Attention, Steam users: Today might be the day you stop making fun of Origin and grab an account. For the next five days, EA is offering the game Dragon Age: Origins for free. Not a demo, not a free trial; it’s simply ‘On the House’ — and once it’s added to your user library, it’s yours forever. If you didn’t already have it but were always interested in giving it a shot, today might just be your day.
The free download does not include any of the game’s DLC, but after not spending $20 for it, at least the extras will be more affordable.
If medieval RPGs aren’t your thing… Well, Bejeweled 3 is also On the House at the moment, and that’s about as far away from Dragon Age as you can get. Then again there is that whole thing about dragons hoarding treasure, so maybe they’re not as disparate as they appear.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am not affiliated with EA or Origin in any way, but I’ll elbow an old granny out of the way to take credit for the graphic I made for this news post. What can I say, I love a bad pun, and this is a bad visual pun.
As if ThinkGeek wasn’t the Tom Nook of nerdy online shopping already, today the web-based merchandise company announced a partnership with several gaming publishers’ official stores, including Bethesda, Eidos, Bioware, and Gearbox. The deal also includes the official web stores of Tomb Raider, Plants vs. Zombies, and Forza Motorsport.
What does this mean to you? Glad you asked!
From now until 11:59pm ET 9/29/14, all of these newly allied stores will accept the coupon code “TIMMY” for $10 off an order of $20 or more. The code can be used as many times as you want, at as many of the partnered sites as you’d like, so now may be a great time to get in some early holiday shopping. The only exceptions to the promotion are pre-sale items, deposit items, and Bethesda’s discounted hoodies.
This coupon only works at the partnered sites, not at ThinkGeek itself.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am not an employee of ThinkGeek or any of their new affiliates. I’m just a poor blogger that lets them suck money out of me like some sort of financial vampire.
In another example of Club Nintendo getting it right, members who’ve actually shilled out enough money to have become platinum-level members for 2014 have a chance of playing the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros 3DS a week before anyone else.
While there’s no guarantee that any given platinum member will snag the coveted access, those that do get the e-mail will receive four separate demo codes. If you have a buddy that’s already reached platinum status this year, now would be a good time to remind him or her of all the times you gave them a ride or bought them a taco. A demo code is always an acceptable way to pay back a taco bill.
Personally, I think Nintendo should be giving these early access codes to all platinum CN members. In order to reach platinum status, a member has to earn 600 coins in a CN-calendar year. Most games — new games, that is — net 20-50 coins, depending on platform and age; consoles net 100 or so. The CN calendar begins July 1st. It is now September 12th, aka roughly 2½ months into the CN-calendar. That means that, unless they picked up some codes on eBay already, these members have already spent hundreds of dollars on hardware and software.
If that’s not automatically worthy of early access to a demo, I don’t know what is.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am not affiliated with Nintendo in any official way, and my only affiliation with Club Nintendo is just as a rewards member. Sadly, I am not a platinum member by a long shot (I think my account currently has like 20 coins).
Are you the type of gamer that will buy multiple copies of the same game on different platforms, much to the bemusement of your peers? Well if you maintain the habit with the upcoming Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS, you’ll at least get a reward this time.
No details have been added yet to indicate a deadline for registration (especially since the Wii U version still doesn’t have a specific release date), but the website promises more information is soon to follow. For now, you can head over to the promotion site to listen to samples of the included music while you put both copies of the game on your holiday gift list.
Remember, kids: If your parents balk at buying the same game twice, just tell them you’ll be getting a third present from Santa Iwata, too!
Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll know what that means.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am not an employee of Nintendo or in any way affiliated with Club Nintendo. If I was I probably could’ve gotten a better image of the CD than just taking a screenshot of the website.
