Author Archives: Anthony Suarez
Even after ending their contract with Nintendo, Silicon Knights CEO, Denis Dyack is still asked if there are any plans for a sequel to Eternal Darkness. His answers regarding sequels have been strongly misinterpreted and there are many rumors being made without any basis at all.
“I am most often asked if we have sequels in mind for Eternal Darkness. The answer is absolutely yes.”
- Denis Dyack, Silicon Knights Blog, July 06, 2006
This does not mean there are fragments of Eternal Darkness 2 code and media hidden in their offices. It means they have ideas for a sequel if they ever had a chance to make one.
Although Eternal Darkness did not sell very well, it is well known for inventing “video game insanity”, literally. As the player progresses through the game, there is a sanity meter in addition to the common health and mana meters. The lower the sanity meter lowers, the more distorted the gameplay becomes. This can happen in various ways:
- The camera tilts at an odd angle
- Sounds of people screaming and crying loudly
- Walls bleeding
- Statue heads turn towards the player as they walk
- The sound of loud knocking on doors
- The screen turns black with the word “VIDEO” on the top-right corner as if the GameCube was turned off. The sound of your character being attacked can be heard in the background.
- After saving a game, it will ask “Would you like to erase all data?” and will appear to erase the data no matter what was chosen.
- The player will be attacked by monsters and the message “Please reconnect your GameCube controller” will appear at the bottom.
- The game will pretend to crash and display the infamous “blue screen of death”
- All doors in the room will be locked, making the player think they are trapped in the level.
- Insects will appear to be crawling on the television screen.
- The game will suddenly end with the message that “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Redemption” will be coming out soon. This does not mean a sequel will be made!
There are many effects, and after some of these effects, everything will go back to normal (or more normal) with the player’s character screaming, “This can’t be happening”. The player can also recover sanity by performing finishing moves on monsters and casting recovery spells. The player’s health starts to drain after sanity reaches zero. I admit that there were times when I intentionally lowered my sanity just to see how many effects I can encounter. It was this method of messing with the player’s mind that gave it good reviews. It was weird enough to stop and think about what just happened, entertaining enough to find more effects and happens occasionally enough to make it hard to tell when it will happen next. It is a freaky game with a deep story and amazing audio. In addition, Eternal Darkness is the first mature rated game ever published by Nintendo.
Whenever a game is published by Nintendo, they own certain portions of the game, while Silicon Knights own other portions such as the characters themselves. The sanity system has also been patented (no. 6,935,954). The inventors are Henri Sterchi and Denis Dyack of Silicon Knights and Edward Ridgeway of Nintendo. It is because of this patent which stopped other developers from ripping off the sanity system for other games. In addition, it has never been made clear whether Eternal Darkness is an intellectual property owned by Silicon Knights or Nintendo.
“It’s not time to even talk about those other kinds of things for various different reasons. Nintendo, who’s still our silent partner, a lot of people don’t know that. We have a great relationship with those guys, and it’s not time to talk about Eternal Darkness 2.”
“It’s a complicated question with a complicated answer and we’re not answering the question.”
- Denis Dyack, Interview with Joystiq
Nintendo still owns stock of Silicon Knights, even though they have nothing to do with any of their current projects such as the Too Human trilogy. In addition, it has never been made clear why Silicon Knights did not renew their contract with Nintendo after developing only two games with them: Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Denis Dyack also stated that they want to make different types of games without being stuck in a single genre. He said that there is plenty of “undiscovered country”, with ideas that have not been quite explored yet. Dyack also made a very fascinating comparison between the video game and movie industry and stated that the major publishers are merging together to become larger and make fewer and better movies to make higher profits. Of the hundreds of games released last year, it is impossible to review each one and make a profit off each one as well. Video game publishers are also echoing this, with Activision Blizzard being an example of this.
However, I believe that Steam, WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network make it possible for smaller developers to continue selling their games. Unfortunately, this does not make the process of pitching an idea any easier.
In conclusion, there is no strong evidence that shows that we will be seeing an Eternal Darkness sequel anytime soon. With the legal barriers and the need for confidentiality, Denis Dyack does not have any other answers other than the fact that it is “complicated”. Even though I never finished Eternal Darkness, I would love to play a sequel should it ever get developed someday. Until then, Silicon Knights has a lot of work ahead of them with the Too Human trilogy and a bunch of unknown games they will be working on in between. These unknown games will be different from their other games in every way, in genre, gameplay, appearance, plot, etc. They have made many achievements with their games and working with Microsoft and Nintendo and did a great job of placing Canada on the map for game developers. The only person we can trust in regards to an Eternal Darkness sequel is Denis Dyack.
There's been many countdowns for the hardest video games ever made. Many of them include popular games such as Contra, Metal Slug, Battletoads, Ikaruga, R-Type, Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Devil May Cry.
Here's a list of video games which I've played that I consider extremely hard, and at times, harder than the games mentioned above in no particular order:
Odama (GameCube): This game was developed by the same people who made Seaman: Vivarium Inc. Odama combines the elements of pinball, Real Time Strategy and voice recognition. You control a gigantic ball called the Odama with your left and right triggers, and you can move the left analog stick to influence the way the Odama moves. The Odama can buildings, enemy soldiers and your own as well, so the player is forced to carefully maneuver the Odama in order to make it to the next level. The player also controls a set of soldiers who are controlled by shouting 11 distinct commands into the microphone to make them move, defend, rally or to press forward against enemies. There are also a few soldiers who carry a giant bell. If the Odama strikes the bell, the soundwaves generated by the bell can take down both enemy and friendly soldiers. However, if the Odama hits the bell when it's glowing, it will turn green, and make enemy soldiers hit by it fight on your side, and your soldiers remain unharmed. The objective of each level is to take the bell to the other side of the level within the time limit while surviving and not being pushed back to far or being defeated. The game is extremely stressful and unforgiving while your solders lessen, the time gets lower, knowing what to shout into the microphone and the Odama causes more harm than good. There was a rumor that an easier version would come on the Wii, but this never happened.
