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Mass Effect 2 [GO]
May 29th, 2009 by Dan

Guess what guys?

SPOILERS!

Shepard isn’t dead.

Words cannot describe how excited I am for this game. Mass Effect was one of the greatest games on the 360 based on its epic story alone. Bioware rarely disappoints and I’m psyched for this one.

EDIT: GT still has busted html. What’s going on there?

Persona 4 Review [Game Overview/Sony]
May 29th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

When I was a kid I became saddled with the unfortunate notion that Japan did pretty much everything better than the United States. I don’t think I would have gone so far as to call myself a Japanophile, but it was definitely close. Their video games were all sweet (FF VI and Chrono Trigger!) and their cartoons sure beat the heck out of the asinine stuff I was sometimes watching on the Disney Afternoon. This may have had something to do with the fact that I was watching Bubblegum Crisis and Ranma at a time when the best cartoon I could watch was Timon and Pumbaa, but it would be foolish to think that the allure of the unknown didn’t factor into it too.

This persisted up until I got to high school and I realized, “Hey, I’m never gonna get laid if I keep this up…” Your mileage may vary with that statement, but at my school the anime crowd consisted of one fat lesbian and a bunch of greasy, socially maladjusted dudes. Clearly a situation not conducive to meeting the ladies. So what did I do? Push a lot of it to the hidden background and pretend like I played video games and watched anime a lot less than I did.

Here I digress for a few moments about the absurdity of anime culture in the states compared to Japan. We grow up rationalizing that the obsessive, smelly, cosplaying kids we see on this side of the the Pacific would fit right in the Land of the Rising Sun, but the truth is otaku is almost a dirty word in Nippon. The most hardcore devolve into hikikomori and become paralyzed with social anxieties preventing them from even leaving the apartment. Yes, I know it’s naïve to associate the hikikomori exclusively with anime, but it’s also totally fair to say that a good degree of them do obsessively collect or exhibit some sort of obsessive otaku behaviors. Meanwhile, the term is romanticized in the West as a badge of pride. My brother uses DJOtaku as a handle online and even to actually DJ. It’s bizarre in the way that the Japanese attach firmly Western ideas like Christianity or Western names to their anime characters. It kind of fits, but then you realize that this nun-training school is part of a hentai dating sim and it leaves you scratching your head.

And so my love-affair with Japanese media remains mostly a secret, but even I have become disillusioned with it. The over-reliance on moe, the bizarre obsession with girls who look like they are eight (I realize this is part of moe, but this is creepy enough to warrant its own entry), same-y plots, and damn-near interchangeable characters make the whole thing feel kind of like a waste of time. Among all of this unoriginal crap that was flooding my brain, I managed to run into Azumanga Daioh. Guess what: this is the most realistic, if you can call slapstick realistic, seeming representation of Japanese high school life. It’s also entirely incomprehensible to anyone who just doesn’t get Japanese humor. Aside from all the insanity, what did I learn? Japanese high school sucks.

Let’s start right from the entrance requirements: Japanese high schools are not compulsory. Here in the States the local governments provide school for us knuckleheaded Americans to attend as required by law (unless we decide to stop going at age 16). The Japanese, on the other hand, have to test into their high schools, rather like some of us do for private schools. Then they suffer through three years of rote memorization all while stressing out over college entrance exams, attending school on SATURDAY(!), spending time obsessively devoted to their clubs, and, if they’re trying to get into a sweet university and they’re not brilliant, attending cram school to help study for those entrance exams. Meanwhile I coasted through public school, hit on girls as often as I could, and spent my afternoons swimming, hanging out with my friends, playing video games, and maybe doing some homework. One seems clearly better than the other, but then again, who am I to judge? Plenty of Americans probably can’t find Japan on the map much less remember the quadratic equation. I counter that we also don’t deny raping and pillaging China and Korea, so I’ll call us even for now.

