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Eurogamer Expo Adventures Part Two: Nintendo

Now Playing: Brutal Legend, DJ Star
Now Listening to: Flight Of The Conchords
Now Watching: Dexter

On day two of my adventures in the capital, I woke up with a sore throat. Superb. Undeterred, I sped over to the Odeon at Covent Garden join Nintendo for the final of their competition to find Britain's Best Nintendo Gamer. The tournament has been going on for a few months around the UK, with entrants challenged on the likes of Wii Fit, Mario Kart DS, Wii Sports Resort and New Super Mario Bros DS. After eight heats, 16 finalists were here to do battle for the ultimate prize of a trip to Kyoto, Japan for them and four others. Plus, a limited edition black Wii...

The queue to get into the event, for which Nintendo had taken over the Odeon for the day, stretched down the street and was filled with supporters for the finalists, costumed gamers and press. A truly bizarre sight for those walking past, I'm sure, to see teenagers dressed as Kameks (complete with robe, rod, hat and facepaint), Marios (cardboard mask, dungarees, hat, plush mushroom) and a lone Bullet Bill (black jumpsuit). Not helping were Nintendo's own people dressed as Luigi and Mario, the former wandering up and down the line, shaking hands, slapping high fives, dancing, hugging and casually harassing passers-by with his sheer enthusiasm.

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Upon being allowed entry I met long lost C3er dojo, AKA Ben, working for Nintendo handing out Wii bags filled with plushes. Cheers Ben! Mario and Donkey Kong were the lucky fellows to come home with me. After a while of bobbing aimlessly about the cinema lobby, which acted as the central hub to the event and featured grabber machines set to free play mode and some locked up Wii demo pods, we were ushered into the cinema screen to witness some dreams come true. Into the press section I went to watch the show...

The event was hosted by comedian and Absolute Radio DJ Iain Lee, who seemed equally as bemused and amused as the rest of us to see the rows of costumed fans, including a man in a delightful Princess Peach outfit and two of the finalists, a Dr. Mario and a helicopter-helmet Mario. To kick things off, after goading the costumed ones for a bit, a 'Super Skills' video was shown off of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the game that would be used to test out the finalists. In it players charged through levels at an alarming rate, likely putting to shame anybody's future efforts on the title before it's even released. It's interesting to note that players were punching each others' characters through the air, too, something we haven't seen in our playtests...

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Iain went on to introduce "the most bonkers person I've ever met in my life"...the voice of Mario himself, Charles Martinet! And what better way for Charles to make his presence known than by going through an alarming vocal medley of all his characters' voices - that's Mario, Luigi, Wario, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi and Waluigi. The best way to describe this display would be 'hilariously terrifying'. Mr. Martinet shared that he never intended Mario to sound as he does when he went to the audition, but once he got there it just tipped out and became the voice we all know and love. Which is probably for the best, given that his other Italian impression was gruff, unfriendly and sampled with "hey, it's a-me, I'm a-under your sink, don't bother me". Bonkers, but absolutely lovely.

Our host and voice actor went head-to-head on New Super Mario Bros. Wii on the cinema screen to give us a taste of things to come, but not before we'd been 'treated' to some bizarre music that was almost like a happy hardcore version of the Mario theme with vocals yelling out "Super Mario Wooooorld!" repeatedly. Even that couldn't quite prepare us for the shambolic gaming about to unfold though - both Iain and Charles died miserably within the first 20 seconds, whereas poor Iain couldn't quite jump up pipes properly later on. Things went better when they restarted, with Martinet carrying out a hysterical running commentary in character throughout the entire run - confusing, but very, very entertaining.

The true event that we were all here to see began shortly afterwards; four semi-finals to be followed by the grand final, highest scoring in each set of four moved forward. Everybody was on an even playing field, seeing as New Super Mario Bros. Wii is not out yet, and so their true skills were put to the test. The level used was 1-3, and the rounds went by fast and furiously; some died within seconds, some were slightly cocky, most were humble. Players leapt on each others' bonces to reach the highest coins, left others to float around forever in bubbles after they had respawned from death and the contestants were cheered and applauded at every turn. It almost became like a sporting event, with the crowd roaring as the larger points were scored. Fun appeared to be had by all.

