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Episode CLIV: Wii U! Wii U! Here Come The Boom-Boom-Boom!

It’s a full-on Wii U coverage episode of B3, and the King invites a few friends in on the festivities!

This week King Baby Duck talks about the major screw-up he made about a program he did with Blueonic, but all turns to smiles when Issues Guy and JC Sergeant get pumped about the latest news about Nintendo’s newest system. Hear their thoughts on the launch titles, the hardware, and what they’d like to see happening on the Wii U.

The fun and insanity is right here and now on Episode 154: Wii U! Wii U! Here Come The Boom-Boom-Boom!

Play Super Mario at an Art Gallery

Video games as art has been a debate for quite a while now.  While the arguments for each side could be never-ending, the arguments of those who consider games as art has recently gotten a little stronger.  Currently in the National Gallery of Art is an exhibit dedicated to the art of video games.  At first thought, you might assume the exhibit is nothing but a grouping of framed concept art for a few games, but what you’ll find upon entering is a well thought out exhibit filled with every aspect of how a game could be considered as art.

As you enter the Art of Video Games exhibit, the first thing you’re greeted by is a giant screen playing a looping video of game footage.  The games shown range from the original Pac Man, all the way up to Mass Effect 2.  There was another video playing on a nearby screen with several game designers talking about their take on how games can be considered art.  I really appreciated that part of it, because the designers themselves get to have a very different perspective than a consumer, so hearing their opinion was a great experience.

In the first room, there were a number of installations that were particularly well done.  One of my favorites of the entire exhibit was a group of three screens that were cycling through video footage of real people playing games.  There is such a misrepresentation of how it looks when people play games from both advertisements and acting for movies and TV shows.  Actors flail around mashing buttons like every game is nothing but a quick-time event from God of War, which is not even close to the real thing.  Being able to see the subtle, yet profound, reactions that these people had as they played was a great piece for showing how immersed one can get while playing a video game.

In that same room, they also had a giant frame containing five screens with the words “Advances in Mechanics” at the top.  Each sequence would start with a game mechanic such as running, jumping or even cutscenes would come up on the screens.  Each monitor would then display how that mechanic looked during each of the eras of video game design.  Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate just how far even small things like these have come until you can see the progression side-by-side.  It was a lot of fun to be able to reminisce about how good or bad those mechanics used to be in their day.

Hanging all around the room as well, were concept sketches and drawings from games like Epic Mickey, Fallout 3, Starcraft II and Sonic the Hedgehog.  While these were the one part of the exhibit I was certainly expecting, they were still thrilling to get to see in person.  For a game enthusiast, having an original drawing of Kerrigan from Starcraft II or a concept sketch of a cutscene from Metal Gear Solid 2 sitting inches from your face is like getting to see an important historical document.

The next area focused much more on the history of video games.  They had a kiosk for several of the home consoles across time from the 70s all the way to the present.  Each space had the console, some screens with video from a few games on that system, and descriptions written for everything.  Similar to the mechanics display, it was great fun to see how games grew and changed as time went by all the way up to what we have today.

Now, what video game exhibit would be complete without a section to actually play the games you’ve been seeing?  In the final area, they had giant screens available to play some particular games.  The titles available to try were Pac Man, Super Mario Bros, Flower, The Secret of Monkey Island and Myst.  It was a great selection of games to get a grasp of how they can be fun, beautiful, immersive and hilarious.  It was very interesting to see how differently each person at the booth approached each of the games.  Some people would blast through to the end of the level in Flower and some people liked to explore.  One person might talk to everyone in the bar at the beginning of The Secret of Monkey Island and another might go straight for an objective.  Like enjoying a painting, there is almost always an original intention behind the piece placed there by the painter, but no two people are going to experience it in the same way.  The same is true for any game.  While I might search every corner for collectibles, someone else might blast from one end of the story to the other.

The biggest argument that needs to be settled before a firm conclusion can be drawn on the video games as art debate is how you define art.  Whatever your stance might be on the subject, the Art of Video Games exhibit at the National Gallery of Art does a fantastic job of defining the history, beauty and effect that video games have on people and if you are in the Washington D.C. area before September 30th of this year, you would do yourself a disservice to miss out on this spectacular exhibit.

No Contrast Slider Required

While eagerly awaiting Star Fox 64 3D on my 3DS, having thoroughly beaten Ocarina of Time 3D, I’ve gotten the chance to dig a bit more into the virtual console on the system.  Believe it or not, the very first gaming console, portable or otherwise, that I ever owned was Nintendo’s own Game Boy.  The classics are slipping in and the opportunity to play these beloved portable games is one I would advise you not to miss.

