Will's blog

Pro tip: Pipsy is for pro players only

Diddy Kong Racing is just all kinds of weird. You have anthropomorphic animals racing go-karts around an island to get magic balloons from a blue elephant-genie to liberate said island from a maniacal wizard pig. Standard stuff.

One of your choices to help liberate the island is a diminutive mouse named Pipsy. Pipsy is a little slow, and kind of light, so she's hard to control. But if you can control her, oh man, you've got something here.

One thing you have to know is the controls. Your basic controls are A to go forward, B to brake, and R to do a sliding turny-thing.

Two things to remember, then, is: the slower you go, the tighter you can turn; and pressing R to turn means you can take a slide around a curve and turn without losing much speed.

The thing we want to do is combine them into one super-technique. Let's take a course, any course at all. How about... Star City?

The thing about Star City is that it has these brutal right-angle turns right in the middle of the track. Lame!

But if you combine the gas, the brakes, and the slide-turn-thing, you can totally take the turns without even touching the walls. She hugs that track like it's velcro.

Which is kind of tough to see in these shots, so I've prepared a (4MB) animated .gif file to show it in action here. I almost botch it because her control is just so tight. Pretty awesome, really.

Pro tip: Using Half Life's Gauss Gun to really tick off your friends

Remember that gauss gun I told you about the other day? It turns out that the gun can also be used to convince people that you're cheating. If you're into that kind of thing.

Okay, so, first, get a gauss gun.

Then, find a wall, preferably one that one of your opponents has just run behind. Then, charge up the gun and let fly a shot. If you've charged it fully, the shot will bore right through the wall, and right through any poor schmuck who's using the wall for cover.

It's kind of tough to aim this way, you know, since the wall's opaque and all. But it's really satisfying if you can do it with any kind of frequency.

Pro tip: Wave Race 64, Ride that Dolphin!

Wave Race is all about racing Kawasaki branded jetskis through a variety of waterways, which you could probably have gleaned from the title. But, nestled within the cartridge is one ride that I'm pretty sure Kawasaki doesn't yet have a patent on.

Okay, so go to Stunt Mode and pick Dolphin Park.

Then complete the course by doing all the stunts (handstand, spin across the handlebars, stand up (and do backflip), a left barrel roll, a right barrel roll, a backflip, and an underwater dive), while simultaneously passing through all the rings on the course. A pretty tall order, actually.

If you don't know how to do some of these moves, I'm pretty sure they're detailed in your manual, which you totally still have, right?

But if you're successful, you'll hear dolphin noises, and you'll notice that the riders are riding dolphins on the title screen, a good sign.

So now pick Championship mode, normal difficulty, and warm-up. While you're choosing your driver, hold Down (the direction) on the control stick (or pad, it doesn't matter which).

Once you get to Dolphin Park, you should be riding on your very own dolphin.

You can do pretty much anything on your dolphin that you could do on the Jetskis, barrel rolls and back flips are pretty fun.

There are a couple of tricks you can't do, like standing up on it, but I think that's understandable.

Pro tip: Running faster in Painkiller

Painkiller is an interesting game where you have to guide an unassuming everyman through some rather twisted scenes in Purgatory and eventually Hell. None of which made it into today's tip... Sorry about that.

Since you're one going up against many, you have to master avoiding... well, pretty much everything. And one of the best ways to do that is to keep moving, it's harder to hit a moving target, after all.

Your regular old running speed is 11. 11 what, I don't know, but it's 11 units of speed.

As a side note, I used the console command 'speedmeter 1' to show how fast I'm going for illustration purposes.

You'll notice that when you jump, that the speed raises slightly, not too surprising, I guess. But here's the part where physics kind of go out the window. If you jump again as soon as you hit the ground you'll notice that your speed increases again. Jump and it increases yet again.

Presumably, you can keep on hopping like this, increasing your speed and filling up your speed meter down there until the meter is, well, full.

I can't quite fill it up, I keep running into stuff that slows me down (but due to the wonky physics, slamming into the wall at 28 speed units doesn't actually hurt).

This has the handy effect of making you way harder to hit by pretty well anything that's hostile to you. The downside is that it gets a whole lot harder to aim your guns at things. But that's a small tradeoff, right?