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Taking a short break in competition, a winner for best costume was announced. It was the Mario with the cardboard eye mask mentioned earlier, and it turned out he also had stuffing for a stomach - nice touch. He scuttled off back to his seat with the promise of being given a black Wii. To build the fever up for the final, Iain Lee asked the finalists - who all also received a black Wii - to give him a rousing "yeah!". Only one quiet voice came back, the nerves clearly showing by this point. They all took their places for the final showdown on level 1-6...

After a round that received even huger audience reaction before, Berkshire's Josh Stevens emerged the victor and recipient of the trip to Japan. Congratulations, Josh! He was taken on stage and literally crowned and robed before being given a giant ticket and a Peach crown trophy. Unsurprisingly, his sole comment at that point was "I can't quite believe it".

Everybody filed back out to the lobby to get their hands on New Super Mario Bros. Wii for the first time. It appeared to be the same build as the one at the post-E3 show a few months back, but that didn't stop me playing it all over again, so look out for some new impressions soon. Also, guess what I got for being a person of the media...

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What's it like, you ask? Well, it's pretty much the same as a white Wii, but black and very shiny, the difference between the shiny bits and the matte bits on the nunchuk being far more obvious on this model. Inside the box are copies of Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort (both in cardboard sleeves), a black nunchuk, the usual cables, stand and sensor bar, a black Wii remote with black Motion Plus (attached together and slotted into a rubber protector as standard, but separable; there's a smaller, remote-only rubber protector also packed in) and, of course, the sparkly system itself. Get 'em fast when they release on Friday 6th November, folks, they're limited edition...

I finished up the day by meeting up with a couple of the guys from Nintendo Life at a surprisingly cheap pub, and got some shut-eye in preparation for the Eurogamer Expo, where I would be joined by Karn and Adam. Stay tuned...

- Part One: EA

Eurogamer Expo Adventures Part One: EA

Now Playing: Scribblenauts, DJ Star
Now Listening to: More Modern Short Stories From... - Hello Saferide
Now Watching: Attenborough's Life.

Late last week I hopped on a train and buzzed off to London to attend the Eurogamer Expo with a couple of C3 staff. Before that, though, I had some other business to attend to. The first thing: EA's Play 4 Xmas event.

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I rolled into LDN at around 3.30pm on Thursday 30th October and immediately made my way to see EA while heaving and sweating under a pile of luggage, because that's how dedicated I am. To prove further that I'm an absolute idiot, what was the first thing I did after entering the wonderfully set up halls where EA were showing off their family-friendly Christmas line-up? I went on EA Sports Active: More Workouts (Wii).

That's not to say that's it's bad - quite the opposite - but if you've played the first Sports Active you'll know how tiring it can get; not the best idea after an afternoon of travel, hustle and bustle. More Workouts is exactly what is says, more of the same, so if you enjoyed the first one it's going to appeal to you; if you didn't, you'd be better off skipping it. The first activity I played was a jet ski one where you had to squat and turn the Wii remote to guide yourself under flags and then stretch to standing to rise up and hit the flags with the top of your head. Along the same lines were ramps that were mounted by squatting, launched off to collect objects in the air by standing. Essentially, it's in-line skating from the first one with an added dose of H2O. I also ran on the spot for a bit, alternating between light jogs and sprints while an unknown person with a video camera filmed for their website/TV show/personal use/whatever. Disturbing. I watched a version of the boxing game from the first title played too, but didn't test it. A person in a giant MySims outfit did quite enjoy imitating the people playing it later, though.

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Starving by this point, I raided the bar and was delighted to discover cartons of sausage and mash. I wolfed down my prize and found myself under more relaxed conditions playing Trivial Pursuit on Wii. I tested a mode where the aim was to clear all the blocks off the board as fast as possible by - how else? - answering questions on the games' six subjects. There were some dodgy examples of questions about film animals creeping into the science and nature category, but it seems like a nice package if you'd like to shake a remote to roll dice and watch pieces of pie flutter about the screen rather than dragging out the board. I beat the high score, but considering the other contestants that day were probably approximately seven years old - visitors were encouraged to bring their children - I won't exactly be braying it from the rooftops.

