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Wow, look at the time.  Its been a while.  Hello.   So – videogames hey?

Yes I have been notably absent for the last little while.  But not without good reason I assure you.  In fact both Stubbsy and I have been nursing afflictions that make us only slightly better off than some of the Tekken dudes and dudettes can expect to after a few bouts with them Capcom folk in Capcom X Tekken. In fact I think I can speak for us both when I say we are both nursing injuries that I’d love to see x-ray style in the new Mortal Kombat. Or maybe Stubbsy would prefer to see it Blitz 2: the League style. Either way, we wanna see the human body break.

In my case it’s a broken elbow and not just a plain old budget priced break, but a AAA broken elbow that required surgery to fix.  Now one screw later, I am in the midst of the healing process which I am told will last up to six weeks (with the fine print reading something along the lines of the possibility of ever being able to extend it fully again).  The good thing is, three weeks in I am out of plaster which means the nervous twitches and other withdrawal symptoms from not being able to engage in my favourite entertainment past time are gone.  The even better news is that with this brace I’m sporting proudly on my left arm makes me bear an uncanny resemblance to the original 1980’s era Rad Spencer.  Without the cool sunglasses of course – it is Winter here after all.

Lets face it, breaking bones when you’re an adult is kind of lame.  The first indication of that is the mere fact that I probably couldn’t have filled a fingers worth of my plaster with signatures.  No funny messages, signatures, get well soons or drawings of sparsely hairy penises on my plaster, no sir.  The other sign is that walking around the mean streets of Melbourne I seem to be the only grown man, and i use the term ‘man’ loosely, walking around with a visible bone injury.  Which, don’t get me wrong is cool insofar as I stand out from the standard weary-faced Melbourne hipster trying to start the latest anti-Madmen trend.  But it kinda makes me think my badge of honour has more in common with forgetting to put pants on in the morning than something that would have men and women alike swarming around me asking to hear tales of my plight.  Or at least get a few ‘poor thing‘s thrown my way.  You know, like in the ending of Shadow of the Colossus where all you can think is ‘thank god he’s okay!’.

Then again maybe Argo was just cooler than me.  He’s definitely more attractive.

Shadow of the Colossus - Wander and his horse Argo

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The first Super Mario Land for Nintendo’s handheld was good – great even, but in an ‘its a portable game’ way. I say that because, as good as the game was, it didn’t feel like a proper Mario game.  It didn’t feel like it could almost belong in the living room displayed on an old wood-paneled television set (in 1993 no less).  That’s not to say I didn’t love the game, I mean being one of the first three games I owned for what was then easily my most played gaming platform, it holds a special place in my heart.  But it was a tad on the easy side, and simply just didn’t feel complete.

But Super Mario Land 2 – man, that’s a different story.  It felt right.  Not that it fixed everything, for one it was still a walk in the park when compared to the NES games and Super Mario World, but for once it felt like it didn’t matter what all the other kids were playing on their home consoles, I had something just as good in the palm of my hand.  It had everything I wanted.  World Map, Check.  Mario power ups, Check.  I mean goddamn it, Mario was ACTUALLY recognisable as Mario in this game rather than 10 pixels jammed together to form some sort of a mustached silhouette as was the case in the first Game boy outing.   Each world was like venturing forward to something completely unique, there was a sense of discovery in each level; and finding that there were actually secret worlds was really just the icing on the cake.  This was what portable gaming was becoming.  It was almost as if they had read my 11 year old mind and delivered to me exactly what I wanted.  Except for one thing.  It still didn’t feel like a Mario game. But thats not necessarily a bad thing.

How humble were the days where we dreamed of a world map in the palm of our hands.

Developed by Nintendo R&D1, who have some serious street cred when it comes to development of  portable video games, Super Mario Land 2 really was the beginning of what was to come in so far as the portable platform being taken seriously in gaming circles.  And although it definitely is a great game that happens to have Mario in it, looking back now Super Mario Land 2 feels more like a test bed that would pave the way toward the look and feel of future games coming from that studio.   Although the game itself was directed by Hiroji Kiyotake, who is also credited for the design of Mario’s other nemesis, Wario, who first appears in Super Mario Land 2,  R&D1 were responsible for the creation such portable greats as Radar Mission, the excellent Warioland series, both GBA entries in the Metroid series and most noteworthy, the sublime Warioware Inc  in 2003.

In short, this is one studio that knew how to develop for the Game boy.

