It's unsurprising that Jimmy Fallon has won over gamers with his Late Night antics. He's earned his fair share of gamer cred with segments covering everything from the PS4 and "Killzone: Shadow Fall" to "Uncharted 3." The video above showcases a soulful duet with Selena Gomez covering Sam Hart's romantic tune.
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Video game sales figures for January showed the expected Nintendo dominance -- but in today's Lunchtime Video I'm pitching my idea that the most important detail may be the unexpected long-term performance of "Mario Kart Wii" and "DS."

(Videos not viewable by users logging in from Canada or the U.K.)

A couple of days ago we reported here at Multiplayer about the plethora of new details an Activision rep revealed about his company's 2009 line-up at the Massive Incorporated advertising up-front. That event a first-of-its-kind gaming publisher showcase designed to excite advertisers to buy in-game ads through Massive.

One of the details we and Newsweek's N'Gai Croal reported was that Activision's 2009 racing game -- code-named "Racer 2009" -- was described as "Mario Kart meets Forza." Neither Croal nor I reported what was meant by that, and I've seen confusion about that description in various Internet reactions to the news.

I checked my notes and this is how that amalgamation was explained: Read More...

My L.A. colleagues at MTV News recently interviewed Christina Aguilera about her new greatest hits album and some weightier issues like advocacy against California's Proposition 8.

But credit that L.A. team for always remembering what it is that I need to know, and that's whether the famous people we interview know anything about video games. Here's Aguilera responding to a question about what she likes shopping for at Target, where her new album is being released:

"Target is an amazing store. You can find anything there. Board games… I'm a big gamer. I love my Nintendo DS. I love my board games. So on the road, [I play them] especially to kill time. Now, I don't have much time, because of my little one, to play those games. I play different games now."

That was on-camera. Off-camera, the L.A. team asked Aguilera which games she likes on the DS. Her top pick? "Mario Kart DS."

Mario Kart WiiI've long asked MTV News reporter Chris Harris to stop writing about legal shennanigans and heavy metal stars and blog some about video games. So I go on vacation and he sends me a report about how he plays "Mario Kart Wii" as a character called Y'all Suck:

I've always had a thing for sociology, and anyone who knows me – truly knows me – will tell you I take great pleasure in getting a rise out of complete strangers. On the street, in the subway, while standing on lines – I always do and say things to get a reaction.

Call it an ongoing sociological experiment, to see just what I can get away with and how patient people can be.

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mario_kart.jpgDear Nintendo,

I'm writing you in hopes that you can address some of the issues that I have had since I began playing "Mario Kart Wii" late last week.

I'm about as big a fan of the "Mario Kart" series as you can be. I remember purchasing "Super Mario Kart" using a $10 coupon from the back of a Nintendo Power. I'm the one guy who played more "Mario Kart 64" than "Golden Eye." "Double Dash," and "Super Circuit" were both system-sellers for me. I bought the DS version the day it was released. I've even fed more than the cost of any of the aforementioned games into a local "Mario Kart Arcade GP2" arcade machine. In other words, I've always loved the game.

But I feel more than letdown with "Mario Kart Wii," and I was hoping you might be able to explain yourself.

Please don't get me wrong, there were some aspects of this game that I really enjoyed. In fact, they were some of the things that I expected to dislike the most. Motorcycles, wheelies, and tricks were all new to "MK Wii" and it turns out I really enjoyed taking advantage of them. The new courses are also, for the most part, a standout feature, of which I would have loved to see more. I also applaud your use of the remote's speaker - it really adds to the experience. For these things I commend you.

However, there are some things that I didn't like. Read More...

gta-iv-wall.jpgBox art is a big deal.

That's why when a game's artwork is off for some reason, the game company offers to send you a new one.

That's also why last November Rockstar revealed the box art for "GTA IV" with this elaborate wall painting.

