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 411mania » Games » Columns

Ask 411 Games 05.31.10: Lost Vikings, Found Games and Child Support Analogies!
Posted by Mathew Sforcina on 05.31.2010

Hello all, I'm Mathew Sforcina, and this is Ask 411 Games. Just in case you clicked on this thinking it was something else.

Which you might.

Or not.

I don't know anymore. I'm too busy not having time to play games. It's ironic, my game time has been on a steady decline since I started doing this column. Why do you mock me so, oh random fluctuations in the space time continuum?

411 on Twitter!


Remember, questions can go in the comment section, or, better yet, to ask411games@gmail.com.

Lots of codes last week, for Mortal Kombat, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Street Fighter. But sure, all of these codes are somewhat well known, but the Contra/Konami Code is still the most well known. Hell, there's even a damm Wrestling Move named after it!

Although I wouldn't put it past Larry Sweeney to invent a move called the ABBA ABBA.

We'll start off this week with Morne and his questions.

1) In Soul Calibur you can unlock characters by fighting a certain amount battles and in KOF XI by how many hours you play. Do any other games unlock characters by playing a certain amount of time?

Super Smash Bros springs instantly to mind. The series has a history of unlocking characters via hours of play time and/or number of fights. For instance, in Super Smash Bros Brawl, to unlock Snake, you can either play on Shadow Moses 15 times or play 130 matches.

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core is another hour based unlock game, stages and alternate characters are all unlocked after 48 hours of gameplay.

It's mostly fighting games that use this, although it may be on it's way out, Tekken 6 for example had all characters unlocked from the start, so it may or may not be a dying game concept.

2) Why the hell did the Nike concept car appear in GT4? Why include "a futuristic giant shoe on wheels" that will never be made in a game that's called the real driving simulator?

Because it's product placement. I mean, practically every car in the game is product placement of one form or another, so why not include some futuristic design models? I mean, if you're going to include a 1 horsepower 1886 Daimler Motor Carriage, why not a 2022 concept car?

Now, that said, it's not like they just took a shoe and stuck wheels on it. They got Phil Frank, who designed cars for the now defunct Saleen High Performance, Limited Edition Automobiles company. And yes, they included the Nike philosophy (‘Less is More', which explains their Sweatshop Pay Scales, *rimshot*), and some Nike tech that was designed for shoes, but they also included other tech, most of which admittedly doesn't exist yet.

But yeah, it's just product placement, with Nike paying to design a car and have it included. And given a Jay Leno designed car's in it, why not Nike?

3) Rare likes to tease their fans with KI3 but I believe Blizzard are bigger cockteases than them. Will there ever be a Lost Vikings 3? I've seen those guys pop-up in WoW.

Ah man, the Lost Vikings. Erik the Swift! Baleog the Fierce! Olaf the Stout! I remember playing with them as a kid, although I sadly wasn't any good. I kept getting one killed, and then I would be stuck since I needed them to finish the level…

Anyway, the game was released by Silicon & Synapse in 1992, and a sequel followed in 1994, after S&S changed it's name to Chaos Entertainment and then Blizzard. Fairly soon after settling on this name, they shipped ‘Warcraft: Orcs and Humans', and then the Vikings seemed doomed. The ports were handled by other companies, and while there's been plenty of Easter Eggs and references in Warcraft and Starcraft games (although not in Diablo, which you'd think would be a easy one, just have a randomly appearing secret room with three dead bodies (or three rooms with bodies), with the Lost Viking Set of Helmet, Sword and Shield). And indeed, all 3 guys are in WoW, as well as one or two quests that make reference to them and the game.

So, is there a chance that there might one day be a Lost Vikings 3? Well, DMA Design made Lemmings, and then they became Rockstar, and it's not like the Lemmings franchise is dead, new Lemmings games appear to be released every couple of years. So why not Lost Vikings?

Well, part of the problem is that Blizzard sees itself solely, now, as a PC company, since console controls aren't advanced enough (although they are rumoured to be working with Microsoft to ‘fix' this problem for the next gen), and Lost Vikings is a little too simple for them. Plus they are hard at work on Starcraft II, Diablo III, and counting their money from WOW.

So the short term answer is ‘Probably Not'. But that said, if there was ever a game that was perfect for XBLA/PSN/Wii Ware, it's the Lost Vikings. License an outside company, hire a couple of decent writers… It seems so simple, so obvious… But then, so did Starcraft Ghost, and look what happened there.

