Tuesday, March 21, 2006

On the Fly

Damn it, Nintendo. You came frighteningly close to changing the world.
Why? "Why?" I ask you. Why could you not go the extra step? You make the DS. You give it a touch screen and some decent processing power. You wave that special wand of yours, the one that has "The Breaker of Ground" etched down the side, and bless the thing with wireless connectivity.

Visions of people on subways having pick-up games of Mario Basketball during their commutes, of people at coffee-shops wi-fiing it up to race against their friends in Budapest, Lima, and Des Moines, of heply-dressed urban teens walking down clean sidewalks with your machines in their long hands flickered in your eyes. A gaming revolution.

As what I assume must have been a throw-away feature, you toss in Pictochat, the software that sets up local chatroom so kids can IM each other during recess. And here's where you flub it up. You can now compose messages on your handheld device, but the wi-fi doesn't work for it. Users can't IM each other over the internet. I can type up an email, but can't send it to anyone.

I've done a decent amount of composition on PDAs. It's great -- you can get a few lines down wherever you are. My PDA went all fritzy recently and had to be sent to the Heaven of Broken Electronics That An Unmarried Geek Would Keep In a Box Somewhere But A Married Geek Throws Away. And here I am with a handheld electronic device with a primitive word processor on it, and damned if I want to keep what I write. One half as expensive as a PDA, and which runs games with great awesomeness. I'm not even asking that you put a calendar etc. in there (which of course you should). Just unlock the stuff you've already got.

Fie on you, Nintendo.


Saturday, March 11, 2006


Dear videogame creators:

Please create more situations in which players on the same team can physically interact. Of note: in X-men Legends, where, for example, Storm can pick up characters and fly him around. This adds a new element to a game, and not just a co-operative play element. It gives the players opportunity to bug the hell out of each other.

The prime example is the fastball special, a move in which Colossus picks Wolverine up and hurls him towards the enemy. This ability was meant to be used for attack, but is far more entertaining when used for multiplayer annoyance. Bored with saving civilian mutants from Sentinels? Why not chase Wolverine around and throw him against things? The verbal ping-pong game of "get-back-here-you-little" versus "would-you-stop-it" adds new interactivity. Colossus getting out of hand? Take Jean airborne and try to catch Colossus, creating a game of dog-and-cat-and-mouse. Great fun for all players.


Sunday, March 5, 2006

For relaxing times...

Too much? I don't think so. Can you imagine living in a culture where videogames were so prevalent that this commerical would make sense to enough people to merit airtime? I can. I would call it the United Republic of B A Start readers.