Nintendo really knows how to do things. With just the unveiling of the controller of its upcoming console, codenamed the Nintendo Revolution, the gaming giant practically revolutionized the concept of "playing games". Suddenly games are more natural and engaging then ever.
The controller is a stylized remote-control-like device designed to be used with only one hand. Two small sensors placed near the TV and a chip inside the controller tracks its position and orientation, allowing the player to manipulate the action on screen by physically moving the controller itself.
What this actually translates to is that, for example, you could slash an in-game sword by actually swinging the controller from side to side! Turn a race car just by rotating the controller like a steering wheel, or aim your gun in a shooter by pointing the controller where you want to fire. Or swish and flick a wand in an RPG. You can even wield two independent guns each player can use two of these controllers at a time. The possibilities are endless!
The new controller has very few buttons: it doesn't really need them. There are a few, of course: your thumb can rest on a directional pad or large A button, and your index finger curls around to grip the B trigger on the underside. Then there are smaller a and b buttons on the far side of the controller, which means by just turning it 90 degrees you can use it as a traditional controller. There are also "Start" and "Select" buttons in the middle, with another "Home" button, but we don't what that does. You can also turn the console on or off with a Power button at the top. For multiplayer sessions, LEDs light up in the bottom to tell to which player the controller belongs to. In addition, secondary attachments such as an analogue stick can be plugged in for added functionality in future hit Nintendo titles.
Of course, this isn't the first time Nintendo introduced radically different concepts into gaming. Starting from the game-pad itself (before Nintendo introduced it, there were only joysticks), to the D-Pad, analogue stick, rumble pack and the recent DS with it's touch screen, Nintendo's always been the one who'd take risks and bring innovative concepts into the gaming world. And they've been successful. (Well, mostly successful: the all-red dual-screened seizure-inducing Virtual Boy that tried to give gamers "a taste of virtual reality" was a failure.) Over time, the competitors, followed Nintendo and added those features into their systems.
According to Shigeru Miyamoto, the man who keeps Nintendo cool, they've developed this radically new concept to reach out to a new audience. "We want a system that takes advantage of new technology for something that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can pick up and play. [Something with a] gameplay style that people who have never played games can pick up and not be intimidated by. [We aimed for something] that is simple enough for everyone," he says, "but also something that people who've been playing games for years will be satisfied with."
The gaming industry's reaction has been positive so far. Whether the third-party developers shower the Revolution with first-rate titles is yet to be seen, but as Nintendo's strength has always been its internal development teams, it's safe to assume that the Revolution will offer compelling gameplay experiences to go along with its unique control system.
And if you're still no impressed, log on to Ign.com and see this fantastic controller in action: [doiop.com/RevController]
Recently, an anonymous Factor 5 employee leaked some technical specifications of the Revolution console. This same guy nailed the Xbox 360 specifications before they were released, so there might be some substance in this rumor:
"The brains of the console are rumoured to be a single dual-threaded IBM "custom" PowerPC 2.5 GHz CPU. The system will also sport a Physical Processing Chip (PPU) with 32MB of dedicated RAM, while the CPU itself will saddled up next to 512MB of system RAM.
The custom ATI GPU solution is rumoured to consist of a RN520 600MHz core, backed with 256MB of RAM." Pretty impressive, isn't it? We'll now just have to wait till 2006 to see if the console is really as good as it sounds.
I feel like I owe you guys another explanation of what this doiop thing is and why almost all the links "are from doiop.com." Well, it's simple. Doiop.com is a free service that lets you shorten the often incredibly long URLs (the links, duh!) into something shorter and more sharable. For example, the actual link to the site showing all the creepy photoshopped manga-like pictures is [http://www.worth1000.com/cache/contest/contestcache.asp?contest_id=7470&display=photoshop]. That's way too big and quite unusable here in Sites Unseen: would you like type all that just to visit that site? But typing out [doiop.com/RealityManga] would be acceptable for most surfers. In fact, you don't even have to type anything. You can just head over to [niloywrites.blogspot.com] and you'll find that all these links are stashed there your surfing convenience. And that site exists for that purpose only, it's not my blog. Thank you.
