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Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Fools comes early: Google shows off Google Maps 8-bit for NES

What if Google Maps was made for the NES? Well, you can try out a "trial version" of the program right now by clicking here.

As part of April Fools, Google released Google Maps 8-bit for the NES, allowing you to view the world in all its 8-bit glory. And if you zoom into Street View, you can see what your house looks like, too. Google also released a hilarious video introducing it, which you can watch below. Have fun.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Team 17 announces Worms Revolution; releases trailer

Team 17, the creative minds behind the Worms franchise, will be releasing Worms Revolution later this year, according to a report. Originally released in 1995, this new game will give us more classic 2D worm-on-worm mayhem on the PC and "consoles."

I remember playing various Worms games back in the day, my favorites being Worms 2: Armageddon and Worms World Party. I had so much fun flying around on the ninja rope and smacking my opponents with the baseball bat. From the trailer below, I'm glad to see classic weapons are back like the Super Sheep and Concrete Donkey.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard representing Detroit Red Wings in NHL 13 cover contest

Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson is currently in the Madden 13 cover tournament, and now EA is hosting another fan-voted contest to determine who will be on the cover of NHL 13.

Through April 11, fans will be able to vote who will represent each NHL team (plus two wild card players will be chosen) in the round of 32. Representing the Detroit Red Wings will either be Pavel Datsyuk or Jimmy Howard. Sorry Jimmy, I think Pavel's going to beat you here. In the round of 32, the top 16 vote-getters will advance to a tournament-style bracket to determine the cover boy of NHL 13.

Can Detroit athletes sweep these contests? Calvin Johnson's a heavy favorite for Madden, and Pavel Datsyuk is one of the most popular athletes in the NHL today. Plus, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are not in the nominating round, so that helps him.

Voting is unlimited, so feel free to vote all day long. Plus, I don't know of any "NHL curse" or anything like that, so no worries about getting Datsyuk (or Howard) on the cover. Click here to cast your vote.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Calvin Johnson easily advances in Madden 13 cover tournament; faces Arian Foster next

Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson easily advanced to Round 2 of the Madden 13 cover tournament, blowing out Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs. But he faces a tougher opponent this round against Houston Texans' Arian Foster, who snuck past Tim Tebow.

If Megatron moves on, he could face either Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings or Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.

You can vote for Calvin Johnson and other players by clicking here. Round 2 voting is March 28-April 4.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Angry Birds Space downloaded more than 10 million times since release

We have liftoff.

Rovio's latest release of Angry Birds Space was downloaded more than 10 million times in less than three days, according to the Angry Birds Twitter account. No surprise here. People still love taking out those pigs. And at the very cheap price of 99 cents on iOS, of course it's going to be downloaded that much.

There are other versions that cost more money, like $3 on the iPad and $6 on the PC. But that's still cheap enough where it shouldn't turn away customers. Rovio gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Plus, they likely make much more money selling merchandise to millions of children.

To simply put it: They can get away with the lower prices.

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Quick thoughts on Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

I recently completed the campaign mode of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Here are my thoughts on the game so far:

It took me around five hours to complete the seven missions available. I died plenty of times though, and with target times on each mission around a half hour each, this campaign could be completed in four or less. With little exploring to do, I wish there were a few more missions.

The story's nothing to write home about. Since it's non-canon, I don't expect it to be remembered much in Resident Evil lore.

Graphics are nice; there's plenty of blood and gore as you take down zombies and special forces. Frame-rate issues arise that make things jumpy.

The AI of your teammates is atrocious at times. They'll run into walls, trip mines and a swarm of enemies with no care in the world. Part of the reason it took me so long to complete the campaign was the inability for them to help me at times. It got frustrating to the point I sometimes just ran off to the next objective, activating checkpoints and progressing the story.

Playing the campaign with others online would make things easier and funner. Maybe it was playing at 2 in the morning, but I did have issues connecting to campaign matchmaking. I've read on message boards this has been a problem.

