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February 11, 2006

Xbox 360 Live Arcade Gets Mad Tracks, Novadrome

madt.jpg Gus Mastrapa's fun 'quick, opinionated video game impressions' blog Looky Touchy has put up a post discussing French-created toy car racer Mad Tracks, which both has a downloadable demo for PC, and, according to the official website, will be "on Xbox 360 Live Arcade from March 2006."

As Mastrapa says: "If I was an indie game developer I'd be very excited about Xbox Live Arcade right about now", and Mad Tracks, which hasn't been mentioned much by Microsoft yet, looks lots of fun: " A Car Arcade Party Game [with] Pull back friction vehicles, Acrobatic Tracks", according to the ex-Ubisoft creators. We're looking forward to seeing/downloading it.

In addition, a recent GameCloud interview with Stainless Games' Patrick Buckland, who just debuted the 2006 remake of his own Crystal Quest on XBLA, reveals: "We are producing an original, fully-featured multiplayer combat-driving game called Novadrome for 360 Live Arcade" - another original 360 Live title which has been relatively unheralded thus far, and is due this Spring. In conclusion - darn, it's going to be a good year for console indie titles.

Yahoo! For Semi-Hidden Game Editorial Content

yahooo.jpg When we noticed (via Waxy) that Yahoo!'s forthcoming new homepage redesign has a pretty large box linking to their video game site, at least in the early screenshot, we thought we'd go and explore the Yahoo! Video Games website again.

In general, the site hasn't got that much notice from hardcore gamers, partly because the news section is entirely GameSpot-licensed, but, apart from the not-uninteresting and exclusive streaming video game show Reset!, presented by Zoe Flower, Kat Hunter, Ruby Lopez, and Raymond Padilla, there's actually a few exclusive Yahoo! game columns hanging out in difficult to locate places (see the 'EDITORIAL & OPINION' box on the news link.)

These include a regular 'Virtual Worlds' MMO column by Mike Smith, a fun 'Hollywood Byte' film and gaming column from veteran John Gaudiosi, and a general 'Pushed To The Edge' column on a variety of subjects from contributing editor Russ Fischer, all well worth checking out, if you haven't been already - consider yourself warned.

Video Games, Illustrated

katamari_jacob_tb.jpg
"Katamari Chef"
by Jacob Chabot
Life Meter, which GSW covered a few weeks back while it was still in development, has now officially launched its site. The collective has recently added lots more comics and illustrations drawn by video game fans of their favourite characters and worlds. Co-Editors Zack Giallongo, Dave Roman, Stephanie Yue are currently looking for new artwork to display on their shiny, new site.

The trio wants to see contributions that depict a "day in the life" of game personalities: "Events that could be in continuity even if you'd never really see it in the game. What was going on in the heads of these characters day in and day out as they performed these tasks?" Each artist will be given a space underneath their piece in which to textually pontificate, and a bonus reciprocal link so happy fans and angry lawyers can get in touch.

Currently, Nintendo characters are dominating Life Meter's doodles. I'd like to see a day in the life of a Pong paddle, or a day in the life of a closet-monster from Doom 3. If you've got a better idea, make sure you review Life Meter's submission specs before sending it in.

Hardcore Gamers Gets Aces With Eight

HGM8.jpg The people behind the PDF and print Hardcore Gamer Magazine, who also run the much-praised strategy guide firm DoubleJump Books, have released Issue 8 of the magazine for free download, yay.

The magazine is actually startlingly good-looking, and also features plenty of otaku-friendly content, from a feature by Roger Danish on 'Console Curiosities' (including the Generation Nex, Treamcast, Gameking) to a plethora of previews and reviews of console, mobile, and eclectic games - there's even a whole bunch of advertising from companies like Nippon Ichi and Southpeak Interactive, showing that a hybrid print/online mag can get at least some commercial interest from advertisers.

Anyhow, go check out the PDF version, or maybe even subscribe to the whole magazine - 12 issues for $25 isn't bad, and I'm betting these might be collector's items for Kevin Gifford-like magazine accumulators in a few years.

