I'll start it off by responding to Tybee's comment in this week's CAGcast thread:
Great show, guys! You must be doing something right, because now my wife has actually started listening to the CAGcast AND CAG Foreplay. She sings along to the CAGS on News theme.
CAG 2.0 is sounding better and better. I must admit, some of the features don't do a lot for me (not sure why I would want a CAG-specific blog), but others have me VERY excited. This was the first I've heard of a CAG-based game cataloging system that would double as a trade list. This would be extremely useful to me, as I have game lists on IGN and elsewhere that don't really do the trick. Hopefully it will be very robust and include box art and stuff.
I wanted to chime in on a digression in the "Super Frank Bros." debate. You guys were talking about how Mario and Link, though unmistakable icons, are not very distinctive or nuanced characters. I would argue that this is by design. The more you work to define a character, give him or her a complex back story with unique identity traits, the harder it is for the player to put themselves in that character's shoes. Game designers walk a fine line, working to make these characters charismatic but not so distinctive that the player subconsciously says, "Oh...That's not me."
This philosophy is obvious in games like Mass Effect and Oblivion, where you're actually shaping your avatar in your own image, but the same mechanic applies to protagonists like Master Chief (even his appearance is kept deliberately vague) Samus, Gordon Freeman, (like Link, they never speak) etc. The function of these characters is to give us just enough to attach our egos to, without making us feel like we're watching someone else's story play out on the screen. That's what movies are for.
A good contrast to this arguement would be Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Mario, we know a great deal about Sonic. He is very verbal and has a distinct personality and style which stay more-or-less consistent through the course of his games. Sonic fans have come to expect that aspect of it, and prefer to guide and observe Sonic rather than take on his role.
On the other hand, I think an even better example of what I'll call "empty character immersion" than the Halo and Metroid games are Camelot's RPGs, such as Golden Sun and Shining Force. In these games, Camelot makes the main characters mute, and they only communicate by answering yes or no to certain questions. This maximizes character immersion and lets the user feel like he's participating in the conversations, however it also creates less memorable characters.