Monday, December 28, 2009

Audiobooks and the Nintendo DSi

Perhaps this is what getting old feels like, when the people you idolized in college end up holding the mike on Morning Edition.

I went through my standard morning routine: breakfast, cleanliness, then the drive in to work listening to whatever I've DLed on to my flashcard and jammed in the DSi.  This time it was a Neil Gaiman NPR piece on audiobooks.  "Ho ho," I thought.  "If only our dear Mr. Gaiman knew I was listening to his story in the same way I listen to audiobooks!". 

Podiobooks, to be precisely correct.  Over the last few months I've been... ripping?  burning?  let's just say "moving" Nathan Lowell's solar clipper series to my DSi.  Podiobooks breaks their content up into roughly 30-minute segments, which makes for very easy file management.

There are a few complexities involved in moving audio to the DSi.  My process is as follows:

1 - Download the desired audio files to my laptop.
2 - Convert them to the required mp4 format using Foobar.  (Vive la open source!)
3 - Drag and drop on to the flash card.
4 - Pop it (out of the lappy) and lock it (into the DSi).
5 -  Plug a male-to-male headphone cable into the "Aux In" port in the car.
6 - Enjoy some space-faring adventure. 

This is my first experience with audiobooks, and I have to confess to being completely hooked.  Lowell's story, a melange of the high seas (think Master and Commander) and deep space, is pocked with memorable characters and is heavy on the dialogue, which makes for a listening experience somewhere between an old radio drama and a campfire story.  Reading it as a novel would be a very different experience; I would expect more detailed descriptions of the environments, and perhaps some of the more often repeated phrases (e.g. in Double Share, the protagonist shrugs.  A lot.) would fly past without notice like the ubiquitous "he said" does.  This begs a question as to whether or not the accessibility of the spoken word due to more developed technology is bringing about something akin to a revival of a near-dying art (which is addressed in Gaiman's piece).  The listener certainly feels more of a connection to the author than seems likely via the page, at least not until PhD-levels of repeated readings. 

As for the DSi's sound function, I call it a win.  I have had no issues with the sound quality, though admittedly spoken word doesn't necessarily require hi-fi-phononess.  The interface is easy and seems made for episodic content.  So give it a go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

PS3 Demos = Holiday Cheer

 Christmas Eve Eve is the time for friends, and yesterday my PS3 showed itself to be exactly that friend in need.  How to entertain the friend who prefers classic games?  The Namco Museum Essentials demo for some Galaga action .  Two-year-old obsessed with cars?  The Gran Turismo 5 time trial demo and lots of crashing into walls.  Group of tired friends looking to relax away from holiday madness?  The ultimate chill that is Flower.  Now if I can convince the family it's OK to play Beatles Rock Band on Christmas proper, I'll be in good shape.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Playstation Network Trophies on Facebook

Now all can know of your gaming

"Should I activate the PS3 trophy posts on FB?" a friend asked.  I answered quite strongly in the affirmative.  All of my social-network-capable friends and family get a little ping each time I knock out an achievement, download a demo, or buy a new song for Rock Band.  This can't be any more annoying than updates on people's mafias, right?

The response, in the main, has been positive.  There has been some teasing to be sure, but far more conversations have been prompted:
  • so what do you think? is it all it's cracked up to be?
  • what are you playen (sic) bro
  • hey they dont have this demo in the UK :(
  • How far have you gotten? I'm actually having dreams now about assasinating (sic) fat Italian dudes via a blade to the face.
 See?  People talking about your favorite hobby.  Now Blizzard needs to add this function to Warcraft...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Casual is the New Classic

What if a flash game had been made in the 80's?

I've been tooling around with Double Edged, a nice-looking, simple flash game over on Nitrome. It's pretty much just head right and slash at the baddies; very reminiscent of the old 8-bit games, as so many casual games are. I can't help but wonder, though, what would this game have been like if it were released for the NES?

No Way, No How, No Saving

After sliding the big gray plastic Double Edged cartridge into the NES, the lucky player would have been given three lives and quite possibly a limited number of what us classic gamers remember as "continues". If you wanted to beat this badboy, you better have slated a whole afternoon and better not ever make a mistake. Or maybe you would get some unintelligible passcode which your brother would write down for you. You know, the kid whose "A"s and "E"s look exactly the same.