Low Gravity and Super Slow Motion Videos
"Since the amazing helicopter scene in The Matrix, I have been searching for super slow motion videos depicting everyday events. Dr. David G. Alciatore has compiled a collection of over 180 super slow motion video clips to satisfy anyone with a super slow motion obsession." I saw a video over there in which a cube of jell-o bouncing off the floor- it flattens completely like a liquid, and then magically regains its cube form. Cool stuff.
Best MSPAINT EVAR!
The name says it all- a large graffiti mural sort of work done all with the limited graphics program MS Paint, which seems to bemoan the current state of Rage Against the Machine, Futurama, Che Guevara, and how that clown from McDonald's still isn't dead.
Now that's what I call art!
An enormous pink bunny has been erected on an Italian mountainside where it will stay for the next 20 years.
Kempa.com has a nice write-up at [doiop.com/kempa] on the crazy interactive comics of Jason Shiga [shigabooks.com], who won the Eisner Award for talent most deserving of wider recognition. There's even a video showing one of Jason's interactive comics "in action".
Royal de Luxe Parade in Nantes
A pretty amazing gallery of photos of a parade in France in which.. well, a giant Bjork puppet fights a giant elephant puppet to see who gets to eat thousands of hotel concierges and women in wooden swimsuits. The French, am I right? Frickn' wacky. Actually, it was a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days.
You'll find awesome cartoons, comic strips over here.
The Box Doodle Project
The Box Doodle Project invites you to turn those boring old cardboard boxes into wacky characters, robots, and monsters. There are 5 galleries so far, and each entry is fantastic.
In an age where movie posters are just a bunch of Photoshopped floating heads, it's hard to believe that films were once treated with such gorgeous and lush artwork. Bob Peak's inimitable style proves he was a master of a dead artform that we can only pray one day gets resurrected.
UC Berkeley Professor of Economics Carlo M. Cipolla and illustrator James Donnelly team up (well, teamed- this is from 1987) to offer a somewhat windy but funny theory on why life tends to suck. Originally from the Whole Earth Review.
Every Cover of Mad Magazine, ever
You likely either find this immensely thrilling or completely pointless; I can't imagine there's a middle ground here. I'm a fan, I can't help myself.
That's it for this week. You can log on to my site BDcomics.blogspot.com if you're into comics, or check out my photography at flickr.com/photos/niloy/. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Review by Gokhra
Cast: Maggie: Lindsay Lohan, Ray: Michael Keaton, Trip: Matt Dillon, Ray Jr.: Breckin Meyer, Kevin: Justin Long, Sally: Cheryl Hines
Now why on earth would I watch this movie? Could it be the actress is too cute? Well, partly but mostly because it was just lying there asking to be watched. Sounds kinda like the car in the movie which almost asks to be driven.
Well, let's get on with it.
It's all about a car that's alive. And it's no macho car like KITT of Knight Rider or a psycho killer like the 60's pink Plymouth in the movie Christine. Yep, that car actually hunted people down. Nope, this one's cute even when it's not alive. It's a Volkswagen Beetle. It's alive and even manages to fall in love with another car.
This is where it differs with the previous Herbie movies (there were three) where Herbie was essentially just a car. A car with a personality and one that sometimes seemed to have a mind of its own, but nevertheless a car existing in the world as we know it. In "Herbie: Fully Loaded," Herbie can blink his headlights and roll them from side to side, he can let his front bumper droop when he's depressed, and he can suddenly open his doors to cause trouble for people he doesn't like. The car seems to be self-aware, able to make decisions on its own, and able to communicate on an emotional level and sometimes with pantomime or by example. That's' more insane than KITT could ever be.
Now where Herbie came from nobody knows. It's definitely not a computer concoction. Aliens maybe? Whatever the case this movie deals with a girl finding the car and making a life out of it rather than historical and scientifically mind boggling details of how a car can think.
Herbie becomes the possession of a young woman named Maggie (Lindsay Lohan), who is the daughter of a famous racing family headed by her dad (Michael Keaton). The family dynasty falls on hard times after her brother Ray Jr. (Breckin Meyer) gets caught in a slump. Everybody no matter how good fall into a slump at some time. Michael Schumacher is an exception but then again he is not human. He can't be.
Having just graduated from college, she's off to New York for a job as an assistant producer at ESPN. Before she leaves, her dad offers to buy her a junkyard car as a graduation gift, to drive around for the summer. After a narrow escape from the car compactor, Herbie manages to get Maggie to choose him.