February 10, 2006

Intellivision 'TV Game' Gets Second Wind

intelli.gif An official PR release from 'TV game' manufacturer Techno Source reveals "the release of Intellivision 10 2nd Edition, a
follow-up to their best-selling Intellivision 10 Video Game System."

According to the PR (no pics of new all-in-one joypad that we can find, here's plenty of info on the old one): "The new TV Play System includes previously unreleased Intellivision classics, such as Deadly Discs and Crown of Kings, along with super-enhanced versions of the two of the most popular video games of all time, AstroSmash and Space Armada. Intellivision 10 2nd Edition will retail for approximately $12.99."

Sound neat - but is 'Deadly Discs' the Tron: Deadly Discs game (scroll down) with the Tron license surgically removed? Cheeky, if so. Sounds like the same is true for Crown Of Kings and the Advanced D&D cart for Intellivision. Still, ours not to reason why? (Oh, and Techno Source is also re-manufacturing classic Coleco games, which is neato.)

Golden Empire Sees Possible Golden Shower

bishoujo.jpg We here at GSW love it when a quizzical analysis of Japanese PC 'bishoujo games' appears directly below the lovable local anchors from KGET TV 17 ("In the spirit of the golden empire"!), and this is exactly what's happened in the syndication of a Cincinatti alt.weekly's video game column onto the KGET site.

PJ Hruschak's column is pretty darn informative, though, explaining to a presumably uninformed readership: "Despite that warning and a reputation as being animated porn, most bishoujo (pronounced bee-SHO-JOE) games are fairly complex dating simulation games", and continuing: "X-Change 2, for example, seems rather innocent on the cover, but features a boy turned into a girl, several kinky lesbian encounters and rather rude and rough rides on the appropriately named Pervert Bus."

Finally, a web-only extra section reveals correspondence with J-List's Peter Payne, who explains gleefully: "If you go to one of the many anime conventions in the U.S. and ask people if they know what 'hentai' dating-sim games are, you'll get a 100 percent response rate." But then again, at least 50 percent of those people are probably wearing a stick-on tail, soo... [Kidding. Honestly.]

Have A Hacked-Up Adventure With Mario Adventure

marioa.gif The Vintage Computing and Gaming website has done a neat synopsis on one of the best homebrew hacks ever, the most excellent 'Mario Adventure'.

Weblog writer RedWolf explains of the NES mod: "This isn’t your usual game hack, mind you. You’ll find no giant buttocks glued onto Mario’s forehead, no nude Mushroom Retainers, no Super Tokin’ Brothers with Luigi replaced by a white Rastafarian with a cannabis leaf for a hat. Nope, this is a real game — a new game, crafted with care and aplomb using the Super Mario Bros. 3 game engine."

He continues of the greatly enhanced title: "There are new graphics, new enemies, new enemy behaviors, new power-ups, new items, new rules, and tons of all-new, completely original levels. The game even uses SRAM, a la Zelda, (albeit only emulated at the moment) to save your progress in the game." Lots more info if you click through.

GameVideos On The GamesRadar, Again

radarvideos.jpg VNU's Inside Video Games site reprints a Media Week piece on "the war [that] pits major online gaming content sites, including News Corp's IGN and CNET's GameSpot, against each other for gamers' intense attention and the increasing amount of ad dollars aimed at this young male audience."

The article, which particularly features Ziff's GameVideos.com (due to launch 'in March'), and Future's GamesRadar (now due to relaunch 'on March 1'), as did a GSW post earlier this year, has some interesting quotes, with Suzie Reider, senior vp, sales and marketing for GameSpot commenting of the forthcoming launches: “I don’t think there are a whole lot of gamers saying, ‘I wish there were more sites to find gaming info'".

However, Donnie Williams, interactive media supervisor at Ignited Minds, notes of the game ad market online: "There is finite inventory, and CPMs are inflating at an incredible rate." So it's either a boom, or a bust, we think! Heck, as long as there's more fun stuff to link to.