Oh yeah. This shouldn't be problem at all.

Now, Double Edged has twelve levels, or more correctly three levels and twelve save points. Short, I grant you. Just remember that Castlevania had six.

The graphics would be much closer to awful

Is this the face that launched a thousand titles?

Pixel art has come a long way since Kid Icarus. Just playing as a character made out of more than nine little squares was a life-altering event. And shading? Utterly jaw-dropping.

Here in Double Edged, not only do we enjoy well-crafted sprites and scenery, but we even get to enjoy multiple levels of moving background! And the characters have shadows!

The mountains move! Devilry!

You'll take 2 axes, and you'll like it

How'd you get up there?

Whoa, wait. You want to press up and move FARTHER AWAY? You are blowing my mind.

In NES land, you will go left, right, or nowhere at all. Better find a way to jump that box, because there's no going around it.

"Well, I'm stumped. You win, Joker."

A Few Points

For reasons that make little sense, the already-limited screen would have a points counter on it, hovering above you, as untouchable and judgmental as St. Peter. You know, so you could take a polaroid of your highest score and show it to your buddy Jay next time he came over. At least now you can shoot for an online leaderboard.

Yep, it just keeps ticking away up there. Kinda creeps me out.

That music will be stuck in your head for a very, very long time.

Red X, you are beauty.

So, somewhere along the line somebody figured out that not everybody likes chiptune? Being able to shut the damn music off is one of the better game developments in recent history. Sure, I like synthetic stylings as much as the next guy, but hearing the same eight bars on a loop as you repeatedly get killed by the same boss is just rubbing 8-bit salt in the wounds.

Now how much would you pay?

Minimum wage in the eighties was $3.35. NES games were fifty bucks. is free. It's a wonderful time to be alive.

The First Party Polo

The Dream of Better Gamer Fashion Realized

Ever give a gift to someone out of the blue? The sentence "hey, man, I got this for you" when uttered some time other than the Designated Gift-giving Holidays elicits a strange response from the recipient, a bitter cocktail of shame and terror. Fortunately, we have the holiday season, a socially-acceptable chance to act on those altruistic urges.

Buying for a gamer can be... let's just say "frustrating". The Geek Nation is known for having oddly specific tastes, and trying to pick up a game, accessory, or other such notion is fraught with the sort of Christmas peril usually reserved for Eastern European folklore. So, what to do? Our friends at Penny Arcade have a solution.

Some four years ago a posted an open letter to the suburban-trend-machine Hot Topic, asking, nay insisting they reconsider their marketing strategy as relates to gamers. A series of brilliant points were made about the fact that gamers aren't all kids and that many want something more subtle, but their nascent genius died on the inter-vine, apparently.

From the open letter:

Here is what I would like to see from you: a series of unassuming polo shirts with corporate logos embroidered on the right breast, but the logos are from the evil corporations from various videogames. For starters, whip a few for Shinra Incorporated, Datadyne, and the Umbrella Corporation.

Too subtle, perhaps, but the concept holds. Stop giving us puerile junk. What is needed is some sort of gamer polo shirt. You know, for grown-ups.

Enter the First Party v1.0 Launch Polo. Nice sharp shirt. Understated gamer logo.

At last! We can wear our colors with pride, not gaudy ostentation. A shirt for that day when your office holiday party and buddy Jonesy's LAN party are scheduled back-to-back.

You see polos with tennis rackets, golf clubs, skis, sports franchise logos, heck, even an actual polo player from time to time. And finally now we see something for the more sophisticated lover of the virtual lifestyle.

Now, the in-one's-face style of gamer swag has its place, certainly. In fact, it can be rather rad. But it is nice to have an option. Sports fans have enjoyed this luxury for some time, and I can only hope the First Party shirts are a harbinger of better days.

myNotebook: Blue for the DSi

So close to being truly useful.

Come on, Nintendo. There should really be no need for me to carry around a notebook anymore. That valuable pocket space should be reserved for the DSi only.

