Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy's First Week Sales: 500k

Apparently Nintendo has some early sales figures for their hot new game, Super Mario Galaxy, and the news is good for the big N. According to (among other sites, and a press release), Super Mario Galaxy has sold 500,000 units. This makes it the fastest selling Mario game in the history of the franchise.

George Harrison:
Super Mario Galaxy had the strongest one-week debut of any Wii game to date and has also become the best-selling Mario title ever in its first week, with US sales of more than 500,000, based on internal sales figures...

It totally deserves it, but fastest selling Mario game ever? That really puts the Halo sales figures in perspective.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Animal Crossing Tragedy.

I was directed to view this by BadCRC from Evil Avatar, so blame him if you fall into a horrible depression. Appearently, while it is on YTMND, that is not where it originated. The drawings were originally from a Korean board, and were just recently translated.

This is not a comedic video.

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Heretic Machine Reviews: Super Mario Galaxy.

This year has been great for gamers, we all know that. It seems like nearly every big developer out there has stepped up with their very best and left us with at least a dozen games which could of taken home Game of the Year at any other time. Nintendo's primary offering, Super Mario Galaxy, is at the very top of this excellent crop of games, bringing to the table a proper sequel to the game which brought life to the genre of 3D platforming just over ten years ago.

The story starts off with Mario taking Peach up on an invitation to visit her castle, and enjoy a once-in-a-century meteor shower. As Mario approaches the town of Toads surrounding Peach's castle, strange colorful objects called starbits rain from the sky. All seems well until Bowser shows up to crash the party, riding in an oddly futuristic (compared to his airship armada) UFO. Using lasers from his new vehicle, he cuts out a circle around Peach's castle, allowing him to grab it (and the Princess) with a set of chains, and drag them off into space. Mario leaps onto the castle as it flies away, but is thwarted by Bowser and sent spinning off into space.

He is rescued by a new benefactor: Rosalina. She immediatly seeks Mario's help in restoring power to her Comet Observatory, which functions as the hub world for your adventure (much as Peach's Castle was used in Super Mario 64). Your job is to enter each dome, gather enough power stars to reach the boss of the dome, and then defeat him to rescue a Grand Star. Each Grand Star you receive brings power to new sections of the Comet Observatory, and with it, new domes. Rosalina claims that the Comet Observatory can act as a spaceship, and once at full power she'll be able to take him to the center of the universe, where Bowser waits.

Simply put, Super Mario Galaxy uses Super Mario 64's basic gameplay as a foundation to build upon. Mario still has nearly every move and action that he had in 64, and they mostly work the same way. He can still double, and triple jump, with the same sort of timing as before. He still does back flips from a crouching position, as well as a long jump. Using jump and crouch will produce a ground pound attack. This all seems very natural to someone who has played 64, and reduces the learning curve to almost nothing. Of note, Mario's life bar has been reduced to only three points, but can be temporarily upgraded to six by the use of a power-up.

The two major additions to Mario's arsenal are his spinning attack, and the ability to use and collect starbits. The spin attack essentially replaces the punch that Mario previously used to defeat enemies. It is, as it's name would suggest, a move where Mario spins in place and damages any vulnerable enemies near by. As well, it can be used to increase the height which Mario is capable of jumping by activating it at the top of each jump. This becomes key to much of the game, and fortunately, executing the spin attack is done very simply by giving a small shake to the Wiimote.

The second addition, starbits, are a new collectible within the game. The game describes them as food which Rosalina's companions, the Lumas, use to grow into other objects such as planets, galaxies, and even warp points to assist you in your adventure. Starbits appear in abundance, at just about every opportunity. Walk through a patch of grass? Have six starbits. Use a spin attack to kill an enemy instead of stomping them? Have three starbits. They are even scattered about the environments by the dozen. Starbits are collect simply by waving the Wiimote's cursor over them once they appear. Their primary function is to be horded and fed to hungry Lumas, but they also give Mario an extra life once he has collected an increment of fifty, as well as functioning as a sort of weak weapon to stun enemies and activate some objects on the field.