February 9, 2006

Killer 7 Gets Killer Interview On Killer Comic

killer7.jpg Capcom and Grasshopper Manufacture's exceptionally weird, exceptionally cultish action title Killer 7 is a 'love it or hate it' experience for the critics, but even twisted slayers may be intrigued by a new Comic Book Resources interview reveals info about the tie-in U.S. comic, a "twelve-issue mini-series from Devil's Due Publishing and Kinetic Underground."

It seems that comic book writer Arvid Nelson has is building on established ideas for the comic's eponymous heroes "In their quest to find and destroy Heaven's Smile."

Nelson explains of the [EDIT: Existing Killer 7 plot, thanks ShaperMC!]: "They will encounter everything from zombie terrorists to an Evangelical cult leader with a Messiah complex to a black market organ smuggler to a group of five Power Ranger type children's television heroes who moonlight as assassins. It's going to be a wild ride!" Sounds like it!

Game On 2.0 In Glorious Technicolor

maneater.jpg It seems like only yesterday (OK, last week!) that we were talking about the Game On 2.0 exhibition, which has just wended its way into Chicago, and most excellent website The New Gamer has already posted a massive picture gallery from the expanded exhibit.

Some of the best goodness in there? Well, how about the Jaws-a-like Maneater arcade cabinet, or even the gigantic Steel Battalion controller, of which R. LeFeuvre mocks in the comments: "Suggesting that people use the Steel Battalion uber controller gently mocks its existence! It's the cockpit of a 50 foot mecha, you gotta use it like one!"?

As we noted previously, Game On 2.0 will be at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago (1 February - 27 April 2006), before travelling to the Pacific Science Centre, Seattle (26 May - 4 September 2006), and then back to England for a bit, so check out the gigantic array of titles [PDF] and associated artifacts while you still have time - it's rather gamestonishing.

Nintendo Japan Brochure's Rev Proto Fun

revcont.jpg Just a brief note that the British Gaming Weblog has reprinted scans of a Nintendo Japan brochure that shows "several pictures of the Revolution and several versions of the controller when it was being made."

The site explains: "The booklet seems to be about 2007 recruitment, as Nintendo are looking for 70 new staff for that year", and the art in the brochure, which includes layouts of Rev controller prototypes and GB Micros amidst a great-looking minimal print design, looks like the kind of thing that would fetch zillions of dollars on eBay (and/or Yahoo! Auctions Japan.) If we had a copy. Which we don't. Darn.

Oh No! More Lemmings Info Than You Need!

lomax.jpg 1UP is continuing its brave crusade to be seditiously retro, and its first-ever 'Retronauts' column explores DMA Design's classic suicidal puzzler Lemmings.

As author Jeremy Parish rightly points out in his intro: "After building a reputation for quality games over the space of a decade, DMA created the incredibly successful Grand Theft Auto and was snatched up by Rockstar Games to be rechristened "Rockstar North.".. The company's names and leaders have changed over the years, yet there's a subversive sense of anarchy that permeates its work -- a streak of lighthearted mayhem that dates all that way back to the O.G. of DMA: 1989's Lemmings."

The rest of the breezy retrospective discusses the upcoming PSP version of the game, plus some of the spinoffs (including the odd, barely Lemming-like but extremely cultish PS1 platformer The Adventures of Lomax, whose back cover reveals you can "battle against zombies, pirates, cowboys" all at once!), before ending with the revelation that the second Retronauts, to be posted soon, will feature "...a thorough examination of the recent Taito Legends collection alongside its Japanese counterparts, Taito Memories." Any excuse to rave about New Zealand Story is fine by us.

February 8, 2006

Way of the Rodent Interviews Trip, Produces Shirts At Various Humor Levels

worshirt.jpg Way of the Rodent, which is quite a good webzine if you've never seen it, has a new issue up. It includes features such as their typical quirky interview. This time it's with Trip Hawkins, and is basically awesome.

An excerpt: "Q: Did you ever meet the heavy mob from Atari back then? Was it literally like dealing with the Sopranos? Looking at the pictures now it seems that way."
"A: Oh yeah, of course! Jack Tramiel was fond of showing us his serial number from the concentration camp. These were very intense and aggressive people."