What next? A brief go on Spore Hero (Wii), which involved putting horns on creatures to make them more fearsome, a bit of air drumming to dance monsters about and some mindless kicking of other beasts. All good fun. The lure of the ice cream factory drew me away, however, and I gorged on some mint choc chip before drifting towards Hasbro Family Game Night 2. It includes some big games missed from the first, such as Operation, and it seems like a cleaner, more straightforward package than the last. Remote usage is a little more expanded; Operation asks you to point at the piece to remove, then goes to a view of your patient's innards. Pick up the piece with the popular A + B pincer control and then guide it out by rotating it with remote tilts to fit it through shapes. Other games include Connect 4, Bop It, Jenga and Pictureka.

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Finishing the day on a calm note, I had a sneaky peek into EA's new electronic book range on DS, FLIPS. Each edition features a collection of stories, and so far the line includes Enid Blyton, Cathy Cassidy, Eoin Colfer and the Too Ghoul For School series. It's displayed across both screens of the DS held sideways, as in Nintendo's 100 Classic Book Collection. You flip through the easy-to-read pages with a satisfying flick of the stylus, and some elements are clickable to produce sound effects and images - or you can pick up collectable mushrooms, though I've no idea what they do at this point. They should begin to arrive on December 4th, and look to be a friendly introduction to books that may seem daunting to a child at first. For me personally, you can't beat a proper papery wad of words, though anything that actively aims to improve literacy in youngsters can be nothing but good.

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After meeting a few of EA's lovely PR staff I tumbled off into the night, crammed my face into doors on the packed rush hour Tube, got lost and eventually found my hotel for a well-earned night's sleep. The next day would bring another tiring event: the final of Britain's Best Nintendo Gamer, with voice of Mario Charles Martinet live in the house...

Thanks to EA for the invite and their excellent hospitality despite my only being able to get to the event in the dying hours - sorry!

- Part two now online: Nintendo.

PowerUp Forever

Now Playing: PowerUp Forever, Wii Sports Resort
Now Listening to: Michael Jackson
Now Watching: Mad Men series 2

I've recently been playing an XBLA game called PowerUp Forever, which was developed by Blitz Arcade and released last year. Sadly, it's been pretty much abandoned and ignored, so I felt compelled to write a little piece on it. Here's a cheeky link...

Don't forget to read the Oliver Twins interview that's lurking over there to the left! Smilie Oh go on, have a link to that too...

Staff Blog | E3 Predictions Ahoy/Microsoft Thoughts

Now Playing: Punch-Out!!
Now Listening to: Summer music!
Now Watching: Mad Men

It's time a lickle staff blog about E3 I suppose. Let's get some brief predictions on...

Nintendo seem to have taken on board the relative lack of appeal of an unexpanded Animal Crossing and Wii Music, which were their focuses last year, and so this year I'm predicting that we'll see more of a slant towards 'proper' games. Motion Plus is the big thing this time. They've now had well over a year to develop for Motion Plus, and so I can definitely see a big blow out of titles coming for it. If they don't have at least five it'll be disappointing; and that's not including Wii Sports Resort.

With Microsoft's Natal announced, this could be the first E3 that Nintendo has to show their hand since the Wii was first revealed. If they don't, they have no chance of stealing 'news of the show'; and even then, they'll have a tough time competing with Natal on that front.

DSi also hasn't had much in the way of exclusive content announced yet. I can see some camera stuff being shown for that, Western confirmation for the new Wario Ware and perhaps DSi Virtual Console for Game Boy, Game Gear, etc..

I'm expecting another franchise revival, possibly Pilotwings, and a teaser - not full reveal - for the next Zelda. Wii Fit Plus seems to be a given to be there, and I really hope that covers the 'Wii ___' range for this one unless they've got something really interesting. There are rumours of a new Mario, but I'm not sure I see it being a Galaxy sequel just yet. Retro's next project is almost certain to be there; it's been too long.

Some quick Microsoft thoughts to finish off:

- The new dashboard integration - Facebook, Twitter,, Sky - is great, though I can't see myself using the first two at all.

- Some of their games look incredible: Splinter Cell: Conviction, Shadow Complex and Left 4 Dead 2 spring to mind.