The latest in a string of weekly updates carefully designed to bleed my wallet a few bucks (sorry, I mean "DSi Points") at a time tells of a new lifestyle app -- myNotebook: Blue. (Apparently Green and Red are to follow at later dates. Why? no clue)

Now, this is exactly the direction in which the DSiware apps should be headed. You've got a great touch screen, wireless, and an SD slot; there's no reason the DSi can't be used for increasingly useful purposes. myNotebook, unfortunately, falls a bit short of the mark.

It's a scratchpad. A nice scratchpad, to be sure, and useful as such. Multiple pens styles and colors, auto-storing pages, and a simple interface see to that. And for two dollars, might as well go for it.

Notetaking nuts will be a little disappointed. Is there a memory limit? Why can't I use the DSi's keypad? I want to archive my notes -- how? Can I organize them? Again, as a temporary scratchpad, myNotebook is fine, but I want a little more.

I've complained about this before. Just take MS Notepad and put in on the DS. Let me type away, then either send my file wirelessly or store it to my SD card. Do this for me, Uncle N, and I will never be seen without your product in my hands. Perhaps a future myLifeCollected app will fulfill this seemingly simple need.

And another thing -- why do I have to unlock different ruling styles? What do you want from me?

Uncharted 2 Twitter Function

When you absolutely, positively have to let everyone know about your gaming, accept no substitutions.

Imagine, if you will, a world in which people send each other brief notes about their video game exploits. The PS3's new hit Uncharted 2 features Twitter integration, making this world a reality. But why?

The tweets are sent when you reach various milestones, sort of an instant version of the PS3's trophy collection. But the real value comes in with a single update: Connected to Multiplayer. Now when the amigos are ready for some online action, you can know right away.

Better than Nothing - Cognitive surplus and gaming

We've got time. So much free time. For the last fifty years, we've spent it watching sit-coms, but not we've started to do something else. We're making Wikipedia and Lolcats. And we're playing Warcraft.

You should read this article, the main thrust of which is that we are starting to figure out what to do with the vast amount of free time we as a society have, and that the people who craft the future will be the ones who do just that. The issue of gaming comes up briefly:

"In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: "Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves."

At least they're doing something.

Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don't? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half-hour that I watched that was a half an hour I wasn't posting at my blog or editing Wikipedia or contributing to a mailing list. Now I had an ironclad excuse for not doing those things, which is none of those things existed then. I was forced into the channel of media the way it was because it was the only option. Now it's not, and that's the big surprise. However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it's worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.

Are here we come to a main difference between Our People and non-gamers -- interactivity. We don't want to yell at the running back, we want to control his movements. Seeing who ends up being The Biggest Loser is not for us; we want to train our own characters to succeed."

And as everything people see and touch becomes more and more interactive, we recognize that the world is finally starting to catch up.

Super Star Trek -- Neolithic Gaming

"Retro-gaming" is a highly-mutable term. Pulling out the tangle of cords that is your old Atari 2600? Retro-gaming, certainly. Blistering your fingers on that old NES controller? Sure. But how about the PS one? The Gamecube, even?

Semantics aside, there can be no doubt that logging some time with Super Star Trek counts as retro-gaming.

Yes, that's an actual screenshot. A far cry from this, yes?

I first heard about SST when I was a young kid and my dad would tell tales of playing it on some massive old rig at work. ("During breaks", of course.) Various incarnations of this game could be found on various boxes and home computers throughout the seventies. It was distributed for home use the old-fashioned way - by publishing the complete BASIC code in a magazine. A few hours of careful transcription and you were ready for... what exactly?

What on earth would motivate a modern gamer to keep playing this thing after a few curious moments? Sure, download a new version, tool around a bit, have a laugh. But to actually play? What could this code-snippet possibly have to offer?

It comes down to three aspects, few of which remain in today's games.:

#1 - Turn-based play. Sure, it's still out there, even on consoles, but there's not much of it around. Spending some time with a game that allows you to leave it alone for a few hours while you consider whether or not you want to use your last photon torpedo on that distant klingon warbird (represented by a capital "K") has a completely different feel. SST combines tactical turn-based play with the map size and freedom of a larger-scale strategy game.

