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by the NWR Staff - December 12, 2002, 12:19 pm PST

In this quick and dirty edition of the Mailbag, we discuss the Pop-up ads we know you NEED, CRAVE, and LOVE, the GameBoy Player, the Square-Enix merger, game Gold/Platinum status, and a minority negative opinion of Metroid Prime.


Mike asks, I've been a reader of the site for awhile now. I gotta say the

new advertising things you guys have on there are distracting. I felt like I was

playing Whack A Mole with all the pop-ups, and you only piss people off when

they're trying to read a story and a full-window size dragon breathes fire all

over the text you're looking at.  I'm sure you guys and gals need to scare up

funds to keep your otherwise great site going, but that's a little much.  Ads on

the page, not so bad.  Ads taking over the page and getting a pop-up with every

link - very bad. Just my 2 cents.

Billy Says: We've gotten a few complaints about the new flash

based ads, and hopefully I can clear up some things.

This website, as other professional websites, are driven by advertising. So

are magazines, television, and newspapers among other forms of press.


Yes, the "dragon ad" was huge, and messed with a lot of browsers. I actually

complained about that one myself. We're trying to work away from those monster

ads, but we cannot always control the sizes of ads.


Also realize we're testing a lot of these ads, and moving them around for

optimum placement.


Yes ads may be frustrating, but they keep us alive and keep us free. Planet

GameCube isn't something cheap to run. We've done everything to stay free, and

non-subscription. If a flying dragon or some other ad helps us stay that way, so

be it.


A number of people ask, In the information given about the Game Boy Player,

we hear about four player multiplayer... but what about multiplayer with four

GameCube Controllers? Could the be the beginning of Game Boy Advance online

play, such as connecting a modem and the player into one Cube, or possibly

creating a LAN between 2 GameCubes? Also, what has been said about compatibility

with The Q?

Rick Says: The Game Boy Player is literally a Game Boy Advance

attached to your GameCube. So it's very unlikely that you're going to be able to

do anything you can't do with the GBA alone. That means to play multi-player

games, you're going to need four GameCubes, four Game Boy Players, four copies

of the game (or just one if it's a one cart multiplayer game), and a four-way

link cable connected to the link ports on the Game Boy Players. Oh yeah ... and

four TVs.


If you're going to go that route, it seems like it would be smarter to just go

with the Game Boy Advances ... it would certainly be a more satisfying

experience. System Link games on any console have been few and far between for a

very good reason ... getting four TV's of any size into one room is a chore most

people will never attempt. Yes, you COULD use a GameCube LCD Monitor of some

brand instead of TVs, but then at that point, you basically have a huge, heavy

GBA with a SLIGHTLY larger screen, which defeats the purpose. If these were

GameCube LAN games, I could understand, but not games meant to be portable and

already have the perfect solution.


While we're on the subject, there is no evidence at this point that the Game Boy

Player will ever be able to talk to whichever network adaptor you have connected

to your Cube, so long-distance multiplayer games are very unlikely. Your

expectations would be better set to just assume that the Player will allow you

to play GBA games on your TV and not expect anything in addition. With any luck,

we might get the ability to use GCN-GBA link games without needing a cable, but

I think that would be the most we'd see.


The Game Boy Player is NOT compatible with the Q according to NCL. However, this

is likely a physical incompatibility, due to the protrusions on the top of the

Player. It's been speculated that if you were to file these down even with the

top of the Player, you might be able to make it fit, but no one will know for

sure until March when it's released in Japan.

Jonathan Says: GameCube LAN games are coming, and with

Nintendo's own LCD screen, GameCube might become the first console to really

bring this feature into the mainstream. I sure hope so. We'll probably hear more

about it at the next E3. The only GameCube title confirmed for LAN play so far

is Sega's PSO Card Battle. It will also be playable online.


As for creating a LAN for GBA games...I'm with Rick. Why? I guess it would make

sense if you don't have enough GBAs for everyone, but it's going to be a huge

hassle to set all this up. What's more likely is that you'll have one or at most

two players using their TVs and Game Boy Players, while the others use their

GBAs.


Also, don't let Rick make you think you'll need some special four-way link

cable. In fact, those may not be a great idea to use with Game Boy Players,

because they don't have much freedom of movement for each cable towards the end,

and you'll need more space when networking GameCubes and TVs. You're probably

better off using Nintendo's official link cable and just daisy-chaining three of

them together for a four-player game. That way anyone who needs to hook up a

Game Boy Player will have the full length of the cable to do so.