Cubivore (GameCube): Originally intended for Nintendo's failed Nintendo 64 DD, it was ported to the GameCube. The art style is extremely weird and crude because everything is literally shaped like a box, even the sun, moon and clouds. The world has been taken over by a killer cubivore, and it is your job to go up the chain of evolution to become strong enough to defeat him and his lackeys. This is done through eating other animals and taking their meat to make yourself stronger and defeating boss cubivores and taking their powers. Strangely, this game has elements of Darwin's theory of evolution. With the cubivores devoured, the player must determine which form is the best to use. Some may jump higher, do more damage, run faster, etc. Unfortunately, the game is actually too complicated for my taste. With all the different meat types and the fact the player must go through 150 mutations, plus the fact that enemies have unforgiving difficulty, this game can be extremely repetitive.
Bangai-O Spirits (DS): This is a sequel to Bangai-O on the N64 and Dreamcast. There are a large number of puzzles and challenges in this one. The player controls a tiny robot that can do many things from fire bombs, bouncing balls, missiles, and can use melee weapons such as baseball bat and a sword. Each item has strengths and weaknesses. This robot makes Gundam Wing look like Hello Kitty. The game can actually slow down because of the sheer number of objects on the screen. Many times, there will be over 400 bombs with enemies firing back and the game will slow down while processing each one. This issue is notorious in the Bangai-O series. In many levels, enemies attack immediately and death occurs in less than 5 seconds if you don't react fast enough. Also, some levels need to be completed in a specific order or else the player can get stuck. The DS version has a strange feature called "Sound Load" which can create and receive sound waves through the microphone to store levels. This is similar to the way a 56k modem works. This means that I can go to YouTube and play sound load videos on my desktop and have my DS listen to the sound to store the level. I tried this many times, and only got it to work once. This game is for hardcore gamers only.
The Haunting (Genesis): You play a ghost who is trying to scare a family out of every home they move into. You do this by possessing objects in the house such as making walls bleed, turning a couch into a monster with blood dripping, making plates fly in the air, etc. The player's health is represented by slime which slowly drains. If the slime is completely gone, the player must go through a dungeon level to recover slime, and it will be game over if the player dies too many times. Scaring family members out of rooms in the house makes slime fall from the ceiling which the player can take. With every level, the game gets increasingly more difficult because the player is attacked by other demons, the dog's bark can cause damage and the player must perform more scare tactics in order to stay alive. There is no save options, and the player will always start from the very beginning should they choose to restart.
Heavenly Guardian (Wii): Originally supposed to be a sequel to Pocky & Rocky on the SNES, it was renamed to "Heavenly Guardian" and released on the PS2 and Wii. They player controls a girl who can fire different projectiles depending on where the Wii remote is pointing. Shaking the remote triggers a blizzard which freezes all enemies which can be destroyed for bonus points. This game becomes difficult because there are no save points, it's difficult to gain health and lives after they're lost, and enemies attack in weird patterns that are difficult to dodge. For example, one enemy attacks in 3 random directions at once and sometimes fires 1 at a time. With the multiple enemies, low health and the lack of a save system, the player must anticipate enemy attack with every step.
Many people are not aware of the history of this game. At first glance, most people would call it a “SimCity rip-off”. However, this is completely false! It is SimTower, with a few cultural differences between the Japanese and North American versions.
The Tower is a construction management simulation game designed by the infamous Yoot Saito while his original company OPeNBooK Co. was around. During this time, SimCity was a critically acclaimed game and was a major factor in Will Wright’s popularity in the simulation game industry. Saito’s The Tower was published in North America by Maxis and the game was renamed to SimTower as a way of standing out better in stores and increasing sales. The name change worked to benefit Maxis, but never replaced the critical acclaim of SimCity. Again, I must stress that Will Wright had nothing to do with this game in any way.
After this, Saito retained all the rights to the game, with the exception of the name “SimTower”, and stuck with the name “The Tower”. OPeNBooK later joined forces with Sega, and made a new version of his game for the PC and named it “Yoot Tower”. In addition, he created The Tower for the unsuccessful console, the Panasonic 3DO, and was only released in Japan. These versions were more complex than SimTower with different types of buildings that had various effects on a residents stress levels (e.g. restaurants, restrooms, etc.).
Yoot Saito formed another company, Vivarium Inc., which is well known for the Dreamcast game, Seaman, a pet simulation where the player uses a microphone to speak with the character directly to interact with it in addition to regular caretaking activities. OPeNBooK later on merged into Vivarium Inc and continued to develop more games with Sega.
The Tower SP is another game made directly by Vivarium. It still retains the visual similarities with its previous versions and makes good use of the GBA hardware with better controls and a better interface. The letters SP is a reference to the latest revision of the Game Boy Advance, the SP version, which is more compact and opens like a laptop computer and the newer Nintendo DS. This is the first time I recall a GBA game adding the letters SP to its name, where other games would use the word Advance.
The player takes on the role of a constructor for Yamanouchi Construction and needs to construct a building that people can live and work in, while making sure that everything is easily accessible, in good condition, secure, clean and making profit at the same time. As the building gets a higher population, the player is allowed to add different things such as a hospital and a train station to accommodate different people. The final objective is to have more than 40 floors, a population of 2000 and a wedding must take place during a weekend to receive a 5-star rating and the label of “tower” status. At the time of this writing, I have a 4-star rating and a population that fluctuates between 500 and 1900 and I am starting to slowly redesign the placement of everything to make it less stressful for the residents so they people don’t leave so much. It’s very challenging.
The controls on the GBA are much better than the PC versions since there are buttons mapped to functions such as construction, increasing the rate of time, saving, reading help documents about various structures and examining people and rooms. In order to speed time, the player needs to hold down the A button. At first, I had a problem with this, because I’d end up holding down the A button for several minutes just to watch people move in to empty condos and fill up offices, then I realized the reason why they force players to hold down buttons is because there are messages that show on the screen such as “Single 40s female demands restaurant” and “Elevator #3 too crowded” which may or may not have a fatal impact on people’s stress level causing them to leave the building completely and it is important that the player has a chance to deal with these issues.
In addition to managing stress, the player needs to ensure that they are always making a profit with everything in the tower. This part requires plenty of patience. If the prices are low, people will move in, but move out if it’s too expensive and the stress level rises again. A trick I love to use is to lower the prices of offices and condos, and slowly raise it as people move in. One thing I had to do often is after a lot of people move in, I hold the A button to speed up the time and simply wait and watch as my money grows to 1 million dollars or more so that I can spend more time expanding.