And after waiting and waiting for what seems like forever, "GTA IV" finally hits stores this week. Since no game is too big or too small for our shallow assessment, we continue onward with our weekly feature of judging games by their cover art. First things first...

gta-iv.jpg"Grand Theft Auto IV" (Xbox 360, PS3)
What the Box Tells Us: Rockstar relies on formulas. Ever since "GTA III," all the covers for the franchise have been designed in similar fashion -- game characters, vehicles and one lucky lady grace the cover, Hollywood Squares-style. While the number of boxes and ratio of vehicles to characters is different each time, every single cover has a helicopter featured in the top left corner. What does it all mean? I have way too much time on my hands because I'm staring at box art and still waiting for the game to come in the mail. Gimme.
Love It or Leave It: Maybe I'd love it if I could see it up close. *cough cough*

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Mario Kart 64My co-workers often act like they have better ways to spend their every waking minutes than playing video games. But I know that they're all secretly crazy for this stuff. Case in point, colleague Michelle Rabinowitz, she whose arm I had to twist to try "Echochrome," recently offered this confession about "Mario Kart":

"Around these parts I’m known for nerding out on election results and campaign ads, but during my senior year of college I pretty much nerded out on one thing…Mario Kart. I spent most of my spare time playing "Mario Kart 64" with my four housemates in our dump of a residence. Stephen Totilo’s coverage of the new Wii Wheel and "Mario Kart Wii" brought back a flood of memories…including one I’m kind of embarrassed I mentioned (since he asked me to blog about it).

"We actually renamed parts of our college campus (big ups Wesleyan University) after the game’s 16 tracks. For example, a trip to the deep-fried campus eatery WesWings might include a shortcut through Yoshi Valley. My bike was stolen from Choco Mountain behind the science center. OK, it might be time for me to buy a Wii."

***

Note from Stephen: clearly, it's healthy to share. If anyone else has a gaming confession they need to make, let us know.

whiil.jpgThere are five official ways to control "Mario Kart Wii." But what if you wanted to explore some other options?

Gaming blog Joystiq has done a wonderful job putting each of the five official control schemes through a very scientific round of tests.

But they missed two additional controllers.

With the help of the RetroPort connectors from RetroZone "Mario Kart" fans (sort of) have the option of using their old NES and SNES controllers. Unfortunately, much like "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," the game is virtually unplayable with both of them.

While both feel significantly better in your hands than the Wii Wheel, they only offer the ability to give your cart gas and reverse. Since the controllers plug in via the Gamecube ports, they are treated as Gamecube controllers. Because of that, the steering is mapped to the non-existent analog sticks, while the tricks are mapped to the directional pad.

You can drive straight back and forth, but that's it. Sadly, there's no drag racing in "Mario Kart."

With the help of the SNES controller I was at least able to look behind me.

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Mario Kart WiiSince the last entry, I….

*Raced a few races in "Mario Kart Wii." And. I. Enjoyed. It. This was a shocker. I thought I was immune to "Mario Kart"'s charms. I never had the SNES version. I played the 64 edition a lot (but almost only in single-player). I dabbled with the GCN and DS games and thought my life's quota of "Kart" was complete before this Wii one came out.

But I discovered last night that the surprisingly smooth online service for "Mario Kart Wii" might make me a fan yet. Matchmaking with non-Friend competitors in Australia, Japan, and Germany (all for the same race) happened in the blink of an eye. A pre-race globe showing each competitor's Mii standing atop their region offered a welcome sense of identity to otherwise anonymous and voiceless opponents. The races themselves went off with nary a hitch. I even came in third once, despite having no "Kart" skills. (I'm already down to 4760 skill points, after starting at 5000).

The "Kart" users seem evenly split about the Wii Wheel. I raced six or seven races last night, and about half of the competitors in any race were using the packed-in wheel shell. I didn't notice any advantage among Wheel users or non-users yet, but I'll keep watching.

Another positive: the ghost system works great, briskly downloading ghost after ghost to my Wii for me to compete against, all generated by Europeans who have had the game already.

I also really like the idea of Wii games that download channels to the system. You wind up with a stripped-down version of the game, basically a stat-checking app that feels similar to things like a Bungie.net or a Facebook application. It's a great way to keep a gamer thinking about a game even when they have another disc in the drive.

*Claimed a few more stars in "Super Mario Galaxy." I'm now at 87. I have to say, King Kaliente is a pushover. And, what do you know, the game still is able to surprise me, even though I thought everything had been spoiled. Red stars. Who knew?

*Played a little more "Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII" and am still wondering if anyone out there knows what determines the level of Limit Break attacks. Why do I do Octoslash Level 1 sometimes and Octoslash Level 4 other times?

Next: They wouldn't send me "GTA IV" to play on a Thursday night, would they? Probably not. I think Thursday night is a "Galaxy" night.

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