SO, anyone out there excited about the upcoming release of Lost Hedgehog Tales? Who am I kidding, of course you are! This blog turns up in LHT search results at least once or twice a week, and I doubt it’s due to Ken Penders gnashing his teeth. At this point, I think we’re all in a tizzy over the unofficial sort-of-a-book due to another teaser tweet last month, courtesy of Archie’s lead Sonic the Hedgehog writer, Ian Flynn
Well, my friends, August is drawing to a close, which means we could see a release any day now! In light of the impending euphoria, I’ve decided to share some thoughts I’ve waxed upon with regard to a particular character. This isn’t the same as my comic page investigation; it’s merely the personal hunch I always had while reading the pre-reboot (preboot?) Sonic comics.
One character that has never failed to hold my attention under Flynn’s pen is Geoffrey St. John. After having abandoned the comics over a decade before, I got back into them purely because I was fascinated by the sudden developments surrounding this skunk and wanted to know more about where he was going. Once a particularly bland and frequently unlikable character, Geoffrey managed to gain a significant foothold in the preboot story with his unexpected alliance swap. Despite having spent the history of the comics as one of the kingdom’s highest-ranking soldiers, Geoffrey shocked everyone with the revelation that he had been training in wizardry all along — under none other than Ixis Naugus, one of the most powerful villains of the entire series.
Had Geoffrey really abandoned his former allies in their darkest hour? Was he ever really an ally to begin with? For someone that had always been mercilessly anal retentive about procedure, justice, and fulfilling his duties, how could he pull the rug out from under so many people like this? Didn’t it go against everything he’d ever stood for?
Actually, none of those are the real question. Those queries can be answered by figuring out an even bigger mystery: What really happened to Hershey St. John?
(WARNING: Major spoilers ahead.)
WELL, in the midst of trying to start a new game design project, taking inventory of my collection, and barely avoiding an apocalyptic-level flood that Michigan hasn’t seen in 86 years, it’s only by the grace of Caesar that I’ve managed to go to the movies lately. Since the film’s release, I’ve now seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes twice. The first time was purely out of excitement and zeal for a continuation of the story, and the second time… Okay, I admit the second was mostly to relive the first, but also to double-check for a detail I was convinced I had missed.
As it turns out, I didn’t miss anything; it just simply wasn’t there.
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHY I SHOULD’VE HAD TO CHECK WIKIPEDIA…
…TO FIND OUT THIS APE’S NAME.
(It’s Cornelia, by the way.)
A couple weeks ago when I posted my personal head canon regarding Yoda’s species, I got a couple of interesting comments in response. I’ve been mulling them over since I read them, and as I think they bring up some good ideas. Instead of just letting them drive me nuts because I wasn’t clever enough to think of them the first time around, I’ve decided to do an official response to them here. At least this way we can all geek out together (again) instead of me trying to do it quietly in my own head.
While July 1st typically conjures thoughts of impending fireworks and barbecues for the average American, there is a certain breed of nerd for whom it’s New Years Day.
Club Nintendo, aka one of the sneakiest vehicles for market research on the planet, is a free membership program offered by Nintendo to its consumers. By registering the PIN codes included with specific game titles, gamers can earn coins that can then be used to for reward items in exchange for answering a short survey. If a user manages to accumulate 300 coins within one calendar year, that user achieves Gold status; those that earn twice that amount achieve Platinum. For whatever reason, Club Nintendo’s calendar begins its year on the first of July. This is significant because it also resets the counter tracking new coins. The previously earned coins are still there, and can still be spent on rewards, but each member’s progress toward achieving Gold or Platinum status is returned to zero after June 30th.
Well, last night was Club Nintendo’s new year’s eve, and I realized that I was still 70 coins shy of achieving Gold for the year. If it was purely a pat-on-the-back sort of ranking, I wouldn’t care if I reached it or not, but Club Nintendo offers a special free gift for its Gold and Platinum members each year. So far I’d managed to reach at least Gold for the last six years, and I wasn’t about to let 230 coins go to waste. Looking over my game shelf, I noticed that I still hadn’t opened New Super Mario Bros. U, which came bundled with my WiiU. I figured that it’d at least get me a big chunk of the way toward my goal (especially since it also contained the Luigi expansion), so I shredded the plastic wrap and cracked open the case — only to find it absent of a PIN code.