So yeah. Also includes an unrequited love note for the C-64, and a technical article from a homebrewer for the Pokemon handheld. If I owned my own magazine, it'd probably look like this. But on paper! There are also reviews, but who wants to read those? Read the Peter Molyneux bonus feature and feel important for getting the references, instead.

So onto the shirts part - WoR has come up with some T-shirts, many of which are completely excellent. A Tetris shirt that says 'Nevermind the Blox' in the Sex Pistols font? Well, that's clever!

Micro Retro A-Go-Go

microRetro.gifNewish gamesblog Re:Retro reveals that "the world's smallest website," Guimp, has put up more of its adorable tiny clones of vintage arcade games, now including Pong, Pac Man, Asteroids, and Space Invaders.

Each game is boiled down to an 18-pixel square screen, replete with minimal-pixel graphics and clunky sound effects. It's a concentrated dose of nostalgia as well as a design experiment gone horribly well.

If a game reduced to such a tiny size is still fun (and these are), you know the original design was sound. Try shrinking any modern console game to this size and see how much fun it is to play.

Zyrinx Shows Off 32X Demo Mayhem

zyrinx.jpg If we get any more obscure, we may burst, but GSW friend Wendell has pointed out the Sega 32X Zyrinx demo tape to us, as catalogued on demo-scene index Pouet and hosted on demo homebase Scene.org - it's a tape of a 1995 technical demo of the Sega 32X by some wizard Danish coders.

As commenter 'dr.crackhead' points out: "Zyrinx [part of Scavenger Inc.] was basically crionics (the spy, deftronics, murphy etc) + kyd/balle aka the makers of hardwired :-)... some of them now work on the big "hitman" series of games."

He continues: "The most impressive game done by them tho' imho would be subterrania for the mega-drive. It has a very neat soundsystem that enabled jesper kyd to compose in 44khz fm music instead of the standard 11khz (i think) for mega drive. Everything else is also excellent. Check it out!" Oh, those wacky European demo-sceners!

Cooper's 9, Rockman Exe Make AOU Appearance

coopers9.jpg Over at Insert Credit, Chaz Seydoux shows that he knows far too much about the Japanese arcade scene by running down the possible/announced titles for the upcoming AOU 2006 arcade show, to be held on Feb.17 and Feb.18.

Among the most interesting picks? The "awkwardly Killer 7-inspired Cooper's 9" from Konami, a light-gun shooter which is already being showcased over at arcade ubersite System16, as well as Rockman Exe from Capcom, "a clever move, awkward they did not think of that sooner."

Also, Taito has Valve's 'Half Life 2 Survivor', and Sega has Virtua Fighter 5, plus "rumors project that Sega will also show After Burner Climax, Psy-Phi, Exelica, Metal Slug 6, as well as any SNK game that might show up, and a new title from Yuki", and, well - it's all rather exciting. This is especially true after some neat new English-language arcade stuff at UK show ATEI, which Eurogamer did an excellent report on shortly following the previously mentioned Noooz write-up.

GameTap's February Sees Alcorn Vs. Space Ghost

gtap.jpg So, we've already established that GSW is one of the few people who care a jot about the monthly subscription PC gaming service GameTap, unfortunately. Yes, yes, we know, Xbox 360 Live Arcade is much more exciting. But since the GameTap folks just sent us their 'upcoming in February' email, we thought we'd pass it on.

According to the Atlanta-based retro crazies: January’s biggest additions included: Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Tomb Raider 3: Adventures of Lara Croft, Myst III: Exile, and Golden Axe III." [There's a full list of the 365 GameTap games added so far on their site.]

But more, interestingly: "Coming in February are the Lords of the Realm trilogy, Pitstop, and three Might and Magic games, among plenty of other weekly additions... In terms of February’s original programming... Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Al Alcorn (Pong creator) appear on episodes of Space Ghost, while there’s also lots of engaging content on six other exclusive shows, ranging from reality programming (Challenged) to video game survival tips (Survival Guide)." Wait, Al Alcorn taking on Space Ghost? We're looking forward to that mightily.