As the player’s building expands, it will need more cleaning staff. Every morning, they will go through each floor and clean as much as they can. If there are not enough cleaners, there will be rooms left dirty, cockroaches will grow, causing more stress, forcing residents to leave the building. The player is capable of directly taking part in maintenance in strange ways. For example, the player can select a dirty bathroom and rapidly press A to clean it, saving the cleaning staff time when they do their daily routine. When a new restaurant is made, sometimes the player can select it and press A to increase the chances of residents to buying food there. This is a very miniscule way to add more player action so that they’re not always just waiting for money to roll in every time.
There aren’t too many bad things about this game, being that it is of the simulation genre. The thing I like the least about The Tower SP is the complexity of the rules. For example, a building can only have 4 elevators with a maximum of 4 carts and they cannot expand over 20 floors, people can take a maximum of 4 stairs at a time, there can only be 1 big elevator and can only be accessed every 10 floors, there is a limit to the number of restrooms, etc. The list goes on. Although, as the player gets a higher star rating, the president of Yamanouchi Construction will inspect the building once a year and give advice to make the building better.
As a simulation game, it certainly lives up to the genre’s name. There’s just something about constructing a large building filled with little pixilated silhouettes that I find so appealing. Even with the complex rules and limited graphics compared to the PC versions it’s still a good game for anyone who is very patient and likes simulation games such as SimCity.
While I was reading about this game, I found out that Vivarium Inc. made another sequel to this game for the Nintendo DS in Japan, appropriately titled “The Tower DS”. They did this to celebrate The Tower’s fifteenth anniversary. When The Tower SP for the GBA was released, most of the reviews for it were negative due to the fact that it is fairly long for a portable game and is still wrongly called a “SimTower rip-off”. The Tower is virtually unknown to most people, and the label “SimTower rip-off” causes so much confusion amongst people.
Due to the negative reviews, I don’t believe The Tower DS will ever reach North America in English. Reading text is a very important part of this game, and is nearly impossible to expand a building if the player is unable to tell what residents demand, so it’s not a game I can import from Japan and still understand. It makes good use of the dual-screens, so I don’t need to scroll up so high, since both screens display the tall tower better than on the GBA.
The only reason why The Tower DS was mentioned in some game news pages is because people saw the statue of Mario standing similarly to New York City’s Statue of Liberty, and there will be a point where the player can add rooms inside of the statue of Mario.
In addition, Sega did not publish The Tower DS. It was published by another Japanese company called DigiToys Inc. I don’t know if this is because Sega wasn’t interested in The Tower, since they were willing to produce a sequel to Seaman for the PS2 in Japan. It could also be due to the fact that The Sims and Spore are dominating the simulation game market here. Those are great games, and it’s a shame that Vivarium Inc. developed 2 games that we will most likely never see in English.
Listed as E4 on Xbox Live Marketplace.
Every Extend Extra Extreme (E4) is an enhanced remake of the PSP game Every Extend Extra (E3) which is an enhanced remake of the freeware game Every Extend (E2). Every Extend Extra Extreme has been developed by Q Entertainment, the synesthesia wizards who have also made Rez and Lumines which also make excellent use of light, color and audio.
The freeware game only has one level which can be easily finished in less than 10 minutes. It is very basic game and it started to truly evolve into an arcade masterpiece once Q Entertainment got their hands on it.
There are 4 modes of gameplay: Unlimited where there is a countdown timer that can be extended, timed where the countdown timer cannot be altered, a mode to use music stored on the Xbox hard drive to affect the level and a mode called “The Revenge” where the player shoots down multiple objects instead of using chain reactions.
The controls are simple: Left analog stick to move around, A to explode (or shoot in The Revenge mode), and B to end a chain reaction.
There are 4 levels in single player mode, each with its own music and behaviors. As the music plays, objects fly across the screen in geometric patterns such as V shapes, and the sounds in the songs affect their speed, direction and how fast the screen will become crowded.
When the player pops in the level, they have a shield and remain invulnerable for 5 seconds so they don’t die immediately in an over-crowded level. When the shield goes down, they can still freely move around, but cannot touch any enemy objects. If they do, they will be destroyed, and seconds will go down before the next player appears in the center of the screen, so they need to move more carefully.
As enemy objects move in, the player must find the best possible place to explode to start a chain reaction. When the player presses A to explode, any objects caught in the explosion will also explode, continuing the chain reaction. The player can press B to end the chain reaction to respawn and collect time extensions for more time to score points.
There are 4 objects the player can collect to help rack up a high score: Quickens make explosions faster, multipliers increase the score for every exploded object, shields which give you a short time of invulnerability and time extensions which increase the countdown timer.
The player’s score will increase at an alarming rate. For example, when I played for 10 minutes, I had a score of 1 trillion. This is because the player receives 1 point for every object that explodes in the chain reaction times the multipliers that have been collected. If a player gets 2000 chains and 2542 multipliers, they will receive 5084000 points.
In addition to simple controls, score modifiers and simple strategy, E4 has the same attributes that can be found in Rez and Lumines: The player’s movements and actions create sounds that match the level’s music, there are plenty of colors, flashing objects, different modes, the controller vibrates with the music and it be played for long periods of time. I found myself bopping my head to the music as I watched my 45-second chain reaction make clapping sounds that are in sync with the upbeat techno dance music.
The next mode, titled “Wiz Ur Musik”, prompts you to choose a song from your hard drive, which will be played and used to control how objects will move in the level. Prior to this, I inserted one of my music CDs into the Xbox and had it copy it to the hard drive which took a while. While I played this mode, I didn’t feel or see anything different from other songs. It looked like it was only counting bass and snare sounds and using that to control the pace of the game. In any case, it was nice to hear my own music for a while.
The final single player mode, “The Revenge” gives you the power to fire a weapon instead of exploding. Before the game starts, the player can choose if they want to fire in all 4 compass directions, or have those 4 directions of fire concentrate in the forward direction in a cone shape. Afterwards, the player can also choose the speed of the levels before it starts. When the game starts, the player has the same 5 second shield, but this time, must destroy a certain amount of objects, then defeat a boss afterwards. The enemies move faster and in different patterns as the levels progress. This is a fun variation of E4, and it’s a lot more challenging too since I can’t use the explosion to escape when I’m surrounded by enemies and I have to find a way to shoot my way out.