So now you see that if you weren’t in a private boarding school with super-strict academics, your life was probably a lot easier-seeming than your counterparts out East. Enter the Persona series, which for the past two iterations has, yes, simmed having to attend JAPANESE high school. Persona 3 has you attending high school in an urban Tokyo-analog. Then you move onto Persona 4 which takes place in rural Japan where everyone is quick to tell the protagonist, heretofore referred to as Dan, since that’s what I named him, that “Boy is life gonna be boring now that you’re out here with us country bumpkins after living the high life in the city.”

I say all this to point out that Persona 4 comes at the non-Japanophile from an unexpected angle. It is an unapologetically Japanese 80+ hour RPG about going to school in the countryside. Yet, as I write this, I am listening to Vinny Caravella and Jeff Gerstmann comment on the game, MSTK 3000-style, in one of Giant Bomb‘s most successful video features, the Persona 4 Endurance Run. So not only did I play this game, I take about 20-60 minutes each day, on average, to listen to people play the same game I spent 80 hours on and crack jokes about it.

Persona 4 is good because it, rather like Azumanga Daioh, represents high school in rural Japan pretty darn well. I say this, of course, as a man who has never attended high school in rural Japan. In fact, my most legitimate experience with Japan comes from working in Okinawa, so take from that what you will. In my mind, it does a pretty good job, abstractions aside. As a student who also has to grapple with the forces of evil, Dan also must balance his social life, do his schoolwork, and work a part-time job, which mirrored my high school experience in America, minus the forces of evil. The plot boils down to this, Dan shows up in Inaba, Japan right before a series of bizarre murders begin to happen on a fairly regular basis. Dan, being the mostly conscientious type, doesn’t really jive with murders, so he and his buddies decide to bring the murderer to justice.

There is one thing I also don’t remember being a part of high school: I don’t remember my posse constantly reminding me of the exact same thing, over and over, using different wording. There’s a disturbing trend in modern games where the player is treated as something of an imbecile. I can’t say I mind the Zelda-esque bold letters to denote something important is being said, but could that possibly be because I find the rest of the dialogue so full of repeated nonsense that my brain starts to shut down from exposure to stupidity? At least I know when to pay attention, right? I would blame the localization staff, but I realize that all the redundancy is actually a problem with the way the game was originally made. They’re just aping all of that empty, redundant dialogue with their translation. It’s also not a case of “Japan thinks the West is stupid,” because this game was clearly meant for Japanese audiences. No, this is what modern game designers do. You can’t trust the player to read the manual any more, that I get. Besides, video games are a visual AND a kinetic medium, as I’m sure you’ve heard me say before (just like you’ve heard me say games are too easy), but it doesn’t mean that you have to talk down to us. The Persona games, 3 more than 4, are way hard when it comes to the battle mechanics, but the storylines and dialogue are at about middle school level.

Don’t even get me started on the dubbing work…I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if you’re bringing a game over from Japan, leave the Japanese vocal track on there. I don’t care how much money you spent trying to localize and dub it, it just sounds bad. Japanese vocal actors, seiyū, are big business in Japan. Consequently, they’re way better at their jobs. Even if they’re not, I have no idea what poor Japanese acting sounds like, but I’m infinitely familiar with poor English acting (hint: I’ve got experience listening to every thing I’ve ever heard with English dubs). So here’s the pro-tip I’m sure they didn’t even ask for, don’t stick me with just a dub of your game. It makes me mute the volume when they speak. I know Atlus knows better too, because they do leave it on sometimes.

The folks at Atlus do respect gamers when it comes to their battle system. Persona 4 is joyously hard in an era where few games challenge me. I’m not a masochist, I just don’t want my game session to be so simple I can sleep through it. I get that Pokémon is a game for children, but why can I battle, listen to music, and play another video game entirely and NOT LOSE. There is a point, after you’ve finished the quest where Pokémon turns around, takes off its belt, and says “So you think your Pikachu is cute? You think that belief in the heart of your pokémon is going to tump my belief in cold, hard statistics?” and promptly starts beating down the weak, but this is after 60 hours of questing.

