Forgotten Games: Maximo vs. the Army of Zin (PS2)

I’ve picked this up from a bargain bin because it was bestickered with good review ratings. It seems rather short (I’m 76% through the game after three not-so-long sessions), but I’m having a huge amount of fun.

It’s the successor to the spiritual successor to the successor to Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins. Everyone complained that the first part was too hard, so this sequel has a save function that’s accessible rather freely, more lives and less frustrating platform passages.

In essence, it’s like God of War, but with some substance instead of just graphics, and with less silly puzzles and dumb collision detection. You swing your sword, do your combos, slice through different enemy types and feel sort of oldschooly. Also, the music is surprisingly well made in some levels (am I hearing half an orchestra? Why, I am!) The story is totally forgettable, but that’s to be forgiven. At least you won’t have to endure hours of unskippable dialog.

Replay value? Not much, unless you want to get 100% on all items and all secrets in all levels.

I saw this on the American eBay site for USD 5 and on Germany’s for EUR 9, and it’s still in bargain bins here around that price. It’s an action-platformer that won’t require your undivided attention for several weeks but is still wholly satisfying. If you remember how games used to be and feel an urge to say “that, please, just more prettier”, give this one a spin.

[Screenshot 1](
[Screenshot 2](

Lactose content of Zweifel snack products

I’ve asked Zweifel, the company that makes Switzerland’s most popular potato chips and snack products, whether they know how much lactose is in their food. Huge surprise: they know! Many companies don’t like to give you numbers, though, so I was very pleased to receive an e-mail from Zweifel/Pomy Chips’ Roland Zimmerli. He had gone and asked the specialists at Zweifel for their input, and they compiled a list of lactose percentage of *all* their products. Teh amaze!

I’ve [attached the list for all to see]( This won’t do you much good if you’re not in Switzerland, but if you’re a visiting lactose intolerant from a place such as “Foreign”, it might be helpful.

Yay for Zweifel!

DS Lite for sale in the USA – 10 days early!

It looks like some stores don’t know or care about the official street date for the US DS Lite release (Hint: June 11) and have [started selling them already]( Congratulations to the early buyers. You’re spoiled. Spoiled!

In other Nintendo news, you ‘mericans are getting Super Paper Mario (GC) on October 9th and Baten Kaitos Origins (also GC) on October 29. Those might be the last GC games to be released before Zelda: Twilight Princess, which will be the title to turn off the lights and lock the doors. But then again, didn’t somebody say the Dreamcast is dead, and now [look what happened]( So there.

God bless America and all that.

The GIA mirror now (mostly) complete

My [mirror of The GIA]( is now complete, as far as anyone can tell. It’s not entirely my work, though. My old copy was only about 2 GB in size, but someone in the USA managed to track down an 8 GB copy and send me the files by snail mail on two DVDs. Thanks a lot 🙂

I’m currently trying to make .torrent files for it. If that’s successful, I hope to be able to offer the entire thing through Bittorrent soon. That’s *in addition* to the normal, web-accesible mirror of course.

Yay for the GIA!

Nintendo: Deluge of new DS games announced at E3

We’re being showered with new stuff! If you’ve read the announcements elsewhere, I’m sure you’ve already picked your favorite titles. Several old guys come to new platforms to try their DS legs, such as Star Fox and Diddy Kong in [Star Fox DS]( and [Diddy Kong Racing DS](, respectively. A complete surprise to me was the announcement of [Super Paper Mario]( for the NGC, a mix of plain Super Mario jump’n’run elements and Paper Mario graphics and chunks of RPG. Odd. The graphics look like something a 12 year old might cook up in Flash over a weekend otherwise spent trolling IGN’s forums. But hey, who am I to judge a book by its screenshots.

The big names were present too, of course, such as the previously announced [Zelda: Phantom Hourglass]( for the DS. Talking about the DS, the thing is getting something close to a hundred titles this year. While quantity is not quality, I’m cheerful. Mario basketball game, check. Fighter jet simulation with multiplayer, check. Sequel to Yoshi’s Island, check. It’s like someone rummaged through the forgotten closet of abandoned franchises at Nintendo’s HQ and stuck everything he found into a DS game making *engine* of sorts, churning out six dozen games an hour and sticking the glossy press kits into a briefcase chained to Reggie Fils-Aime’s wrist before a hydraulic boot of sorts launched the entire press person into the vague direction of E3.

And that’s just the DS and NGC. The wiily wiizards at Wiintendo had a few wiild surprises for the Wii under their wiings too. But you can wiid that elsewhere.

Sony at E3: Let's copy from everyone!

Sony showed demonstrations of its modified PS3 controller and the accompanying games lineup at E3 today. According to an [article at Heise Online](, Sony didn’t manage to set itself off from the crowd. The release date of the new console is November 17 in Europe and the USA, six days after the Japanese debut. The price is a hefty EUR 499 for the 20 GB and EUR 599 for the 60 GB version.

Also shown were the redesigned controller’s motion sensor abilities. Heise notes that “the controller seems to be hastily copied from Nintendo’s new Wii console.” Furthermore, “it does not look like Sony’s controller will be able to match the Wii’s precision. Instead of simplifying controls, Sony adds yet another type of control to their pad that the player will be forced to learn.”

The presentation left the feeling that Sony will be trying to copy from everyone. They want the price point and connectivity of the Xbox 360 and some of Wii’s unique controls, instead of offering something truly new that is wholly its own.

The games lineup also looks derivative, and Heise was particularly disappointed with the looks of the next Gran Turismo game. It looks “not even nearly as spectacular as in the scenes Sony showed earlier” (and this was to be expected), but apparently the tracks look bleak, sterile and boring.

“The games Sony showed left something to be desired in the originality department”, says Heise. “The look of the level shown from Resistance – Fall of Man might just as well have been placed in Warhawk, Killzone or Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 4. The design appeared completely interchangeable.”

Also, Heise criticized that the often heard argument that Xbox 360 games only aim for young macho men can also be applied to the PS3 library. Singstar, Hot Shots Golf and Africa being the only exceptions so far.

Heise is not known for in-depth gaming coverage, but even they noticed that large parts of the industry have degenerated into rehash-factories. I might be walking the primary-colored path towards Nintendo fanboydom, but I think all of this bodes well for Nintendo, since they are so *not* what Sony and Microsoft are at the moment.