There is online multiplayer over Xbox live, but there’s nobody hosting or seeking any matches so I can’t say anything about this feature. If I wanted to play online, I’d have to add a friend who has E4 and send a message to them to arrange some time to play together.
Overall, this is an excellent game on Xbox Live Arcade. It is definitely without a doubt, much easier, more addictive and fun than Geometry Wars. This led me to believe that Geometry Wars became more popular due to the fact that Microsoft Game Studios was publishing it. This is the simplest and most addictive casual game I have ever played in my life. Even though there are only 4 single player levels, it can last from a few minutes to a few hours depending on how long I can stay concentrated and gather multipliers, quickens and time extensions. I know that not many people are aware of this game and if you have 800 points lying around in your live account and you want something to do for 10 minutes to an hour, then E4 is worth it. I wonder what they’ll make the fifth E stand for in E5 if they ever make a sequel: Every Extend Extra Extreme... Elephant?
Link to the freeware game: Every Extend
Don’t be fooled be the simplistic black and white vector shapes. Cursor*10 is a very quick unique and challenging puzzle game that can be played in any web browser as long as it has Adobe Flash installed.
Cursor*10 is a flash game made by Yoshio Ishii, who has made numerous games for Nekogames, using a simple point-and-click control scheme and a simple visual style that reminds me of old DOS and Atari games. Even though the website is Japanese, the game is in English and doesn’t require anyone to learn button combinations or advanced tactics. All the player needs is quick reflexes and a basic understanding of the game’s objectives.
The object of every level in Cursor*10 is to click on the staircase that goes to the floor above, eventually reaching the 16th floor. There is no main character to speak of; however your own mouse cursor could be considered a character in this game. When you start a level, there is a timer at the bottom-right corner that starts at 650 and continues to fall down towards 0 increasingly faster as the player tries to move through each floor. When the timer reaches 0, the first cursor explodes, the message “Cursor No. 2 ready” is showed, and the player restarts the entire game from the beginning. However, this time, Cursor No. 1’s movements and clicks are being replayed as Cursor No. 2 continues to move around, and when No. 3 is ready, its predecessors will be replayed and this continues throughout all 10 cursors. This gameplay mechanic is first used where there is a button on the ground that reveals a set of stairs when the button is pressed and disappears when that same button is released. This forces the player to use Cursor No. 1 to hold that button down until it explodes, then Cursor No. 2 repeats those floors, but this time, Cursor No. 1’s movements are being replayed, which includes holding that button down, giving Cursor No. 2 the chance to go up that flight of stairs and get closer to the 16th floor. The multiplicity strategy is used multiple times, such as another situation where a box needs to be clicked 99 times for the next staircase to be shown but there’s not enough time for 1 cursor to do it, so another cursor must sacrifice its life so the next cursor can make it through.
Out of all the games I’ve ever played in my life, I don’t remember a single one that uses this concept of the player dying and as they use replay the game, their previous actions are replayed in real time in such a way that they help themselves out. It’s a very short game that can be finished in less than 15 minutes once you understand what needs to be done to get to the staircase to the next level.
This makes me wonder if this concept of multiplicity can be implemented in future games; there’s been many interesting puzzle games involving changing your visual perspective of objects (e.g. EchoChrome, Crush, Super Paper Mario), matching specific color blocks (e.g. Audiosurf, Lumines, Dr. Mario) and even blending adventure with puzzles (e.g. Zack & Wiki, Professor Layton). Whatever happens, I’m glad that the puzzle genre is no longer limited to jig-saw puzzles, crosswords and Tetris-clones.
Cursor*10 is a short, fun and original flash puzzle game that is easy on the mind and can be easily played from beginning to end once the player remembers where the stairs are and where the buttons are.
Do you remember the game Battletoads? It is one of the most difficult games I ever played in my life, and like Contra, you need a second player if you want to get through it without cheating or dying excessively.
The reason why I am mentioning it is because there has been a sudden explosion of rumors regarding a new Battletoads game for the Wii. The second I saw the YouTube trailer, I immediately suspected it was false. At first, I noticed that their fake trailer is simply composed of other Wii-related video clips and stolen 3D videos slapped together, with a announcer talking as if he was a monster truck derby. Also, they took clips from a Red Steel trailer, so a player is slashing the Wii remote like a sword, then they show a clip of one of the Battletoads jumping in the air. This makes no sense. They even mentioned that Battletoads would be on Virtual Console soon, which also made it seem more like a scam.
Battletoads was developed by Rare, who has left Nintendo, and is now making games for Microsoft! There was talk of having GoldenEye 007 on Virtual Console some time ago, however there are many legal rights between Microsoft owning Rare, Nintendo owning the game made by Rare, and Activision now owning the James Bond franchise itself. So in order for Nintendo to get GoldenEye 007 on Virtual Console, Microsoft, Rare, Nintendo and Activision must come to an agreement which they must all abide to. This is no different than if it was the Battletoads game, or even Banjo-Kazooie or Perfect Dark. They even made Perfect Dark Zero and currently working on a new Banjo-Kazooie game for Xbox 360 with no legal issues since Rare owns all the characters and they are both new games and not remakes or ports.
On the fake preorder website, there is a phone number that changes randomly every time it is refreshed. Each number is a Church of Scientology in multiple cities. The idea is that the unsuspecting person calls their church, and when they say "Thank you for calling the Church of Scientology", the person would say "Scientology? I thought this is the number for preordering Battletoads" Can Scientology still operate if they get all these calls about Battletoads? Yes they can! Scientology.org survived a wave of Denial of Service attacks and they'll survive this wave of annoying calls.
I decided to write about this because this actually brought back good memories of when I used to play Battletoads & Double Dragon on SNES. I loved the soundtrack and it was cool to have more players to choose in this one. The giant toad fist that finishes off an enemy is always entertaining and never gets boring. The beat-em-up style and weird punk-style characters made the game stand out very well in an already-crowded video game market.
In summary, I don't believe a single word until Nintendo or Rare makes a statement proving otherwise.
I've been playing lots of GameCube games on my Wii, mostly Animal Crossing and Super Smash Bros. Melee in particular. I also managed to get some new GC games such as GUN, Killer7 and Chibi-Robo. I realized that I was running low on space, so I decided to walk to the Wal-Mart near my house and buy a new one, or at least buy one of the third-party memory cards to save a few bucks.
