score for a game, it's not really great number to use when promoting it to a massive audience. Especially when this game retails for $60 on PS3 and Xbox 360 ($50 on PC). An 8/10 tells me, "I don't really need this now, I'll just wait for a price drop."

If you wanna sell a game to people, you need great review scores. I'm sure there were better reviews to go with besides Game Informer and MSNBC.

And with an ad like this, playing sad, sad, music, and showing slow motion effects and end-of-the-world mayhem, this makes it look like - as some would say - one "epic" game. Except those 8/10 and 8.5/10 scores throw everything off.

Those are not epic.

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