Assume The Worst
We were getting our hands on a four gig CompactFlash for the podcast recorder when the "friendly staff" gave us an idea for a new comic. Thank you, friendly staff! May nothing ever happen to your… staff.
There’s been a fair amount of Mario Hoops taking place the last few days, and if your situation is such that you can scare up a friend to play alongside you the game becomes very easy to recommend. I’d be quite surprised if the game never made an appearance on the Wii: it uses the stylus for everything but the character’s physical movement around the court, and flicks in different directions mimicking passes, shots, and steals are an obvious match for the (sigh) wiimote.
The single player "cup"-style campaign is essentially a protracted mechanism for unlocking Final Fantasy characters, but against the increasingly savage artificial opponent you may find that your joy wanes - hence the friend I mentioned, but that person will need their own cart. Many DS titles include "Download Play," or the ability to send a somewhat truncated version of the game wirelessly to a friend to a) share a single cart and b) show them what they’re missing by not owning the title. Hoops doesn’t allow this, but the presentation here is a little more ambitious than most - it can sometimes leave you wondering exactly what system you’re holding. Particularly at launch, many developers shamed themselves with ratty, nasty 3D that made it seem like that dimension didn’t really belong on the Nintendo DS. With Hoops and the upcoming Final Fantasy III, SquareEnix (despite any other indiscreXIIons) is making the Goddamn thing do backflips. I’m on pins and needles thinking about what these technologies mean for the Crystal Chronicles slated to hit the Little Mutant Handheld That Could.
While it doesn’t include download play for multiplayer basketball specifically, it does include two other modes that can be distributed: Dribble Race and Coin Hunters. The less said about Dribble Race the better - the name itself suggests some sort of drooling competition. But Coin Hunters - despite being shipped with a criminally meager two maps - is actually worth checking out.
It’s either not mentioned at all in reviews or it’s dismissed out of hand, which is unfortunate. The basic idea can be described with unparalleled elegance: it is, quite simply, Mario Deathmatch. Replace the weapon pickups with shells, bombs, and stars and the stage is set. Each player starts with fifty coins, synonymous with their hit points, which can be knocked out and collected. Because it’s Mario Deathmatch and not some other kind, you can of course jump right over most projectiles. And because it’s on the DS, weapons like green shells and bombs are fired with a quick jot in whatever direction you choose. It just feels slick, and it’s another game nobody else needs a cartridge for. The black mesh on my DS case is distended with games of that type: Meteos, Tetris, Starfox, Mario Kart, Metroid Hunters and especially Metroid Pinball all wait - still in their silos - until I give the command to launch.
Saw an interesting editorial on the Wii by Game Informer’s Billy Berghammer, where one can find frank language on Nintendo’s hardware track record. We met Billy a few years ago when he was still running Planet Gamecube, and I have to stress that when I met the man, he was basically true blue Nintendo guy all the way. He’s not some partisan out to score points for the "home team," or some Soviet dipshit like we’ve had to contend with recently. I sincerely doubt he enjoyed writing it.