#2 - Randomness. As you direct the Enterprise (that's the "E") around the charted galaxy, just about everything can go wrong. You are quite often yanked across the board by a "tractor beam" and placed in the middle of a firefight - not good if you're on your way to a starbase ("B") to reload. Sometimes the transporter will just flat out fail without warning, and the last sound your away team will hear is Scotty wailing that he's losing them. A star ("*") in your sector can go nova and toss you across the map like an empty can of Tab. Etc. And when I say "etc", I mean it; much of the strategy in this game is focused on how to prepare for the worst that merciless random-number-generation can deal out.

#3 - The promotion system. Every lasting game needs a rewards system, and in SST it comes as a notification that you have been promoted to the next difficulty level. Sure, you could start at the hardest setting or keep on riddling away at the easiest, but getting the word that you have saved the Federation and are ready for harder trials makes the challenge all the more fun. When the player reaches the Expert level and scores well enough, the program will print a plaque. That's right - something you can hang on your cube wall to show the world how awesome you are at Super Star Trek. Smitty over in networking will never live it down.

A large part of my personal enjoyment of this game comes from the hard-core, early-days-of-computing, Soul of a New Machine feel. After few rounds of typing in your commands ("pho 3 2 1 5 4 8 7", for example) and squinting at the box of numbers and periods that serves as the starchart, you'll feel your sideburns growing and your shirt sleeves shortening. There's a romance to that green-texted era, the first time in history that true geekiness could be used for something other than HAM radio and Monty Python references. This is the time of legends, when Our People began. Which is why I can't help but feel a flush of embarrassed pride over this:

Download it here.
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The DSi at Fashion Week

Geeks don't really know much about fashion; aside from T-shirts and glasses, we're pretty much lost. You've seen the guys who work in IT -- you know it to be true. But do the fashionable know about video games?

Enter Charlotte Ronson. No, I didn't know who she was either.

Ms. Ronson, a fashion desiger, is collaborating with Nintendo on Style Savvy, an upcoming DS game slated fora November release.

From Nintendo's website:

"Style Savvy combines creativity and fashion with a collection of trendy clothes, chic accessories and stylish shoes. As the owner of a clothing boutique, you must purchase inventory, monitor the store's funds and try to please a constant stream of customers who look to you for the best fashions."

What's the game going to be like? Don't care. What I do care about is pictures like these:



A VG device used as a fashion accessory? Nails painted Noble Blue to match? I thought gamers were all supposed to be mouth-breathing weirdos. Aren't I supposed to be embarrassed to own a DSi?

Something called "Fashion Week", which I assume is some form of festival related to clothing and cigarettes, took place recently, and Ronson held an after-party featuring several DSes and a preview of the Style Savvy game.

From here:

"Charlotte Ronson knows how to put together a good show on and off the runway. Following an edgy SS 2010 collection, the designer threw a party where celebs drank Svedka cocktails and previewed a new fashion boutique game called Style Savvy from Nintendo DS and DSi. (The yet-to-be released game will launch later this year so you won't have to wait long!) Erin Lucas, Tinesley Mortimer, Kirsten Dunst, and Avril Lavigne were all glued to their Style Savvy shopping and styling outfits. It's only a matter of time until we see this cute little game in every fashionista's hands as they frolic in the park, travel on the subway, and sip their lattes at Starbucks."

I'm assuming we aren't going to see hand-helds incorporated into any challenges on Project Runway any time soon, but any press is good press when it comes to normal adults gaming. No, games aren't just for children. No, gamers don't all talk funny/smell funny. Yes, videogames are cool. Even the people who decide what 'cool' means think so.

Will Augmented Reality Gaming Be Good?

In its most-frequently-seen state, augmented reality involves pointing your webcam at the particular slice of reality you want to augment and then printing (yes, printing) a symbol on a piece of paper. Put the symbol in view of the camera and a 3-d object is placed in the video. Move the symbol, the object moves. Here's a straight-forward example.

OK, fine. Sounds cool enough. There are loads of good examples of how different companies and enthusiasts are putting this tech into place for advertising, for fun, or to push the interactive possibilities. ( This site has a list of 35, and is certainly worth a click.) But how will it affect gaming?

A few VG companies have used AR for web advertising: The teaser for Assassin's Creed 2 features a hidden link which brings up a few 3-d models from the game. Lucasarts has put together a holocomm for a new title, allowing good old Obi-wan to appear in that liney, spectral blue on your desk.