I walked around the Wii area and the small GameCube area and I couldn't find a single memory card, official or unofficial. They still had their PlayStation 2 stuff since it's not actually dead yet. After a few minutes of wandering aimlessly, I decided to ask one of the Wal-Mart employees.
He looked me in the eyes and said, "We don't have them anymore!" I was boggled, they still sell their GameCubes at $70, and their GameCube games, but they have no memory cards or controllers!
When I inserted my memory card into my Wii for the first time, I assumed that it could use its own storage space and having an actual card is optional, but I was wrong. So usually, I leave the card in its side port in case I ever feel like playing a GC game. It was a slap in the face when Wal-Mart stopped selling the GC memory cards and continued selling the consoles and the games themselves.
I even went to Nintendo.com to order one directly, but their store page is gone. So if I really wanted a GC memory card, I'd either have to go to a used-game store or eBay.
It just boggles me though. If a kid buys a GameCube game, they might forget about the controller or the memory card entirely, and they'll feel ripped off after realizing that they can't be easily bought anymore. The only game that actually comes with a memory card is Animal Crossing (low capacity), but I bought a cheap used copy, so I never got that card. It wouldn't have made a difference, because that card is only enough to save one game, Animal Crossing! I understand that the GameCube has been replaced by the Wii, but how can they still sell the GameCube games while discontinuing the sales of controllers and memory cards? My guess is that Nintendo decided to discontinue them and Wal-Mart decided to sell them all away without restocking, which is why they only have only GameCubes and GameCube games left. The controllers sold out as a result of Smash Bros. proclaiming that the "GameCube controller is the best way to play" since the Wii Remote and Nunchuk don't make extensive use of the motion sensors.
So, I guess that's it for GameCube Memory cards. I don't desperately need one now; I just wanted one as a backup. There's also a GameCube SD Card adapter that uses SD Cards like memory cards, so I might get my hands on that if things get desperate.
I don't have Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but I do have ClayFighter 63 1/3 for the Nintendo 64, a game that feels like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct mixed with clay and Ren & Stimpy.
There's some interesting speculation behind why they used the suffix of 63 1/3 instead of the number 64. The obvious guess being that it is making fun of the clichéd 64 slapped on the end of many game titles. The other is a rumor that Interplay was running out of time and that Nintendo kept rushing them without giving any extra time, so the 63 1/3 would seem to be a message this game could have been much bigger and better if it had spent more time in development.
There is no story whatsoever. The player simply chooses a character and fights to the top. It's simple, straightforward and doesn't force anyone to remember any character backgrounds such as "this guy killed my father" or "I want to be the best of the best to prove that my family is the greatest!"
All the character sprites and animation were made using photographs of clay models. It went for that funny cartoony, surrealist style for the characters and made the characters look very unique. Even though the sprites are two-dimensional, the levels which the fights would take place were completely 3D. This is one of the many things that madeClayFighter stand out in the first place. Other games did not even dare to try this approach.
As the fighters move closer or further away from each other, the camera would rotate around to show that this isn't just a sidescrolling level. Both characters can move around in a circle if they keep moving left or right. This is only the point in the level where neither character can pass. It is at this point, an opponent can smash the opponent with a strong attack then end up at another section of the level that isn't normally seen. This would usually be the roof of the level, inside a castle, or inside a sewer. The player can even knock the opponent back to the previous part of the level if they get cornered again.
There are 12 playable characters, with 3 of them being unlockable. Interesting enough, there are 2 characters that people may be familiar with who aren't ClayFighter-exclusive characters: Boogerman and Earthworm Jim who both had their own games on the Sega Genesis, which the previous ClayFighter games were initially made for. Even though there are no character stats that show which ones are stonger, faster or jump higher, the character that is chosen is pretty much a matter of preference. I always let the game choose randomly for me by holding the L+R triggers together. The 3 hidden characters can be chosen after pressing the right key combination at the character selection screen. Each character has unique animations and sound effects for every attack and damage taken. You will hear things suck as "cluck you", "quit it", "I will destroy you", "I told you I'd win" and even "you suck". It never gets annoying.
In addition to the quirky characters, there is also a combo and fatality system reminiscent of serious games such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct. At the beginning of every match, the narrator would shout "Let's get ready to crumble", which is aspinoff of Michael Buffer's catchphrase "Let's get ready to rumble". When the blue power meter is full, the player can pull off a combo that will set off into crazy combos causing the announcer to shout things such as "itty bitty combo", "tripple brown betty combo", "insane combo" and even "little girly combo". These combos can consist of landing 3 to even 400 hits (that's right, 400) and up depending on how high the meter is and how close you are to the opponent. When either player loses their health completely, they kneel to the ground waiting to be taken down with one hit or with a fatality, whichClayFighter refers to as a claytality. These claytalaties can range from throwing them in the air flying up from the island they're on hitting the camera as if they were going to fly out of the TV, being blasted in a cannon and even being chopped in half! The word "CLAYTALITY" would appear in big bloody letters.
The controls were great. It utilized the obvious A and B buttons, and the C buttons were each used for attacking as well. The L+R triggers would be used to step sideways, which is useful to dodge projectiles, but I barely used it since I can jump over most attacks and I fought just fine without them. At low difficulties,ClayFighter 63 1/3 is a crazy button mashers, and at the "PSYCHO" difficulty, the computer will grab you and unleash 10-hit combos of their own. There are 5 difficulties altogether: Cookie, normal, whoa, dude and psycho.
It also allows two players to fight against each other. It is a simple one-on-one versus mode. It's been years since I've actually played against another person, so I can't say too much about this.
With all the jokes, funny characters, and slapstick sound effects, ClayFighter 63 1/3 still feels like an unfinished game. There is no save option anywhere, so any unlocked characters and victories will never be recorded. Once the N64 is turned off, the player is forced to start all over every time. The character movements are slower compared to other fighters such as Super Smash Bros. and Killer Instinct. A sequel was made as a blockbuster-exclusive rental,ClayFighter Sculptor's Cut and it suffered the same problems as 63 1/3. The fact that Sculptor's Cut could only be rented from blockbuster and not purchased made it appeal to an even smaller audience. To make matters worse, the developers of ClayFighter 63 1/3, Interplay shut down in 2004 due to financial problems, making it seem highly unlikely that a new ClayFighter will ever emerge. Since Interplay owns the rights to the game, it will may never appear on Nintendo's beloved Virtual Console or even as a Nintendo DS remake. When ClayFighter first came out for the Sega Genesis, it was a childish fighter that took place in a carnival after a radioactive comet crashed. On the N64, it evolved into a funny game that paid homage to the fighting giants Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct through parodies in gameplay mechanics. It appealed to an older audience and toned the violence down enough to make it youth-friendly at the same time. It is a real shame that it never skyrocketed into popularity with its visual style and the strangeness of the characters themselves.