Billy Says: I'd totally be down with online Game Boy Player

gaming. There's been emulation of NES and SNES to be played online for a while,

it just seems like a no-brainer to me. I'd sure like to be able to play people

in Kuru, or Mario Bros. Sure setting up a LAN of link cables could be done, but

it would be a pain.


Another reason why I think you'll be able to bring this puppy online is Pokemon.

Just thinking about the possibilities of trading, and battling online brings

tears to my eyes. Pokemon Stadium online? Hoo boy.


Granted all this is speculation, but if possible would be another awesome

feature of the Game Boy Player. This would sell a crap load of BBAs and modems

as well as GBPs.


Carlo De Los Reyes asks, what exactly defines Gold status or Platinum status

etc.  How many sales is that?  I'm guessing the article about Dragon's Lair

going Gold is talking about sales or pre-orders.


Jonathan Says: In the music industry, Gold status refers to

500,000 copies of a record sold. But there is no Gold sales status generally used in

the game industry. Rather, when you see reports of a game "going gold", that

means development and testing is finished, and the game is going into disc

production. The term comes from the fact that the master burns (essentially

early CD-Rs) of old PC games were gold-colored, as opposed to the silver

production discs. PC masters might still be gold-colored, but I have no idea

what the actual color of GameCube, PS2, or Xbox masters are. Regardless, it's

just an industry term that means the game is finished and will be shipping as

soon as the discs are printed.

Platinum refers to sales of 1 million.


A number of people ask, What do you think about the Square-Enix merger? Do

you guys think this is good news or bad for GameCube owners? Where does Sony's

stake in Square fit into all of this?

Rick Says: I'm not sure what to think about the merger yet. The

way it's being presented, the merger is supposed to help the new company compete

against strong competition from Western developers. Competition always results

in better games for us as consumers.


Supposedly, there is no plan to have any sort of cross-over title between the

Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in the States) games, so the

actual impact as far as the games you will see will be minimal at first.

However, the best case scenario has Enix's amazing storytelling and RPG

mechanics meshing with Square's outstanding technical and graphics prowess. I

can't see how we can lose as gamers.


As for how this is going to impact the GameCube, it's much to early to tell.

This merger does serve to reduce the financial stake that Sony had in Square,

but Sony never had more than a financial interest ... they didn't dictate which

platforms Square would develop for. All this means is that Sony now owns less of

the new company as a whole.


On a side note, it's unknown how this will end up impacting the "Game Designer's

Studio" company either. That was never addressed, and I believe that GDS is

being handled as a separate company for the purposes of this merger.

TYP Says: I believe this can only help the situation for

Nintendo fans. Currently, Square and Enix (along with many other developers)

focus on the PS2 because its larger user base makes it the safest. Alone, Enix's

future would mostly rely on the next Dragon Quest game's success, and Square's

on the next Final Fantasy. Both currently lack the security EA, Capcom and many

others possess, and if games (or movies) don't sell as well as hoped or

development takes much longer than expected, there can be drastic repercussions!


A merged company means more stability, at least in theory. Dragon Quest 8 must

come out on the PS2 because Enix needs as many sales as possible, even if doing

so hampers the overall game. After the companies merge, funds will be shared

between Team Enix and Team Gato Square. If Square Enix really wants to make use

of the eCard reader in a key title, it could afford to release a the game for

Nintendo's console instead of Sony's, even at the cost of potentially

sacrificing some sales for creativity's sake, since it has some other megaton

game to back it up.


All in all, there's no way to tell if it will "help" GameCube (2) owners yet, as

very little will change for another year or two, but it couldn't HURT the

Nintendo situation, unless Square Enix full out collapses--and somehow I doubt

that will happen.

Jonathan Says: I agree that we probably won't see much change

for the first couple of years. Once that period is over, we probably still won't

see any drastic stuff like Final Dragon Quest Fantasy or whatever. Still, it's

pretty exciting to think that these two massive pools of talent are being

combined.


Don't forget that Quest is going to be jumbled up in this new company too. We

could be seeing stuff like Ogre Battle: Torneko's Quest Tactics. Okay, maybe

not, but they will certainly have access to the Enix properties, and that should

be a good thing as well.