I will be tackling the multiplayer modes next, which seem to be the meat of the game. Check out my review soon at

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy coming this summer to Nintendo 3DS

It's not your typical Final Fantasy game, but it still looks interesting and fun.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the historic franchise, and Square Enix will be releasing Theatrhythm Final Fantasy this summer for the Nintendo 3DS. This music rhythm game will focus less on story and more on music from games' past that is beloved by fans around the world.

The game will feature more than 70 musical pieces, featuring music from key events, field themes and battles. There are also RPG elements, too, and cartoony heroes from the franchise will go on an adventure to battle villains by using rhythmic taps from the stylus.

There will be a challenge mode to achieve the highest ranks; collecting and sharing "dark notes," a random music sheet riddled with hidden loot within the Chaos Shrine; and crystal shards can be found to unlock hidden characters.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Calvin Johnson represents Detroit Lions in Madden 13 cover contest

The play-in round is finally over and the Madden 13 cover tournament has begun. Calvin Johnson will represent the Detroit Lions, beating out Matthew Stafford.

Megatron, a 6 seed, is up against the 11-seeded Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs. Johnson should be able to win this matchup with ease. If he wins, he'll go up against the winner between Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and Tim Tebow, formerly of the Denver Broncos and now a New York Jet. Funny thing, Tebow was one of the favorites to win the whole thing before Peyton Manning arrived. But since this a fan-voted contest, anything's possible.

Once again, the Madden Curse comes into play. Will Lion fans vote for Johnson, especially after that nice contract he just signed? You can vote for him, or not, by clicking here.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rovio launches official trailer as Angry Birds Space nears March 22 release

The highly-anticipated March 22 release of Angry Birds Space is getting real close, and Rovio has launched the official trailer to give a small taste of what's to come. A hole opens in the sky and our cute friends launch themselves into space to take down those darn pigs. New bird types are available, and expect to shoot around a bunch of planets and factor in gravity when measuring up your shots.

The game will be available on iOS, Android, PC and Mac.

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Apple sells more than 3 million new iPads during release weekend, and only they can get away with it

                                          AP Exchange photo

Apple's a rich company, and they can thank their customers for that. Apple recently announced they sold more than 3 million new iPads during its release this past weekend.

I find it amazing over and over again. Only Apple can release an updated piece of hardware annually and not take flak for it. The video gaming console market could not survive this way, even if hardware changes were every two to three years. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft would lose millions of dollars, and the fan base wouldn't put up with it. Plus, big-time developers who create games over the course of a year or two would be up in arms.

Every time Apple releases a new iPad or new iPhone, it always brings up the same tired debate: Is Apple hurting Nintendo and Sony, especially when it comes to handhelds? So far no for Nintendo. The 3DS has sold more than 15 million units worldwide since its launch last year, which is ahead of the first-year pace of the DS. The DS has sold more than 150 million units.

Sony's PS Vita, on the other hand, seems to be struggling. In Japan, sales are in the basement, hitting around 10,000 per week. As of Feb. 28, the system has sold 1.2 million units worldwide.

Some will say "Wait. This new iPad has already outsold the PS Vita and 20 percent of the 3DS in the just three days! How can Nintendo and Sony not be in trouble?" Well, look at whom the devices are made for. The 3DS and PS Vita are dedicated handheld gaming machines. That market is much smaller than the iPad, which is an all-in-one device. Yes, the iPad can play games, but that is a small part of the package which includes browsing the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, reading eBooks, watching movies and so much more. It's aimed at replacing laptops and PCs, so of course it's going to sell more. It's the same with iPhones. Everyone needs a cell phone (pretty much anyway), but not everyone needs a gaming handheld.

I'm not ignorant. I know Apple's success in terms of gaming shouldn't be overlooked. It has changed the industry, since a lot of people have shown they want to play the cheaper games like Angry Birds for hours on end. But I still laugh away the idea that Nintendo and Sony should throw in the towel on the portable industry. This might shock people but I'll say it anyway: Their products can co-exist. Nintendo's proving that with the 3DS. If Sony wants to improve PS Vita sales, do what Nintendo did: Get games people buy these systems for. If they want to get drastic, drop the price some.

