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December 31, 2005

Uga-Q For Me And You

rez.jpg Randomly found via Tokyopia, someone has apparently created UGA-Q.net, a tribute to Tetsuya Mizuguchi's former Sega division and current independent developer, and the joint creator of games including Rez, Space Channel 5, Lumines and Meteos.

The first section to get a proper update is the Rez info page, which is particularly notable because it includes three relatively tricky to find K-Project movies.

What was K-Project? As is explained: "K-project was the prototype name for Rez, called so because of the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, whose art made a bold graphical impression on Rez. Not that much is known about the differences between k-project and rez, apart from the obvious visual ones. Fortunately, we have 3 videos of it, one of which is incrediably rare and virtually unseen on the internet." There's a little more information on K-Project in a recent Gamasutra interview with sole Western employee on Rez, Jake Kazdal.

SomethingAwful Is Rotten In The State Of GameDenmark

merov.jpg Those reprobates at SomethingAwful are counting down 'The Five Worst Gaming Articles of 2005' (and, yes, idolizing OldManMurray in the process). Though their two top articles, to be revealed Monday, "were both written by the same person and neither one is actually from 2005", positions 5 through 3 are announced today, with an overly effusive PlanetGameCube Mario Tennis review, an arguably non-judgmental Black & White 2 preview via GameSpot, and Kieron Gillen's ecstatic write-up of Darwinia for Eurogamer being the lucky winners.

Article writer Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons certainly seems to hate Kieron's invective, suggesting: "Not even a Pitchfork Media review can cram in this baffling density of freshman-grade twaddle. You could write a gushing review of "Time Code" as a concrete poem shaped like a moebius strip and you would still be a galaxy away from Kieron's review of Darwinia." Oh, and The Escapist gets a good bashing later on, too: "The Escapist is what becomes of horrible gaming journalism when it makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously and considering itself too hip." Still, apparently "2005 marks yet another terrible year in the unending saga of mediocrity that is gaming journalism" from both a lowbrow _and_ highbrow angle, so... at least game writers are extending the breadth of their wrongdoing?

Crack Your Way Through Japan With GameLab

gamelab.jpg Lawrence/NFGMan from the ubergeek, ubercool, GamesX website has posted a Wiki entry on the Japanese Backup Technique/GameLab magazines, a series hitherto relatively unknown in the West, and which predates the vaguely similar MAKE Magazine by, say, a decade plus.

The Wiki entry explains: "Starting with the Famicom, this A5-sized magazine covered nearly every console and computer system available, and was filled with hard and soft hacking, cracking and duplication. It was a magazine that simply had no Western equivalent... Backup Technique later changed the name to GameLab, a less copyright-offensive title... [and shifted focus] from low-level hacking to GameShark codes, modchip information and flashcart reviews." Oh, and scroll down for NSFW cartoon covers to other 'DIY' titles,

Res Evil, Ninja Turtles Get Speedy

TMNT4.jpg For all those not keeping up with the Speed Demos Archive, dedicated to "videos of a player striving to complete a video game in as fast a time as they can manage", the latest speed runs include a multitude of fun movies.

In particular, a new Resident Evil 4 run by Tomi Salo blasts through the game in 1:51:03, and includes such possibly crazy talk as: "I believe that Leon runs faster with a grenade, special/normal rocket launcher or without a weapon."

Another neat one: a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time run, with Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe completing it with Donatello in 0:21:33. Unfortunately: "The one problem with Don (well shown in this run) is because he's slow, fast bosses can lay a hurting, especially when they come in pairs. Bebop and Rocksteady certainly don't make things easy." But nothing that pizza can't fix.

Clarkson Vs. Virtual/Real Laguna Seca

nsx.jpg Via uber-blog Joystiq, a link to a clip from the BBC's Top Gear' TV show [.WMV] featuring the ever-grunting Jeremy Clarkson, who compared driving a Honda NSX in Polyphony's Gran Turismo 4 to driving an NSX on the same course in real life, California's Laguna Seca.