As for the Game Designers Studio, I see two possible effects from the merger.

First, Sony's stake in the new company will be reduced, so the may decide that

GDS is an unnecessary loophole and just develop for Nintendo outright. I'm sure

they stand to make more money that way, since it looks like Nintendo will be

publishing some or all of the GDS games. Second, if the GDS remains necessary

for the Square side, we could also see Enix using it to make games for GameCube

and GBA. I don't know why they would need or want to, but it's there if they see

some advantage to using it.


Strato asks, Is it just me or is Metroid Prime a disappointment? I love

Nintendo, and this game was supposed to be the next HALO FOR CUBE but it fell

short. I love the Box and the Cube, but after I bought Prime, I was disappointed

as how it is 100% not Halo. Only use left stick to move? Seems Nintendo is

trying to be SO innovative that it would rather screw up a game than have a best

game of all time Halo clone. Its either they are trying to not look bad or they

just never played a game quite like Halo.

Rick Says: If you were looking to Metroid Prime to be a "Halo

Killer", then you got sold a bottle of snake oil. No one from Nintendo was

calling it this, and Nintendo was VERY CLEAR that Metroid Prime was NOT a First

Person Shooter.


Metroid is an adventure game, and at the risk of spoiling part of the game, the

reason you don't have dual-analog control like in most shooters is two-fold.

One, if you go into a fighting situation and try to play the game like an FPS,

you'll lose. Combat in Prime is more cerebral, choosing the right weapon or

tactic and using the terrain and whatnot to your advantage. Second, about

halfway through the game it becomes apparent that you need to have quick access

to weapons and visors in order to succeed in many situations. Removing access to

one or the other in order to have slightly better control would have made the

game MUCH slower. If you don't understand what I'm talking about ... play the

game. You'll understand about halfway through.


As for your comment about Nintendo and innovation, it's pretty clear that even

you don't understand what you're talking about. Even if Nintendo had been making

a first-person shooter, why should they be shackled to the way other games have

their controls set up? As long as the control is responsive, it's YOUR job to

adapt to the controls and learn to play the game. You never hear people making

this comment about platform games, or sports games, so why are they making it

about Metroid? Again, this is just a case of you having your expectations set

falsely. But don't blame Nintendo. They TRIED to tell you. If you wanted Halo

... go play Halo.

Jonathan Says: If you like clones of other games, don't look to

Nintendo for your gaming needs. I'm not going to say that they never do it, but

it's very rare for Nintendo to imitate another game's design. Usually it's the

other way around; Nintendo creates something totally new, then every other

company under the sun rushes to copy it. It's part of the reason that Nintendo

is so secretive about their games and hardware.


If you don't like Metroid, that's your own opinion and I'm not going to argue

with it. However, I do think you're taking the wrong approach if you bought it

expecting a game like Halo. It is nothing of the sort and was never intended to

be. You should look into TimeSplitters 2, another excellent game available on

GameCube.

Billy Says: I don't know what I bought, but I wanted Metroid,

and not a Halo clone. If I wanted to play a FPS, there's plenty of those out

there.


I'm not disappointed in the least. I just completed the game at 95% and loved

every moment.

Adam Says: Well I actually believe that Metroid Prime IS the

"Halo" for the GameCube...


...meaning it's the best game on the console, and a good enough reason to buy a

console for just one game.


I'm amazed how people see a 1st person perspective and can't understand it's not

a shooter. Ahh well. I could really care less about debating people that don't

like this game actually. It's the best game I've ever played and I truly feel

sorry for those who can't enjoy it.

Mike Suzuki Says: Yes, I suppose if you were looking for an FPS

in Metroid Prime, I guess you're probably going to be disappointed. Try Time

Splitters 2 if you're looking for a good FPS fix...or better yet, wait until

Halo 2 comes. Until then, I'd suggest trying to drop your preconceived notions

and take a look at Metroid Prime for what it is, rather than what it is not. I'm

still making my way through the game (about 35% through) but I've loved pretty

much every minute of the game so far. If you can get past your assumptions about

a first-person perspective, you'll hopefully see how Metroid Prime is a great

adventure game, a great Metroid game (I'm liking it better than Metroid Fusion),

and most importantly an overall excellent game.

Mike O. Says: You should read our impressions and previews more

closely if you were expecting a Halo clone.

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