- And, because it deserves its own bulletpoint: Crackdown 2!

- Modern Warfare 2 looks alright. I need to see more, but it looked really scripted. However, it does look like a nice change of direction for Infinity Ward.

- Project Natal is extremely impressive technology, but I just can't see it working seamlessly. It seemed to work perfectly under Microsoft's conditions, but they're going to have tailored those - Milo is only behind closed doors, and that's likely because of some strict conditioning necessary. Can it work in every living room? Doubtful, and that's why I can't see it taking off. Even if you get over the issue of caliberation (Wii's sensor bar fails if sun hits it; something more complex than that is bound to have even more issues) then you have the problem of space. Not many people have a big enough living room to play something like that. Voice recognition is never going to be as perfect as that without a lot of training the system to 'understand' your voice as you would with a computer. The dashboard integration with it is utterly fantastic, but in its other applications I think it's a bit of a mess. Is anybody really going to use that paint program more than once? I'm not a fan of camera technology, so I'm disappointed they didn't just go with a simple motion controller.

Doubts expressed, I still want to give it a shot. If it works it's incredible, but I just can't see it happening. If the price is right, it's mine.

A Visit To SEGA - Redux (Featuring Virtua Tennis and Let’s Tap)

Now Playing: Punch-Out!! (review soon!), Resident Evil 5 (on about playthrough number six I think...), Flower, Sun and Rain!
Now Listening to: Passion Pit
Now Watching: Mad Men

Not content to go and see SEGA once in the month of May, I went again last week. Thankfully, this time there was no messing around with transport or getting lost in the vast kingdom of Brentford as I knew where I was going, though I did have to contend with some nasty wind that left my hair looking even more like a tumbleweed than normal. The point of this visit was to get a decent amount of hands-on time with Virtua Tennis 2009 at their Masters Monday event.

I overdid the idea of being prompt and ended up getting there forty minutes earlier than the projected start time, but luckily the extra time was used productively talking to our delightful SEGA PR men and meeting/re-meeting writers from WiiDS, GamerGirls, GAME, NintendoLife, N-Europe and Blue Hero Gaming. I also had the pleasure of meeting Sleeping Beauty, an active member of the Madworld PR campaign. You'll know the meaning behind that name if you've watched The Inbetweeners. If you've not seen it, get to it.

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Not quite what Disney had in mind for a remake of Sleeping Beauty.

After a short delay, on to the courts we went. Well, a demo room. Here, we were greeted by representatives of Sumo Digital and a lunch spread including - what else at a tennis event - strawberries and cream. The Wii version of the game was demonstrated to us and we were then allowed to roam the room playing that and the PS3/360 versions of the game, too. I'm not going to go into my impressions of the Wii version here aside from saying that I enjoyed it; you can read my hands-on for that. I'm afraid you're going to have to make do with a still picture of me playing it, too, as unfortunately, for now, there are 'issues' with the video. Just imagine me swinging my arm manically in a similar fashion to the still and winning the point while making a stupid face and that's what happens in the video. Maybe it will appear soon...

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Also featured: Tom of N-Europe. Thanks to James of Nintendo Life for the picture.

While this was going on, a tournament was being held on the Playstation 3 version to win a tiny tennis ball trophy. The draw was random and I was pit against Tom from N-Europe in the first round, the very person I had just been playing against on the Wii edition. This had given us a chance to sound each other out, it seems, as we played a close game right to the end. Sorry guys, but ultimately it concluded with Tom taking the edge over me, so I've no trophy to show this time. If you want to know who won in the end, it was Mark of GAME; not so surprising when you realise he was once close to the top 100 players worldwide at Virtua Tennis 3! After my first round but-still-noble knockout I interviewed Toby and Kenton from Sumo, producer and designer on Virtua Tennis 2009 respectively, and you should be hearing that on a podcast at some point in the near future I hope. We still have an interview waiting to be emailed back to us from when we asked you all for your questions a few weeks ago, so consider this one a ten minute bonus interview with some extra queries mainly relating to Motion Plus.

