Super Mario Bros parody ad, plus upcoming downtime

Super Mario Bros McDonalds Advert There’s a rather clever commercial running on US TV right now, advertising those terrible McDonalds Nintendo toys I wrote about last week. Although the toys are indeed not a good thing, the self-depreciating ad is surprisingly inspired. It’s inspired not only because it’s obviously a transformation of the first level of Super Mario Bros into a shirt real-life acted video, but also because it’s seemingly parodying a popular internet video that hit the rounds a few months ago, showing a college play with an extremely similar style. Watch both and you’ll immediately see the similarities.

I’m always a fan of good video game related advertisement on TV, so it’s good to see another notch added to the belt of success in said arena, even if Kotaku is typically as needlessly critical as always. But hey, when you have a fan base that loves the whole faux asshole routine, what do you expect? They know they love the ad really.

As for the downtime mentioned in the headline, at some point during the next few days I’m going to redevelop the design of the blog slightly. I had a lot of traffic and new readers during August (18,226 of you, actually — thanks so much for the support!), and I noticed from my statistics that a lot of people aren’t finding my older posts and such too easily. So, I’m going to bring back the sidebar and rework the design somewhat so it continues to fit onto 800×600, used by a whopping 4% of you. It might be a day or two of downtime depending on how many issues I run into. I know it being down isn’t going to wreck your day or anything, but I just thought I’d throw out a note about it.

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Zelda: Twilight Princess is going to be seriously epic

Zelda: Twilight Princess Anyone who’s played Zelda: Ocarina of Time is probably aware of the fact that it is one damn good game. I personally rank it in the top few of all time; it felt incredibly epic back in 1998 with a massive world, almost endless gameplay, and generally astounding quality on every front. It is a masterpiece, and many think that its Nintendo 64 sequel Majora’s Mask is of similar or even superior quality.

Although a GameCube Zelda was released in 2003, it wasn’t really that much of a spiritual sequel like Majora’s Mask was. While the gameplay was very similar and all the hallmark Zelda elements were there, it felt very different from Ocarina of Time. Gone was the realistic graphical style, replaced with cell shaded cartoon-like imagery. Hyrule, the land that Ocarina of Time was set in, was nowhere to be found for the vast majority of the game. And of course the locations were a series of islands in a massive sea (which was boring to cross) rather than spread throughout a reasonably interesting land like in Ocarina of Time. I of course speak of none other than Zelda: The Wind Waker.

While a good game overall, Wind Waker was not the sequel many were expecting — especially after an early video showed what looked like a more Ocarina of Time-esque style. And of course, the storyline itself was set long after the events of Ocarina of Time transpired, with a completely different world and no recognisable places or faces (with the exception of a very short part of the game; those who’ve played it know what I mean).

Zelda: Twilight Princess Fortunately Twilight Princess is nearly upon us, and it indeed a spiritual sequel to Ocarina of Time in every way. Back is the realistic style, now more so than ever before. We’re also back in Hyrule, with many locations that’re loosely familiar, including a farm that has subtle segments of the Lon Lon Ranch music worked into the soundtrack for maximum nostalgic impact. Gone is all that piratey nonsense; we’re back in the fantastical world that Ocarina of Time laid out but only gave us a glimpse of. And the storyline is set between Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker.

Now, getting back to the original point of this post, an article has appeared on IGN which looks at a bunch of upcoming Wii games, and under the Twilight Princess part it’s revealed that Hyrule (which is traditionally an overworld) will take a whopping 45 minutes to cross — even on horseback! Now at first that may seem ridiculous, and I am slightly suspicious about the number, but the fact that we’re even up in that area has gotten me a bit excited. After all, Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule overworld was massive back in its day, and that took a few minutes to cross. Add eight years of technology and having such a massive world doesn’t seem so ridiculous.

After all, Nintendo has had around three years on this, and possibly even longer if development overlapped Wind Waker’s (which isn’t an unreasonable assumption considering that several handheld Zelda games have been/are being developed, including the upcoming Wind Waker sequel). Zelda games have traditionally been very long, and it looks like Twilight Princess will be no exception. If this game ends up being as good and as relatively long as Ocarina of Time, well… I’ll see you in a year!

Yeah, Bethesda had their fun with Oblivion, but Zelda’s where it’s really at. Twilight Princess still remains at the very top of my “most anticipated” list, and I have a very strong hunch that it’s going to tear up other games that release around the same time. Heck, the fishing side of the game will be worth the price by itself!

Does anyone else want to share my massive tangent and express how much they’re looking forward to this game?

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Half-Life movie adaption trailer available on YouTube

Half-Life movie trailer Now this is what I like to see: the trailer for an unofficial movie adaption of Half-Life. It’s got the atmosphere, it’s got the characters, and it’s even got some basic CGI. The downside? According to the author comments it was simply produced as a class project and will not be a full production. Damnit.

Half-Life is one movie I’d really like to see done properly, though I’m sure there’s many who’d rather the risk not be taken considering the poor history of game-to-movie adaption. Still, just think about the potential for a second. The entire movie is practically already there: a scientist in a top-secret, remote, gigantic, underground facility goes to work; things go wrong; he has to get out while avoiding the many menaces along the way. The only difference is it’d be from a third-person perspective rather than first, and I’m sure there’d have to be a scientist or two that lasts a bit longer than thirty seconds. But hell, it could be superb. The entire premise of Half-Life is, for lack of a better word, cool.