February 7, 2006

Crane Games! OF THE FUUUUUTURE!

lasercrane.jpgYou wouldn't know this unless you were either in the coin-op industry or a very, very strange person, but Smart Industries is kind of like the Jimi Hendrix of companies that make crane games. You know, crane games. Those big bulky things at the entrance of every Carrow's restaurant, with the big claw and the sea of toys? The thing you pump $0.50 into to try to grab a Powerpuff Girls dolly (don't worry, we won't tell)? Yeah, those.

Manufacturing firm Smart Industries has been making its own crane games since 1985, which makes it the longest lasting crane game manufacturers like, ever. They've redefined the product for a new generation. They were the first to add a joystick, which practically every crane game now has. And now, twenty-one years after the introduction of their first machine, the "Clean Sweep / Bear Claw," Smart Industries has changed the way you may think about crane games. Again.

Ladies and gentlemen, the age of The Laser Crane has begun.

"Smart Industries, a leader in the crane business for over 20 years, presents their latest innovation: The Laser Crane," says the press release. "The Laser Crane is based on the popular Prize Time line of cranes, but has a laser beam attached which follows the path of the claw and shines down into the playfield, so customers can precisely line up the claw with the prize they are targeting. The eye-catching decal package lets potential customers know this is no ordinary crane! Smart Industries believes the Laser Crane (patent pending) will increase grosses for operators and could be the greatest update to a crane game since the addition of the joystick. "

And just when you thought creativity in the arcade industry was dead. Bravo, Smart Industries, you've done it again. Here's to another twenty years of crane game innovation.

Parc Gets MMO Game, Female Envy

woww.jpg We obviously haven't been paying attention, but apparently the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center has a weblog, PlayOn, which is dedicated to 'exploring the social dimensions of virtual worlds'.

Why is this interesting? Well, as Wikipedia explains, "Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was a flagship research division of the Xerox Corporation, based in Palo Alto, California, USA. It was founded in 1970, and spun out as a separate company (still wholly owned by Xerox) in 2002. It is best known for essentially creating the modern personal computer graphical user interface (GUI) paradigm." So, a high-end place to be taking an interest in MMOs.

One of the PlayOn researchers is Stanford grad student Nick Yee, whose Daedalus Project MMO survey is well-known for useful statistical info on how people play in online worlds, and the most recent research at PlayOn deals with how well-connected players are in World Of Warcraft, according to a self-constructed ranking system, noting: "Across all of our metrics, male characters were better connected than female characters. And this was true for all classes, with the only exception of Priests." Of course, this is male characters, not necessarily males.

In fact, in the post's comments, 'Chris' has an interesting possible explanation for these stats that brings this gender confusion to the fore: "Maybe, by the time most male players reach 60, they have a built in prejudice against female characters- they may percieve that many of the female characters they encountered earlier in the game "lied" by choosing a character gender different than their own, and are therefore less trustworthy." [Via Terra Nova.]

Love Chess Visits The Pyramids, Explores The Sphinx

lovechess.jpg So, we got a press release today about the distinctly NSFW PC game Lovechess, which was originally released a few months back, but has now released an official sequel, Lovechess: Age Of Egypt, which, yes, combines both chess and, uhm, intercourse.

As the official PR explains: "With its combination of erotica and chess, LoveChess was the first erotic game that showed sexual action in a stylish, humorous and light-hearted way. Now, this unique concept got even better with the release of Lovechess : Age of Egypt." Yep, it's pretty much Battle Chess with bonking.

Those new features? "New sex animations, a new chess engine, an improved interface and the introduction of online gameplay." So there. There's not really much else to say here, other than pointing out that the screenshots are extremely NSFW. And this concept is clearly the fault of the Dutch, not the Egyptians.

IGF Gets Witch's Yarn Knitted, Finalists Quizzed

witchsyarn.jpg The 2006 Independent Games Festival is rapidly approaching, and we realized we had forgotten to point out sister site Gamasutra's multitude of interviews with IGF Main Competition finalists. The latest is with Keith Nemitz of The Witch's Yarn developer Mousechief, dealing with that PC/Mac title's unique story-based gameplay.