The first game I nabbed, the very second I could, is one of the best to grace the system.  In fact, it was so good that it was released on it again when the system gained the ability to play in color.  If you haven’t guessed already, I’m referring to The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.  Easily the quirkiest game in the franchise, it makes a habit of breaking the fourth wall.  There are constant references to the Super Mario franchise, including sequences where it switches to a side view and gives you the opportunity to jump on goombas.

Wackiness aside, this is a full-fledged Zelda game in every aspect.  It follows the same formula made famous by the first game and perfected by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  As a direct sequel to the aforementioned third game in the series, you play as Link as he tries to escape from the mysterious Koholint Island after becoming strander there by a storm.  If you love Zelda games, then you will love this game and it will be worth every penny.

 

Next on my list is probably a little more predictable.  The original Super Mario Land is a great example of why the Game Boy was so great.  Remember the days when a game made absolutely no sense if you didn’t read the manual?  Not that Mario games are known for their deep narratives, but you’re definitely not in the Mushroom Kingdom anymore in this one.

It still has all the things you’d want in a Mario title: super mushrooms, super flowers and starman are there still to help you along your journey.  The game introduced us to Princess Daisy, who after being rescued decided that playing sports, board games and kart racing is more her speed.  Mario seems smaller than normal when looking at him and the controls feel a whole lot more loose, but play it for a few minutes and the adjustment is an easy one.  You also get to play a couple of levels inside of submarine and an airplane.  Still Mario to its core, this game is a ton of fun and there is a very good reason that it sold over 18 million copies for the Game Boy.

 

One thing that was missing from a lot of games for the Game Boy was the ability to adequately save.  The 3DS solves this issue with the ability to create a restore point.  Essentially, any game that has the ability to save, such as Link’s Awakening, may still do so, but you can also create a save state that freezes the action of the game and allows you to pick it back up at that moment.  You can only have one of these at a time, but it is nice to have that option.

 

There are several other fantastic games that have launched on the virtual console, Kirby’s Dreamland and Mario’s Picross to name a few, and there are even more coming soon.  It’ll all be over for me as soon as they launch Tetris.  Is is just me, or does the sound effect when the blocks reach the top, on the Game Boy version, sound like a demented sheep?  You know it does.

E3 2011: Tanooki Suits and Arwings

After the craziness of what was the announcement of Nintendo’s new WiiU console, there was only one place I could head after the press event.  As I would have had to use a chainsaw to get anywhere near the WiiU, I decided to head in a familiar-looking loft area where the newest 3DS titles were being showcased.  With limited time, I was only able to get to two and if you are at all interested in high-quality 3D portable software then I suggest you read on.

At last year’s event, Nintendo announced that they would be bringing two of my personal favorite games from the Nintendo 64 to the 3DS.  One of these games was Star Fox 64.  This year, they revealed yet another thing about Star Fox 64 3D.  There will be multiplayer and I can tell you that it is amazingly fun.

Much like the multiplayer in the original game, it puts you in an arena style match against three other foes.  The stage is littered with upgrades to your lasers, bombs, healing rings and repair modules for your wings.  All of the all range mode controls still work exactly as you remember them and feel great to execute with the analog stick.

With all of these old features returning, there must be something new to spice it up, right?  Absolutely, because over every player’s arwing is a nice picture of their face as they play.  While it’s not a 30 frames per second video of your face, you can still get a good idea of what reaction people are having to what’s going on in the match.  I love this feature because it makes the matches a whole lot more personal.  It’s also a ton of fun to see your face pop up as the winner at the end of a round.  In addition to the face, there is a handy health bar located just below your enemies so that you can tell when they are about to go down.

It seems as though Nintendo has been bouncing back and forth between two styles Super Mario game styles for the past several years.  There are the games like New Super Mario Bros and the ones resembling Super Mario Galaxy.  While both of these styles are fantastic, it’s been a bit dizzying going back and forth.  With the tentatively titled Super Mario for the 3DS, they have definitely found the perfect medium between the two.

The game controls much like the Mario Galaxy style where Mario is free move about in all 3 dimensions, but the structure of the game is still very reminiscent of New Super Mario Bros.  You have a limited time to get from one end of the level to the other, there are a set number of special coins to collect and at the end you jump onto a flag pole.  The 3D is also spectacularly done as it was not overdone, but it still added something.

Fans, like myself, of the Koopa Kids will be glad to hear that they, along with their airships, are making a return.  Another long-awaited return from this game is the Tanooki Suit.  It is back in full force and it looks as though it won’t be nearly as hard to acquire as it was in Super Mario Bros 3.  With the suit, you have the ability to whack things with your tail and flutter glide from jumps.  There were also some amusing new touches including several decoy goombas in the levels and panels that fold out and then back, giving you a limited amount of time to traverse them.

All in all, both of these games look like they will only get better and better as their development continues.  I personally can’t wait to play the full versions of each of these when they release.  Keep your eyes peeled for more from us here at E3 2011!

