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Archive For December, 2005

Hirameki's Akiba Blog, User Survey

December 29, 2005 3:06 PM |

ever17.jpg Hirameki International is an odd little company that localizes Japanese visual novels for the western market, some of which are Windows-based, some of which are DVD-based, and thus can be played on any DVD player, PC, or DVD-enabled game console. Ever17 is a particular highlight, originally by KID (an acronymn for Kindle Imagine Develop) for Windows, for which you can download a demo here.

Intros aside, Hirameki is operated out of an office in Tokyo (though they also have a physical store in City of Industry, CA), and has relatively recently started a rather nice Akihabara-centered blog. It includes such wackiness as 'Gaijinzira,' a conflation of the word for 'foreigner' and 'godzilla.' The first edition of this column details Tokyo's Ueno Park, and almost echoes new game journalism in its themes: "Oh sure, it all began innocently enough, when one of the cool kids in high school invited me over to watch Sailor Moon; I hesitated, but said yes, and bam! Next thing I know, I'm waking up slumped over a stack of doujinshi in some cheap Tokyo apartment." Another gem is this introduction to a Japanese fan comic rental store, where fans can peddle their wares. While most of the game-centric content is understandably Hirameki-related in large part, it's still quite an interesting, relatively obscure blog.

Lastly, Hirameki has a user survey up, which asks fans to submit information about what titles they're interested in. Perhaps if enough people ask for Fate/Stay Night (the most popular naughty PC game ever - til the sequel game out), they'll bring it over? Hard to say. As a cautionary note, be aware that the form must be followed exactly - never put in more than three choices in any category. If the form is improperly filled, you lose all of your entered data and must start over.

Late Greetings From Ubi, Katamari

December 29, 2005 12:53 PM | Simon Carless

kata2.jpg Those wags over at GamePro have bent their page template out of shape by scanning and posting some game company Xmas cards, albeit just after the holiday itself.

A number of them are pretty neat, including the LucasArts card that we previously mentioned, but the two highlights are probably a Ubisoft card celebrating 20 years of the company's games, with pixelated versions of The Prince Of Persia, Myst's Atrus and Rayman, plus a Katamari Damacy holiday card from Namco - which looks like it was done by the same (Western?) artist that designed the U.S. cover for We Love Katamari. But we'll forgive them, since it's the holiday season.

On Second Life Hacks, Sonnets, Fashion Shows

December 29, 2005 8:57 AM | Simon Carless

slhacks.jpg Though fellow GSW blogger TonyW is a bit more of a Second Life expert than I, there's a few SL 'virtual world'-related items that are worth compiling and mentioning in one post. So I will.

Firstly, according to the Second Life Future Salon, a recent virtual appearance by O'Reilly's Phillip Torrone confirmed the existence of a forthcoming 'Second Life Hacks' book. The exuberantly named Hank Hoodoo comments of the attached cover mock-up: "I really hope O'Reilly actually uses that spork on the cover of the real book."

Secondly, Linden Labs' company-funded 'embedded journalist' Hamlet Linden, actually exuberant OldManMurray-mauled bard Wagner James Au, has posted his personal selection of 2005's best 'New World Notes' from Second Life - therein you will find a delicate selection of mind-boggling prose dealing with SL's seamy overbelly this year.

Thirdly, and lastly, the Future Salon has announced an MTV Overdrive-sponsored SL fashion show, and the organizer, MTV's Glitchy Gumshoe, comments breathlessly of the show-to-be on MTV's online video network: "It's gonna be all about exploring and showcasing the doors of imagination that SL provides. This newfound 3d freedom that I sometimes take for granted, and is oft times brushed aside, by the media, and by myself for being too "trekkie."" Wait, are Trekkies 'out' again? Dammit, those Spock ears were expensive to attach.

Playing 'The Game' With Negone

December 29, 2005 2:16 AM | Simon Carless

negone.jpg Though video games are our stock in trade, it's fun to look at other game variants, and Avant Gaming has a very informative post about the Negone real-life game complex, currently open in Madrid, Spain, and hoping to roll out worldwide in the next few months.

As is explained: "Each player has a wrist console displaying your score, your character's health and tools obtained in the game. You select your mission (they range from "inoculate the virus" to "steal the secret weapon") and difficulty level. Security guards then escort you to your cell."

Challenges in the game include "shooting down slides, climbing ladders or diving into a pit of small plastic balls. Every time you see a screen, you place your wrist console beneath it. This activates your helper [which] sets you a challenge - a memory challenge or logic puzzle answered using the buttons on your wrist console, or something more physical. Correct answers mean a score boost, and a tool that will help you complete your mission; incorrect ones soon add up to you being condemned to a punishment cell - and expelled from the game." It's like... VR or something - only minus the V.

