If you're into Mario Kart, you might want to take a look at the new Then & Now: Mario Kart Wii feature that I just put up. It examines how some of the characters, tracks, and items have changed over time on the console versions of Mario Kart. Also of interest is the video, which shows the tracks in motion over time.
Today was an amazing day for a few reasons. First and foremost, I put a monkey on the homepage and PS3 hub.
(Not really the text in the original)
This immediately makes today the best day ever (I've saved that image since CES for this glorious day). Unfortunately, I had to almost instantly pull it down afterwards cause of some issues with the deployment of the reason I put it up. So if that image interests you for non-monkey-related reasons (and why would it?) then don't worry, it will make its return soon.
Another thing of note is that if you frequent our Mario Kart Wii or Grand Theft Auto IV launch centers, I've had countdown timers added! This is something we've done a few times in the past, and I want to see us get back to it--especially since a ton of users have requested it. So go check it out!
Something that most of you probably don't know is that I manage our launch centers, so if you have any cool, reasonable ideas of things to add to them in the future, let me know! I'd really like to see them grow and am constantly thinking up or looking for new things to do with them.
Finally, the other thing I got to do was make fun of Aquaman. No day should be spent without some good ol' fashioned Aquaman bashing. Check the homepage and news page polls (I write our polls too) and voice your opinion about the craziness that is Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe!
So we launched Work In Progress, our previews blog the other day. As Ricardo mentions in the inaugural entry, we're going to use it to let you know a bit more about the various previews we have going on, answer questions, and keep you up to date on the events we visit. I just had the chance to write the second entry in the blog, which I am going to mirror here. It may be because I'm too lazy to type anything more, or it may be because I'm too busy. WHO KNOWS?
Today we received a package from the Land of the Rising Sun stuffed full of the magical goodness of Mario Kart for the Wii. We eagerly set out on it and put in a few solid hours of single-player and four-person multiplayer, and so far, the general consensus is that it's pretty awesome. There are a lot of really minor gameplay changes, from the addition of the handy "you're about to get hit" alert indicator to the way power slides are handled, but it's important to note that even with these changes, the game is still very much the Mario Kart that you have come to know over the years.
Be sure to check here for some gameplay footage we took of our various exploits and check back next week for even more media and coverage!
...of a review I'm doing for tomorrow:
Here's a couple of the replays from Super Smash Bros. Brawl Saturday last week. You can only save matches that last less than 3 minutes in length, so I didn't really have much of a pick, and out of the four I did get these were the best I had.
Somehow, I lost the audio in the capture process, so I just substituted some of the unlockable songs from Brawl in, and I think they work just fine. Unfortunately, replays don't show the names of the other people playing, so I have no idea who's who.
Lucas Goes to Shadow Moses Island
Here, I'm playing Lucas. This was an items on default, 2 minute free-for-all match. Victory is mine! A couple highlights are Meta Knight smashing against the screen at the very end and me acting like a jackass that really, really wants to throw someone at 1:16 for some reason.
Ike's Final Countdown
I play the blue Ike, and I don't fight for my friends hard enough because Tripple D wrecks me at the end. Oh well. Ike's got some terrible game under his belt anyway.
Keeping in line with the Final Fantasy VII series overview that will be appearing on the site tomorrow by Joe Dodson, I've taken the liberty of creating a very abbreviated overview of all the major Final Fantasy games. It should go without saying that this includes spoilers, but let's just clear that up right away, shall we?
Final Fantasy: You're the good guys (the Warriors of Light). Garland's the bad guy and he wants to knock you all down. He creates a time paradox in which he can live forever and rule the world forever, but you stop him because that's a really dumb idea.
Final Fantasy II: You know that guy that made the Saga games? He made this one, and it shows. Enjoy random stat changes and hope you don't become so weak that it's impossible for you to continue! Other than that, it's straight up rebels vs. evil empire.
Final Fantasy III: A group of four orphans go spelunking and find a magical crystal that tells them to do things. Because that makes perfect sense to them, they obey so they can fulfill a prophecy by some blind oracles. Oh, and they fight a cloud (it's eeeevillll!).
Final Fantasy IV: Forget KotOR, this is the Star Wars RPG to beat. Characters include a gothed-out knight forced into rehab, a spoony bard, a ninja, your best friend (who can't decide if he's good or evil), and Jacky Chan. You must defeat Darth Vader, who's actually your brother being controlled by an evil dude on the moon.
Final Fantasy V: An old guy travels through space to another world on a meteor to stop the most evil tree ever. He suffers from amnesia and dies like a real man fighting the evil tree, who goes on to create a dimensional rift. You pick up Legendary Weapons at the liquor store and defeat the tree and the force of nothingness it becomes.