The button-mashing style of play at the lowest difficulty was always my favorite and I loved pushing the opponent to different parts of the level and then finishing them off. The crazy clay characters and the parodies of other fighting games appealed to me and is a nice between a combo-crunching fistfight and being just plain weird. The lack of a story took nothing away from the game quality. The camera is always smooth and never obstructed my view. If Interplay ever gets back on their feet and starts making games again, I would beg them to work on ClayFighter somehow. It's been 11 years, and I can't think of anyone else who's made a decent fighter game that has a crazy style of humor that feels similar to other games mixed with clay and insanity. With the cartoon visuals of Team Fortress 2, Battlefield Heroes and Zack & Wiki, I can't see a reason why they can't make their own in-house visual rendering technology that can make 3D models look like clay. ClayFighter is one of those games that died too early in its infancy and needed more time to grow. It dared to go in the opposite direction while other fighting games became more complicated with higher-quality graphics and near-clunky controls.
I remembered Mushroom Men since its first teaser trailer released in February 2007. They never really released any information other than the fact that it's a third-person action/adventure, it will be for the Wii and DS and it involves mushrooms.
The basic plot is that a green comet flew above Earth, raining green radioactive dust. While the radiation was rendered harmless to humans, nobody noticed the mushrooms and other plants gaining sentience and starting an all-out war! What caught my attention to this game was the first trailer. It didn't show any type of gameplay or cinematics. It was a high-resolution video with a kickass heavy metal riff in the background, showing very high-quality colorful artwork of backgrounds, houses, and the toughest mutant mushrooms I have ever seen in my life. The trailer proved that this game is in fact, an IP game: Intellectual Property. Red Fly Studio came up with this concept by themselves, it is original and not a rip-off of a franchise on TV or movies.
After a few months, they released another trailer, explaining the storyline a bit more, and showed some in-development gameplay videos. A nice feature is the ability to collect objects such as toothpicks, bolts, dental floss, razor blades and even corncob holders which can be combined together to create weapons to fight against enemies. For the DS version, they revealed that it would be a 2.5D sidescroller that will be a prequel to the Wii version.
What made me think about this game was the talk about Super Smash Bros. Melee being released next month. I thought about other good Wii games that are worth buying and I realized that I completely forgot about Mushroom Men. It's been so long since I've heard about anything else, because their website didn't reveal anything new. No videos, articles, or any information about the different types of mushrooms. I thought about Battalion Wars 2 for a moment, yet I like the idea of Mushroom Men better because it doesn't seem to have those thick over-exaggerated voices that Battalion Wars 2 has. Unfortunately, Mushroom Men doesn't seem like a game that will have any online play of any kind. I really wish that more games would make more use of Nintendo WiFi Connection, I still play Picross online and its always fun. There hasn't been any new puzzles released yet for Professor Layton either. I also suck at Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass online, so it's just an offline adventure for me.
I like Intellectual Property games. It's hard to describe what makes a game an IP title. When a developer creates a game, the publishers own the rights to the name, characters and plot; there are game publishers out there who will allow the developers to keep the rights to the game that they have made, meaning that they have full control over what they can do with their game, and if they work with another publisher, they still keep the rights to that game, and can basically do whatever they want with their title. The people who will publish Mushroom Men, Gamecock Media Group, have also published Dementium: The Ward for the DS, a scary game with lots of dark shadows and annoying regenerating monsters. It was described as "Doom meets Silent Hill".
Mushroom Men is scheduled to be released some time in 2008. The Wii really needs some good games that are original, and not based on any movie licenses or mini-games. The idea of combining small household items to build weapons, the deep storyline behind the botanical war, colorful visuals and different characters will make this game stand out, and looks like a war worth taking part in. There's a lot of stuff behind this game that haven't been revealed yet, with a lot of potential of becoming a fast-paced and extremely fun game. With the freedom that Gamecock Media Group has been known for, what Mushroom Men becomes is completely up to the developers, Red Fly Studio.
Do you want to play a game like Rez without holding on to your PlayStation 2, Dreamcast or saving up for an Xbox 360 for Rez HD? On February 15 2008, Steam released a game called Audiosurf, a game that is very hard for me to explain, so I will try my best; it's just one of games where you have to watch some YouTube videos to understand what is happening...
Before you start any level, the player will be asked to choose a ship with different abilities, and then choose a song from the computer; this can be any file format from an MP3, OGG, FLAC, M4A, WMA, and of course, CD format. It even reads the DRM protected files as well, so it can run those online purchased songs without any issues. After the song is selected, it will take a moment to analyze the track, which results in the design of the level.
After loading, the player will have his ship at the beginning off a strange looking wavy road that was shaped by the sound waves of the chosen song. The speed of the song and the beats in the song (e.g. snares, hand claps, bass, guitar, etc.) will affect the speed that the ship travels on the road and where and how many colored blocks are placed on different parts of this musical road. The player will see an aerial view of the road for a few seconds before the song starts playing.
Below the player's ship is a grid where colors go when they are collected. The objectives vary depending on the difficulty chosen; the easiest will only require the player to simply collect any block that is not gray; the medium difficulty requires the player to collect 3 or more of the same color and have them be adjacent to each other, and collecting gray blocks will make the player lose a significant amount of points; the highest difficulty will have a barrage of gray blocks, and the player will be required to collect the few blocks that are actually colored. The song doesn't get distorted when the ship miss blocks or hit the gray blocks by accident; the player simply lose points and can continue playing normally. At the end of the song, the ship enters a very geometric space tunnel, and you score will be compared with others in the world who have also played that exact same song; through this online scoreboard, I have learned that I am not exactly the best Audiosurf player out there and all that matters is that I had lots of fun! There were a few songs where I was the first person to play, and I popped up at the #1 spot by default; this is only because the game came out yesterday.