Finally, at the end of the event Let's Tap was brought out. I've already written about that, so go and read the preview for full impressions, but it's great fun and everybody seemed to have a good time with it. There's still no firm release date for it; 'summer' is the word, though Forbidden Planet Manchester seems to be of the belief that it arrives on June 19th or thereabouts, so let's cross our fingers. With time depleted, we were ushered out - not connected to my hammering of the tap boxes, I assure you - and I ended up traveling back through the murky mists of the London underground with some of my fellow writers and the Sheffield-bound Sumo men. Before we left, though, there was, of course, time for a little dressing up...

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Toby from Sumo Digital, modeling this year's collection, consisting of a Virtua Tennis fleece, wig and bag. Despite efforts, none of them fitted Sonic.

- Virtua Tennis 2009 (Wii) Hands-On
- Let's Tap (Wii) Hands-On

A Visit To SEGA (featuring The Conduit and Virtua Tennis)

Now Playing: Excitebots (review soon!), Roogoo DS (preview soon!), Worms, Resident Evil 5
Now Listening to: Basement Jaxx.
Now Watching: Lost, House, Mad Men, South Park

Recently Cubed3 got invited to SEGA's UK headquarters to take a look at the multiplayer aspects of High Voltage Software's The Conduit. I was only too happy to grasp the opportunity with both hands and hopped on an (expensive) train down to London on Friday 1st May. After a brief tussle with the underground and more trains, plus with the heat bearing down at a temperature I'd describe as 'hotter than the sun' (certainly compared to Manchester!), I finally found my way to the building that Sonic probably stays in when he's visiting from Japan. Then I took pictures of the outside of it like some mad stalker.

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There's no mistaking what company it's home to when you get inside; the blue wonder adorns every other corner of the place, from giant murals to mildly terrifying six foot tall statues of the Fastest Thing Alive. To cap it off I had to watch the Mario & Sonic Winter Olympics CG trailer about fifty times in a row while waiting to go into the room inhabited by The Conduit. Though I have to admit, it looked good on the TV. Before the fifty-first showing I was, thankfully, conjured away to shoot some aliens and other humans, thus staving off insanity for another day.

We (myself and guys from a few other sites: NintendoLife, DarkZero, Sega Nerds and were whisked straight into some multiplayer fun on The Conduit, pitted against each other, some of our friends at SEGA and Kerry Ganofsky of High Voltage. It would be fair to say that I'm not the most adept at first person shooters. As far as I know nobody from C3 has encountered me on Call of Duty, but suffice to say it involves copious amounts of grenades being thrown about, pathetic attempts to run away and entire clips being used up without causing anybody any trouble (but at least I don't use Juggernaut). However, I'm pleased to say that I didn't embarrass myself too much and ended up in the middle of the scoreboard more often than not, with a couple of finishes in the top three: firstly in an explosion-ridden rocket-launcher-only match and later in a Bounty Hunter match (mainly spurred on by the idea of winning SEGA goodies, it has to be said; alas, Graham of Sega Nerds won). The session ended when everybody started trailing off to interview High Voltage. Jorge had already gotten an interview with them sorted (which you'll be seeing soon), though, so that just gave me more time to play the single player and mess about with it. You can read my impressions on The Conduit, if you haven't already done so, in my hands-on preview. Cool fact: the TVs that SEGA use for demo purposes are of the same model that I own. My home entertainment system is SEGA-validated. Score.

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Just as my first playtest of The Conduit in February was a surprise tagged onto the MadWorld/The House of the Dead: Overkill event, there was also something else in store for me: a little something by the name of Virtua Tennis 2009. Now, I'll be doing a hands-on of this as well in the very near future (as well as a more extensive one in a couple of weeks when I attend a full event dedicated to the game), but I'll share a bit about it before that. Myself, Tom of NintendoLife and Graham of Sega Nerds passed a controller back and forth between us for forty minutes or so with the game's producer. I didn't try out the controls sans Motion Plus, but I did get several shots at it with the peripheral. Let me tell you: from early impressions, Motion Plus changes everything. It's a learning experience akin to getting your hands on the remote for the first time all over again. Gone are the days of Wii Sports tennis where you can sit on your arse lazily flicking the remote with one hand with the other in a bag of crisps (though you can still do that by deactivating M+ if you so wish). To get decent results you actually have to make some effort to play it as though you're really playing tennis, following through with full swings rather than tiny sharp motions. I'll go into things in more detail when I write up my preview, but for now know that it's looking quite lovely.

