April 2003


X2: Wolverine’s Revenge is Filled With Inconsistency and Excessive Button-mashing

Flashback to 1993: I was a 9-year-old boy who had just received a brand new Super Nintendo for my birthday. One of the first games I got for the system was Final Fight, a game requiring lots of button-mashing and little strategy. Basically, you walk in one direction and punch anything that moves. Initially, I was captivated by the random violence and pretty graphics, but even as a 9-year-old, I quickly tired of hitting the attack button over and over again to dispatch enemies who all looked the same.

If a time machine could send that little boy 11 years into the future to play Activision’s X2: Wolverine’s Revenge for the Xbox, Playstation 2 and GameCube, he would still be bored.

(full article)


But this goes to prove that developers don’t need to be phenomenally original with a sequel to make it a good one. They simply have to identify the parts of the original game that made it good and replicate them while eliminating the frustrating parts. With a solid base like the original Super Monkey Ball to build from, the job is simple. Simply adding additional levels and mini-games that share in the same spirit as the first game is enough to make this sequel worthwhile.

(full article) 


How will video game characters react when they are smart enough to realize they are video game characters? Maybe they’ll be programmed to serve happily, boldly risking their lives for our entertainment. Maybe they’ll be angry at the malevolent player-gods that continually throw them into harm’s way. Or maybe—hopefully—they’ll have a sense of humor about their situation, like the characters in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc seem to.

(full article)


Minnesota’s budget this year is deep in red ink — $4.2 billion in the red. Programs need to be cut, money needs to be raised, and the governor and the state legislature are braced for some tough decisions.

Minnesota Public Radio, however, doesn’t think the elected officials should have all the fun. So MPR recently created "Budget Balancer," an interactive exercise that invites ordinary people to help solve the state’s budget problems.

(full article)


The staying power of Nintendo’s Game Boy is nothing short of amazing. In the almost 15 years since its release, many able competitors have tried to wedge their way into the portable gaming market with colorful systems more powerful and more colorful, only to fall hopelessly flat in the face of Nintendo’s slow-to-change juggernaut.

Yet despite the unequal success of the system in all its numerous iterations, one problem has remained: The Game Boy’s screen has remained incredibly hard to see. People have tried to fix this problem with everything from ridiculous looking light attachments to personally installed internal lighting systems. Happily, the days of fumbling with unwieldy lights and messing with modification kits are over.

After 15 long years, Nintendo’s new Game Boy Advance SP (GBASP) has a built-in, front-lit screen.

(full article)


Pre-adolescents that grew up on Mario flocked to Sonic in their adolescence. His rebellious nature appealed to a generation that was just beginning to assert its independence. In Sonic’s wake, platforming games in general started to slowly change. Color palettes became darker. Characters became more smart-alecky. Even Crash Bandicoot, one of the last bastions of platforming wholesomeness, had a sort of wry, devil-may-care attitude about him.

As gamers and games have continued to mature, so have platforming characters. You can’t turn around these days without running into a big-name action/adventure game that features a bloodthirsty vampire, an undead devourer of souls, or some other shallow characterization that just exudes darkness. Some marketing director at Acclaim seems to have caught on to this trend and tried to apply it to Vexx. He obviously didn’t try very hard.

(full article)