Another one. Do publishers inform gaming sites of the cheat codes included for their games? I can't imagine one lonely gamer trying out every button combination on the pause screen and then submitting their results. Oh shit! I was that lonely gamer all those years ago.

Well, back in the day, yes, the developers would often tell Nintendo Power and the like codes, and then they'd publish them, and they'd get out that way. Nowadays… It varies. Sometimes the developers let it out, other times people just run programs that analyse the programming and find the holes and the cheats are found that way, and sometimes it's just dumb luck.

And sometimes, like with GTA4, it's just people sitting there and trying EVERY DAMM NUMBER. Although given that all the codes had the same 5 digits in their 10 numbers, once the pattern was found, there were only 100000 possible combinations to try….

So a little from columns A through G.

Powers asks about some hogs.

I was a huge fan of the original Hogs of War on PS1, I spent a whole two weeks of my easter holidays completing it as a kid. I heard Atari were developing a sequel possibly for the Wii but then it got cancelled, is there any further news?

Hogs of War was a PS1 turn based strategy game, with anthropomorphic pigs doing battle on the war zones of pig shaped islands located in the South Pigsific Ocean, known collectively as Saustralasia. You could be one of 6 national forces, parodying Great Britain, France, Germany, United States of America, Russia and Japan. All this with the Monty Python theme playing as the theme music.

In Feburary 2008, a sequel was announced, "Hogs Of War 2", planned for release in April 2009, for Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2 and PC. Unfortunately, the game was made by Infrogrames Entertainment, which got lost in the shuffle as they bought, sold, merged, resold, rebranded and basically had a very complicated couple of years, where it's now ended up as Atari, SA, and seems to have forgotten all about the game.

But, never say never. You never know when someone will find the file sitting in some random hard drive and it'll start back up again…

It's amazing what you can do with computers and hacks.

Cactus has a simple question.

Question: Was there ever a Basketball cousin to the NFL Blitz series from Midway? I know they made an NHL game (HITZ?), but I never heard about a basketball version. Blitz was probably the most fun football game EVER

As someone pointed out, NBA Jam fits the bill. However, the relationships aren't quite cousins. It's more that NBA Jam was the father of NFL Blitz.

See, while over the top sports games had existed before 1993 (including one of my all time favourite games, Arch Rivals which was an Arcade game which I owned and love on the Mega Drive which….

*reads Arch Rivals' Wiki page*

*checks game collection*

I've owned that game for years now, and never noticed it in the Midway Arcade Collection 2. WOW, that doesn't say much for my observation skills, huh?)…

Anyway, point is, over the top sports titles had existed, but NBA Jam was the first game that was widely successful, and brought the Over The Top Sports title to the mainstream. Midway, not being total idiots, then followed with attempts to port the concept to other sports. The first attempt, the Ice Hockey 2 On 2 Open Ice Challenge, didn't do well, but then game Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey in 1996 which did. And then, in 1997, came NFL Blitz.

So, you could argue that any of the follow up NBA Jam games that followed the original might be cousins, but really NFL Blitz exists purely because NBA Jam does, so that's why Jam is the daddy, and is thus the relation of Blitz.

WadeMcG, as well as helping with that last question, has his own.

Question: Can you point to any earlier games (than Tatsunoko Vs Capcom) that have characters from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets?

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was a 1972 Anime series that was adapted for the US in 1978 with Battle of the Planets, with some controversial parts removed. It's a slightly obscure but well loved anime property, that was part of the Tatsunoko umbrella. Three of it's characters, Ken the Eagle, Jun the Swan and Joe the Condor appeared in Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, but was that the first game to feature their characters?

No. There is an earlier, Japan only game that featured some. Tatsunoko Fight for the PS1 was released in October 2000 for Japan only, and was a fighting game, pretty much just TvC without the Capcom aspect. The game featured 4 established properties, (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Neo-Human Casshern, Tekkaman: The Space Knight, and Hurricane Polymar), with a brand new 5th one made specifically for the game, Denkou Senka Volter. Each series had 3 characters in the game, a Hero, a supporter, and an arch rival. SNTG had Ken Washio the Eagle, Jun Shiratori the Swan and Berg Katse as their representatives.

Note, the following video is quite loud, turn volume down before pressing play.

But there are also 3 specific Gatchaman games.