Or at least on the picture of your desk which is displayed on your monitor. This is a main issue for AR gaming -- all you're really doing is setting the background image and moving a piece of paper. Fun, sure, but not likely to be the next big thing.

The place where AR is most likely to find success is with mobile devices. Instead of just making your desk the playing field, you can bring the experience anywhere. The device becomes a magic mirror -- look through it and see the world differently.

Take a peek at this trailer for Ghostwire on the DSi. The device becomes a ghost detection machine, and the top screen will allow you to see the creepy buggers hovering right in front of you. The second camera shows them sneaking up behind you. Yikes.

Without getting hands-on with the game, it is tough to tell how much interaction is really available. Is it going to make me walk up to my spooky attic? How would it know?

AR could represent a new off-shoot of the gaming experience, but it is not going to replace the time-honored couch/console union any more than the Wii has. Keep your eyes peeled, and don't be too surprised if a few years down the line your local paintball/laser-gun maze gleams with the bright blue of handheld console screens.

Gamer Tattoos

You've seen them online, full sleeve tattoos of Link, Megaman, Mario, and various other members of the NES pantheon. Rad, surely, but committment of this depth is not for most of us. Looking for something smaller, simpler, more modern? Here are a few ideas to get the geek-gears working.

The Assassin Clan's crest, Assassin's Creed.

Yes, the game was repetitive, but you have to admit The Eagle is pretty darn cool. This logo adorns banners, rooftop entryways, and stelae -- why not your arm?

The Okami Logo

Tattoos of kanji are getting pretty stale, especially if you aren't sure what they mean. If you feel the need, though, this would be a good way to go. Make sure to get the cool clouds in the red area. Of course, any image from this moving sumi-e painting would probably turn out well. Maybe one of the shields?

The AVALANCHE Logo, Final Fantasy VII

I'm pretty sure this is only seen in the hideout below Seventh Heaven, so the hardest of the hardcore would be the only ones who recognized it. Decide accordingly.

The Crest of Hyrule, the Zelda series.

Simple, sleek, and doesn't involve carving an effeminate elf-dude onto your thigh.

An Electroplankton

Something for the Nihon-phile. Too cutesy, perhaps? Or just cutesy enough? Either way, this is the inking of a person who knows his games.

The Gran Turismo logo.

A word of caution: if you plan on rocking the GT, you had better have clocked some serious hours behind the steering wheel. Remember, this is the title that calls itself a simulator (not a game), and with good reason.

The Zanarkand Abes / Jecht symbol, Final Fantasy X.

Yes, FF deserves two spots on this list. Another simple line drawing which would get instant recognition from Our People. Extra points if you wear it full torso.

The Professor Layton top hat.

This tattoo reminds me of a puzzle! Just try to forget that Lisa Kudrow advertises it.

The Order of the Emperor tattoo, TIE Fighter.

Performing non-essential Internal-Affairs-style tasks during missions would increase your standing with this mysterious order, which yielded more sections to this bad-assed tat. See the Gran Turismo caveat before considering.

The Quake, Unreal, and JKII logos.

Classic fragging. Any one of these will get the WASD fingers twitching.

The Kirin Tor eye, World of Warcraft

OK, WoW is chock-full of possibilities, but the spooky Dalaran mage eye is my favorite.

Konami code tribal, Contra, Lifeforce, etc.

A good tribal gamer tat is hard to come by, especially since Gabe took Pacman. An extra 30 lives around the bicep would definitely make the grade.

Weak spot, Shadow of the Colossus

Subtle, simple, awesome. Pin a GIJoe to your t-shirt for instant cosplay.

DSi's Flipnote Studio -- The Traveler's Sketchpad

As I am always looking for new ways to use the DSi while traveling, Imagine my delight when receiving an email from dear old Uncle N while on vacation.

Flipnote Studio is a 2-color 2-layer drawing app which allows users to create animations on the fly and share them online. Check the link for full details, but here are a few of the notable highlights:

Link to a calendar
Add/import sounds
Import photos

This is ideal for the peripatetic gamer/artist -- crank out a few sketches on your travels, make a slideshow, add audio annotations, and share it online.

How to Catch Up on the Final Fantasy Series

AKA - How to make up for those afternoons you spent outside as a kid.

