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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Nintendo DS system pic Buttonhole's Nintendo DS report

New handheld officially released in Oz, let's take a look!

Publisher: My wallet

Fri, 25 February 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Thursday 24th of Feb saw the Nintendo DS officially released in Australia. This is the latest handheld from Nintendo, who have long dominated that particular market. The DS however is quite different to any handheld (or any other game system for that matter) that has come before it. Is it worth your money? Well, yes it is and I’d like to be playing mine right now instead of writing about it…but I’ll keep doing this anyway.

First of all though, I would like to say a few words about Nintendo (I must warn you that I feel a bit of a rant coming on, so forgive me if I go on too much). This company has made some of the most innovative products and best playing games the world has ever seen. I love them for that. But they also suck at getting people to stick with them over their competitors. For a first hand example of their crappy promotional skills I can tell you that Buttonhole has not received so much as a reply email from Nintendo. Sony has been very helpful to us. Microsoft has been somewhat less helpful, but they at least still let us know what is going on. These two companies are first and second in the home console wars, while Nintendo is a distant third. I find it interesting that the market leader is also the one that is the most approachable. I know that I have personally spent thousands of dollars on Nintendo products over the years and yet they can’t even be bothered to show me the courtesy of answering an email! I know we are still only a new website, but just a brief reply isn’t asking too much surely?

So, yeah I could be a real arsehole and pretend that I hate the DS just to “get back at” Nintendo for ignoring us. But that would be very petty, immature and just plain dishonest. Because, despite the fact that it was yet more money I’ve doled out on a Nintendo handheld- after two versions of the Gameboy Advance and about 96 versions of the other Gameboy before that- I am very happy with this system so far.

The thing about the DS that I like the most is that it is so refreshing. That’s something that Nintendo seems to be able to do better than just about anyone else; provide an experience that feels really new and unique. As most everyone knows by now the system has Dual Screens (hence,I assume, the name DS), one of which is a touch screen. The screens are slightly larger than that of the GBA SP, both are backlit and produce a good, sharp quality picture. There’s also a built in microphone which can be used for software voice recognition, although I don’t think any of the launch games support this feature (correction, WarioWare: Touched, for one, does make some use of it). The DS comes with a rechargeable battery and AC adapter.

Packed in with the DS is a demo of Metroid Prime Hunters (First Hunt). You also get a stylus (plus another spare one) and a wrist strap which has a little plastic pad that you can strap to your thumb to use on the touch screen. I miss the days when new consoles came with a full game packed in, but that’s just not the way things are usually done now and this is certainly better than nothing. MPH is a pretty good showcase for the system too. The graphics aren’t up to the standard of the Gamecube Metroid games but they are still quite impressive. The control method requires you to use the touch screen much as you would a mouse for a PC first person shooter. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is very responsive and a great example of what can be done with the machine. The DS also has stereo speakers and Metroid’s high sound quality shows them off well. Of course, being a demo, this is not going to keep you busy for that long, so you’re going to want to shell out the extra bucks and get yourself a full game to go with your new DS.

The other thing you can use straight from the box is PicoChat. When you switch your DS on for the first time you’ll be asked to put in your name, the time, date and your date of birth, then you can play around with the chat features. With PicoChat you can type, draw or write things using the stylus and send it to other DS users, thanks to the system’s built in wireless communication functions. I haven’t had a chance to really check this function out yet, as Buttonhole only has the one DS at the moment, so I can’t go sending messages to myself! Still, I think it is a very nice little addition. The wireless communication feature will also allow multi-player action with other DS users. I’m told it works a treat and I look forward to trying it out for myself.

In terms of processing power the Nintendo DS is capable of producing games that are graphically on par with those of the Nintendo 64. When you see Mario 64 DS (review up soon) running on a handheld screen it really does look great. Having two screens can certainly make a difference too, when you see the action taking place on both at the same time the effect is quite special indeed. The potential for utilising two screens is exciting and some of the launch titles hint at what can be done.

The DS software comes on tiny cartridges, or “game cards” which are roughly the size of a postage stamp. They’re cute little buggers, though they have exposed connectors, so be careful with them if you have younger people around who might get their greasy little fingers on your games. Despite their size these cards are capable of holding plenty of information, actually twice as much as a GBA cartridge. Speaking of GBA games, there’s a slot on the DS for those too. The only problem there is that you’ll no longer be able to play the Gameboy Advance games in multi-player since the old link cable isn’t compatible. I’m glad the DS can play GBA software, there are a bunch of awesome games for that system and still a great many more of them scheduled for release.

The button layout of the DS is really what everyone wanted the GBA to be, which is pretty much identical to a SNES controller. A directional pad on the left, four buttons (not just two this time thank God!) on the right and two shoulder buttons up top. The big N invented this layout, Sony wisely stole it and now finally Nintendo has used it again for their latest handheld. The system folds up (“clamshell” is what that’s called I believe) and when folded it is only slightly larger than the original version Gameboy Advance- still small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. I do find it slightly uncomfortable to hold after playing for a long period of time; despite being rounded the corners tend to dig into your hands just a little. It isn’t too bad by any means and most gamers get used to sore hands or thumbs any way. Remember the old NES pads? Now those things had painful corners, the DS is like a sponge compared to that!

All told I think the DS is a very interesting system and I am very taken with it myself. Sony’s PSP is going to be launched here later this year and that thing is capable of better graphics than Nintendo’s machine, as well as having an amazingly high quality and large screen to go along with its multi-media capabilities. Sony really look set to finally give Nintendo a run for their money in the hand-held market. Still, I for one appreciate Nintendo for attempting something new and giving us the chance to play some games that are truly different to anything that has come before. From what I’ve been told by retailers the launch was a successful one, with many systems sold in pre-order. I really hope that the DS and PSP can co-exist because they both have amazing potential but are also quite different kinds of systems. For right now the DS is here and I’d say that if you have ever enjoyed a Nintendo game in the past (and if you haven’t you must have some serious mental problems) you owe it to yourself to give this puppy a real go. In fact, thanks to the simplicity of the touch screen interface the Nintendo DS is even appealing to people who aren’t usually into games and that is an impressive feat in itself.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

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More Games

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eGames and Entertainment expo '07 Report
Win a complimentary ticket to ACMI's "Game On"

Which of the following game genres do you like the most?
Role Playing
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ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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