Wednesday, December 14, 2005

All I need for Christmas.....

At Celebration 3, they had an amazing Republic Attack Cruiser built out of Legos. I swore that if it ever became for sale, I'd have to buy one. has, but as a one of a kind item, for charity on Ebay.

Here's a picture of Heather with the ship. I took about 20 pictures of it, but this one really shows off just how massive this ship was

With 9 days left, the auction is already at 2500 bucks, so it'll probably get insanely expensive, but MAN would I love to have this thing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nintendo Hates Multiplayer Gaming! Part Two

Why I hate Mario Kart now
A not so short rant by a frustrated gamer

Part 2.

When the Nintendo DS came out last year, there weren’t any titles I was excited about and after actually playing one, I decided that I could wait until they had a new Mario or Mario Kart game for me to play. Last week, a new Nintendo DS bundle was released. I’ve been waiting for it since I heard about it a couple of months ago, and ordered one the day it went on the shelves. The bundle was a special edition red Nintendo DS packed with Mario Kart DS and all sorts of racing stickers.

The first time you play it, this game is great. It combines many of the tracks and game modes from past versions of Mario Kart with some new tracks and new game modes. Playing the single player was a blast. They also advertise the ability to play multiplayer and though I feared what could happen after the disaster that was the Gamecube version, I was still excited to try it.

The Nintendo DS itself was made for children, so after playing it for a few hours, if you’re older than 12…your hands will cramp up pretty badly. Even so, I’m happy to say that playing wirelessly in a living room with your friends works great and that it was worth the pain. You can connect quickly and see a match that your friend creates. You can choose your kart; you can choose your track. The game itself is almost exactly what it should be, until you attempt to take it online.

The problems began with actually getting my Nintendo DS to see my wireless network. This took me several hours and 3 days of tech support calls to my router company. I had to make sure I had the latest firmware, change the channel a few times, change the WEP, change the SSID, reset the IP…and after all of that, it still only worked because of a wish on a star I made on Wednesday. The DS did eventually see the router, and I did finally get connected.

I was disappointed to learn that Nintendo has once again screwed the pooch named multiplayer gaming. They created an imitation of Xbox Live called “Nintendo WFC”. On WFC, you don’t have gamertags; you have “friend codes”. This is a 12 digit number that can actually change from time to time. After entering your friend’s friend codes, if they’re not right there with you in the room, you must call them with a telephone, or instant message them on your PC to tell them you want to play.

When you have several friends that have agreed verbally or via text on the PC that they’re ready to play, then you go to Nintendo WFC and try to find each other in the game. It takes quite a few minutes, and so far I’ve only been able to find my friend John. Andrew and I can’t see each other. Then John and I lose our connection while we look for him. It’s probably a router problem. If we decide that the two of us want to play against other players we don’t know, we can’t do that either….so the only multiplayer action I get is matches alone, with John….or playing with strangers in silence.

Let’s say for fantasy’s sake that I could connect to everyone I know wirelessly. There would still be one piece missing, and that’s the voice. Where’s the trash talk that has always accompanied Mario Kart? The “That’s what she said” jokes every time someone yells “get off my ass!” or “get those bananas away from me!” Gone.

Mario Kart DS is an excellent game, but once again….it could have been even better. The multiplayer features are just not quite baked, and Nintendo really needs to take a page out of the Xbox Live book and get it together already. I still hold out hope that one of these days, I’ll be able to play Mario Kart online and have the same fun I have with 4 people in my living room, like I can with Halo, Project Gotham Racing 3, or any number of other games on Live. Until then, the best Mario Kart experience ever is still playing it on the Nintendo 64, which is over 10 years old.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nintendo Hates Multiplayer Gaming!

Be forewarned that the following entry is written by someone so incredibly frustrated with one of his favorite video games that he has no choice but to vent. The following review is based on an actual product. The names, dates and places have not been changed....because what would be the point of that?

Why I hate Mario Kart now
A short rant by a frustrated gamer

Part 1.

I have decided that Nintendo as a company basically HATES the idea of gamers getting together to have fun.

It all started with the Nintendo Gamecube. Many moons ago, Nintendo released an excellent game called Mario Kart Double Dash and advertised it with the promise that you'd be able to hook multiple cubes up for some serious multiplayer racing fun. Fans of the Mario Kart series were thrilled. My friends and I bought it the day it came out.

Now, if the Gamecube worked like the'd connect a few of the damn things together via an ethernet hub, you'd turn them on and you'd be racing with 15 friends in mere moments. It would be the best Mario Kart experience of your life....and you might possibly be able to die right there after playing it.

Unfortunately, the people who designed the multiplayer feature for the Gamecube were the same people who created those plastic indestructible packages video game controllers and Costco phones come wrapped in, internet viruses, telemarketers and speed bumps. I'm pretty sure they're also somehow behind the last two Matrix movies sucking so badly. In other words, somehow they were able to find one of the world's most efficient teams of professional engineers skilled at pissing other people off and hire them all to work on this one feature of an otherwise excellent game.

First of all, to play multiplayer Mario Kart on the Gamecube, you had to buy a 40 dollar network card that you couldn't find ANYWHERE. I only got mine because I know someone who works for the company and I was lucky enough to get one not just for myself, but a few extras for my friends as well. These days you can only find one on Ebay, so I'm convinced I bought one of the last few in existence. Assuming you found one of these, you'd then hook up your Gamecube via ethernet to the Cubes of any one of the six other people in the world who found one....and expect your fun to begin.

With Mario Kart Double Dash, the fun never began. Apparently connecting two GameCubes together activates some sort of Wonder-Twin "Suck" power that didn't exist before the connection between the two was made. Suddenly when starting a race, you are unable to select which track you want to race on. I might have been able to overlook that, but I soon found out you can't choose your kart either. The whole setup process is completely random. Even if I'd managed to overlook that fatal flaw and found a bunch of other friends that could ignore it for awhile too....there's yet another problem. When it's in network mode, the GameCube doesn't keep score.

To sum it up, besides a confusing interface, the inability to select your kart or your can't even keep track of who's winning without a pen and paper.

Mario Kart Double Dash is one of the first multiplayer experiences in history that actually made the game more fun to play alone on one box.

Tomorrow: Part Two. Mario Kart DS

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Snow begins

0phone 0020.jpg
Originally uploaded by JoshEEE.
Just a little picture out the window with the camera phone as we get the first snow that's actually sticking this year.