Pro tip: Guild Wars... Bork! Bork! Bork!

Guild Wars is kind of a fun game. It's nice because it's a massively multiplayer role-playing game that you can play for free.

But, hidden away in the menus is a little option you probably didn't know was there.

Open up the game and go to your options screen (or hit F11 for a handy shortcut). Under 'Text Language' check out the bottom option.

Select that option and marvel at how the text magically changes to resemble that of the mush-mouthed muppet, the Swedish Chef.

Everything changes, your quick stats,

the ad for the store

the tooltips that show what your items do...


To get it back, just hit F11, and select whatever your default language is. The language setting is in the top portion of the first page of options that you have to select, so it's real easy to switch it back if you want.

Pro tip: Tetrisphere bonus songs

While we're talking about Tetrisphere, we might as well talk about the music. It's pretty good, right? Almost makes you wish that there was more. As luck would have it, there is!

This is actually two tips in one, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.

First, create a new profile.

Where it asks for your name, hold down L, C-down, and C-right. You'll notice that some of the characters turn into goofy symbols. Tip #1

Enter your name as 'GAMEBOY', substituting the little alien head for the letter 'A'. And you'll hear a sound like you did something, with no immediate indication what it might be.

Head to the options screen, though, and start scrolling through the songs and you'll notice that a few show up with silly names.

They're not really very good compared to the rest of the songs in the game, but you might find one you like if you look hard enough.

Pro tip: Tetrisphere's vortex

Any way you think about it, Tetrisphere is weird. You're playing Tetris on a sphere (duh) with some bizarre little robots.

But what would happen if, say, you went to start a new profile and named it 'vortex' (without quotes, obviously)

You'd hear a sound like you did something, but nothing would happen. Odd.

If you push and hold down the Reset button on your console, however...

A black hole appears and sucks the game's characters into the void! And it'll keep on repeating as long as you hold down the Reset button.

Pro tip: Play games with your spreadsheet program

OpenOffice.org is a decent replacement for Excel, but let's face it, it's kind of boring.

To spice things up a little bit, go to cell A1 and put in the value


Then hit Enter. You'll get this

Pick your ship, dismiss the message (or read it if you can read German)

Then try to shoot down the ships. You use the mouse to aim and fire.

Okay, so the game's not all that good, but it could probably kill a lunch break if you really stretched it out.

Oh, and the game is cross-platform, too.

Pro tip: A use for Mischief Makers' gold gems

The Nintendo 64 game Mischief Makers tasks you with collecting gems of all kinds of colors, green

blue and red

are the most common, but there are also the elusive Gold Gems. Gold gems give you lots of health, but they're kind of rare.

You'll notice that there's one per stage, and some stages have them pretty well hidden... like the boss stages. You have to defeat the boss without taking a hit, which is a pretty tall order. But, what are they good for, other than a minor health boost?

Excellent question!

Turns out that they're a kind of currency you use to purchase the ending sequence. You start watching the ending and your gold gems are up in the corner, slowly counting down.

Eventually, you'll see the credits, and assuming you've got a healthy amount of gems left over, you might assume that you've seen all there is to see until...

Now you're going to want to have lots of gems left so you can see the rest of the story. There are some excerpts after the jump, which are slightly spoilerish if you haven't yet played the game. But, hey, the game's over 10 years old at this point.

Pro tip: Marvel vs. Capcom secret characters part one

Marvel vs. Capcom has a pretty sizable list of characters that you direct to pummel each other for no real reason. There are representatives from both the Marvel and Capcom universes here, but there are even more characters on the roster that you can get to, though you have to go through a bit of a rigmarole to get at them.

So, what happens, for instance, if you start your cursor on Zangief

Then move your joystick Left, Left, Down, Down, Right, Right, Down, Down, Left, Left, Up, Right, Up, Up, Right, Right?

Why, your cursor would go off the side of the roster and you'd have Roll selected. Roll, as you may or may not know, is the 'sister' of Mega Man.

Roll controls a lot like Mega Man, but she's small, weak, and kind of slow. So, why would you want to choose her?

Because beating someone by using an underpowered character is pretty embarrassing. For the guy you beat, of course. But that's going to take a lot of practice.

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