Nemitz explains the game's genesis, noting: "That was the inspiration, to bring interactive fiction to the masses, cut costs, and increase the player's immersion. Casual gamers were the only market we could approach for $10,000. So, The Witch's Yarn was written as an interactive sit-com. Dear readers, please tell your non-gamer friends and relatives, who enjoy a leisurely read, The Witch's Yarn was developed for them."

However, this is just the latest in a long series of 'Road To The IGF' finalist Q&As that has included Professor Fizzwizzle's Ryan Clark, Dad 'N Me's Dan Paladin, Wildlife Tycoon's Andy Schatz, Rumble Box's Joe Bourrie & Patrick Hackett, Tube Twist's Justin Mette, and Dodge That Anvil!'s Jake Grandchamp, all of which well are worth checking out for indie spark, we claim.

February 6, 2006

Katamari Remote-Controlled Toy Mayhem

kdcars.jpg Via Gonzalo Frasca's Ludology.org, a link to Yury Gitman's Making Toys weblog, which is part of his Parsons School Of Design course, is subtitled 'The Insides and Outsides of Electronic Toy Design', and is cool enough on its own, in a non-video game type way.

But then, of course, Frasca pointed out their Katamari Damacy remote control car game, described as follows: "Two players are needed to play the game. Players can choose Shikao or Ichigo to represent themselves in order to start the game. On the floor there are some objects such as sushi, pencils, ducks, eggs, and so on. Players will race to collect as many objects as possible with their Katamari balls. When the cars move, the Katamari balls will roll up random objects from the floor. The player who collects the most objects wins the game!!!!" We believe Velcro is used. This is cool.

Needless to say, this is totally cute, and the embedded Quicktime movie explains it well. Apart from the recent and rather cool T-shirts, when are Namco going to bow to the inevitable and introduce an endless line of Katamari merchandise? We'd so buy it all.

Sega Bringing Ryu Ga Gotoku Over As Yakuza?

ryu.jpg A report over at eagle-eyed news site GameGossip earlier points out that "this morning Sega made a filing on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website, one showing that they filed for the name "Yakuza." Marked with a goods and services listing of home video game software, computer game programs and such, the filing was made on January 27th, 2006."

This is interesting, at least to the GSW geeks, because the mob-related PlayStation 2 Sega title Ryu Ga Gotoku, handily import-previewed by GameSpot back in December, involves, well, yakuza, as GameSpot explains: "This is a crime epic in which players assume the role of Kiryu Kazuma, a soft-spoken but tough and intimidating yakuza (a Japanese mafioso) who's back on the scene after a long hiatus. As Kiryu, you're free to explore Japan's night life, engaging in some side missions to earn a little extra cash while also taking on story missions."

Does that mean that the title, which is also getting a live-action prequel directed by Takashi Miike, and notably received a 37/40 score in the difficult-to-please Famitsu when released in Japan late last year, is heading to the West? We hope so, at least. Of course, it could just be Sonic undergoing a major finger-choppin'-related name change?

Completing Mega Man X, X2... Simultaneously?

mmx2.jpg Over at the Internet Archive, there's a odd new MPEG4 speedrun-style video up named 'Mega Man X & Mega Man X2, by DeHackEd (tool-assisted simultaneous playthrough)' which caught our attention, and how.

The vid, which comes from the Bisqwit NES playthrough videos archive, is explained thusly: "One person's silly idea is another person's inspiration. This movie is essentially constructed by taking one controller and wiring it into two SNES emulators at once. The same input is used to play both games to completion. In other words, the player plays two games simultaneously with one controller."

It's also noted handily that "this is a tool-assisted movie", meaning, we believe, that multiple saves and restores were allowed from the emulator, and also accounts for another minor problem: "There is a visual anomaly during the battle with Serges in X 2. This is an emulator bug relating to the Cx4 chip used in the Mega Man X 2 cartridge." But overall, if you ever wanted to see Mega Man X and Mega Man X 2 completed at, uhm, the same time using the same controller, then be our guest. (Oh, and don't forget that Mega Man X Collection just came out for PS2 and GameCube, if you want to relive the titles on modern hardware.)