I am curious on one statistic about the new Ipad: How many people bought one had owned a previous version? We all make fun of fanatics buying every Apple product out there, but I'd like to see how much growth there is in the tablet market. Especially when the "newer iPad" releases next year. You know it's coming.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Avengers getting the Pinball FX 2 treatment with Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles

Zen Studios and Marvel Entertainment have announced the latest collection of Pinball FX 2 tables, Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles. Just in time for the highly-anticipated Avengers movie coming out later this year, four new tables will be released as DLC this spring for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and as a standalone download for the PlayStation Vita.

Marvel's The Avengers table will feature all the Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, as they fight against Loki's invasion of Earth, based on the upcoming movie. Each Avenger will have their own customized ball that reflects their appearance and power set.

World War Hulk focuses on the big green beast's banishment to outer space and his return to Manhattan to seek revenge against the Illuminati and wage war against Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Iron Man. If you watch the trailer above, he isn't too happy about life at the moment.

The Infinity Gauntlet will put pinball players on a journey to recover six Infinity Gems from Thanos and save the universe. The Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock are the stars of this table. Each Infinity Gem will produce a special effect, including flipping the table upside down with the Reality Gem. That should be a treat.

Fear Itself will focus on the Avengers attempting to defeat the Serpent, who is Odin's long-banished brother, and ridding the world from chaos. This table promises magnetic energy being utilized like never before.

Zen Studios has pumped out plenty of pinball tables, and like I've said before there is the risk of the franchise becoming stale. However, the recent release of Epic Quest, which featured RPG elements, was a nice refresher to the franchise, and it sounds like these new tables will add to that.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Twisted Pixel releases new Gunstringer DLC, El Diablo's 'Merican Adventure, at a surprisingly low price

Twisted Pixel's The Gunstringer, a humorous Kinect game about an undead sheriff rising from the grave to seek revenge on his enemies, had its charm despite being short in length with a hefty price tag. It left you wanting more.

Twisted Pixel is delivering on that with the release of El Diablo's 'Merican Adventure on Xbox Live Arcade. The game features El Diablo tracking down his queen in this shooting gallery-themed DLC pack. Players will have four new levels to blast their way through.

What's more surprising to me is it only costs 240 Microsoft Points ($3). You rarely see games of this quality go for cheap initially. Maybe Twisted Pixel took the price complaints to heart.

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Golf meets kung fu; watch Shaq and Tiger Woods duke it out for golfing supremacy

Shaquille O'Neal is enjoying retirement these days while Tiger Woods has been slightly improving his golf game after that whole mess we all know about. Well, they teamed up recently to shoot a game trailer for EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, slated for release March 27.

It's a hilarious take on old kung fu movies, and I'm sure a stunt doubled was involved.

We need more game trailers like these.
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

NASA promotes Angry Birds playing it in space; watch gameplay of new game

Angry Birds Space is coming March 22, and who's the best option to promote the game? NASA, of course.

Rovio released a video today promoting the upcoming game that will be downloaded a bajillion times. It shows NASA astronaut Don Petitt on the International Space Station teaching young minds all about physics using Angry Birds props. Afterward, footage of the new game is shown.

There are two ways to look at this. 1. NASA's really, really poor and will do all it can to stay relevant. Promoting one of the hottest smartphone games on the planet that now takes place in space comes across as selling out. Big time.

Or 2. NASA has programs aimed at kids, and this is great way to teach them all about math, physics and all that science stuff that can be very complicated at times. Using Angry Birds doesn't make it boring.

Regardless, the video is humorous, although awkward at times. As for the game itself, it's pretty much Angry Birds meets Super Mario Galaxy. The franchise badly needed a refresher, and it looks like Rovio is going to deliver on that. Shooting birds around rocks and using gravity will offer a whole new set of challenges.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Become the artist you've always wanted to be with Colors! 3D on the 3DS eShop

Nintendo's eShop on the 3DS has been filling up quickly with software titles that demand attention. Add another one to that list soon.

Colors! 3D, developed by Collecting Smiles, is the follow-up to the successful Colors! application released first on the Nintendo DS and then on the iPhone and iPod touch. It's not a game but a painting application without all of the mess. The main draw (pun intended) to this game is the ability to paint in 3D. This should add many more possibilities in creating that perfect picture.