Final Fantasy VI: Back to rebels vs. evil empire. Terra's a mind-controlled half-Esper that gets conned into fighting for the rebels in a moment of emotional weakness. Celes is an ice queen genetic experiment that doubts herself and sings in Operas. Together, they fight crime--and a crazy, evil clown that destroys the world.
Final Fantasy VII: Rebels vs. evil empire again. Cloud's a messed up kid with a life that sucked so bad he stole someone elses' to become cool, but somehow ironically became cool on his own. He spends pretty much the whole game chasing a man in a black cape (the fabulous Sephiroth). Both of them overcompensate with HUGE SWORDS in a world with guns. Aerith dies.
Final Fantasy VIII: An emo kid who's every line is either "..." or "I don't care" and his friends go to space to fight moon monsters and a witch from the future in a place where time and space compress into non-existance. Oh, and your jewelry tries to kill you. No, really.
Final Fantasy IX: No part of the story really matters because the main character has a tail and the villain is a dude that wears a thong.
Final Fantasy X: An underwater football player teams up with a dancing summoner to save the world from his dad, but discovers that he's just a bad dream that goes away in the end. :(
Final Fantasy X-2: a.k.a. Pretty Pretty Princess Dress Me Up: The RPG, is a clothing simulator in which a cast of smart, sassy, empowered women cosplay to save the world and discover that everyone's a dream of someone else's dream dreaming, or something.
Final Fantasy XI: A mumorpuger, so no one cares because it's not WoW.
Final Fantasy XII: Rebels vs. evil empire again?! Aladdin teams up with Basch (who lives!), a bunny girl, and Balthier to prove that Ondore lies. They kill god, and you didn't even have to do anything because thanks to Gambits, the game plays itself for you.
Final Fantasy Tactics: Ramza doesn't surrender, and so he dies in obscurity after killing god. At least his sister's safe, right?
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: Marche is a dude with some troubled friends: Ritz has some crazy condition that gave her white hair, and she's always dying it pink to hide this secret; Mewt is from a broken home with an alcoholic dad and a dead mom; and Doned, Marche's little brother, is a cripple. When they find a magical book that creates the world of their dreams where their fortunes are reversed, Marche drags them back to the real world so they can all suffer, because he's a huge jerk.
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest: You must save the world because an old guy on a mountain says so, and you don't have anything else going on so you oblige. This game was designed for the silly, inferior Americans and in a bizarre twist you kill the final boss by healing him.
Earlier tonight I headed down to the Metreon with Ricardo Torres to check out the launch event for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, and with the power of the media badge he gave me got up close and personal with my camera to take a bunch of photos. The event, which was held in the PlayStation Store, began at 6:00 p.m., and the first lucky 100 in line recieved t-shirts and customized Shinra Corporation ID cards (easily one of the cooler pieces of schwag I've seen). We arrived at around 5:40 and by that time, the line already stretched along the building and around one corner down the street.
The inside of the PlayStation Store was decked out in complete Final Fantasy VII regalia, complete with large speakers that pumped out the Crisis Core soundtrack--which includes a number of iconic songs from the hit classic remixed. At the far side of the store from the entrance was the small booth set up for taking photographs for the Shinra IDs and printing them up, and on the other end of the register area in the corner was a veritable shrine, dedicated to all things FF7. This shrine included a number of original concept art pieces and storyboards used, along with some of the character figures. Flanking this gallery on either side were Cloud and Sephiroth themselves in the form of their pricey Masterpiece Arts figures. Cloud came armed with a couple pieces of his Advent Children sword, the First Tsurugi, and Sephiroth of course had his seven-foot-long (in scale) sword the Masamune.
And of course, it's not a Final Fantasy event without the cosplayers. The one outfit that I saw most frequently was the uniform of the Shinra Department of Administrative Research, a.k.a. the Turks. Presumably, this is because all you need to do to be a Turk is wear a black suit and tie with a white shirt. I did catch a Sephiroth, however (he was totally going shirtless under his jacket; must've been cold in that wind), and an Advent Children Cloud. They weren't mock fighting though, and I'm not sure if I can decide if that's good or bad.
Of course, there were plenty of copies of the game on-hand for purchase. They even had other, non-Crisis-Core games there for sale, I'm told! If you couldn't make it down to the Metreon, don't worry--I've got your back. Check my Flickr page for all the photos I took, and whether you were there or not, make sure you read Kevin's review of the game, watch his video review, and check out our Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII launch center!