No, Persona paces itself brutally. You think you can get away with not having a social life? Your party will be weaker along with the Persona you summon. Think you can have a social life, but not worry about raising your personal statistics like courage, knowledge, or understanding? Guess what, you can’t raise your social links without certain statistical prerequisites met. This results in a game that forces you to do everything it asks of you and to do them at least kind of well, if you kind of want to survive. Grinding got you plenty far in Persona 3. You could buy SP (the MP-analog) recovery items at will. In Persona 4, SP is a commodity. There are three main ways to restore it: 1. Blind luck, 2. SP recovery items (now available through chests as a random drop or as a reward for helping people out), and 3. One of your social links. It seems like the third option would be beneficial, except that social link needs to be damn near maxed out for the cost of SP recovery to be manageable (oh yes, he’s your friend, but he don’t heal for free. Nope, daddy’s gotta eat too). So this SP system manages just how long you can survive in the dungeon because the monsters are pretty tough and won’t go down with physical damage alone, not without a strong fight. In fact, some are even immune to physical damage. You could try picking on weaker enemies in earlier dungeons, but their EXP yield eventually drops to drops in the ocean the further you get away from them in level.

I like Perona 4 because of its hard, no-nonsense battle systems. I like it because its story, embarrassing as it might be in front of girls you want to impress, because it deals with social anxiety, isolation, angst, and belonging, a little less than Persona 3, but you get what you can. I like it because it looks at Final Fantasy’s huge budget and beautiful CG graphics, flips it the bird, releases on PS2 when the PS3 has been out for two years, and uses a heavily stylized interface with anime style graphics and anime cutscenes. I also like it because I like being called Mesa-senpai and Mesa-kun. Not in real life, mind you, but it’s funny in-game.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go watch some Naruto while eating curry and Pocky and building my Ichigo Kurosaki costume for Otakon.

Bubble Bobble Plus [Big N]
May 28th, 2009 by Dan

Bubble Bobble is back

Remember back when I wrote about my favorite 8-bit era games? Well the next day I wrote about a runner-up, the classic Bubble Bobble. Astute readers may remember me stating:

“If there were ever a game that needed a DS or XBL update, this would undoubtedly be in the top ten list”

It’s like I’m Nostradamus or something, because there will also be an XBL remake called Bubble Bobble Neo! coming out sometime this year.

The WiiWare version is what I’m focusing on right now, so here’s a quick feature breakdown:

– 4-player mode
– 100 classic stages
– 100 new stages
– Updated, harder versions of some of the classic stages
– Two DLC packs containing 50 very hard stages in each

I’ve gotta say, this is a pretty huge remake and I hope it does well this week. Bubble Bobble was one of the best old games out there with its simple gameplay, even though I never saw the ending, good or bad. Here’s to transmuting monsters into food!

Not Quite As Predicted [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 27th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I think it’s safe to say at this point in the season that things aren’t quite going as I predicted. It’s not the end of the world to be five games back in late May, but it just isn’t coming together for the Rays who are behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays in the AL East. Fortunately for the Rays, the Blue Jays seem to be choking against even the most trivial of AL East teams :cough: the Baltimore Orioles :cough:, but the fact of the matter is that the Rays have to start playing better to keep it alive.

Good thing the stars aren’t aligning against them, right?

Right???

Akinori Iwamura, a heavily underrated cog in the machine is out for the entire season. Not just a few weeks, the whole rest of the year. Jason Bartlett is out with a sprained ankle. Pat Burrell is still out hurting with a stiff neck. Scott Kazmir, who has been pitching poorly anyway, is out on the DL too. This is some serious personnel out for the next two weeks or so. Joe Maddon has been starting Reid Brignac, Willy Aybar, and Ben Zobrist to replace the missing players, but this is clearly not ideal. The Rays are definitely being tested right now, so it would be good for the replacement players to step up instead of…well…

David Price, the holy grail of AL rookies finally got the call up to the bigs to pitch on Monday, only it didn’t go quite as planned. Poor control managed to get him through only 3 1/3 innings with five walks and six strikeouts and, luckily only two earned runs. Some say it was because he sat for quite some time while his team racked up a 10-0 lead. The only real problem is that the bullpen, clearly not expecting their rookie phenom to throw over a hundred pitches in three and a third, couldn’t hold the 10-2 lead that Price left them with. That’s right, the Rays actually lost the game 11-10 Cleveland. Pathetic.