While it looks like something silly to mess around with, there are many who take it seriously. Very seriously. Check out the all time best rankings on the developer's website if you don't believe me. See that Avatar one? Yeah, that was drawn on the DS.

Colors! 3D is expected to release early this year.

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Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford nominated for Madden 13 cover contest

EA Sports has been very slowly releasing potential Madden 13 cover boys that will be taking part in a fan-voted contest. They have been picking two from each team, and today revealed the Detroit Lions players: Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.

No surprises here for Lions fans. Stafford and Johnson had monster seasons. However, only one of them will be selected to enter the 32-player tournament to decide who will be on the Madden 13 cover. Who will represent the Lions? I would have to guess Megatron. Voting begins March 7.

As cool as it would be to have a Lion on the cover, there's the whole "Madden curse" to worry about, if you believe that sort of thing. Peyton Hillis was on Madden 12 and missed games due to injuries last season. Drew Brees was on Madden 11 and threw 22 interceptions in 2010. The Saints also lost to the lowly 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu shared the Madden 10 cover. While Polamalu suffered injuries throughout the year, Fitzgerald had a career high in touchdowns. Overall, being on the cover has not been favorable to athletes.

It's fun to joke about, but I'll chalk up the "Madden curse" to horrible coincidences. So let's get a Lion on the cover, shall we?

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Nintendo 3DS sells 4.5 million in U.S. in first year, smashing DS first-year sales mark

The Nintendo 3DS released March 27, 2011, in the U.S. and while it's technically not one-year-old yet, it's been out in 12 months with sales recorded. And what a 12 months it's been.

It started out strong, with the best launch-day sales in Nintendo's history. Then trouble came. A lack of software caused hardware sales to plummet to the point Nintendo had to slash the 3DS price tag from $250 to $170. Nintendo's apparent doom and gloom spread through the media like wildfire. No one wanted a dedicated gaming handheld anymore, they said. Smartphones can do everything, they touted.

Well today, Nintendo released updated 3DS sales figures, and they look good. Really good. Pretty much, Nintendo's rubbing in the skeptics' faces with their DS comparisons.

The DS sold 2.3 million units in its first year. The 3DS almost doubled that at 4.5 million.
The DS had 58 software titles. The 3DS has more than 100.
The DS sold 5 million games. The 3DS hit 9 million.
The DS raked in $540 million for Nintendo. The 3DS hit $1.2 billion.

So far so good for the 3DS. Now the question is can it keep up the pace? The DS really kicked into gear after its first year, especially after the DS Lite came out. Many have clamored for a 3DS redesign, but looking at sales now I don't expect one soon. The DS has sold more than 51 million in the U.S. and more than 151 million worldwide.

The price cut no doubt helped the 3DS, but it all comes down to games. If Nintendo keeps up with steady releases, the 3DS will just keep on selling.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

343 Industries developers talk about Halo 4

Halo 4 is slated for release this holiday season. Below, watch a behind the scenes look as developers from 343 Industries discuss making this much-anticipated game. The holidays can't come soon enough.

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What took me so long? - Kirby's Epic Yarn

There are plenty of games out there, so many in fact you just can't play them all right after release. Here is one I finally got around to playing.

Leave it to Nintendo to come up with quirky art and graphic styles for their games. Paper Mario comes to mind. While cel-shaded graphics existed beforehand, no one expected them in a Zelda game. But Nintendo made it work with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, despite the cries for more realistic graphics.

And then there's Kirby's Epic Yarn. The story is simple enough. Kirby is hungry and sees a tomato to eat, but the evil Yin-Yarn banishes him into Patch Land, a world made of fabric. How is he sent there? Through a sock Yin-Yarn carries around. Classic. Now Kirby is made of yarn, along with his buddies and enemies, and he must save Patch Land.

This is a game that makes me wish the Nintendo Wii was an HD console. It looks great on an HDTV. Each level is filled with colorful details that remind you you're inside a fabric world, from patches on the terrain to having the ability to pull on buttons and zippers to unveil hidden areas.

