Wednesday, September 20, 2006

King of Fighters 2006 USA in stock

Invitations in white envelopes sealed with a crimson imprint are sent out once again, calling upon the world's mightiest fighters to join the eleventh King of Fighters tournament. Familiar faces such as KOF stalwarts Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami are joined by nine fighters such as Mai Shiranui, Tung Fu Rue, and Magaki that are new to the PS2 version of KOF XI.

PS2 exclusive game modes include Endless Mode and Challenge Mode which features 40 mini fighting games. A Gallery Mode brims with full-color artwork and sketches while gamers in search of a challenge may hook up with other fighters in the Network Match Mode. Two new systems are introduced in KOF XI - the first is the Judgment System which decides the winner not by the amount of HP remaining but by the quality of your attacks and combinations. The second new system is the use of Skill Stocks which deplete when evasive moves are pulled off.

Upon starting the game, 33 fighters are shown in the character selection screen which are grouped in four batches of six along with a batch of nine in the middle of the screen. After selecting three fighters and designating team leader and order of battle, a match starts. Movement may be directed with either the D-pad or L-analog stick.

Okami USA in stock

The world has been ravaged and ruined by the power of an eight-headed monster known as Orochi (serpent) but there is hope. The sun god Amaterasu descends upon terra in the form of a white wolf to set things wholesome once again. At the outset of the adventure, a goddess named Sakuya visits and gifts Amaterasu with the Yata no Kagami or sacred mirror which is used as a slashing weapon. Sakuya also sends a little friend known as Issun to help Amaterasu on his quest. Once nigh omnipotent, taking a physical form enforces some restrictions on Amaterasu but heavenly powers may be regained by locating and re-absorbing 15 scattered celestial characters.

Okami uses a beguiling visual style that is striking not only in its fluid animation quality but also in the uniformity of the world. Everyone and everything meshes properly and one imagines that if a stylized Japanese charcoal brush painting ever came to life, Okami would be its embodiment and tell its inner story.

Game play follows the simplicity of Okami's art style where Amaterasu runs, jumps, and attacks enemies in swift motion. When enemies are met, they'll perform a little cinematic routine before the slaughter commences. The white wolf initially attacks by swinging the bronze mirror on its back like a slashing buzzsaw and ramming into adversaries but new attacks become available as Amaterasu levels up.

Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive

Preorders are welcome for Microsoft's HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 which adds the ability to play HD DVDs to the console. The drive will launch on November 17 in Japan but USA and European versions are expected to ship as well after the Japanese launch. Later this year, MS will also release a software update which allows the Xbox 360 to output 1080p video to an HD compatible monitor. Pricing for the HD DVD drive is JPY19800 or US$205 from NCS - pricing reflects overseas carriage charges.

With the Toshiba HD-XA1 selling for about US$600 currently, the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive serves an economical way for consumers to get into the HD-DVD market without having to purchase a bulky second player. Preorders are welcome today to ship on or around November 17.
Please note that the Japanese HD DVD player will work with USA and European Xbox 360 consoles.

Kamen Rider 35th Anniversary Zippo

The Kamen Rider corps have dazzled children and adults alike for the past 35 years. To change from human to Rider form, the heroes uttered "Henshin" and performed wacky gesticulations with their arms. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the popular superhero series, Banpresto has announced preorders for two Zippo lighters based on Kamen Rider Stronger and Kamen Rider Amazon. The portraits of each Rider are embossed bas-relief style on each lighter and offer tactile sensations when running your grubby fingers across the Zippo. Pricing is set at JPY10000 or US$89 from NCS. Preorders are welcome to ship on or around Oct. 25, 2006.

New Super Mario Bros Cushions

Banpresto continues their flood of Nintendo products this week with fluffy cushions inspired by New Super Mario Bros. A red-capped Mushroom, a toothy Goomba, and a Star Coin are featured in the collection. Each cushion measures 31cm or 12.20" in length and are approximately 2" thick. Sit on one and rest in comfort knowing that a familiar Mario icon supports your weighty girth with all of its might. Preorders are welcome to ship in mid-late March 2007 at US$25 per cushion. Please note that this item will be a dimensional weight product and NCS recommends only shipping with UPS Ground within the USA or USPS Airmail Parcel Post for our international customers. Any air service will incur onerous carriage costs.

New Super Mario Bros v2.0 Plush

A koopa-shell carrying Mario and Luigi are the highlights in Banpresto's upcoming New Super Mario Bros v2.0 plushes. From the front, Mario looks like his usual plumbing self but flip him around and gawk at the blue Koopa shell attached to his back. Mr. Toad waves at the viewer while a Mushroom with massive afro cap stares plaintively at the world through beady eyes. Last but not least, a fiendish Boo laps its tongue at the air while approaching someone or something... The plushes measure approximately 13cm or 5.11" tall and preorders are welcome to ship in mid-late February at US$10.50 per.

Nintendo Controller Microphone

If you've ever felt the uncontrollable urge to bellow into a Famicom controller, Banpresto has something to fill that desire. The company fits a battery-powered microphone inside a Famicom controller and adds a volume lever along with on/off button controls to project your voice to the heavens. Or maybe just down the hallway... Preorders are welcome to ship in mid-late March 2006 at US$16 per mic.

Super Mario Vol. 2 Soft Vinyl Figure

Banpresto has started preorders for a pair of unspectacular Mario Bros figures - the gentleman on the left is Mario while the monster on the right is Goomba. We pored over the product solicitation and looked for special features such as "movable arms," "loud speaking voice," or even "makes a whirring sound when nudged." Alas, no such talents were forthcoming, leaving us with two standard soft vinyl figures. Mario measures 22cm or 8.66" tall while Gooma clocks in at 18cm or 7.08" squat.
Preorders are scheduled to ship in mid-late March 2007 at US$18 per figure packaged in a decorative window box