Pick it up Tampa, you’re making me look bad! I know you can outplay the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox, you’ve done it all year already.

Here’s some perspective: last season the starters had an ERA of 3.95 and the bullpen had a 3.55 mark to bring the team to the World Series. Meanwhile, the Rays are sporting a 4.95 starting ERA with 4.16 in the bulllpen. While I’m sure you’re admiring the neat statistical anomaly that the starting pitching’s ERA has risen by exactly one point, it still shows that the key factor in the Rays not performing this season resides in the pitching staff.

Meanwhile Florida is sitting 5.5 games back too in the NL East battling through some pitching injuries and just playing mediocre ball. I know they were playing much better last season, so it hurts to see a better squad where they are right now. On the plus side, they’re not starting Emilio Bonifacio, but they also took a big hit when Cameron Maybin didn’t hit at the start of the season. The once proud 11-1 team is now sitting at 21-26. Pick it up Marlins!

The Fish also only managed to win one of three against the Rays and were soundly spanked in the ones they lost. That was also the series that Iwamura got hurt, which makes it even more painful.

Here’s hoping for better news next week.

Late is Better Than Never [Embedded Reporter]
May 26th, 2009 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

I know it’s a day late, but yesterday was a holiday…and I totally forgot it was also a Monday…

So here we have more promotional material for Nintendo’s recent release Rhythm Heaven. There might be a little something different about it when you watch it.

EDIT: The embed code was giving me trouble, so I’m linking it above for now. I know that kind of kills the whole “embedded” part of this feature, but until I can figure it out, I don’t want this looking terrible.

That’s right, it’s catered to the womenfolk. Now, I have no problem with Nintendo’s strong push for catering to female gamers. These commercials with Beyoncé (for Rhythm Heaven), Lisa Kudrow, Nicole Kidman, or America Ferrera are genius in that they don’t pander to women and don’t try and talk down. This commercial is geared more toward teenage girls, I’d say, and it shows. I don’t think it’s sexist, I just don’t know how well it will play. Do you think it talks down in any way? Is it’s message sexist in nature? I don’t really think so, but I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable watching it when I think about the stance that any actual gaming girl I know would have toward it. For others, it seems about right. I guess you can’t please everyone, right?

Misc. News [Game Overview]
May 22nd, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

King of Fighters XII, yeah that’s still coming out. I’m having a hard time caring without Mai :hint hint: See the episode below to catch the trailer.

Explosive

Remember last week when I told you all about that Giant Bomb achievements feature? Seems I’m not doing that well. I’ve only got ‘A’s in Mass Effect, Castle Crashers, and Lost Odyssey and a good chunk of my rare achievements are World of Warcraft achievements available only to those who were playing the game way back in the day. That being said, I do have a lot of Lost Odyssey and Mass Effect rare achievements and I think I’m going to ignore the DoA 4 rare since it’s probably the anti-achievement I got for losing tons of matches.

If nothing, this has inspired me to start hitting up those achievements harder. The easy targets would be more Mass Effect, Rock Band 2, and Lost Odyssey for the S-Rank. but I think that I will be playing Fallout 3 once I finish Persona 4 next, so it might have to wait a while. That’s a respectable endeavor too, since I only have a C in the game.

It’s raining, but is it heavy?

The oddly named Heavy Rain promises to bring mature, serious gaming to the PS3. I’ve heard much about the game’s merits, mostly from Shane Bettenhousen back when he was on the 1UP crew, but I’d yet to see any footage of the game in action. Lucky for me, GTTV, or Gametrailers TV, is featuring Heavy Rain in their latest episode:

(Sorry about some of the stupidity of the interview, I don’t write the immature questions)

As the episode mentions, Heavy Rain is developed by the same folks who brought us Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophesy back in the day. That game had a narrative that quickly fell apart near the end, but was an otherwise solid piece of storytelling. Heavy Rain has serious promise not to fall into that trap.

