MCPHere’s some news and rants, while you’re driving that Elephant:

First Impression – The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

While it’s a very fine game, Windwaker was not my favorite Zelda game. I never had a problem with the gameplay, but the combo of the graphics, sound and story, really never appealed to me. As Phantom Hourglass is a sequel of Windwaker, I thought it might be a good game, but wasn’t enthused.

My biggest worry was how would my shitty stylus work on my dirty DS-classic. You see, you don’t use the d-pad or buttons. Everything is controlled by moving the stylus on the screen. I figured the game would be plagued by poor controls. How could I swing my sword, dodge fireballs and solve puzzles at the same time, without a d-pad and buttons?

I was so skeptical of Phantom Hourglass, that during E3 I wrote “Phantom Hourglass got a near perfect score in Famitsu? It must be great because Famtisu never gives established titles inflated scores. In a neat feature, Phantom Hourglass replaces the DS stylus with a shoehorn. Of course, when I’m raving about the game in a few months, I’ll deny the existence of this paragraph.”

After playing this game for a brief amount of time, not only did I realize that I was incredibly wrong about this game, I was, in fact, “Mission Accomplished” banner wrong.

Instead, Phantom Hourglass will be taking a 40 second lead going into the Eliminator of Handheld Game of the Year Gladiators and I don’t see it having any trouble climbing the cargo net.

The game exceeds all expectations with its near perfect integration of the stylus into the gameplay. Between sword swinging, boomerang tossing and accurate note taking, the stylus is the amazing extension of the player. As for my complaints about Windwaker’s “kiddie” feel, Phantom Hourglass somehow seems like a perfect for the DS.* So far, I haven’t experienced anything negative while playing this game.

Can’t wait to play this all weekend (and I never thought I could be this excited for a seven hour roadtrip with my in-laws). Thanks, Phantom Hourglass.

(you should pick it up right here)

What Samus and Susan Lucci Have in Common

Speaking of Games of the Year, this week appeared to kick-off Gaming Awards Season, as BAFTA announced its video game of the year nominees and the WGA announced it would now honor writing for video games.

There are fifteen categories for the BAFTA awards. Below is a list of a few of the categories and nominees:

Best Game
· BioShock
· Crysis (it’s not, trust me)
· Gears of War
· Guitar Hero II
· Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
· Wii Sports

· Big Brain Academy for Wii
· Cake Mania
· Guitar Hero II
· More Brain Training
· Singstar PS3
· Wii Sports

Action and Adventure
· Crackdown
· Gears of War
· God of War 2
· Orange Box
· Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
· Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Artistic Achievement
· BioShock
· Heavenly Sword
· Okami
· Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
· Skate
· Viva Pinata

All games released in 2007 (and some dating back into 2006) are eligible, meaning currently unreleased games like Orange Box and Crysis are eligible. This begs the question, where the fuck is Mass Effect? Can’t Bioware get some British love? I’m also surprised Mario Galaxy (in all its Bee Mario greatness) didn’t make the cut, especially if they are tossing a bone at Wii Sports. But if Mass Effect is left off the list, anything is possible.

Oh, I almost forgot, no Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Good. For those curious, Bioshock will be receiving its award for Game of the Year on October 23.

As for the WGA announcement, it is being viewed as a victory in the “video games are art” camp. I realized long ago that in fifty years video games, after continuous gains in acceptance and despite any intellectual argument to the contrary, will be considered art. As for whether the assessment is accurate, we’ll be debating that for the next 18,263 days.

The Breakup

Earlier this week, rumors broke that supposed BFFs, Bungie and Microsoft, were on the verge of going their own separate ways. The rumored deal was that the Bungie developers would be able to take the Bungie name (which Microsoft owns), while Microsoft would retain the rights to the Halo franchise.

While most initially poo-pooed the rumor, the story made like the 2001 Yankees and just wouldn’t die (well until Scott Brosius pussied out on turning a double play in the ninth of Game 7).

By Wednesday, the rumor, despite being originally reported on some random news blog, was upgraded to mild speculation, with everyone believing that Bungie was upset over not being able to put serious work into their other games, you know, the ones that no one cares about.

Bottom line, this is about money. Bungie is pissed about getting what it perceives as the Jimmy James shaft from Microsoft, and it’s understandable. Microsoft has spent the past week crowing about their $170 millon launch, while doing their best Billy “White shoes” Johnson impression. Meanwhile, the Bungie folks, the people who developed the game, got lost in the mainstream shuffle and probably didn’t get a fair slice the gargantuan Halo pie.

Will a separation occur? I don’t know, but I doubt it. Microsoft’s best solution is to toss these people some cash and keep them around. Halo allows the 360 to succeed. Why put the very existence of their console at risk?

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

Nintendo, this week, sacked a technical recruiter after discovering that she had an anonymous/pseudonym blog, which criticized her bosses and co-workers.

Fortunately there hasn’t been the outpouring of outrage (that I’ve found) over the woman’s dismissal, like there has been over some bloggers getting the axe. Most internet writers have day jobs and while are less anonymous than others, they tend not to piss on the people paying the rent. You can’t be a public face of a company and then publicly criticize it without some form of reprisal, case closed.

Hopefully, Colm Meaney isn’t the Pilot

Above, I mentioned the seven hour (each way) road trip I’m taking with my wife and in-laws this weekend. With Phantom Hourglass and my new iPhone (which may be the greatest invention in the history of Western Civilization, fuck you Gutenberg) by my side, I’ll be able to maintain my sanity. Next week, however, I’ll be flying to Orlando and while I’ll have the comforts of my various gadgets, I might not for too much longer.

Recently, Japan passed legislation banning the use of Wi-Fi capable devices on all flights. The legislation follows up a temporary ban, after studies demonstrated that Wi-Fi devices could potentially affect the navigation systems on planes, going against all my evidence based on the ramblings of Toby Ziegler. Don’t worry, non-Wi-Fi devices like GBAs, Rubik’s cubes and box cutters will still be allowed, once the plane has reached its cruising altitude.

While there currently is no ban in the US, it’s going to happen soon. Who are we to dispute the scientific findings of Asians?

That’s all for now.

* No idea why, however. Also “kiddie” is a completely unfair criticism and given my love of kiddie looking Japanese RPGs, I’m definitely facing 5 to 10 in hypocrites prison.