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Tycho / on Wed, Nov 9 2005 at 9:57 am

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The Silent Partners

I know by now that when a word sounds kind of officious, it probably bears investigation.

You have, no doubt, seen the reports that have trickled out about Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing, and to a greater extent the entire wireless edifice of Nintendo’s online strategy.  We saw the same presentation.  Something else we saw, though I haven’t seen any explicit reporting on it, was a local event - an hour or so in length - where people could see what was going on with the 360 using what I presume was the final hardware.  So, I know things.

I know that it breaks down like this, in terms of online capabilities:

  • Nintendo:  Easy
  • Microsoft:  Robust
  • Sony:  ???????

The question marks aren’t there to imply that you will “unlock” that ability when you have achieved the appropriate level.  Sony has made it clear that they’re still runnin’ with their “Open” system, which is to say, their “Do Whatever The Fuck You Want” system, which I’m not sure actually qualifies as a system.  In any case.

Because I have a reasonable expectation that you are (pardon the term, it is meant with affection) a huge nerd, I can probably get away with saying that as long as a wireless access point doesn’t demand WPA security, you’ll be able to get Nindendo Wi-Fi going without a problem..  As a person coming from the PC side of things, I was almost insulted by the simplicity.  If you don’t know how that would be possible, look at the screens.  I’m capable of managing a much more complicated interface!  Much more.  But their gigantic, blue, touchable button will probably not be taken as an affront by most people.

The original Animal Crossing is not a game that I spent a lot of time with - I did not own a Gamecube of my own at that point.  This was the generation that made me allow one envoy from each manufacturer into my home, but it was a lengthy process that involved a lot of soul searching.  In any case, I primarily watched it at a friend’s house - I did not play the game late at night to find some rare, luminescent fruit or whatever you people did.  Were I to discuss the game, the sentiment would not emanate from a genuine place.  I can tell you, however, that it’s ridiculously comprehensive for a portable game, and offers online adventure - with friends only, no online AC griefers or anything like that.  You manually open a gate in your town to allow friends access, which for some reason strikes me as a powerful image.

Mario Kart DS is also ridiculously comprehensive, with thirty two maps that span the entire life of the series.  It also lets you hop or powerslide, and brings back traditional battle mode with an odd twist.  Instead of three balloons, you have five, only three of which are available at a time:  you manually inflate your stock, whether by holding select or by, ahem, blowing into the microphone.  You may feel ridiculous, but it’s faster, and such is the price of victory.  There’s also Shine Runners, where the coveted shines appear throughout the level, you grab them, you lose some when hit, and the people with the lowest scores are dropped at interval.  It’s a stupid amount of value for thirty-five bucks, especially when you think of eight players racing off a single cartridge.

I’m starting to realize that I’ve gone on this long without actually discussing the online play.  I wasn’t aware I was so excited to talk about it.  I’ll have to continue this on Friday.

None of what they talked about at the 360 thing was actually new information, and if you’ve gotten your paws on a kiosk out there you know almost everything I do.  I did see a few things I’ll cover later this week, at length, which is sort of what I do.

(CW)TB out.

fall in, fall out

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