Can Clarkson match the 1 minute 41 seconds he achieved on the PlayStation 2 game at the actual course? You'll need to watch the video from the popular UK TV show to find out, but a Joystiq commenter points to a similar article on Edmunds.com in which a Ford GT was put through its paces, both virtually on GT4 and at Laguna Seca. The Edmunds author sensibly points out "...the single biggest difference between reality and virtual reality — consequences. A mistake on Gran Turismo 4 costs me nothing more than a bad lap time. A mistake with a real exotic car on a real racetrack is…a bit more costly." Too right.

December 30, 2005

Drod Naught, Indie Will Win Through

drod.jpg Lovable indie gaming site Game Tunnel has posted its Top 10 independent PC games of the year, following a gigantic monthlong countdown which has included awards all the way from 'Arkanoid Game Of The Year' to 'Casual Game Of The Year'.

The Game Tunnel folks do a fabulous job of keeping on top of independent games - the '2005 Special Awards' article even has some quirkier plaudits, including the Player's Choice for Game Of The Year going to DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold, a 'thinking man's dungeon crawl' that also makes it into the ultimate countdown. We won't ruin the specific countdown itself for you, but suffice to say that the overall Top 10 includes a great number of indie gems (and at least a couple of IGF finalists, fortunately!)

Bonk Your Way To Retro Magazine Heaven

turboplay.jpg Though it was last updated earlier in 2005, may of you (including the GameSetWatch staff!) may not have spotted the unofficial TurboPlay Magazine Archives, scanning in and documenting "the only magazine dedicated exclusively to the ill-fated TurboGrafx-16 video game console [also known as the PC Engine in Japan], which debuted in major U.S. cities (i.e. NYC) in August of 1989."

As well as pictures of the entire 14-issue run of the magazine, there's an exhaustive history of its June 1990 to September 1992 existence, and even a further history of DuoWorld and TurboForce magazines, which are also partially available on the lovingly crafted site. And heck, any magazine with Bonk on the front cover is OK with us.

Pity The Pixelated Fool

a-team.jpg Wandering around Ebay is always fun, and a recent trawl brought up a spectacular collection of Game & Watch style handhelds up for sale from 'chickeneater'. Most of the items are a little pricey, mind you, including a mint-in-box Nintendo/Mego Game & Watch starting at $2,500.

But we're particular fans of the A-Team electronic game, which yes, is shaped like Mr. T. You too can "help B.A.Baracus and the rest of the A-Team stop the motorcycle gang and and rescue the loot!!'. It's pop culture geekery of the highest order, even if it's also kinda waxwork scary. [There are also some wonderfully designed '70s and '80s arcade flyers from the same seller, we spotted.]

The Secrets Of Archon, Revealed

archon.jpg Remember classic '80s EA-published video game Archon? Sure you do. Well, the guys at the Vintage Computing weblog certainly do, and they've posted an incredibly detailed analysis of the game, including exhaustive information on creature stats, hit points, and damage.

Post writer Medarch explains: "Billed as a combination action/strategy game upon its release in 1983, Archon ends up being far more action-oriented, but the diversity of characters from the fantasy realm and their combat attributes the game employs should be enough to dazzle any self-respecting game geek... I have exposed Archon’s mechanisms and hidden numbers through days of experimentation with the game’s original and best version, that for the Atari 800."

So, if you wanted to know hit points by square color for every piece in the game, now there's a special graph that handily maps it for you - score. Oh, and if you want to know what at least one of the creators is up to, sister site Gamasutra recently interviewed Archon co-creator Paul Reiche III, who went on to create Star Control 2 and now heads up Activision-acquired developer Toys For Bob.

December 29, 2005

Shmups Get Highly Developed

ast.jpg Everyone loves 2D-playfield shoot-em-ups, even if they are somewhat of an otaku-inhabited niche in today's mainstream video game market. There's already the excellent Shmups Forum for consumers of classic and modern shooters, and now, there's the newly opened, unrelated Shmup Dev game development site.