With this concept, every song in this world is basically waiting to be turned into a level; I found myself searching my hard drive for MP3s and my room for CDs for the simple reason to have it played in Audiosurf and collect points; it's not just a really cool visualizer; it's the perfect game for both hardcore and casual gamers; I played many songs from techno, dance, rock, pop, classical and even hip-hop; Audiosurf was able to scan each one and turn it into a unique level. The only one I couldn't use was this 176 MB MP3 file of a DJ Tiesto performance, because it was too long and Audiosurf just gave up because of the nature of its algorithm; I'm just mentioning this because I think it's funny and that most people in their lives may never have an MP3 file of that size. It had me listening to songs differently, wondering how it would look if I was playing it in Audiosurf. It is obvious that this will get people plugging in their Walkmans (i.e. the ones that actually play MP3s), iPods and Zunes to their computer to play more songs in hopes of making it on the online scoreboard.
When people describe this game, they describe that it has elements in other games, but there hasn't been any solid comparisons; for example, I'm the only one so far who has stated that it reminded me of Rez because of how it gets you hooked and you forget about everything else around you. The compared games are:
- Rez; I experienced the same synesthesia.
- Tetris; lining up those blocks
- Guitar Hero; the road scrolls vertically like the guitar's neck
- F-Zero; the futuristic vehicles
I actually came across this game by chance; I opened up my Steam client to play Team Fortress 2 online, then I saw a popup for a free demo for Audiosurf; the tagline read "ride your music"; it caught my attention with the futuristic ship it displayed in the ad, so I downloaded the demo quickly, and I played some songs I happened to have on my computer; it was awesome! However, I realized that the demo only allowed me to play 4 songs and after that, it kept telling me to buy the game if I wanted more; and I did want more! I paid the low price of $9.95 for the full version and I have no regrets! It's one of those games that I'll always play whenever I'm extremely bored and I want something to do for 20 minutes, or if there's a bunch of songs I've never heard and I want to listen to them differently. Also, this is a music rhythm game that is not a Dance Dance Revolution rip-off or a Guitar Hero wannabe; it's completely different and it's all about the concept of turning a song into a playable level and being amazed every time.
I can't think of anything I hate about this game; it's simple, addictive and it will never get boring with the limitless songs that can be obtained; the multiple file compatibilities and DRM support make Audiosurf even easier to use since I never reached a point where I had to convert something. The only problem I had was installing the game itself; when I bought the full version, the game would still tell me to buy the new version; at first, I thought I did something wrong, then I deleted my content for Audiosurf, and reinstalled Audiosurf then the game worked without any problems; at this point, I played as many songs as possible before I stood up to get some coffee. I am not the best player, and even though I make mistakes that make me lose a lot of points, it's all part of the experience; there's just something about collecting colorful blocks while driving a ship on a road that's been shaped by a song that makes this one of the most innovative and unique games out there. Whenever I played a song directly from a CD with the standard CD format, the game would freeze for a few seconds making it seem like it has crashed; it still works nonetheless and will be resolved with future updates. There was a short moment where I had problems logging my account in Audiosurf and that was only because of the heavy server load on the first day of this game's release. Other than those miniscule bugs, everything about this game is just good, clean and simple musical fun.
I looked at the credits, and there's only 5 people listed and a group called "Pedro Macedo Camacho" for composing an original musical score and "Paladin Studios" for the 3D models; they certainly did an amazingly good job at this game; this is definitely NOT the cliché "college game programming project" that they only did for the sake of getting a grade; this is an experiment that bloomed into a huge success! All I hope is that they continuing working on this, and I know that it will turn into something that is bigger than it already is; Valve did a very good job promoting it as well; with the purchase of the full version, they included their entire soundtrack of "The Orange Box", which includes Portal's end credit song, "Still Alive"; yet another good deal. In addition, there are even free songs available online from the Audiosurf servers that can be played if the player wants to play something that is not on their computer. All of these tracks have played well in the game, and perfectly in sync, and these people did an excellent job in mathematical calculations, sound wave analysis, and creating a nice futuristic feel that reminds you that nothing is real, and it's all about having fun.
With its musical versatility, fast pace, low system requirements, online scoreboards and incredibly cheap price of $9.95, this is definitely worth buying for anyone who wants to play a rhythm game that doesn't force the player to "be in sync or else" and wants an arcade-style experience. If you don't want to spend a cent, just play the demo to understand what it's all about, and you will love it; just make sure you choose your four songs carefully, because after that, it won't give you another chance to play.
Imagine the classic games Eye of the Beholder and Wolfenstein 3D; mix them both together and now you have a very fascinating action RPG game with amazing old-school flavor. This game was developed by id Software, who also coincidentally made Doom and Wolfenstein which clearly inspired the 2D sprites in this game.
This game was not originally for the Nintendo DS. It was first released for cellular phones somewhere in 2006, and was remade for the DS and released on November 15 2007; the DS version included enhanced graphics and exclusive use of the DS touch screen and both screens; one could simply tap a few portions of the screen to cast spells or drink potions, and the bottom screen could be used to show a map while navigating in the top screen; the microphone is never used, and it's not a feature that I would care about anyways. That map is a lifesaver for navigating those long mazes; without it, I would have given up easily playing without even reaching the middle of the game. Also, to cast spells, the player needs to tap 4 different circles in the north, east, south, west directions in a pre-defined pattern; don't worry, it tells you which ones to tap, so you don't need to write anything down on a sheet of paper. To open certain types of doors, you need to remember the code, and it will be automatically recorded in a quest log for later use, leaving the player with more time to explore and level up.
The player controls an elf named Elli who wields a talking magical wand named Ellon; Ellon can give the player hints about certain dungeons, and be used as a weapon that inflicts magical damage to opponents from a distance; it can only be used so many times until it has to be recharged. As the player progresses through the game, upgrades such as stronger swords, crossbows, better potions, magical rings and armor upgrades will become available. The story behind the game is almost a 500 page essay and the player isn't forced to remember the storyline, which is awesome! All the player really needs to know is that the main character finds a magical wand, wants to get the legendary dragonscale armor and crawl through many dungeons, kill some monsters and level up!