Most Expensive Driving Controller Ever

December 28, 2005 11:42 PM |

NissanUrge.jpgMicrosoft and Nissan North America have teamed up to deploy what is possibly the most expensive game peripheral in history. According to an official announcement that explains initial reports in more detail, Nissan's "Urge" concept car doubles as a controller for an embedded Xbox 360, allowing parked gamers to use the vehicle's real steering wheel and pedals to operate Project Gotham Racing 3. (There are pics of the car in action at MPH Magazine's website.)

The Urge will be displayed at an upcoming auto show, allowing eager PGR fans a chance to get behind the wheel and fire up the Xbox 360's stunning graphics on the car's 7-inch rear-view video screen. At this size, does it even matter whether or not the screen supports the 360's High Definition output?

Hulk Smash, Then Rhapsodize Using Haiku

December 28, 2005 8:41 PM | Simon Carless

hulksmash.jpg The LA Weekly's Joshuah Bearman, who penned a recently GSW-covered column discussing the use of Nintendogs during swank LA fashion shows, has posted his latest 'Pass The Paddles' game column, this time discussing The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction's "cathartic punch'.

Bearman is particularly concerned about how games might balance the "mindless" but visceral fun of the latest Hulk title with some deeper emotions, commenting:

"A monstrous green corporealized Id with torn-up cutoffs is fairly pointless without the fragile Ego from which it sprang. If violence is fulfilling as a release, that’s a nuance alien to the narrow vocabulary of most video games. Senseless stealth missions as David Banner are not the answer to making a more rounded game, but punching buildings ad nauseum doesn’t do the trick either." Amen to that.

PopCap Games Are A Lifesaver

December 28, 2005 3:33 PM | Simon Carless

bookworm.jpg The nice folks at PopCap sent us here at GameSetWatch a package including their latest press release, which has psychologist Dr. Carl Arinoldo decrying: "Casual word and puzzle computer games can help people develop new cellular brain connections thereby helping to keep the healthy brain active and vital". Also included in the package was a PopCap branded mini-massager (!), and retail versions of their current games, which include Bookworm and Chuzzle.

But what got us particularly enthralled was the accompanying 'PopCap Games Customer Quotes' PR sheet, and particularly, this part of a quote from the also press release-cited Gail Nichols of Kansas:

"Earlier this summer I had a terrifying situation where an unexpected interaction of two new prescription medicines sent me into a panic attack so severe it made me attempt suicide. When I got home from the hospital that night, I sat there playing the endless version of Bejeweled 2 for most of the night, while the last of the overdose I had taken worked its way out of my system."

This, kind readers, is why casual games are actually pretty hardcore.

Reminder: Beck UMD Competition Approaching End

December 28, 2005 11:19 AM | Simon Carless

guero.jpg A reminder to all those who didn't get what they wanted for Xmas - we're still giving away a copy of Beck's Guero UMD special edition, which includes all the audio tracks from the 8-bit retro game-ish influenced album, special video art by D-Fuse for each track, and seven music videos. Simply answer the following question:

"Which UK collective directed the video game-like music video for Beck's E-Pro from the Guero album?"

Please send your answer, alongside your name and snail-mail address to editors@gamesetwatch.com by Monday January 2, 2006, and we shall reveal the lucky winner shortly thereafter.

The New Gamer On 'Averaging Gameplay'

December 28, 2005 7:14 AM | Simon Carless

gradius.gif There's an interesting new post over at The New Gamer's Journal section, discussing the concept of 'averaging gameplay'. As the author explains: "The basic idea is to take a variety of runs of a video game... played by a bunch of people, and merging the results to get some sort of median gameplay."

However, there wasn't a good way to actually make this, until R. LeFeuvre thought to "layer a bunch of gameplay videos right onto of each other. As long as the stage was always timed the same, like the auto-scrolling nature of Gradius, it would sync perfectly! The most common moves would sorta layer on each other and the mostly translucent layers would brighten and solidify." And indeed, that's exactly what he did [zipped DivX]. Clever stuff - what other games could/should this be applied to?

The Cubo CD32's Inexorable Rise

December 28, 2005 1:08 AM | Simon Carless

cubo.jpg There's a just-completed eBay auction that may baffle and delight both Amiga and arcade fans, since it comprises the 'Cubo CD32', which is "an Amiga CD 32 modded by an italian company "CD express" to fit in a JAMMA arcade cabinet."

We'd never even heard of such a thing before, but of course, thanks to the power of the Interweb, there's an info website for the Cubo CD32, which explains in adorably fractured English: "Basically this is a CD32 with a card to translate informations for an arcade machine use. So the card is the joypad... and actually a couple of new infos like the arcade dip switches are sent to the CD32." Of course, the puzzle/quiz games created exclusively for it don't look _that_ hot, but hey - oddities are always endearing.

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