There are certainly some dedicated shmuppers here - moderator Matt McFarland introduces himself by recalling: "I... remember faking sick so I could play R-Type on the Sega Master System!" Good man! The Member Games forum already has a number of interesting amateur/indie shooters posted, including a music-cued Asteroids clone and the source-included 'ship gets bigger' Ego Shooter, inflating self-esteem and all. More niche development sites, please.

[Oh, and a random free Flash shmup recommendation, while we're here - Drakojan Skies: Mission 3, the latest in the series, is plenty fun/good for a JP shooter-aping Flash title.]

Hirameki's Akiba Blog, User Survey

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

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

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

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.

December 28, 2005

Most Expensive Driving Controller Ever

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

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

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

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 [email protected] by Monday January 2, 2006, and we shall reveal the lucky winner shortly thereafter.

The New Gamer On 'Averaging Gameplay'

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

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.

December 27, 2005

GamesRadar, GameVideos, GameEverything...

radarvideos.jpg As we drift aimlessly but happily into the New Year, word reaches GameSetWatch of a couple of major new game websites launching over the next few weeks.

Firstly, Future Publishing's U.S. division, which runs Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer, and PSM in the magazine field, but has thus far been relatively tardy getting into the U.S. consumer game website business, is re-launching existing MSN UK-partnered site GamesRadar in early January with a newly hired U.S. staff, plus existing UK journos. As the press release explains, "GamesRadar will be the first international games information destination on the Web and marks another major step forward in Future’s global online expansion plan." As a major competitor to GameSpot, IGN, and Ziff's 1UP, should be interesting to see how Future steps up.

Secondly, recent print ads and a new page on Ziff Davis' website reveals the forthcoming arrival of GameVideos.com, a new online property to run alongside 1UP.com and the newly acquired GameTab.com and FileFront.com. According to the helpful marketing information, the new Ziff property is: "The only site dedicated to the entire gamut of gaming video clips, GameVideos.com is the one-stop resource for game trailers, current and classic ads, tournaments, news footage, interviews, and humor." Chances are the fan favorite 1UP Show videocast will transition/mirror over there when the site launches in the near future.

Amped 3 - Slept-On, Or Fortuitously Ignored?

amped-3.jpg Probably one of the least remarked-upon Xbox 360 launch titles has been 2K/Indie Built's Amped 3, the latest in the former Microsoft franchise acquired by Take-Two when it bought Indie Built back in late 2004. The snowboarding action itself, according to many reviewers, is relatively pedestrian.

However, the official Amped 3 site gives a hint as to the title's 'unique' differentiator, which isn't even shown in any of the official screenshots - insanely goofy/crazed GUI and cut-scene presentation, as showcased in this WMV trailer. The ever-lyrical Tom Bramwell at Eurogamer describes it best: "Amped 3's presentation is basically a diabolical fusion of Music Television and hallucinogenic interpretations of surfer culture. Think of how Tony Hawk's Underground suddenly decided it wanted to be Jackass, and multiply that by stop-motion cut-scene skits with plastic toys, "Hotties of Amped 3" load-screen graphics, self-referential Strong Bad-inspired "cut-scenes are rubbish" interludes and six other mountains of superfluity..."

So... not so good? Well, the GameSpy folks vote for "nauseating bastardization", but the TeamXbox guys actually kinda like it, and the GameSetWatch editors were initially intrigued, like crows and shiny metal objects. Overall - hey, at least it's different?

Cedric And The Revolution

cedric.jpg The Origami Hero website has just released the free PC adventure title Cedric And The Revolution, and the fine TIGSource folks explain it thusly: "An old school adventure in the style of classic Lucasarts titles, you play the role of the titular character in his quest to gather enough people for a peaceful demonstration... Expect a well-written story, witty dialogues and memorable characters brought vividly to life by his distinct art style."

It looks like Cedric And The Revolution is made with Adventure Game Studio, an excellent PC adventure game creation tool, and it's also worth noting that Origami Hero proprietor and creator Bernie also made oldschool SNES/Genesis style platformer A Game With A Kitty, which is definitely worth perusal as well.