Not everyday do you see video game characters made out of yarn, but this game pulls it off nicely. Since Kirby can't suck down enemies and steal their powers, there are parts in levels where he'll be able to transform into all kinds of things, including a dolphin, UFO and train. I enjoyed turning enemies into balls of yarn to attack others with. I hated the train transformation, and had the worst time laying down track for Kirby to follow.

There is a ton of stuff to collect in this game, from each level's music to wallpaper and furniture to decorate Kirby's and other characters' apartments with. It isn't hard finding the hidden items, but I did miss some in later levels. Furniture and wallpaper can be bought, too, and I cleaned out the furniture shop. But I didn't really mess with decorating my pad, focusing more on completing the game.

My biggest knock on Epic Yarn is the difficulty. To simply put it, you can't die. The only penalty for falling down a bottomless pit or enemies hitting Kirby is losing beads, which hurts if you want to get a gold medal ranking at the end of the level by having so many. But there's so many in each level, achieving gold isn't a problem even with a few bumps along the way.

This game can be completed very, very quickly if you don't care about collecting anything at all. I spent a good amount of time finding hidden items and doing minigames that are available from a variety of characters. I finished over 80 percent of the game after the credits rolled. For those only caring about the main game, this is a one-day rental.

I had fun with this game. I enjoyed the level designs, and the amount of transformations available made me forget about the normal way Kirby gets his abilities. It's not for everyone though. The whole "no game over" aspect is aimed for young ones. But if you want to play a relaxing and stress-free game, you can't go wrong with this one.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Joustin' Beaver smartphone game developer suing Justin Bieber

Joustin' Beaver looks like a hilariously bad game, like a lot of games in the smartphone world. I mean, any game where your character resembles a pop sensation as a beaver has to be bad.

RC3, the creator of this game, is no doubt getting more publicity these days after suing Justin How does that work? Well, Bieber's legal squad sent a cease-and-desist letter to the game developer to remove the game from app stores. RC3 struck back with a lawsuit saying they have the right to distribute it, noting the game is a parody and they are protected by the First Amendment.

The game involves taking control of a beaver floating down a river on a log. This beaver knocks away "Phot-Hogs" trying to take his picture and signing "Otter-graphs." You can't make this stuff up, folks.

I predict a big win for RC3 here since the game is obviously a parody and the publicity will bump up sales, no matter how bad this game is.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Simpsons: Tapped Out releases on App Store for free

If you want to waste more hours on your iPhone or iPad and accomplish nothing meaningful in life AGAIN, you can download The Simpsons: Tapped Out from the App Store...for free.

According to the game description on the App Store webpage, Homer causes a meltdown that wipes out Springfield. Oops. And now we have to rebuild it. As you build your new Springfield, you can collect Simpsons characters, buildings and level up the entire Simpsons family.

It looks like there's a lot going on in this game, and with original content from writers and animators of the hit show, there's no lack of effort here. And best of all it's free. So download it now and ignore everything in life.

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BioShock Infinite hitting North America on Oct. 16

It's not quite the holidays, but close enough.

2K Games has announced BioShock Infinite will be available Oct. 16 in North America and internationally on Oct. 19. The game is the follow-up to the hits BioShock and BioShock 2. The story follows former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt and his companion Elizabeth as they escape the sky city of Columbia in a 1912 America. This game will introduce fans to frantic aerial combat and super-fast Sky-Lines.

"After BioShock, we had a vision for a follow-up that dwarfed the original in scope and ambition," said Ken Levine, creative director of Irrational Games, in a press release. "BioShock Infinite has been our sole focus for the last four years, and we can’t wait for fans to get their hands on it."

It will be available for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Can't wait.

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Watch Justin Verlander and the rest of the Detroit Tigers play some baseball in MLB 2K12 trailer

2K Sports recently released a lengthy MLB 2K12 gameplay trailer featuring the Detroit Tigers in action against the Los Angeles Angels. You can watch cover boy Justin Verlander doing his magic and Brennan Boesch making a spectacular play.

I do got one beef with the trailer though: Verlander already giving up two runs into the 5th? Tiger fans won't like that.

MLB 2K12 is available March 6.

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