The player can only turn in 90 degree angles, so you always face north, south, east or west. To attack, all that needs to be done is to either press the A button, or press tap the "use" button on the touch screen with a stylus; this doesn't necessarily mean that fighting is simple; at times, it can be crude, and force you to jump back a few spaces to launch that magic attack and drink some strength/defense potions to survive. Like turn-based table top games, each movement the player makes such as walking and attacking counts as a turn; in other words, the seconds that pass by during gameplay do not affect fighting and how monsters behave; so if you see a monster a few steps in front of you, it will not move until you move; this can be affected by certain player or enemy stats where the player can have more moves than the enemy or vice versa; a very interesting way to simulate way to simulate turn-based strategy, dating back to Eye of the Beholder and earlier. It lessened my panic times whenever I was low on health, and I can always take a few seconds to choose potions, and switch weapons.
Don't expect this to be Neverwinter Nights for the DS; it's completely different. The characters are 2D, very colorful, and obviously gave me a sense of nostalgia while playing this; you can even see the pixels (aka "jaggies"), which didn't bother me at all; it's not the best looking DS game and it's not the ugliest either; their use of a pseudo-3D look ensured that there would be no slowdowns whatsoever, and John Carmack's classic still holds strong to this day.
If there's one thing that I didn't like very much it would be some of the tedious monster/boss fights and the linearity; there are times where I'm being surrounded by more monsters than I can handle, and I die after I waste all of my potions to live a bit longer; there was a level where I could choose to free a prisoner from a dragon, and I thought if I freed it, the dragon would try to hurt me; I was under the impression that there was some non-linear elements here, but I was wrong, and I was forced to free him anyways, only to have him try to kill me later. After this, I realized that I have to keep going forward without stepping back to make sure that I didn't miss anything; the upgrades for weapons are fairly expensive, and I used potions more than weapons, so it took a while for me to get any upgrades. Eventually, I started to backtrack anyways, and just kill the rats and spider creatures to level up and gain extra health to be stronger; just like good old times.
A funny thing worth noting is that this game contains alcohol use in it; the player can collect kegs of ale, and when it is consumed, your strength is increased; however, you become dizzy and your accuracy lowers, so there is a drawback for using this method of fighting stronger; the camera even tilts and pans in small degrees randomly to add to that drunk sensation. Some Dwarves have important information about exits and will not say a word about it until you have a drink with them.
This is a great game for anyone who loved the Eye of the Beholder games, classic Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. It is obviously better than the cellular phone version; the "take your time" combat style, classic old-school feel, colorful imagery, automatic quest info logging and simple controls make this a game worth buying.
EXIT was first released as a game exclusively for the PSP. While trailers appeared online and had some coverage on game review shows on television, like most puzzle games, never became “critically acclaimed”; regardless, it was still a unique and fun game which mixes both puzzle and platform aspects beautifully.
In 2007, it was ported to Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo DS which was released only in Japan. With the technical differences between the DS and PSP, EXIT moved from a 2.5D perspective to a pure 2D sidescroller with additional touch screen controls; the player can revert to the traditional +Control Pad if the stylus controls weren’t responsive enough. In addition to DS-exclusive controls, EXIT DS made some use of the Nintendo WiFi Connection; the only thing that can be done online is compare your stage completion times with others who have also connected to Nintendo’s WFC; for example, for Stage 2, the fastest time recorded was 10’40”93 and my completion time was 34’23”54 ranked at #943, so I’m not necessarily the slowest person in this game.
With the Japanese language in the tutorial, I wasn’t boggled by the instructions; through trail and error, I learned that I need to tap a character first, then an object or empty space to make it move; the +Control Pad was used to move the camera to see other parts of the level. The only problem I had with the stylus controls was guiding people upstairs since I have to tap the top of the stairs while the character was standing directly in front of the stairs. There are some English captions such as the main menu and top screen during gameplay which displays a map of the level, and explains what each symbol in the map mean.
The stages in EXIT are referred to as “situations” which represent different types of buildings that are on fire, covered with ice and even earthquakes. There are 10 situations, each containing 10 levels, with a total of 100 levels, and gradually increases in difficulty with every level. The objective of each level remains the same: Remove obstacles such as fire or ice that blocks the path to the exit at the end of the level, and guide the trapped individuals to the exit under the pre-determined time limit.
Each individual has different perks: Children can’t jump high or climb high and can easily crawl under obstacles too small for Mr. ESC; obese people are stronger and can push heavy objects; average fit people are similar to Mr. ESC but without the enhancements such as jumping, and can help Mr. ESC push certain blocks when an obese person isn’t around; dogs can crawl under obstacles and can jump incredibly far; injured people are unable to move and must be carried to the exit. With these perks, it creates the idea of teamwork with these individuals to finish the level, and can sometimes force the player to save people in a specific order.
Mr. ESC will do many things from extinguishing fires, to breaking ice barriers, riding elevators, and moving blocks to jump over pits to the exit. With the combination of jumping, climbing, pushing blocks, and guiding individuals to safety, this is one puzzle platform game on the DS that is worth buying if it should ever be released in North America. Unlike the PSP and Xbox Live Arcade versions, there are no downloadable levels, so there will only be 100 playable levels and it will take a while to finish all of them before you consider downloading more.
The first episode of the Gameshelf that I've seen was Episode #2 - Space Games. In that episode, they talked about Star Control II (aka The Ur-Quan Masters) and that is one of my favorite games of all time so I sent an e-mail to Jmac about how Toys for Bob announced that they would like to make a new Star Control with Activision. After that e-mail, Jmac and his crew went on to talk about different themes such as war games, tile games, hidden roles, and of course Star Control and TFB's desire to make a new Star Control game! That was awesome!
I have a GameCube, Wii, Xbox (original), Nintendo DS, a ThinkPad laptop and I will be getting a new computer next week. I like third-person and first-person action games, however, my first love was the science fiction and role playing games such as Star Control, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Warcraft, Starcraft, Chrono Trigger, Earthbound and Super Mario RPG. Since I got my DS, I've been playing lots of puzzle games such as Picross DS (especially online), EXIT DS (released only in Japan, but I got a copy), Neves (simplified version of tangrams), and Tetris.
I live all the way in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, and yes it is winter right now; there was a snowstorm today, and I have to shovel the snow in my driveway in a few hours.
I am in my third and final year of my Computer Science Technology studies in Sheridan College; I know some SQL, Java, C and C#. It's a really complex course, and I still survive to this day.
So, that's basically who I am and the types of games that I like. Hopefully, if I'm not too busy with my classes, I'll write some game reviews of some weird games, and even mention a joke or two.