Mario also has an assortment of new power-ups available to him, as well as some classics. His Fire Flower returns, granting him a new color scheme and the ability to toss fireballs for a short while. The Bee Suit is introduced fairly early on, granting Mario the ability to fly in small bursts. A new Boo Mushroom takes the place of the Insubstantial Hat from Super Mario 64, giving Mario the ability to float in the air as well as become incorporeal and slip through grating. The Hyper Star will be familiar to all fans of the series, though formally known as the Power Star, and gives Mario temporary invulnerability. Finally, and likely the most interesting of all, is the Ice Mushroom. This turns Mario into ice for a short time, allowing him to freeze fluids (water and lava), creating his own platform to walk on, or even wall-jump up when given two closely placed waterfalls!

As noted before, the game revolves around powering up new parts of the Observatory by collecting Grand Stars. These appear in the Observatory's domes, which function in the same way as the various floors of Peach's Castle in 64. In each of the five major domes there are five galaxies, the equivalent to 64's paintings in that they are multi-goaled levels. Two of the five galaxies will be fairly large, having three normal stars (at least one of which will have a minor boss fight at the end), and three more stars activated by other means. Two of the other galaxies are smaller, and only feature one star, often with specialized gameplay involved. The final galaxy contains the grand star, featuring a long and perilous level to traverse, culminating in a major boss fight. Once you defeat the boss, you will be given a Grand Star, and a new dome to explore.

Galaxies, as the name suggest, consist of one or more planetoids floating in space. This provides a veritable feast for the eyes, as many of these planetoids offer their own gravitational field, allowing you to walk across them without fear of falling off, even when you're upside down! Each of these planetoids typically have one or more goals which must be completed to unlock the path to the next planetoid. This is one of Galaxy's best (and most interesting) new features, delivering short puzzles and action sequences on each planetoid, eventually leading to the ultimate goal of obtaining a star. Each planetoid takes anywhere from thirty seconds to a few minutes to finish before being sent off to a new one. These fun-sized bits of gameplay are much less prone to fatiguing the player, as your goals are usually very obtainable, while still challenging.

Galaxies are unlocked according to the number of power stars you have collected. Not every galaxy must be entered to beat the game, and only half of the power stars must be collected to enter the final fight with Bowser. This can be accomplished in fifteen hours for most players. But the fight with Bowser is ultimately only a device used to draw the player along the beginning of the game, and once presented with the full observatory to explore, many players will be drawn into collecting the rest of the stars. Every galaxy is worth exploring, and offer some of the most surreal and comforting environments a gamer is ever likely to of seen.

The themes of the various galaxies range from space environments, to haunted houses and water worlds, all the way to food and toy themed galaxies. Many of these themes are only used just a few times, always in new and interesting ways, offering a nice variety to the game's playing fields.

But don't be taken into the beautiful, cartoony world of Super Mario Galaxy with the idea that this game is a push-over, designed to offer a diversion for small children. This game is just as challenging as any other Mario out there, and will give even a Super Mario 64 veteran a run for their money. In particular, there are special challenges provided by comets which are extremely difficult. Comets show up in orbit around a galaxy occasionally after acquiring a star (though, not necessarily from that galaxy), and can also be shuffled about by bribing a Luma with starbits. The comets come in a variety of flavors, and each of these offer their own challenges. One kind of comet places you in a galaxy's boss fight with only one bar of life left, and without the ability to restore it with coins. Another asks you to race a ghost version of one's self to a power star unique to the comet's challenge. The most challenging of all of the comets, the Purple Comet, is unlocked after defeating Bowser. This requires a player to explore a level and retrieve one hundred purple coins (specially placed for this challenge) under a certain time limit. In total, there are 42 (by my count) galaxies to explore, and 120 stars to collect.

In the end, after spending four days with Super Mario Galaxy, I'm ready to say that this is at least the best Mario game Nintendo has ever produced, and will likely go down in gaming history as one of the best things this hobby has ever seen. It has set a new standard for what a 3D platformer should be, and a goal to which other developers should strive towards when they are making their own titles. On the basis that it severely outclasses all other games in it's genre to date, I give Super Mario Galaxy a 10/10, and my pick for Game of the Year.

Friday, November 9, 2007


A post not dealing with Youtube? ZOMG!