With Final Fantasy XIII on its way, surely you're curious about the other twelve. (Let's just pretend all the off-shoots don't exist for a second). Many of these have been revamped and re-released for the GBA or DS, but some still have to be found in the original release. This list will start you on your way to knowing the difference between a moogle and a chocobo.

FFI and II -- Collected as Dawn of Souls for the GBA. So, if you have a pre-i DS, you're in good shape.

FFIII -- Re-released for the DS.

FFIV -- Also re-released for the DS. Or pick up FF4 Advance for the GBA.

FFV -- FFV Advance for the GBA.

FFVI -- Now we're starting to get into the challenges. You can find this in the PS1 disc Final Fantasy Anthology (V as well). So pull out a backwards-compatible system and load 'er up.

FFVII -- You can find this, the game that changed the world, for download in the Playstation Store for the PS3. Now you'll finally know who Aeris is and why gamers get misty-eyes when her name comes up.

FFVIII, FFIX -- Find them for the PS1.

FFX -- A PS2 Greatest Hit. Let's blitz!

FFXI -- This is the online one, so don't worry about it.

FFXII -- Pick it up for the PS2.

Now, if you manage to squeak all these in before the release of XIII, I'll be impressed. Amazon links to all below.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yes it is he.

Last night's RLTP discussion included a reference to one of my favorite games -- Prince of Persia. Not the fancy new wall-running version (though I enjoy that, too),

but the original DOS game. I reacted predictably.

The part in question was what I'll refer to as the Dark Prince. He shows up a little bit into the game when you are forced to jump through a mirror. This shadowy version of yourself runs off without any sense of what his deal is.

The next time you encounter him, you fall to what seems will be your death. As you stand on the precipice, he could help you. He doesn't. Or does he just react too late?

Before you face the evil vizier, you must face the Dark Prince. He's at a fairly unassuming place -- no big arena or dark cellar. He's just there in a hallway.

Try as you might, you cannot defeat him. Each time your sword reaches past his parrys, you are hurt. The only way to pass him is to sheath your weapon.

What a great nugget of narrative, especially considering the source. Aside from the don't-fight-puzzle near the end (very Arabian Nights), the Dark Prince doesn't add much to the game-play, but he certainly prompts an emotion. What is the developer saying with the Dark Prince? More importantly, what interpretations can the audience bring? You must face and accept the darkness within yourself, since fighting it will not work? Is he evil? Fear? Your opposite, or a part of you?

Here's a speed-run of the whole game. The screenies above are from (3.08), (3.49), and (8.27).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stuff Only Alex Cares About

Thing the first.

I'm pretty sure I remember someone in the DVD documentaries for the special edition of Fellowship of the Ring saying that Tolkien invented the word "wraith". Imagine my surprise, then, when I read a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald using the word. Fortunately, someone is handling this for me.

Thing the Second.

Nice try, Mountain dew with this commercial.

Doesn't hold a candle to this:

Thing the third.

After reading this post, I really am disappointed that my brother didn't propose to his fiancee on Warcraft, though I am wondering if there will be a ceremony in-game. For the record, I am a priest.

Thing the last.

The Rock Band forums have a post dedicated to the analyzation [sic] of the Beatles cinematic. A few good catches in there.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Beatles: Rock Band Cinematic -- Annotated

If you haven't seen the opening cinematic of the upcoming The Beatles: Rock Band, you really ought to. Here's my attempt at annotation. This is mostly from memory, so please feel free to contribute.

update -- contributions have been labeled with initials.
latest update 6-7-09

We start off in Liverpool, with the Fab Four playing at The Cavern Club, the bar in which more or less had their beginnings. As we pan down, we get a lingering glimpse of posters featuring the names of several songs and lyrics.

Hard Days Night (title)
Come Together (title)
Benefit of Mr. Kite (title)
Rocky Raccoon (title)
Maggie mae (title)
The Revolution (title -- Revolution #1 and #9)
Carry That Weight (title)
Mr. Moonlight (title)

St. Peter's Parish Church is where Paul met John. (TRB)

Dizzy Miss Lizzy (title)
Twenty Flight Rock (Eddie Cochran song Paul later covered)
The Blackbirds (title)
Blue Jay Way (title)
Maggie Mae and the Word (titles)
The Diamond Buyers (if it makes you feel all right) (lyric, Can't Buy Me Love)
Jeremy and the ? (character from Yellow Submarine)

Rock & Roll Music (title)

The Meanie Blues (reference to the Blue Meanies from the Yellow Submarine movie)
My favorite reference here is "The Semoline Pilchards" (lyric, I Am the Walrus).