Raiden Plus Campbell Equals Love

raiden3.jpg Veteran UK game journalist Stuart Campbell has nominated his game of the year, and it's not Shadow Of The Colossus, or even Psychonauts, but rather the 2D PlayStation 2 shoot-em-up Raiden 3, which is out in Europe early in 2006 (but unlikely to be seen on U.S. shores, thanks to SCEA's draconian standards policies).

Campbell explains, very precisely, why the game stands out: "Raiden isn't like most modern shmups. There's no "bullet hell" here, no screens full of geometric snowstorms of enemy fire through which you have to pilot a ship with a "hit box" that's actually only one pixel square. Unlike the baddies of Giga Wing or Mars Matrix or Espgaluda, enemies in Raiden games don't just unleash a monstrous barrage of shots and hope vaguely that you blunder into one. These guys might only fire a couple of bullets, but they fire them right at you, with an assassin's precision and a sniper's economy. And it's that smart, aware opposition that sets Raiden apart from pretty much every other shooting game on the market." Oh, and there's a bonus Campbell shmup review posted since then, of the equally interesting (but not European-bound) Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou from Cave.

December 26, 2005

Making A PBS For Serious Games?

pbs.gif The Christian Science Monitor's Dec. 22 edition has an in-depth article on the 'serious game' phenomenon, discussing games you may already know, such as the UN's Food Force and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict's A Force More Powerful, "in which players use peaceful means to unseat a dictator in 10 fictitious scenarios."

But a particularly interesting thought comes from the Woodrow Wilson Center's David Rejeski, who apparently "...advocates the establishment of a "Corporation for Public Gaming" that would stimulate the development of serious games the way the Corporation for Public Broadcasting developed noncommercial TV." A PBS style organization for games? We can see the Morgan Webb-presented pledge drives now!

Rumble Roses Goes Pop

rumble.jpg We've previously discussed Konami's habit of inserting its Rumble Roses wrestling glamor girls into other Japanese video game titles, such as Metal Gear Ac!d 2.

Well, Rid over at Majoria's News has spotted another Rumble Roses crossover, this time with cute Bemani rhythm game Pop 'N Music 13, which is special guest featuring female wrestler Reiko Hinomoto of Rumble Roses fame.

The Japan-only Pop 'N Music series, though it's sometimes hilariously difficult, is arguably the female and kid-friendly version of the Bemani series, which also includes the excellent Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution games. Therefore, it's interesting that such a sexed-up character would get cartoonized for it - still, ours not to reason why?

Steam Gets Positively Archaeological

steam.jpg Valve's Steam 'content delivery service' for PC, purveyor of not only Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source, but a multitude of forthcoming independently developed titles, has revealed some startling statistics about its usage this year.

Specifically: "Steam has delivered approximately 10 million gigabytes of data since the first of the year. You could fill 125,000 80 GB hard drives with this data to make a line over 11 miles long. Not that you would want to, but the visual helps... There have been a total of 50 billion player minutes in our multiplayer games since the start of the year. If a single person sat down to play on their own, it would take 2.28 million years to accomplish this. This is assuming that you're not planning on sleeping during this 2 million year stretch." Whoa. (via ShackNews.) Oh, and the handy Steam Review points out that there's a demo of Rag Doll Kung Fu available for Steam download, like, right now. I know kung fu?

'When Import Stores Ruled The Earth'

bc.jpg Brit nrrrd game site NTSC-uk has a fun new article up charting the decline of the UK video game import store. As the intro claims: "See I grew up, like many of you, on a diet of ‘stunning oak effect’ Ataris, Fire Ants, Dizzy Eggs, Hadoouuukkenns and vomit-coloured carpet at the local Amusements. Yet it was only the other day; after seeing hanging board upon hanging board of ‘Reserve your Xbox 360 for only £900 the deeds to your house and your immortal soul’, a horrid realisation bore into my guts and clawed up into my brain. Import Stores in the UK are dead."