How cool is it that if one of your characters dies it becomes part of the story. You lose control of that person and the game continues. Seriously, all they have to do is not get stupid ridiculous like the end of Indigo Prophesy and they already have me as a customer.

Wii Secrets

Guess what? You can export Miis to the DS!

The previously hidden feature doesn’t do much for games that don’t support it, but it’s crazy to learn this little secret. Pressing A, B, 1, and then holding 2 will bring up the export dialog. Useless, but cool for the future.

Do me a Solid, will ya?

New Metal Gear game announcement at E3? Seems likely. The teaser site is apparently flashing [email protected]…Seems pretty self-evident there.

The Pigs are keeping us down!

First Capcom, then Koei, and now Square Enix have restricted all Japanese travel to E3 this year citing the H1N1, or swine flu, pandemic as the reason they are limiting their travel. Considering that Japan is actually facing quite the problem on its shores, you’d think that the execs would want to get out of the country sometime soon, but then again, I guess it’s the ethically responsible thing to do not to have them travel around. That being said, I’m sure the last thing Japan is doing in this case is worrying about US safety. All jokes aside, hopefully this swine flu pandemic slows down and goes away soon.

[Thanks to Kotaku and Gametrailers for the links]

Derivative Art, Japanese Rock, and the Coming Rock Revolution [You Can Quote Me On That]
May 21st, 2009 by Dan

From Tim Rogers’ article on Japanese music and Sambo Master (so good, but long!):

I told Sanyon, “Art is poison. The ‘art’ of the past — the words of the past set down for future generations to remember — was it not made or chosen with the best judgment, can only hinder the freedom of the future.”

“That’s a very Western philosophy.”

“No. It’s The Tale of Genji. Murasaki Shikibu. The world’s first novel. From your country — 998 AD.”

“Well!”

“If I write a novel, for example, about a girl in a religious community who is ostracized when she’s discovered to be an adultress, no matter how much I focus on the woman’s pining over the wonderful cookies at the weekly church bake sale, and no matter how clever I make the cookie motif — a metaphor for what, I don’t know — I can’t publish it without drawing comparisons to The Scarlet Letter.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“It’s a book. Famous American literature. Anyway. Furthermore — if I were to, say, show The Scarlet Letter to a publishing company editor who had never read it, he’d look at it for ten minutes before telling me it was utter trash. Too long, too gloomy, paragraphs too big, too thick, setting details not fleshed out enough, needs too many footnotes, too prose-y.”

“Aha. You’re saying the judges aren’t competent, is what you’re saying.”

“No. I’m saying that some of the shit we regard as gospel is actually . . . not.”

Sanyon snapped his fingers, and pointed at me. His mouth opened, then closed.

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

I shook my head. “I’m not sure I follow myself, sometimes. Anyway, what I’m saying is that it’s probable — highly possible that a lot of the punk-rock music people like you and me listen to now would still exist, in some way, shape or form, if Ramones had never existed.”

“I’m not sure about that.”

“I’m only mostly sure, myself. All I . . . know is that it feels criminally wrong to believe that only one man can ever hold the power to change the world. It’s like this — I believe in something we’ll call an ‘aesthetic god.’ I also believe in music theory, though that’s for another day. The ‘aesthetic god’ applies to, well, it’s a belief that certain things look and/or sound pleasing. Good sights, good sounds. Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Friends’ hairstyle; the computerized shine on Britney Spears’ voice. With popular music all you’re doing is throwing things at a wall, and seeing what sticks. Well, I don’t know. I guess that’s how it was in the beginning. Now people — they know what sticks and what doesn’t. This is because there are little . . . laws in aesthetics. Some kind of a supreme presence.