Unluckily for me, I'm not a tennis player, so I generally did terribly until the very last match, when I went some way to redeem myself before tumbling off back to Manchester. I'm in training for the Virtua Tennis event proper, now, with less than two weeks to go before I'm thrust into a tournament situation. Maybe I'll bring C3 home a nice big trophy. Don't get your hopes up.

Wish me luck.

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To be this good takes AGES...

Now Playing: SEGA Superstars Tennis, Call Of Duty 4, Beautiful Katamari, No More Heroes
Now Listening to: The Sunshine Underground, The Indelicates
Now Watching: Lost, jPod
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If you know me at all, you’ll know what a big fan of SEGA I am. Heck, if you’ve ever seen me posting at all in the vicinity of a SEGA topic on the forums I’d hope you’d be able to catch at least a faint whiff of my love of the House Of Sonic. I grew up with the company, shunning Nintendo until my beloved Saturn was wiped out by the competition. Several of my favourite games are SEGA games. I adore Sonic to a level that Mario can never fully reach (though not in those creepy ways of adoration that lurk in the darkest recesses of the Internet… ). In the years after the Dreamcast it is indisputable that the company fell from grace, the quality of their titles lessened and poor old Sonic himself got run through the mud a lot, to the point where they are no longer my favourite games company - Nintendo now holds this title. If there’s one group of developers that can hold a candle to them, however, even after everything, it’s SEGA. Well, Capcom as well, but that’s not what’s up for discussion here.

Let’s talk about SEGA’s Wii output.

Actually, to be frank and more specific, let’s talk about my disappointment in SEGA’s Wii output.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve appreciated the majority of games that SEGA have released on Wii to date. Sonic and the Secret Rings is hands down the best Sonic game since Sonic 3 & Knuckles for my money. SEGA Superstars Tennis is a fabulous celebration of…not quite all things SEGA, because it misses out some vital franchises, but it’s a fabulous celebration all the same. My beef, as it were, stems from the lack of new and original titles. The original titles that SEGA used to be famous for. We’re talking about the company who, faced with the prospect of third parties deserting them for the Playstation format, still soldiered on and tipped out new project after new project to keep Dreamcast chugging along. The company that launched half a dozen series or more off the back of most of its major consoles.

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Where’s it all gone? Nowadays we have a couple of new outings per generation if we‘re lucky, but generally they seem content to extend their existing series. Look at the SEGA games on Wii: save for the two examples above (which are in themselves either new additions to a franchise or nostalgia-fests; quality games nonetheless, but the point stands), Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and a couple of less successful new entries into series (Alien Syndrome and NiGHTS 2) the releases are generally ports of the glory days. Ghost Squad, House Of The Dead 2 & 3 Return, SEGA Bass Fishing, Samba De Amigo, the rumoured Space Channel 5 port/follow-up…I hold nothing against any of these games in their own rights as they all come from excellent base sources and are worthy of being seen by more people, but where are the unique titles that SEGA were once famous for?

Out of all games developers there are a few that instantly pop to mind when you think of their ability to take advantage of a system such as Wii. SEGA is near the top of the list, and yet I am yet to see any evidence that they can live up to this expectation on the front of spanking new creative games tailored especially for Wii. For sure, they ‘get’ Wii more than 95% of developers out there, which is obvious by their pitch perfect picking of titles that would benefit most from motion and pointer controls, but it would be nice to see them use their knowledge and understanding to come out with some outstanding original projects for the little white box, just as they used to for their own systems.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want a new Burning Rangers or Space Channel 5 on Wii though. I’d never argue that. I just don’t want SEGA to rest on their laurels. I’d like them to create some new franchises that truly take advantage of Wii.

And I don’t want another Billy Hatcher, that‘s for sure.

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Meeting Goichi Suda

Now Playing: Zack & Wiki, NiGHTS, Ghost Squad, Geometry Wars: Galaxies (Wii) and bundles of 360 games.
Now Listening to: Hello Saferide, The Stranglers and The Sunshine Underground.
Now Watching: The Smoking Room, and awaiting the returns of Lost and House...