No, this one will be about what I expect to be a new addiction. While on a MUSH, in an OOC area, I overheard people talking about some kind of MMO. The strange thing was that this MMO sounded a lot like Civilization. But it also sounded like Settlers of Catan. It was, in fact, an amalgam of both, going by the name of Travian.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the games listed above, it basically boils down to gathering resources and building a civilization based around the land you are presented with (and the civilization you choose). Travian has three options for the choice of civilization: The Gauls (Defensive), the Teutons (Offensive), and the Romans (All-around). The game is entirely web-based, and involves quite a bit of waiting on the part of the player. For example, while I'm typing this post I can see that I have a Granary being built which will be finished in 00:02:30 (it took about twenty minute all together, I think), and I'm also developing Cropland which should be done in 00:01:42 (developing land tiles only takes a few minutes).

You are presented with three maps to work with. The basic map is of your village's land, here you develop the land tiles so that you can harvest the four basic resources (Lumber, Clay, Iron, and Crop). The second most commonly used is of your Village Center, this is a walled in area where you create your buildings, such as a Granary or Warehouse. The third is a map of the world, square tiles divide the different lands, and you can see other player's villages near by.

I don't know much about how the conquest system works, but I assume that you can expand into other tiles and create more villages. I know that there is some sort of raiding system in place that allows you to invade other players' villages and plunder them for resources or some-such, but I'm still very new at this. In any case, if you enjoy Settlers of Catan or Civilization, I would definitely recommend that you give this game a try.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Moar Retro Games!

Keeping with the theme of retro gaming, here is an arrangement of video game music being played by someone working on a degree in music. It has two parts, and they're broken down into separate acts. It is set to a video, hence the Youtubeage, and embedded here for your convenience.

Finally, here is a link to the blog dedicated to the project.

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Jody's Retro Game Reviews

So, as is obvious from some of the links on the side bar, I like retro game reviews. But it is very, very hard to find people doing these things on Youtube that aren't incredibly annoying (often more so because of their tendency to copy the AVGN). While searching the interwebs for something new to post, I came across this guy.

This is his review of Turrican II for the Amiga 500. The comedy is a little weak, but the review is still enjoyable. It has a nice soundtrack, and rather than approaching the subject with cynicism (which I have more than enough of, myself) he seems to genuinely love the old games he reviews. Check it out, you might find a gem you missed out on.

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Half-life in 60 Seconds

Not much to post today, the weekend is kind of a slow time for me. But I did find this video, behold, Half-life and Half-life 2 in a single minute!

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Watch The Guild

I've been a big fan of Youtube for a long time now, and this will likely be a frequent topic of (one-way) discussion here at Heretic Machine. I'm particularly fond of shows that people put together for the 'tube, like The Angry Video Game Nerd, or The Spoony Experiment. One that I have taken interest in recently goes by the name of The Guild.

The focus of The Guild is placed on a "guild" (MMO speak for a group of people allied with eachother), The Knights of Good, playing in the ever-popular World of Warcraft. The Knights stand for good, and all things... good. Unfortunetely, not all is good with one of their members, Codex. Slowly growing less and less attached with the real world, even her therapist has given up hope of helping Codex lead a normal life. On top of that, online flurtation has lead to one of her guild mates taking their relationship a step further than she'd like.

Anyone who has played an MMO will be able to identify with the cast of characters: The sweet girl, the ultra gamer, the mega nerd, the omni mother, the dewd, and the weirdo. Personally, I've never been in a guild without each of these stereotypes running about, which makes the show all the more comical. I can't recommend this enough to fans of MMOs, especially WoW players. There are four episodes up, as of this posting, and they seem fairly dedicated to producing more. The star of the show, Codex, is played by none other than Felicia Day (who some may recognize as the potential slayer Vi from the last season of Buffy), so there is at least some proffessionalism involved with the project. It certainly shows, so check it out!

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Hello World!

This will be my first post, which very few people will probably ever read, but I feel that a small introduction is in order. This blog, which you've found for whatever reason, will be nothing more than an outlet for my thoughts and opinions. Thoughts and opinions that I don't feel are worth sharing in any of my social circles, so don't be surprised if it isn't just ranting and links to things which I think are cool.

My interests are as follows:
  • Gaming
  • Internet/Geek Culture
  • Online Gaming and MMOs
  • Retro Gaming
  • Roleplaying
If these sound like things which also interest you, then stick around, you might see something you like.

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