Summer of Merchandise: Banjo-Kazooie posable model

Posable model of Banjo from Banjo-Kazooie Today has been a very fruitful day. At the bottom of a box I found a posable model of everybody’s favourite Rare bear, Banjo. Although his partner Kazooie isn’t included, clearly Banjo alone can provide hours of fun. You can make him lift up his arms as if about to punch some unsuspecting enemy. Bend his legs to give the illusion of running. Twist his head, pretending he’s scouting the area. And… well, that’s about it really.

Still, it’s another nice little memento. It was actually made to accompany the release of Diddy Kong Racing as opposed to Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie, and did in fact originally come with the cute green car that he rides in the aforementioned game — it fired missiles and everything. Sadly I’ve no idea where the car has gone, though it could always turn up as the Summer of Merchandise continues.

I unearthed something else while freeing Banjo from his cluttered prison, but I’ll post them a bit later on tonight. Don’t forget that you can click on any of these images to view them in their full-size glory; I’ll work on a way to make it more clear which thumbnails can be clicked once I’ve got the next post out the way.

Note: This post is part of a series. If you enjoyed it, consider reading the whole series!

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Summer of Merchandise: Donkey Kong GameBoy

A GameBoy and its imposter cousin Does it show that I’m doing a bit of summer cleaning? Not only did I find my old GameBoy today, but I also stumbled across an imposter back from when I assume was the release of Donkey Kong Country. It is a bottle of shampoo in the shape of a GameBoy, complete with a built-in game! The two GameBoy buttons make air spurt out of the bottom of the screen, pushing balls up through water; you have to make the balls land in some banana-shaped platform thingies.

I never actually used it so it’s still got that classic 1994 shampoo sealed inside — I don’t really fancy having a bit of that. The water in the screen has also somehow managed to deplete somewhat, now only containing roughly a third of what it used to. God knows where that’s gone.

The Summer of Rediscovery continues tomorrow. What will I find? More Nintendo memorabilia? A stash of ancient video game magazines? Dominik Diamond frozen in time? Whatever it is, you can bank on me to rush straight to this blog and write all about it. Because you care so, so much.

Note: This post is part of a series. If you enjoyed it, consider reading the whole series!

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Hidden beta levels found in Zelda: The Wind Waker

I’ve been replaying Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker recently, so I’m particularly in a mood for Zelda stuff. You know how it is when you replay an old favourite: you go on Wikipedia to read background information and trivia about it, you want to talk about it, and generally feel like the game is flowing through your veins. Or perhaps that’s just me.

A hidden beta level in Zelda: The Wind Waker Anyway, I was surprised to just see an item pop into my feed reader concerning the discovery of a set of beta levels in Wind Waker that were hidden by the developers but left on the disk for people to eventually find. You can imagine what went through my head at this point: What kind of levels? Proper levels? Have they got enemies? Unused enemies? Story elements that weren’t revealed in the normal game? Would we finally get to revisit more of Hyrule’s lands rather than just the restricted part that the developers cruelly made sure we stuck to? (You know that hurt.) The possibilities are endless.

Sadly the levels aren’t quite what I was expecting. Although some of them do indeed contain enemies and they’ve certainly got all the functional elements of a real level such as puzzles and combat, the majority of them are filled with chequered placeholder textures and don’t really resemble much at all. Still, they’re levels, and they’re hidden — that alone makes them very cool. There’s also a particularly interesting room full of NPCs stood around doing nothing, poorly screengrabbed above.

If you have access to a GameCube Action Replay then you can head over to the page of codes to navigate the dozen or so levels for yourself. If not, videos of them all are available on YouTube here and here.

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Summer of Merchandise: Nintendo Yoshi plushy

Plush Yoshi Hey, look what I found in the storage vaults! The plush Yoshi that I got back when I was all obsessed with Super Mario World.

Anyone else got some cute classics like this? If you do, post the image in a comment! You can use HTML or wrap the image’s web address in a pair of exclamation marks. Or you could just do nothing and let me look like a Nintendo-crazed psycho.

As you can see from the state of the material, it enjoyed many years of love. It smells good as new though, which I found surprising. The only problem is that one side of the saddle (or shell) seems to have become unstitched. Perhaps I should do a crash course in sewing and sort it out.

Note: This post is part of a series. If you enjoyed it, consider reading the whole series!

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VideoGaiden series two to have 30-minute episodes

What do you get when you take two brutally honest Scottish video gamers, give them some games, and then ask them to review them on a freely downloadable internet programme? You get Consolevania: a show that’s been so popular online that the BBC saw fit to let them have a ten-minute slot on BBC Scotland to provide a late-night condensed version called videoGaiden. It was received very favourably, and several months ago the BBC announced to a joyous internet community that the programme would be returning for a second series.

One of Consolevania/videoGaiden's presenters However, one of the major criticisms of the first series was how short each episode was: ten minutes long. Needless to say, this made it difficult for the Scots who’re used to entertaining for a full 30 minutes to provide an experience that met the high level Consolevania set long ago. They managed it, but it was tight. The show would really have benefited from a bit more breathing room.

According to Andy, the BBC has heard these wishes. Yes, that’s right — the next series of videoGaiden will have a full 30-minute slot! It’s going to be just like having Consolevania in your living room. And if it carries on building momentum, we could be seeing it on the national BBC rather than just the localised Scottish version. Sure, it’s still available to the whole country if you’re on cable/Sky, but it’ll obviously fly under the radar for those not looking out for it.