A little more whine with your cheese? Well: "The store (while it should be applauded for its selection of games) was as sterile as a fresh hypodermic, and twice as painful. Japanese titles, packed tidily into tight white coffins with price tags that smirked at your wallet and winked at your bank manager stained the walls." We can only hazard a guess as to who he's referring to, but it's entertaining, in any case. Any UK natives care to comment on whether import gaming retail has, to reference a parrot sketch, 'run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible'?

December 25, 2005

GoldenEye Source Predicts A Riot

goldeneye.jpg In the hours leading up to Xmas, the mod team unofficially adapting Rare's classic N64 FPS to the Half-Life 2 engine announced the release of the GoldenEye Source alpha version, reducing their bandwidth-ravaged homepage to some simple download links.

However, there are plenty of screenshots of the mod over at ModDB, and the creators of the mod comment that their main aim was "...keeping the original feel for the game that we all know and love... [while] adding new and fun game play features, along with new maps and weapons that will keep the game feeling new." Maybe EA should just bite the bullet and ask Nintendo, Rare, Valve, and the modders nicely to release this, since their recent Bond games still aren't lighting anyone's fire?

GameFly Gets Fly For Xmas

druaga.jpg Happy Xmas to all GameSetWatch readers! Also, if you're in the U.S. and enjoy, uhm, cheap games, then video game rental service GameFly is having a pretty decent Christmas sale on previously rented games, with $3 off all games over $12.99 and free shipping in the States.

Apparently, GameFly takes good care of its boxes/instructions (unlike, say, the shredded monstrosities you get at your local Blockbuster), and there are plenty of niche and otherwise less obvious games at decent prices - your delighted GameSetWatch editor just picked up Nightmare of Druaga, Flipnic, Killer 7, Mega Man Anniversary Collection, Capcom Fighting Evolution and Sprung for $70, including California tax. Definitely worth checking out.

Byte Hell Is Other People

byte.jpg The perceptive fellow GSW blogger GeekOnStun has spotted NCSX's summary of Byte Hell 2000 for the PSP, the Wario Ware-esque microgame compilation that just debuted in Japan.

As NCSX explains: "Before the madcap mini-games of Byte Hell 2000, musician Pierre Taki and musical collaborator Hideyuki Tanaka had other projects. The two are equal parts in the VJ team known as Prince Tongha and Taki is also part of techno band Denki Groove with partner Takkyu Ishino... With Byte Hell 2000, Pierre and Hideyuki test their video and musical sensibilities with mini-games that exhibit the spirit and verve of their video project known as "30 Minutes Around the World."" Definitely one of the most interesting PSP releases for a while, even if they did remove the psychotic Mario/Luigi bits - hope it comes to the West.

ChaosReins On The Jaguar

chaosreins.jpg The GOAT Store, the website 'famed' for its selling of obscure homebrew hardware and games, including titles such as the DDR-ish Feet Of Fury and the just-shipping Cool Herders for Dreamcast, has announced that it is now stocking the Jaguar ChaosReins rotary controller.

As the site explains: "Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar was meant to be played with a rotary controller, but Atari never released one. This was a blessing in disguise as it meant that third party companies have been picking up the slack, and they have done a job much better than Atari would've. At the top of the list of companies that is making controllers is ChaosReins... [which created] a standard controller for the Atari Jaguar modified with a detentless mechanical rotary encoder from CTS, is extremely accurate and easy to use." The controller is available from GOAT Store for just $59.90 - a perfect present for the Jeff Minter fan this Xmas?

If you enjoy reading GameSetWatch.com, you might also want to check out these UBM TechWeb Game Network sites:

Gamasutra (the 'art and business of games'.)

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Indie Games (for independent game players/developers.)

Finger Gaming (news, reviews, and analysis on iPhone and iPod Touch games.)

GamerBytes (for the latest console digital download news.)

Worlds In Motion (discussing the business of online worlds.)

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