Out on to the street in avoidance of throngs of screaming teens (which, if I remember correctly, was the plot of Hard Day's Night). And, wouldn't you know it, there's an Old Brown Shoe (title) in the alley.

The dash includes this shot:

Based on this photo:

Next up, a road featuring Maxwell's Silver Sundries (song title, Maxwell's Silver Hammer) and a fireman, who I assume likes to keep his fire engine clean (lyric, Penny Lane). Maxwell Edison was majoring in medicine (lyric), and perhaps thus the Surgery sign. Also look for the lizard outside the window (lyric, "lizard on a window pane", Happiness is a Warm Gun)

I believe there's a stack of pennies on the lane (or sidewalk) underneath the fireman. I'm willing to bet the WANTED poster is Bungalow Bill (notice the pith helmet). (TRB)

And poking his head out of the hole in the ground in which he sleeps is Mean Mr. Mustard (title, lyric). (TRB)

Duck into a restaurant, whose menu is surely all references. "Fish and Finger Pies" is from Penny Lane, and Hippy Hippy Shake is a title -- tough to read much else, but there's clearly more. The restaurant lists mostly items from "Savoy Truffle," but also includes "Honey Pie." (TRB) "One and One is Two" is a title, as is "Mean Mister Mustard" (above the door). The Grapes was one of the Beatles hangouts.

An Abbey Road (album cover). Where's Paul cigarette? On the left in the back, the horse with the H blanket is Henry the Horse from "Mr. Kite" (TRB) I think the mailbox on Abbey Road is actually a newspaper vending machine for the paper "What Goes On" (title) (TRB)

And who's that in the background as they get in the car? It could only be Lovely Rita, meter maid. (title) Without the bag across her shoulder she doesn't look very much like a military man, but she can give us a wink anytime.

And a gift basket from Strawberry Fields Farm (title) in the car. How nice!

It even includes a green apple, which is the logo for Apple Records. (MG)

Next up, the arrival in the States. Also, a yellow submarine (title, movie) can be seen in the river. (MG)

I'm fairly certain the sound of the plane as it lands is from Back in the USSR.

Note the accurate clothing.

On to the Ed Sullivan show.

and some other venue. (Anyone?) The typewriter's got to be a Paperback Writer reference, right?
Next up, Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium signs...
P.S. I Love You (title)
Paul, I Wanna Hold Your Hand (title)

And then things get... a little weird. Sgt. Pepper uniforms appear on our favorite moptops.

Note the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (title) on the left. Can we safely say those are eggmen on the right? (lyric, I Am the Walrus)

Here's a fellow whose stomach says Goodbye and Hello (title). Is the "stupid bloody Tuesday man"? (lyric, I Am the Walrus)

The piano on the left of this shot is from the promo video from Strawberry Fields Forever. "I think the audio equipment in the English Garden is from the outdoor recording sequence in Help! as well as the silver teapot (Buckingham Palace scene?)." (TRB) Needs verification

Is this a newspaper taxi? (lyric, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds)

There's a very brief glimpse of the top of the giant drums, which shows they are the drum from the Sgt. Pepper album cover, (JK)

The costumes from I Am the Walrus.

A quick shot of a Blue Meanie (from the Yellow Submarine movie). Are these elementary penguins? (lyric, I Am the Walrus -- TRB)

And this last shot of them... so familiar but I'm not sure from what. Anyone?

Perhaps the pose at least comes from this. The order of the boys and color of their pants are correct. (TRB)

The Beatles are riding the elephant god Ganesha: Lord of Success at the end. (TRB)

Fairly certain the last note heard is the second to last note from "Day in the Life".

Also of note: The game drops on September 9, 2009. Is that a shout out to Revolution 9? ("Number 9... number 9... number 9...") (MG)

Thanks to Todd, Garv, and Johnny K for excellent contributions.