With staff blogs now appearing on C3 (they should be more noticeable soon, we hope), I thought it was high time I threw my blogging hat on and gave you a bit of an insight into what I’ve been doing recently as well. As reviews editor I’ve been chasing around after PR contacts as usual and shoving far too many games down my throat on multiple formats, while also trying to fill in a few gaps in our reviews database: expect opinions on Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Konami’s Dewy’s Adventure and Ghost Squad soon. Also, a hands-on preview of Oxygen’s 8Ball Allstar on DS.

The most exciting thing that’s happened to me recently on the C3 front, though, is getting the chance to meet one of the most famous men in modern game design: Goichi Suda of Grasshopper Manufacture. Suda-san was in London as part of a European media tour to promote his much-anticipated Wii title No More Heroes, and after we received an invitation I happily accepted the opportunity to go over and quiz him at Nintendo’s demo facility.

Our session was scheduled between those of IGN’s and Gamespot’s, so understandably it was a little nerve-wracking, and sadly things did not go entirely to plan – though not because of nerves. Our time was limited, and so a playtest and interview had to be conducted simultaneously, which isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world I think you might agree! As such, I can deliver you some information from our audio interview, but we’re currently in the process of having it re-done so that you get a complete and cohesive Q&A. The information below won’t necessarily be in the final interview you see when it eventually appears on site, so consider these ‘blog exclusive’…

- Inspirations behind the character of Travis Touchdown include Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) of Fight Club, Johnny Knoxville, Ultimate Fighting Championship former-champion and self-proclaimed otaku Josh Barnett and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, David Bowie. Suda-san wanted to create a character that would do the most ridiculous of things in all seriousness, just Knoxville (in this case, going out and becoming the best killer in the world just to get the assassin organiser Sylvia into bed…Smilie, and Tyler Durden and Josh Barnett slotted in with the fighting and otaku sides. As for the Bowie connection – it’s all in Travis’ face. Look at him again and you might see some elements…

- The title, No More Heroes, is indeed derived from The Stranglers’ album and song of the same name, which doesn’t surprise us given Suda-san’s love of British music. Indeed, he got a little excited when I mentioned that I was from Manchester, home of his beloved Smiths.

- The blood censorship for Europe and Japan was not a decision forced upon him – it was a joint decision between himself and Marvelous, the game’s publishers in Japan and the parent company of European publisher Rising Star Games. It was decided that the addition of the black…stuff fitted more into the feel of No More Heroes as an action title that is proud to be a game and shows it at every turn. Blood was added to the American release as it was thought the gore would appeal to them, whereas Japanese and European markets would enjoy the ‘censored’ version more. Suda-san apparently prefers the ‘censored’ version and I would have to agree; from what I’ve seen of the American release, the OTT blood spray seems a tad patronising. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Manhunt 2 controversy had some effect on how No More Heroes has turned out, but Suda-san seemed genuinely pleased with how it finished up.

- There’s been talk of a No More Heroes sequel recently, but when I asked about it Suda-san said that there were currently no plans to use Travis Touchdown in further games. So if there are sequels, Travis may not be involved…

- Online content was never considered for No More Heroes. While there is interest in doing an online game at some point, it probably wouldn’t be an MMO for fear of losing focus…or not meeting deadlines!

- Flower, Sun and Rain and The Silver Case are still due to come out on DS in Japan in spring, but we’re none-the-wiser about whether they’ll be translated. Suda-san said that he couldn’t really talk about other games at that time, but perhaps this will be rectified in the full interview later.

- He was banned from talking about Project S until Hideo Kojima and Konami were ready…so it looks like it could be more than a radio play afterall...

- Any remake of killer7 for Wii is all in Capcom’s hands. Suda-san did not seem opposed to the idea, but it’s all up to Capcom, not him.

As I say, the interview wasn’t as complete as we wanted due to the set-up, but these are a few of the interesting snippets from what did happen. We’re currently working on getting a finalised interview translated, and will have it with you as soon as we possibly can. Until then, if you’re so inclined then you can read my hands-on of the impressive No More Heroes here" rel="external" class='fmlink'>]here[/url] if you haven’t already.