There was a Battle of the Planets game, released in 1986 on the PC/Commodore 64/ZX Spectrum. It was an action game, where you went around shooting stuff.

In 2002, there was an action game for the series on the PS1, "Gatchaman: The Shooting", released in Japan only. It was another go round and shoot things game, albeit this time not a flying shooter but more your standard shoot ‘em up.

And finally, there was in 2007 a "Pachi-Slot Gatchaman" game for the PS2, again only in Japan, which was a Slot Machine type game simulator (Pachi-Slot is a Japanese genre of gambling games, like the slot machines/poker machines/one arm bandit but wherein there is some skill since you choose when the spinners stop. Sadly, I was unable to find video of said game, so instead, here's a short video advertising the Biohazard/Resident Evil Pachi-Slot game.

Guest#8356 asks a silly question.

Does that make Sega the TNA of the gamin industry then?

No, more the Ted Turner owned WCW. The major competition for a long time, having periods of almost dominance before arrogance, missteps and corporate deals gone bad forced them to die and end up working for their competition.

Jay Evans didn't approve of my logic.

I'm not a Nintendo fanboy by any means, but your logic is crap, dude.

"Square left Nintendo, so their opinion is the important one."

I'm sorry, your honor. I left my wife, so my opinion is the important one. And my opinion is I should not have to pay child support.


As Justin pointed out, the question wasn't about the effects or aftermath of Squaresoft breaking ties with Nintendo, but why they broke those ties to begin with. Ergo, since Squaresoft left Nintendo, we looked at what they felt and why they wanted to quit. Had Nintendo fired them, we would have looked at Nintendo's opinion and attitude. And had the question been asking after a broad, even handed balanced look, then we would have looked at Squaresoft's opinion, Nintendo's opinion, and then the truth.

Deathpool wants to talk turtles.

I've always wondered this. Why did Konami release that extremely horrible first TMNT game on the NES? Just had to justify the license?

They released the first TMNT game on the NES because it sold over 4 million copies. It's one of the best selling NES games not made by Nintendo of all time. Now sure, it's looked back on with anger and frustration for it being crappy…

And even at the time itself, it was reviewed badly. But they released it because they wanted to sell it, and it was playable. Incredibly frustrating and annoying, but playable.

It has the same sort of issue that Zelda 2 had, actually. When the Arcade game of the same name came out later that year, it was well liked. And the port to the consoles was also very well liked. So much so that they continued on with that style and that genre. So, like Zelda 2, this one, released before the genre and style was established, is looked on worse since it's not a beat em up, it's a platformer.

They released it because there was a market, and it sold. Sadly, that's the philosophy behind many game makers at times. That's what has given us Shovelware after all.

Guest#9010 has a simple question.

Any news on the next xbox system and what will it be called?

Well, depends on your definition of ‘next system'.

There are plenty of rumors of there being a sort of Xbox 360+, to be released at the same time as Natal. While the Natal will be compatible with all 360's who buy the add-on, this new 360+ will have some added muscle that future games will utilise, while all current 360 games will run on it, albeit looking and/or playing ‘better'. But that's just that, rumors, nothing solid.

But as for a Xbox 720 or anything? There doesn't seem to be any plans for it. Fact is, Microsoft likes the 360, and seems intent on releasing software patches and add-ons like Natal to extend it's lifespan. It has claimed that the 360 isn't even halfway through it's life cycle. So a 720? Not on the immediate horizon.

Now, a 360 Slim…

80's kid is looking for work.

Is there a way to actually write part time for the 411 games section?

Sure, I'm working part time, one night a week for this, and the occasional second night for FoF and/or 4PC. If you want to write for 411 Games, look out for news posts saying we are hiring, and/or send a sample of what you want to post to Chris Lansdell, my erstwhile boss for 411 Games. I'm fairly sure we're always looking for talent.

If he yells at you for stepping over the line, then I apologise.

And he had a second question as well…

By the way, where's the hot pic of Victoria/Tara/Lisa Marie Varon? There is so much I'd be willing to do just to get a chance to hit that once. Yes E-Penis included!

Hey, it's been requested, so I will comply. I'll cover everyone else's great questions next week. Remember, questions can go in the comment section, or, better yet, to ask411games@gmail.com. And until next time, I'm Mathew Sforcina, New Truth Secretary for Honor Guard Support Committee. And this is Lisa Marie Varon!


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