When handsome young mechanic Kevin (Justin Long) says Herbie's speedometer goes over 200 mph, Maggie wryly notes, "Someone had a sense of humor." Kevin rebuilds the car and everything is going fine until Herbie offends the sensibilities of a hot-shot racing champion (Matt Dillon). She beats the NASCAR champ Trip Murphy (Dillon) in an impromptu road race. The champ challenges Herbie and Maggie and through some ridiculously weird bending of rules a VW Bug is entered in a NASCAR race. Heck, I thought NASCAR was all about American stock car racing.
It's a cornball of a movie. Little kids would definitely enjoy it while their soon to become cynical older siblings will be rolling their eyes. As for the world weary grownup parents they will be busy being world weary.
It's a formula movie that is designed to bring in cash and it will. How could you not like a movie about a plucky girl and her plucky car proving themselves in a male dominated sports culture
The movie is surprisingly loads of fun. It's got a great supporting cast. Keaton has the energy act the father by not allowing his daughter to race even though she is better than the son. Dillon as usual is better at his villainous roles and plays it with aplomb. Watch it and be surprised.
How Real are giant squides
By Daniel Engber
This week, a British journal published the first-ever pictures of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat. A pair of Japanese researchers set up an apparatus that photographed the creature as it wrapped its tentacles around some bait attached to a deep-sea camera. How did the giant squid remain elusive for so long?
The difficulty of underwater exploration. The giant squid may be no harder to find than any other animal that lives at the bottom of the ocean. Submersibles that travel thousands of feet underwater have provided scientists with only a limited view of deep-sea life. Cameras can see only what's within range of an artificial light, and light can scare off some dark-adapted critters. Plenty of deep-sea animals other than giant squid have shown up in fishing nets without having been captured on film in their natural environment.
The giant squid seems especially mysterious for a couple of reasons. First of all, its incredible sizegiant squids can be 40 feet long or moremakes it hard to believe that it can't be seen alive. Second, dead giant squids surface with surprising regularity. In the last few years, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of giant squid carcasses that have been discovered. So, why is it so hard to find a living giant squid when the dead ones are a dime a dozen?
For one, we don't really know where and how giant squid live. Specimens have been found all over the world, but it's not clear if they have regular migration patterns. We know sperm whales eat giant squidremains have been found in the whales' stomachsso some researchers have tracked the predators to find the prey. The Japanese researchers looked for the giant squid where sperm whales were known to congregate. Their camera-on-a-rope technique wasn't particularly innovative. (More adventuresome researchers have attached cameras to the sperm whales, for example.) Giant squid experts think they just got lucky.
This is a photo released by Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum, showing an 8-meter (26-foot) long Architeuthis attacking prey hung by a rope, white line at left, at 900 meters (yards) deep off the coast of Japan's Bonin islands, 1,000 kilometers (670 miles) south of Tokyo, in the fall of 2004. The camera was operated by remote control. (AP Photo/HO, National Science Museum)
Bonus Explainer: What's with all the giant squid carcasses? Dead giant squids may be more buoyant than the carcasses of other deep-sea creatures because they have an unusually high concentration of ammonium ions. Since the ammonium is lighter than seawater, the carcasses tend to float, making them easy to spot. (Giant squids use the ammonium to keep from sinking while they're alive, too.) It's less clear why so many have turned up in the last few years. One theory suggests that an increase in deep-sea fishingof orange roughy in particularhas disturbed the giant-squid habitat. Others say that the squid deaths have been caused by underwater seismic surveys using air guns. Or it could be global warming.
Bonus Bonus Explainer: What's the difference between squid and giant squid? The giant squid isn't just a big ol' version of a regular squidit has its own genus, called Architeuthis. (There may be several species of giant squid, but no one knows for sure.) The lesser-known "colossal squid," of the genus Mesonychoteuthis, may be even bigger and nastier than the giant squid. It has a larger beak than the giant squid and has hooks on its tentacles. While a few specimens of colossal squids have been discovered, no one has yet seen one in its natural habitat.
Explainer thanks Martin Collins of the British Antarctic Survey and Neil Landman of the American Museum of Natural History.
Daniel Engber is a regular contributor to Slate.
Photograph of squid by AP Photo/Ho, National Science Museum