Oh, and I got some of that promotional toilet paper as well…thanks, guys!

Buy My Stuff!

Now Playing: New Super Mario Bros.
Now Listening to: Heart Attack - Darren Hayes
Now Watching: Futurama! Oh, and Emmerdale.

Hey all, time for another blog...

First up, in reference to the title, I've decided I need to sell some things on eBay. Unfortunately, they've been listed earlier today, meaning I missed out on the 5p listing day on Thursday that apparently got announced mere hours after we listed stuff...grr! Anyway, if anybody wants any of the following, feel free to bid/buy:

Perfect Dark 'soundtrack' CD from Stars Catalogue

Gamecube games (all PAL, European GCs only):

Peter Jackson's King Kong

Billy Hatcher And The Giant Egg

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (SOLD)

Def Jam Fight For NY


All of them are in good condition with manuals and boxes, and I think the prices are fairly reasonable/in line with similar items on eBay (well, a bit less!).

(I'm updating it when things have been sold with bold brackets next to the items.)


My advertising spree finished, I'll sum up life a bit again. I went home for a few days this past weekend and just generally chilled out, caught up with a few people. I got Donkey Konga 2 from the Stars Catalogue which is quite fun - if you enjoy Are You Ready For Love? by Elton John, you'll enjoy it even more with plastic bongos! I'm generally being a bit of a consumer whore as well, as I gave in to Play-Asia and ordered Legend Of Starfy 4 on DS from them. Should be an import review of that coming soon, when they get round to sending me the game...

My dad, who is on the up after his operation, got a letter from the hospital though, saying he might have something up with his kidneys now. Brilliant. He's got to go in on Friday. I've got to go in hospital for a bit in August as well, should just be half an hour or so, as a follow up to an operation I had last year. I hate hospitals; but then again, who doesn't?

Hmm...I actually thought I had more interesting to say than I do. Vikki is seemingly becoming an insomniac again, so I'm trying to get her to sleep since I'm such a nice guy and all. Hope it doesn't last a while like it did last time. Good wishes to all of you!


Now Playing: New Super Mario Bros, Brain Training, Tetris DS, Big Brain Academy
Now Listening to: Hermes' Bureaucrat Song from Futurama
Now Watching: World Cup and Emmerdale.

Hey everybody, just thought I'd do a quick update on what's going on with me right now.

I'll start with the bad. I mentioned in my last blog that my cat Jasmine wasn't doing too well. A day or two after posting that blog, she died. We believe it was down to a tumour in the end, so probably not too much we could've done. R.I.P., Jasmine.

On to more positive stuff. My dad went and had an angeoplasty operation for his angina just over a week ago. Once they started it turned out to be more serious than they thought, requiring three arteries/veins/whatever to be widened/cleared with the balloon things. However, to be the best of my knowledge (I've not spoken to him in a few days, and not seen him since the operation since I'm still in Lancaster) he is doing much better, and was sounding a lot chirpier just a day after the procedure. I presume he still has to take some medication as well, but he's on the up. I'll see him in a couple of days, so hopefully I'll see him close to his old self again.

I've been looking for a job and have been unsuccessful, but rather than sitting about doing nothing I've started doing charity work in Barnados (quick question - is it Barnados or Barnado's? I always presumed it to be the former, but I read it as the latter somewhere yesterday). I went into the shop for a few hours yesterday and was doing stocktaking, steaming clothes, putting them out on racks, general things like that. I'm doing it a couple of days a week for a few hours at the moment, though I might do more, and as well as getting a good feeling about it and, with any luck, a bit of good karma, it'll look good on my CV.

In other news, I succumbed and bought a DS Lite. Well, traded in my old one for it. I got New Super Mario Bros. as well, very good, but seems too easy and short. Though there are some extremely frustrating coins to collect...

I'm feeling quite busy with C3 at the moment too. I've been doing some fairly big posts, and have been doing more writing for the site than I have in a bit. I'll have another review up either tonight or tomorrow morning, so look out for that, and then more previews to follow, and the reappearance of The Indie Scene can't be too far off now...

Hope you're all well!

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