All’s Fun In Love(Sac) & War At 2010 Speedrun Classic

Held at the Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA (next to the beautiful Gillette Stadium) the 2010 LoveSac Speedrun Classic was a night filled with gaming, music, tasty food ‘n’ drinks and all-out relaxation. King Baby Duck & Blueonic were invited to take in the festivities, and were able to experience the fun and excitement that filled the air at the small, private gathering.

King Baby Duck: This year’s finals had twelve combatants battling it out against one another in four classic NES games: Battletoads, Mega Man 2, Super Mario Bros. and Contra. Here, instead of the usual point system, players had to beat a specific part of the video game as quickly as possible, leaving room for the competitors to either mess up with their timing, or quickly find some shortcuts that will help them finish each level. Once the final three players are chosen for the championship they must play the first two levels of Super Mario Bros. 3, kind of like in that movie The Wizard.

Before the Finals commenced the players had a chance to fiddle with the four main games, and as they tried figuring out the right paths to take it became apparent which competitors were there for a good time, and which ones were there to be victorious. The sounds of laughter came from those that were there for fun; the sounds of silence — accompanied by the stares of determination — belonged to those who wanted to win. However it would be a mixture of both fun and perseverance that would bring triumph within the confines of Showcase Live. Prizes would go to the top three gamers, but only one would get the Powerglove trophy.

Gamers played the five classic titles on the sponsor’s NES-styled furniture. We spoke with LoveSac’s Boston Market Manager Chris Stringham, who showed us how the furniture can be organized. What’s great about their couch system is that you can buy each “Sactional” separately as time goes by, and then in the “Adult Lego” process put together the Lovesac pieces in various ways to your liking. Not only were the cushions comfortable, but they were machine-washable; just zip off the covering and throw it into the washer, perfect for pet-owners and messy eaters. On display as well were LoveSac’s Pwnage PillowSac Ultimate Gamer beanbag-styled chairs, whose comfort level even rivaled the Sumo Lounge bean bag chairs used all over this past year’s PAX East. (Though the online price tag of $495 may seem steep the fact that it can be used as a cozy sleeper — thanks to its 54″ X 75″ size — makes it a good price in the end.) In short: if you’re a gamer looking to give your pad a comfy old-school look, then LoveSac might just be the furniture you’ve been looking for.

Blueonic: Getting invited to this competition was a great chance to hang with awesome people, play some video games, and sit in some damn comfortable seats. It was an awesome time that the company LoveSac had put together for this competition, where people come together play some classic games, have some drinks at the bar, and eat delicious food that was provided by Patriot Place. Showcase Live was the perfect size, seeing as they have some pretty amazing concerts held at this area. Speaking of which we won four tickets to go and see the Bronson Arroyo Band. We were wicked happy about that, and as soon as we found about getting the tickets we called up Anvil, him being such a sports fan. Once he heard we won those tickets he was going “Wahoo!!!” on the other side of the phone. If he could accomplish a back flip he would’ve done it right then and there.

Photos by King Baby Duck & Blueonic

It was awesome to meet all the finalist that came in, gamers that just tried out at the local stores/colleges, along with the people who just game on a daily-to-weekly basis. The age group was great, ranging from young kids to college students. I have to give it to LoveSac for their brilliance of creating this event, and having people come together play some great classic video games; not to mention enjoy their awesome LoveSac Sactional furniture. Everyone who came to hang out had a great time. No one lost, as everyone was a winner in some shape or form. From the giveaways they were doing — ranging from gift cards for the LoveSac website to the awesome concert tickets — to just chilling out and chatting with the other gamers, it was just an awesome time all-together. Thanks again LoveSac for a great competition, and I look forward to the store opening: Burlington Mall, Massachusetts October 29th. You’ve got to love the grand openings, what with the sweet deals they always give.

Congratulations to the winner of the 2010 LoveSac Speedrun Classic Power Glove Trophy: Bryan Turcotte!

Shawny D. (Left), Bryan Turcotte (Right) The winner of LoveSac Speedrun Classic

Click Here to go to LoveSac official website.

About LoveSac’s 69 Sactional Positions:

These are the levels the gamers had to face:

The Final Three had to play this for the Championship:

Episode LXIX: Bringing The Pain!

The Bastards know how to take the pain, too.

This week the B3 crew discuss their thoughts on this year’s Lovesac Speedrun Classic, as well as the new album from Serj Tankian. Anvil gives his weekly sports report, and the guys review the film Circle of Pain and the anime Desert Punk.

The video version:

Episode XLIX: When Life Throws You A Jeffrey, Go For The Furry Wall

Okay, I have no comment for the picture above.

This week the Bastards discuss the week in sports, Get Him To The Greek, Super Mario Galaxy 2, UFC Undisputed 2010 and Planet MiniGolf.

(Apologies for the audio quality in advance. First time recording with the Mac, and some distortion happened. Our bad.)