Daily Archives: October 16, 2007

New Theme

WordPress.com put out a new theme today that I thought looked interesting. It is called “Black Letterhead.” 

At least, with the orange, it is in tune with the spirit of the season.  I am not sure if it is a keeper though.

After 20 minutes of looking at it, I decided I did not like it.

If you are interested, this is how it looked.

blackletterhead.png

Mario Kart Double Dash!!

I mentioned previously in my post on the Wii Virtual Console that Mario Kart 64 was my favorite purchase so far.

The problem with the game is that the controls require a bit of a sensitive touch to be able to play. 

My daughter, age five, has all the finesse and subtlety of a five year old, which meant for her that playing Mario Kart 64 was often an exercise in ping-ponging back and forth off of the walls along a track.  And the tracks without walls….

No fun at all.

I mentioned this to a co-worker as we were talking about Wii games.  He has two sons and has had the last three Nintendo consoles in his household, so he is well versed in the ways of Mario.

He told me about Mario Kart Double Dash.  This is a GameCube version of the Mario Kart series that puts two players in the same vehicle.  The driver does the usual driving chores, while the second player, located standing up behind the driver, dispenses the power ups, punches other players, and, if you work together really well, helps the driver make tighter turns.

This actually worked out much better than I expected.  My daughter took to the back seat position right away.

Well, she did once we got the game going.

You can play GameCube games on the Wii.  It says so right on the box.

What is less obvious is how you play them.

I have a pair of classic controllers for the Wii, which are required to play Virtual Console games.  I thought that they would also work for GameCube games.  They do not.

And they do not in a rather disturbing way.  When you put a GameCube game into the Wii and bring it up, your Wii controllers just deactivate. 

They go dead. 

No message comes up telling you that you might be doing something wrong.  You are just stuck.

For the Wii, this lack of error message is out of the ordinary.  It is generally a very friendly and informative console.

Fortunately, I mentioned my lack of GameCube success here and was told I needed real GameCube controllers to play GameCube games on the Wii.

I ordered a pair of cheap controllers from eBay (2 for $10) and when they finally arrived we plugged them in and began to play.

My daughter took to the game right away and soon became a pro at back seat driving.  It was our favorite for a couple of weekends.

But playing with GameCube controllers is a much different experience.

The first change was dealing with actual wired controllers again.  The controllers I bought came with six foot cables.

In my mind, that seemed long enough.

In reality, that put my daughter and I right in front of the TV on the family room floor.  We managed to yank the Wii out of the TV stand a couple of times, so I went back to eBay and ordered a pair of six foot cable extenders.

Twelve feet is long enough, though the cables still get tangled.

Yes, I have seen the wireless GameCube controllers, but for one game I wanted to keep the investment down.  Plus, I do not really need another set of batteries and recharging to worry about.  I already have phones, cameras (both still and digital), PDAs, iPods, and Wii remotes to tend to.

The second was change was in how my daughter and I end up playing games.

The Wii is, ad advertised, a very dynamic console to play.  We were always on our feet, jumping around, waving our arms, and generally quite active.

With the GameCube controller, both of us sit and focus on the screen more.  There is not much in the way of movement between us.

Not that the lack of movement is a bad thing.  At 6:30am Saturday morning I am fine with not moving much at all, and that is how early my daughter sometimes comes to find out when we can start playing.

I will say that the GameCube controller is well laid out for both big and small hands.  My daughter had no problem at all with the controller and they fit fine in my giant mitts as well.  The GameCube controller is actually much easier to use than the Classic Controller that plugs into the Wii Remote.

The better controller, along with a more finely tuned game, also contributed to an improvement in her driving ability. 

Mario Kart Double Dash lets you switch drivers mid-race and my daughter, who started out not wanting to drive, ended up telling me to switch so she could be at the wheel quite often.

We had quite a bit of fun playing Mario Kart Double Dash for about two weeks.  I highly recommend it for just sheer fun.  It is one of those games you can pick up and play for five or ten minutes and have a blast. 

I still want to play it some more.  However, after that time, it was replaced by another game in the number one spot on my daughter’s list.

A game from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

A game that broke our cheap GameCube controllers.

A game for another post.