In other news, I’m doing some writing over here throughout September and possibly beyond, so head over there if you’re interested in seeing more of my writing handiwork. The style is a little different to here, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it just the same. I’ll continue doing my regular posts here though, so don’t worry about losing me.

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Red Steel to have fully dynamic Wiimote sword action

Red Steel on the Wii A lot of people were worried when the E3 information onslaught hit the web. Red Steel, a sword/gun thriller to be released exclusively on the Wii, did not have fully dynamic sword action. To clarify, that’s where the sword in the game would follow how you’re holding your Wiimote, making your real life actions literally translate to the game.

Instead, it was set up so that the game would interpret rough positions of the Wiimote and turn them into ingame actions. For example, swinging the Wiimote forward would trigger a generic “lunge forward with sword” animation, basically the same as pressing A in a Zelda game. There was no physical relationship between the sword in the game and your Wiimote.

But that’s no longer the case. According to a post on the IGN forums that is in turn a translation of a German Nintendo site’s interview, Red Steel will in fact have fully dynamic Wiimote sword action. Yes, now the sword really will follow exactly how you hold your Wiimote. I just hope there aren’t any silly restrictions in place. How cool would it be to be able to hold the sword horizontally in front of your face in a silly cinematic fashion? Very cool. Useless from a gameplay perspective, but simply being able to do that kind of thing makes all the difference to the player experience.

Red Steel on the Wii Other tidbits revealed in the interview are that the graphics have been upgraded a lot since E3, and that there’ll be no loading times and instead a special streaming system — probably similar to Metroid Prime, where what’s behind the next door is loaded as you approach it, and the previous room unloaded.

According to 4color rebellion’s translation, Red Steel will not launch with online play (it’s implied that this could somehow change later; possibility of patching using the Wii Wifi system?), and the Wiimote’s speaker will be used for immersive sound effects.

Overall, Red Steel is shaping up to be a pretty damn stellar game. If they can nail the sword action then it’ll definitely add a very interesting slant to the first-person shooter mechanic, as long as it can be backed up by actually being a fun FPS. Here’s hoping that the Ubisoft magic which ocassionally rubs off onto its games (read: Beyond Good and Evil) will come into play here.

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Rubbish Nintendo merchandise courtesy of McDonalds

McDonalds Yoshi toy Unfortunately no good for the non-US readers and myself, McDonalds is to unleash a bunch of Nintendo themed toys in America to complement their “Happy Meals”. As typically cheap as ever, the toys don’t really look that faithful to their subject matter and Yoshi looks downright freakish. Still, those of you in the US might want to order their ‘kids’ some Happy Meals regardless so you can add them to your collections.

There are six toys in total: a Mario ball, a Mario Tennis mallet (?), a Donkey Kong holding two wheels (??), a Donkey Kong inside a wheel (???), a Yoshi hugging thin air, and a Mario Golf Yoshi that spits a golf ball into the air. Nothing particularly exciting, then. Why not capitalise on something that’s actually widely associated with Nintendo, such as a Mario mushroom or some Yoshi eggs? Why a picture of Donkey Kong in the middle of a wheel? Meaningless is what it is.

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Command & Conquer 3 gameplay video from Leipzig

Command & Conquer GDI base I’m watching a video right now of Command & Conquer 3 gameplay. It’s early and I’m tired so I’m not going to go into it in too much depth, but it’s all actual gameplay rather than the cinematic stuff seen in other videos thus far. None of those silly camera angles that you’ll never use while playing the game yourself.

Everything I’ve seen up to now has been really promising. It actually looks like true C&C when not viewing it at a crazy angle, and the build animations and whatnot are superb. There’s also some combat later into the video, and that again looks excellent. It looks like they’ve really cracked the spirit of C&C with this, unlike Generals which while I think was a good real-time strategy game, kind of deviated from the C&C formula a bit. It felt like another series.

Oh, and the video’s from Leipzig so there’s a guy describing everything that’s happening on screen. I personally love this type of video, though I know it bothers some people and it can potentially spoil the experience of discovering how the game works for yourself when you get it. Avoid if that’s a concern.

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New shots of Yoshi’s Island 2, Mario Basketball, and more

Yoshi's Island 2 Penny Arcade Expo 2006 is occuring right now, which may or may not end up becoming E3 #2 now that the original E3 has been dissolved. And fittingly, a bunch of new DS game screenshots have been unveiled that show off a variety of upcoming titles. British Gaming Blog has seen fit to neatly put these together, which makes browsing through them quite easy.

The games that immediately catch my attention are Mario vs Donkey Kong, Yoshi’s Island 2, Mario Slam Basketball, and StarFox Command. All quite clearly look brilliant, although the StarFox screenshots aren’t the most flattering around; I suggest watching the video instead. I’m also somewhat intrigued by the other titles on show: Elite Beat Agents looks rather stylish, and then there’s Final Fantasy III, a 3D remake of the original.

The original Final Fantasy III was supposedly never actually released outside of Japan and the rest of the world got something else, so it should be a new experience for the majority of those reading this blog. Finally there’s 41 All Time Classics, which brings 41 classic games (as in Poker, etc) to the DS with Wi-Fi play. Not too excited about that myself, but I can see it appealing to many others — especially the older crowd.

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