Yoda’s Species Follow-Up

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.

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The internet, as seen a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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Customer Service: Nintendo’s Doing it Right

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.

Yoda’s Species Finally Revealed

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.

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Until now, that is.

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Mario Marathon kicks off 7th year for Child’s Play Charity

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.

MM7

Mario Marathon has broadcast yearly since 2008 and raised over $415,000 leading up to this year’s event.

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.

Father’s Day: Blood vs. Electricity

Father’s Day is often characterized by imagery of backyard barbecues, early morning fishing, and two little kids hugging their daddy from either side. Candies, golfing equipment, barcaloungers, and ties that will never, ever be worn to work make for popular gifts. Department stores slap the phrase “#1 Dad” on just about anything that can be imagined, guaranteeing that you can remind your father of his status no matter what his interests are.

I, however, did not engage in any of those things Sunday. I bought my father a card, as I do every year, but that was the extent of our activities for the day. My relationship with my father has always been very… iffy. Between his intimidating, military presence and my meek and people-pleasing childhood outlook, we never really had a strong foundation to start out on. He came off as cold, judgemental, and clearly favoring my brother. I couldn’t make him laugh when I tried to entertain him, but boy did he laugh anytime I was embarrassed. Rather than telling me he loved me, the phrase I heard at the end of every conversation was, “Keep your grades up.” As for video games, I never felt so much disapproval as when I dared to bring games to his house, and he and his wife called my decision to study game design “stupid” two days before my first class. As of an argument over a series of lies he’s been telling for the last four years, my father and I rarely speak anymore.

Which is why I chose to spend the holiday with this guy — and learned a few things about myself.

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(Warning: Major spoilers ahead.)

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The Secret Legend of Princess Zelda

Well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you by now that the interwebs are buzzing like a hive of fangasming hornets about the plethora of reveals made at E3 so far. Gamers around the globe have been inundated with so much new information that many folks can’t even pick a topic to squeal about, which I quickly noticed when a friend of mine IMed me as soon as I got online and covered three different topics in a single sentence.

Among the many reveals Tuesday was Nintendo’s announcement of a new collaborative spin-off for the Legend of Zelda series. Partnering with Tecmo Koei, Hyrule Warriors offers a departure from the typical LoZ dungeon crawl and keeps a much tighter focus on the combat. Between the Dynasty Warriors-esque gameplay style, the abundance of playable female characters, and Link’s decision to partake in the trend of protagonists sporting rad new scarves, there’s been a lot of chatter in the last 48 hours.

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Leaving that much vital chest area exposed doesn’t seem very wise for the person the holding the Triforce of Wisdom.

Zelda in particular has been getting a lot of the attention. While this isn’t the first time she’s been playable, one would think that the series’ title character would’ve had a lot more active roles by now as opposed to spending the bulk of the last 25 years as the proverbial carrot on a stick. Furthermore, the only two games in which Zelda is actually the protagonist are sorta… well… they’re not quite… they… okay they suck. For this reason, many a fan is celebrating the news that we’ll all be able to assume the role of the iconic princess without having to bother with possessing phantoms, entering a fighting tournament, or obtaining outrageously rare hardware and software that isn’t even fun to play.

But perhaps the bigger news is the fact that we’ve all played as Zelda plenty of times before without even realizing it.

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Obscure Observations: Parasitic Twins

Metroid: Zero Mission, released by Nintendo for the GameBoy Advance in 2004, is a title that rarely needs a formal introduction. It retold and revamped the original 1986 NES game by introducing graphics, controls, powers, and storytelling in a manner highly reminiscent of Super Metroid. It payed homage to several games in the series while still managing to stamp its own unique fingerprint on the Metroid canon. Needless to say, the game was a huge hit.

But I’m not here to talk about popularity today. I’m here to talk about bugs.

metbleed-1

Yeah, these little shits.

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Respawn Point Returns with Metal Gear Marathon

Well, it’s been awfully quiet around here for the last month. Between being sick for two weeks, sojourning to the Motor City Comic Con to meet John Barrowman, cleaning the basement, and getting a ton of hours at work, I’ve had a difficult time getting around to articles lately — and not even for lack of content, since I was dying to comment on Microsoft’s latest backpedaling or the fact that I found a complete and in-the-box Sega Master System at a yard sale for $20.

Luckily, charity is usually enough to motivate me to do just about anything, and our friends over at Respawn Point have given me just the push I need to get back into writing for you guys. As I type these words, the familiar faces of Zack Harrot, Jay Zeach, and Ash Blackledge are running the Metal Gear Marathon to benefit Special Effect.

MetalGear-1

…Well, as familiar as they can get with the camera so far away.

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Easter Bunnies and Banned Hedgehogs

Ahh, Easter! Today is the day whereupon millions of people celebrate spring fertility, crucifixions, and candy. This year in particular, there are also a lot of celebrations revolving around enough marijuana to choke an egg-delivering rabbit. Yes, Easter has fallen on 4/20 this year, the American “holiday” in which stoners unite to get high as a kite and keep quickie-marts in business. This year they’ll be bringing a whole new meaning to “getting a sugar high.”

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That’s not what we meant when we said we needed grass for our baskets, guys.

Unfortunately, this day is dampened by another major event: The 15th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre. I can’t imagine it’s easy for any of the families in Littleton, CO to enjoy their Easter baskets (or pot) with those memories looming over their heads. In addition to the tragic deaths of 12 students, one teacher, and injuries to dozens of others, the incident was also a major catalyst in arguments over the possible negative influences of video games.

At this point in the article, I’m sure a lot of you are predicting that I’ll talk about the games that took the blame for the Columbine shooting, or debate whether or not Jack Thompson can argue his way out of a paper bag, or maybe even the controversy of the game Super Columbine Massacre RPG! Actually, I’ll be doing none of those things. Instead, I’m going to puzzle over how Disney believed that this…

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…was enough to provoke children to shoot up their schools.

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5 weeks remain for Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection

Exactly five weeks from today, the Wii and DS/DSi will no longer be able to make use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which will be shutting down services on May 20, 2014. While the current generation’s Wii U and 3DS will continue to connect, all previous systems will be excluded from online activity. This also means the end of Wii Speak in its entirety, as it relies on the NWFC in order to function. As of this writing, the Wii Shop Channel and DSi Shop are NOT affected by this change.

NWFC2

The good news is that all affected games will continue to function normally in their offline modes, but depending on the game, there may or may not be much left to do without online access. Unfortunately, piggybacking Wii games into the Wii U and DS games into the 3DS does not bypass this exclusion.

So what does this mean for gamers still using these consoles? Mostly that only about a month remains to update leaderboards, download user-generated content, and face your friends in online matches. The loss will be relatively benign for many titles, but games like Animal Crossing Wild World/City FolkMario Kart Wii/DS, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and WarioWare D.I.Y. could take a major hit by the loss of the NWFC. For a complete list of affected games, click here.

legalcrap2

I am not affiliated with Nintendo or any of its subsequent consoles or IPs, unless you count the fact that I own a few titles. Then again, if that’s all it took to be affiliated, there’d be a lot more people out there with Nintendo on their resumes.

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