And Super Mario Land 2 was certainly a milestone in the history of portable gaming.  At the time Super Mario Land 2 was notable for a couple of reasons, but the most important was that Super Mario Land 2 was a BIG game.  A whopping great 4MBs of data were contained in that unassuming grey cartridge, much larger than the 512kb cartridge that the first SML came on.  And although it doesn’t seem like much now, but back in 1993 when it was released in Europe and Australia, 4MB meant a world of difference back then.  Everything from the soundtrack, composed by none other than Kazumi Totaka (aka K K Slider), to the highly detailed (if a little large) sprites felt absolutely epic for a portable game.  Each world, and each enemy contained within oozed detail and personality.  Even the Goombas looked like Goombas this time around rather than something more akin to less detailed blobs found in any Castlevania game.  In fact, one could argue that they were more detailed and animated than the ones in Super Mario Bros 3 on the NES.  But even more impressive was the thought that was put into level design, no better example of which is the final level in which you make your way through the corridors of Wario’s Castle to the final confrontation of Mario’s newly canonised rival, Wario. To this day, this particular level still remains one of my favourite of all time.  The combination of an incredible sequence of twitch-enducing traps and obstacles that require incredible dexterity, timing and a little bit of sheer skill, and what ultimately is a worthy end-boss encounter with Wario in the throne room and what ended up being, to date at least, the last appearance of the Carrot Rabbit power up in a Mario game.

Its the way it should be, a good platformer should lead up to something in the end, a climax, that is the sum of the rest of the game’s parts.  Luckily, the rest of the game is mighty fine in an of itself.  From the outset, Super Mario Land 2 takes you through world after world of memorable locales, enemies and bossfights.   The weirdness of climbing up through a giant replica statue of Mario in what is easily the weakest part of the game in the Mario Zone is still memorable, and the Turtle Zone which takes you from the surface down through a submarine and ultimately through the inside of a whale is actually a water-centric world that doesn’t suck.  Super Mario Land 2 simply is a game that, although over quickly, is every bit as memorable as Super Mario World.

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Two words, KOJI IGARASHI.

This is a man so committed to his craft that he carries a whip with him, Belmont-style.  Possibly in order to be ready for the next coming of Dracula.  And he’d know when the dark lord will next arrive,  after all, this man is so well versed in the lore of Castlevania that, in one fell swoop, he wiped Circle of the Moon, Castlevania Legends, Castlevania 64 and Castlevania: Legacy of darkness out of the official timeline.
And he certainly has the cred to give some creative license to the Castlevania series.  If you consider that he almost single handedly has kept the series alive, directing all entries in the series since Symphony of the Night, apart from the first GBA title, Circle of the Moon, Koji Igarashi should be able to practically write himself INTO the Castlevania timeline without too much backlash from fans of the series.

Oh, and did I mention he carries a whip.  For real.  I don’t see Tetsuya Nomura carrying around a giant key….

<image courtesy of wired.com>

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…only to hear this conversation:

Employee: “So, you have MAG yet dude?”

Customer: “Yeah dude it rocks, suck it Microsoft fans”

Employee: “What faction you choose?”

Customer: “Whichever one has the least number of Halo dicks”

No wonder people hate video game fans. I have never walked into a video store and heard someone say:

Man I’m not going to see Avatar there are gonna be way too many Terminator dicks in there

Grow up.

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HAVE YOUR SAY

I’m going to try something new here.  Instead of ranting about a topic for probably twice as long as I should, I will briefly spin a yarn about an issue about gaming that I’ve been thinking about and leave it up to you, the audience to comment.

JRPGs can be a divisive bunch.  A game can split the fan base almost seemingly in half – those people that will staunchly defend it, and those that go almost out of their way to ‘go to town’ on why it’s the worse video game of all time .  Anything from character design, to incoherent story, unbalanced battle system or even an issue as small as average localisation is a target for these ultra vocal fan boys and girls that feel the need to have their, sometimes justified, views heard.

Me, I tend to be a quiet hater.  I’m as guilty of being critical of any game I play, but the difference is I know what I like, and what I don’t – and because of this personal preference I don’t assume that the developer has made the game for me and my own tastes.

So now that we’ve established that, my question of the day relates to YOUR preference for turn based or pseudo-turn based RPG battle systems.   I guess this is particularly relevant given the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII has you controlling only one party member.

Do you prefer full party control or only control over the main hero with the ability to set tactics for team members?

I guess I could’ve pitched the question this way, “did your party in Persona 3 do stupid retarded things all the time?” Personally, I think that there is something comforting about the ability to blame the AI for losing a battle. That may be why I liked Last Remnant….

Please tell us what you think.  I know that you’re a talkative bunch, so don’t sit there all shy-like just because your parents are in the room.  If this doesn’t work, you can expect me to go back to my old ranting, raving and rambling ways.  Consider that an impetus to get involved.