And that’s what we need. We need something like videoGaiden to hit the mainstream, smack everybody in the face with its quality, and act as a wake-up call to those responsible for the trashy rubbish that video game TV has become since the days of GamesMaster. Want to see this happen? All you have to do is keep an eye on the TV schedule (or my blog) and make sure you tune in. Tell all your friends and family to do the same. If you have a disabled granny in a retirement home, set her TV to automatically switch over to videoGaiden. I want to see those ratings soar like eagles on pogo sticks.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have never seen Consolevania before, I suggest going over to the official website and grabbing the latest episode, which comes with a review of brand new Half-Life 2 mod The Ship. Alternatively, scope out YouTube for some choice clips such as this (review of Hitman: Blood Money).

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Brilliant DS offers occuring every hour on GAME

If you live in the UK and have access to a credit card, now would be an extremely good time to head over to the GAME website. Since noon they’ve been unveiling a new DS offer every hour as part of their Nintendo 24 Hour Spectacular promotion, and at the time of writing there are 18 bargains to go. One offer every hour until midday tomorrow, with a limited supply for each. Once they’re gone they really are gone, as many people will bitterly discover when they see the page shown in the screengrab.

This is not what you want to see

I’m not really in a position to be buying even more DS stuff so I’ve not been checking back every hour. I’ve had the odd peek though, and so far I’ve seen New Super Mario Bros and Animal Crossing being sold for £15 each, and black DS Lites going for £50 a time. I presume that there’s been lots of other games on offer for £15 too, so if you’re after something in particular you may want to have an all-nighter to make sure you don’t miss out.

Apparently the £50 DS Lites have appeared twice now, so there may be some more up for grabs before the end of the promotion. For those in the US, I do believe GAME will ship over there for a small fee, so if you want a black DS Lite before everybody else now is probably the best time to sort it out.

If you get anything fancy, let me know in a comment!

Update: 50 copies of Trauma Center just sold in under one minute; clearly some masterly refreshing will need to be undertaken to stand a chance against the hordes. Perhaps things will die down once the post-midnight hours roll around. Then again, probably not.

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Nintendo’s friend code system: good or bad?

As those who’ve played Mario Kart DS know, Nintendo’s wifi system is not perfect. To play with other people, you need to know a 12 digit number that’s known as their “friend code”. Once you’ve added their friend code to your DS, you connect to the Nintendo Wifi network and set it to search for friends only. You then sit there while the system looks for any friends on your list who might be online, and if it finds any it’ll match you up with them.

Bowser and Chomp on Luigi Circuit Seems simple, right? Wrong. The fatal flaw in the system is that it’s just not fast enough. Exchanging such a long number is a real pain when you’re doing it in person (pen and paper time), and entering it into your DS is equally tiresome. And although the system usually manages to detect your friends instantly, it’ll hang for several minutes while it tries to find more players — even if you’ve got it set to only match you up with those on your friend list.

This means that what is an otherwise solid and easy-to-use system isn’t particularly pleasant to use. So when Nintendo let slip on a hidden official page (it was quickly pulled after being dugg) that the Wii is to feature the same friend code system, fans were naturally up in arms. Will a console that has the potential to offer the best multiplayer gaming ever be crippled with a terrible match making system?

The answer is no, but only if Nintendo learns from its mistakes with the DS. Although most people have had their Nintendo Wifi experiences with Mario Kart DS and it is indeed a pretty irritating system, the actual framework is completely solid. It’s only the implementation and interface that’s bad, and if this can be improved the Wii is likely to have excellent multiplayer gameplay.

Overhead view of the map that appears on the bottom screen For example, let’s imagine that you can force the game to start whenever you wish by initiating a “force start” vote. You press a button that indicates you wish to begin immediately, and if the other players agree by pressing the same button the game will start. No hanging around staring at an unusable screen while it tries to find non-existent friends, no hoping the other player(s) won’t leave due to boredom — it just begins.

Now let’s imagine that the friend list is actually given an interface. When trying to get a game going, your friend list appears on the screen with the online/offline status of your friends clearly indicated. If you don’t fancy playing with a particular friend, you simply press a certain button on their name and it’ll cross them out. Instead of shooting blind like on the DS, you’re back in control of exactly who you play with.

Really, the only problem with the friend code system is that it’s just not presented very well. The system itself is quick, efficient and stable, but little to no control is given to the players when it comes to the match making process. Even when you’ve got a specific friend in mind to play with and have them on your friend list, you haven’t got the ability to only play with that friend if some of your other friends (or his) happen to be online.

Yoshi leads the pack on Shroom Ridge All that said, I haven’t a huge amount of experience with the Nintendo Wifi service, and many if not all of what I’ve just suggested may be available in other games. If this is the case, I’d really appreciate being told in a comment so I can put my mind to rest and look forward to the Wii’s multiplayer system without worry.

What do you guys think? Should Nintendo march on with their plans to continue developing the friend code system, or should they do something more akin to PC multiplayer where you’re placed into a lobby and choose a server from a list? Heck, they could feasibly do both, but I wouldn’t count on it. I’d personally by completely satisfied with a spruced-up version of the current system.

Oh, and yes, the GobLog is back! I moved host a while back and in the process wrecked the blog, leaving me in the unfortunate position of not being in the mood to fix it. It’s all repaired now though, and I’ve decided to ‘reboot’ the blog with a now exclusive focus on gaming as opposed to nothing in particular like before. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep the posts nice and frequent.

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