“Yet, see — here’s what I believe. There are infinite avenues to pleasant sights and sounds. Infinite ways of playing a guitar. It’s just that Kurt Cobain comes in and plays these four chords in this order and everybody gets hooked up on it. Art isn’t a ‘poison’ in that it rots and kills; it’s a poison in that it slows down and hinders. Our eyes and ears are attracted to shiny sights and sounds, and we dare not look away. That’s how Murasaki Shikibu would probably put it if she were around today. I take it she’d agree with me when I say (and you know old Japanese poetry was my major in college) that we stand, now, at an era where the ignorant are set to inherit the earth. When a guy who comes across a guitar for the first time in his life and sits down and plays it for an hour until he ‘discovers’ power chords, yeah, he’s got a chance of doing something great. He can change the world.”

Sanyon shook his head. “That sounds like some religious bullshit, man. A rock and roll messiah or some shit.” He shrugged. “It’s not like things — the current rock and roll situation — are so bad. People listen to music on the train. People get paid to make the music. As long as the CDs sell copies — hey. I may be just a kid — people like it that way — and my grasp of the whole industry dynamic might be one-dimensional, though at least I feel like I understand it. Japan treats its musicians right, at least when it comes to securing them a future. And that’s what it’s about for me. A person-to-person basis. Not changing the fucking world. I feel sorry for the bastard who ends up having to do that.”

I wagged my finger. “He won’t even know he’s doing it, is the thing. He’ll just be another guy like you, maybe a kid, thinking he’s just having fun. Then he realizes what he’s doing, and he either rises to it or he blows the fuck up. If he rises to it, then he’s suddenly a hero to people. That’s how it happens. You kids overthink things sometimes, even more than I do, and I’m the one doing all of the talking. See — hell. It’s like . . . shit. I don’t know. What I mean to say is — go back to the Scarlet Letter analogy. The fact that there’s so much literature backed-up in the historical pipeline pisses a lot of writers off. They know that they can’t write such-and-such a novel without being compared to so-and-so. The same goes for music. This makes writers and musicians a bunch of ironic assholes. That’s the problem here, is irony. People get all bitter and jaded before they’re even twenty years old. They turn into a bunch of cocks. I was reading an old interview with The Pixies in this little book of rock interviews my friend had. I think the interview was from 1989 or some shit, and yeah, it was like — I kept thinking what an asshole Frank Black sounded like. He sounded like a total fuckhole. It’s like — this way he’s talking, his opinions, this is exactly the shit I hated on kids who thought they were rockers in high school. I totally understood a whole bunch of shit. They got it . . . from the music. I mean, nothing against The Pixies or anything.”

Sanyon shrugged. “They’re alright.”

“Alright. Yeah, they’re alright. They’re alright.”

“Anyway, man, like — like I said. I’m just having fun. That’s all. I’m not the hero in a comic book about punk-rockers in Tokyo. I’m not collecting all the fucking Pokemon. I’m just singing in a band — hell, I can’t even sing as well as Ito, and that fucker’s playing the guitar now — though I guess I have the personality. I can be on television. I can play the little Japanese television game. Perfect. They’ll like me. [Sanyons manager and ex-Blue Hearts bassist Junnosuke Kawaguchi] says we’ll be fine. People will like our style, and all that. That’s what’s important.”

Rays and Marlins Update and Punch-Out!!? [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 20th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

The Rays finally managed to hit the .500 mark two days ago only to lose last night against the Athletics in a heartbreaking game that remained scoreless until the 11th. You can’t really say that the Rays have been on a tear, but they have won six of their last ten, which should continue to edge them upward in win percentage if they can continue. Two more games against the Athletics will be followed by three against the Marlins in their interleague series and we’ll see how that turns out. The Rays are three games back from the Yankees and that needs to change. Unfortunately, the Yanks are playing the Orioles, so unless the Rays start capitalizing on the fact that they’re playing a weak team in the Athletics, things are going to just get uglier for them. They’re both good teams, but I think the Rays tended to edge out the Fish last year. Interleague games: the only time I root against the Tampa Bay Rays

Florida finds itself in fourth place as well, but only four games out, thanks to a loss to the Diamondbacks after two rained out games. They’re playing alright, but they do really need to turn something around to make a run at the East.