Figuring the PIN was simply missing, I decided to call up Club Nintendo to have it manually added to my account. I scoured the website and tracked down the toll free number, and after wading through the menu system, I found myself on hold to speak with a representative.
And that’s when I discovered that Nintendo is brilliant.
Many of you will recognize this as the daytime theme to Hyrule Field in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As it turns out, it’s also the hold music on Nintendo’s hotline.
This is nothing short of genius on their part. Ocarina of Time is not only one of Nintendo’s most wildly successful titles, but it’s considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time. There’s a very good chance that the people calling them up will be at least mildly familiar with the song, and upon realizing that it’s a tune from such a beloved title, they’ll probably be in a better mood. This is exactly what happened to me when I was on the phone last night; I can’t even tell you how long I was on hold, because I was so giddy over the fact that a Zelda song was being used as the hold music that I spent my time jamming along in my seat instead of getting impatient or annoyed.
Furthermore, my attitude once I got to talk to a representative was significantly better than it probably would’ve been otherwise. I ultimately received bad news from the gent helping me; apparently bundled games aren’t eligible for Club Nintendo points, but I was in such high spirits, the news really didn’t bother me that much. Instead I thanked the guy for his help and told him that the hold music was a very pleasant surprise. He chuckled and said that they get that a lot.
In light of what I learned last night, I’m kinda tempted to start calling up other game developers just to see if they too have done anything fun with their hold music. It really is something that more companies need to adopt; if someone’s calling customer service, they obviously have a problem, and given that some waits can be upwards of an hour or more, having good music can probably go a VERY long way toward making customers feel better about their outcomes, even if they didn’t get what they wanted.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am in no way affiliated with Nintendo, Club Nintendo, or Legend of Zelda. I’m just a geek that found myself wanting to hook up my N64 after I got off the phone with customer service.
For a series with as much lore as Star Wars, it always amazes me when certain details are left undefined. Don’t get me wrong, I do see the appeal in leaving bits of data blank; the imagination of writers often pales in comparison to the variety and scale of the fan theories that will arise in its absence. However, Star Wars is rarely the type of franchise that leaves stones unturned. There are entire encyclopedias of information about the Star Wars universe that never makes it into the movies, games, or other official media. The ridiculous extent to which the story takes its world building is part of what rocketed George Lucas into film and sci-fi history — and why it seems so odd to me that no official name for Yoda’s species has ever been established.
Until now, that is.
Those of you who’ve been around for a while may recall that Respawn Point is not the only group whose charity marathons I follow. The annual Mario Marathon has officially begun its 7th consecutive year behind the controller, tackling all of the main platforming games in the Mario franchise. As with every year, all proceeds go directly to Child’s Play Charity without the team ever touching it, and the cumulative donations unlock levels for the team to play for the duration of the marathon.
As if providing some escapism for sick children isn’t motivation enough, the team is also doing more contests more often this year to help bring in donations and spread the word. MM7 t-shirts are being raffled off every two hours to both donors and Twitter advertisers. To earn a raffle ticket, viewers can get one ticket per every $5 in donations, or a single ticket for tweeting a link to the marathon (no multiples). Other prizes will also be available, but what, when, and how are decided spur-of-the-moment. The only way to find out is to tune in to the show, and if you’re going to be there anyway, you may as well donate!
Obligatory Legal Crap
Mario, Luigi, Super Mario Bros, and all other games in the series (as well as their respective elements) are the property of Nintendo. Mario Marathon is not endorsed by Nintendo, but it’s not opposed by them either, which is why it’s gone on for seven years.
Child’s Play Charity is a non-profit organization that provides books, games, and other toys for children’s hospitals worldwide. I’m not completely sure what is and isn’t their property beyond their name and logo, so let’s leave it at that.
I am not directly affiliated with either Mario Marathon or Child’s Play Charity, but I am enough of a regular to the MM team that they routinely torture me with a ceramic pig.