OG

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It’s no secret that both of us are in pure admiration of the Secret of Monkey Island.  And it seems that the remake does it justice (besides Old Gaulian’s apprehensiveness on the new art style…) 

But for all those new fans that we welcome to the fold of  Monkey Island admirers who are (in great numbers) being directed to our site searching for a way to get past the Piranha Poodles at the Governor’s mansion: this ones for you.  As almost 20 year veterans of the wonder that is the Secret of Monkey Island, we owe it to you.  So here’s the solution…

You’ll need these two items.  The piece of meat found in the kitchen of the Scumm Bar and the Yellow Flower found in the woods of Melee Island.  Combine the two items and throw them to the Piranha Poodles.  Voila!  Not Dead Just Sleeping.

Piranha Poodles: serving your Monkey Island needs since 2008.

Piranha Poodles: serving your Monkey Island needs since 2008.

So there you go folks, a community service from us here at piranhapoodles.wordpress.com.  Now for a shameless plug: visit again more more irreverant videogame banter and some of the funkdoobiest videogame discussions you’re likely to see this side of Monkey Island.

Enjoy the beginning of a 20 year legacy!

OG & ST

Got any thoughts on the special edition of the Lucasarts classic?  Want to know what the rubber chicken is for?  Have a particular dislike for Grog?  Tell us here, we’d like to hear from you on all things Monkey Island!

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In a move that may result in Lara Croft wearing (even) less clothing and Hitman sporting a spikey haired Shibuya look, Square-Enix has made a major move on buying the controlling stake on Eidos (which Gamesindustry.biz reports was approved and Square Enix took control of Eidos on 22 April 2009).

I think we’re safe in saying at this point that Eidos had been struggling for a number of years now, with a number of their historically strong intellectual properties waning in popularity (and/or quality) and an inability to establish any strong new IPs to take the publisher forward.  In short, an acquisition of Eidos wasn’t a surprise.  But the eventual acquirer however, was a surprise.

Square-Enix, themselves a product of a merger of Japanese publishers Square Co. and Enix Corporation in 2003 are not strangers to buying up developers and publishers in order to expand their business, owning developer and publisher, Taito, and owning a considerable number of Tecmo shares (and an unsuccessful buy-out attempt in 2008). 

But what are there interests in Eidos, a very Western publisher based in London?

What impact this will have on Eidos as a publisher is yet to be known.  But we wouldn’t be the Piranha Poodles without arguing about what MAY happen in the coming 12 months.

So in true PP fashion, here are our takes on the buyout.

 

Senor Tubbs:  

Undoubtedly the best part of Eidos from the perspective of a buyer is their characters and franchises. The first question I have in all this is what Eidos properties will Squenix be looking to exploit?  The obvious ones are the Tomb Raider and Hitman franchises, but might there be room to bring some people together to make a Deus Ex III?  And beyond this, will Squenix look to bring some of those icons into their existing titles, in particular the Kingdom Hearts series which already blends together Disney and Final Fantasy characters.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it is beneficial for everyone involved for Lara Croft to find her way into Kingdom Hearts III, it hits the Indiana Jones/Kim Possible action hero element that Disney has seemingly always wanted but struggled to perfect, and would just fit very nicely with the series.

  

 

 

What could an angsty teenage boy possibly see in Lara Croft?

What could an angsty teenage boy possibly see in Lara Croft?

 

 

 

Old Gaulian

I’m not sure Square Enix are looking to exploit anything.  As company they have become very well aware, and have even gone as far as to state that they had become behind on multi-format development and were even looking to broaden their typically Japanese-centric business model and release schedule to appeal to the west.  Part of this strategy was the plan to open up a new development house in North America.  I think this is purely a strategic move aimed at getting their fingers further into the proveribal Western pie.  I think what they’ve done is bought themselves a strong Western name associated with Lara Croft and Agent 47, that has the potential to bring many Japanese games to audiences that otherwise wouldn’t have taken any notice.  I think that this type of strategy will come increasingly into play by Japanese publishers as they begin to take stock of the current state of the market, with Sony no longer being the dominating force worldwide. And Stubbsy, the idea that Square-Enix will start incorporating Eidos IP into future Kingdom Hearts games is ridiculous.  Given that Square Enix announced 12 million units of that series sold in half a decade, I’m not sure it needs a shot in the arm.  If it were to start branching out and incorporating its existing IP into that series, it would start with the wildly popular Dragon Quest series.

ST

You reckon they’ll publish Japanese games under the Eidos label to appeal more?  I think that’s ridiculous.  Anyway, it looks like we’ve got a bet, I reckon that Lara will find her way into a Squenix title soon, either Kingdom Hearts III or some other collaboration to bring characters together.

OG

I think they may publish some games under the Eidos banner. Eidos are no stranger to publishing obscure Japanese titles, see exhibit A “Fresh Games.”  I disagree and think that its a publishing advantage and they will keep the two publishing arms very seperate…

So there you have it folks, the bet is on. If you have any comments on the acquisition, or want to side with either OG or ST, tell us in our comments section.  And take this seriously, the loser of this wager has to get a Cho Aniki tatoo on their face…

 

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