Quick Aside: I was at the Pirates/Nats game last night where the Nats made it close in the 9th, tying up the game, and then blew it in the 10th. I also didn’t get there in time for the free t-shirt.

Short break for a training montage…Imagine my fat trainer riding a bicycle ahead of me while I run behind him in a pink hoodie, the Manhattan skyline flowing past behind me…

This isn’t the first time I’ve melded WMQ and Game Overview and it probably won’t be the last. I picked up Punch-Out!! (those exclamation points are important!!) for Wii at Best Buy last night and, I’ve gotta say it’s pretty awesome. If you ever played the original Punch-Out!! on the NES, you know how the game is played. The concepts remain identical, even with the new control schemes. You control Little Dan (as Little Mac becomes known when associated with my Mii in versus mode) like always who has a repertoire that includes jabs to the face and stomach, dodges to the left and right, ducking, blocking, and star punches (AKA massive uppercuts).

Each of the comically ethnically stereotyped boxers has a style all to their own. Most of their moves are wildly easy to predict or downright illegal in a real boxing ring, but still fun to counter and play. A lot of the original strategies are still there. You can still down Frenchman Glass Joe in one punch if you hit him at the right time. Piston Hondo (name changed from Piston Honda for legal (?) reasons) can still be dropped during his Hondo charge attack and King Hippo’s shorts can still be loosened with a punch to his open mouth. In a nice touch, all the boxers speak their native tongue with no translation. It’s quite funny and it really pulls you into the game to see Glass Joe babbling in French or King Hippo roaring…wait…do Hawaiians roar? Here’s who I’ve faced so far in my quest for the championship:

Glass Joe

Pushover. Lightweight. Chump. I missed the first opportunity to clean his clock with one punch, but I landed the soft spot on his jaw in the second round and ended the fight with baguettes flying around the ring.

Von Kaiser

The German Mama’s Boy returns. His tells are pretty easy and he can be knocked flat in no time at all.

Disco Kid

The first newcomer to hit the ring. Here’s a pro-tip for the Kid: don’t say “Here it comes!” before your left hooks and you might have a chance of landing one. Chump.

King Hippo

Belt Holder for the Minor Circuit and your first real challenge. This raging Hawaiian only knows that he wants to knock you out and hard. The band-aid on his belly is the dead-giveaway for his weakness. Just punch him in the face when his mouth is open and then lay into his fat, causing his shorts to drop. One knockdown will lead to a KO.

Piston Hondo

The Major Circuit starts off with this Japanese boxer. He loves to move his eyebrows before a jab. Punch him in the face to earn stars. Punching him during his little charge will put him on the mat.

Bear Hugger

The first of two Super Punch-Out!! characters in the game, this Canadian boxer served up my first loss. He likes to chug maple syrup and, here’s an interesting little trick, if you star punch him while he’s taunting you, he goes down on the mat. Hard.

Great Tiger

My second loss came from the Indian cheater Great Tiger. Ever seen a boxer poof, teleport, or create mirror images? If his turban flashes gold, you can get a star, but red flashes will lead to uppercuts. Ouch.

That’s all I’ve faced so far. I’ll keep you updated on any new fighters or fun that I have.

Meet the Spy [GO]
May 19th, 2009 by Dan

Ok, ok, so it’s not Monday and I’m going to post an embedded video. Relax, breathe deep, it’s ok.

Meet the Spy

Auto-Tune 3 [Embedded Reporter]
May 18th, 2009 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

The Gregory Brothers are at it again with another edition of Auto-Tune the News. It’s not as catchy as the previous ones, but it’s plenty long and still pretty funny. I’m consistently impressed by how good Katie Couric sounds auto-tuned.

The foreign leaders part was pretty funny too.

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