Reminiscing On Our Skooldaze

skooldaze.gifGSW is batting near 100% for reblogging RedKeyRedDoor since it spluttered back into life again, and it's just posted a reprint of a big feature on 1984 Spectrum game Skooldaze that the RKRD authors created for Retro Gamer magazine last year.

Skool Daze is such a well-loved game to many Europeans who grew up in the '80s that it got an excellent remake in the late '90s, PC title 'Klass Of '99', but original creator Dave Reidy, noew running an electrical engineering company, was blissfully aware of some of the gameplay elements he helped pioneer. As pointed out: "Back in 1985, Dave told Sinclair User that "a game should not depend on the desire to achieve a single aim. In Skooldaze, you don't have to know what to do to enjoy it." We put it to the author that the school he created, operating almost independently of the player, was years ahead of its time. It was 'sandbox'-style games decades too early... Dave is a bit lost by all this."

In fact, the feature concludes sharply: "It's a shame Dave isn't keeping tabs on the gaming scene. Because he'd probably be amazed to learn that, twenty years after the bell first rang for playtime in Skooldaze, everything's coming full circle. Grand Theft Auto demigods Rockstar have just announced Bully -- which, despite being unlikely to feature catapults and short trousers, looks like doing for today's consoles what Skooldaze did for the Spectrum and C64." Well, maybe just a few catapults?

Dream Picks For Ouendan's Dream U.S. Release

ouendan.jpg We've previously covered DS website Neologasm's intense love for import-only Nintendo DS title 'Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan' - a love shared by GSW editors who adore the goofily chivalric rhythm-action stylings, btw.

Well, the latest Neologasm DSBlog post is subtitled: 'Songs for an English localization of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan if Nintendo/Inis want to sell five copies to latte-swilling web 2.0 hipsters', and suggests some genuinely fun possibilities for converting the J-Pop of the original into something approximating Western-friendliness.

Suggestions include: "Bad Religion - Don't Sell Me Short. This song best expresses the central theme I wrote about before: the individual person's empowering responsibility", as well as Junior Senior's unhealthily catchy Move Your Feet, for which it's noted: "If Band Brothers Request Selection can include Dragostea Din Tei [aka the Numa Numa song], I can include this." Anyone else got any bright ideas for songs?

February 5, 2006

ARGing The Mystery Of Pherotones

pherotones.jpg The ever-reliable Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) website ARGN.com has published a new report on a mystery phone-related ARG, which seems to deal with the concept of phones.

The Pherotones weblog, run by the somewhat suspicious Dr. Myra Vanderhood,, includes the tagline: "Discover Pherotones. The erotic ring tone secret that attracts romance and lifts your love life high". With the discovery that a Wikipedia entry on the subject (since deleted) was authored by McKinney Silver, the ad agency behind Audi's fascinating 'Art Of The Heist' ARG, there's speculation that a larger ARG may be springing up.

However, there's no major trailhead yet, apart from the official Pherotones website, but ARGN nonetheless comments: "With the possible interaction (Dr. Vanderhood will chat on AIM and has replied to emails) and the great quick thinking we’ve seen so far, if it goes very deep it should be a fun and well thought out ride." Or, of course, it could just be a spoof site, without any great detection required - we'll see.

CSI Miami Gets Rare Retro Reference?

wulf.jpg Did the tape loading sounds from a seminal 1984 Rare-developed video game on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum appear on a recent episode of CSI Miami? That's exactly what Kevin Reilly on comp.sys.sinclair is claiming, and the whole thing is explored in more detail on matt.west.co.tt's weblog, including the relevant sound samples.

As Matt explains: "The combined forces of comp.sys.sinclair have identified the data in question as the loading screen to Sabre Wulf by Ultimate.... How did we discover this? Because it’s been previously documented that Aphex Twin used exactly the same sample on the track Corn Mouth, that’s why. Right down to the tell-tale beep at the end that appears to indicate that the game was copied with Keysoft’s The Key duplication utility - naughty naughty."

For those not in the know, Sabre Wulf is one of the all-time classic Spectrum titles from Ultimate!, the early incarnation of Rare. Ultimate! Play The Game became Rare sometime in the late '80s, and a re-imagining of Sabre Wulf was recently released for Game Boy Advance thanks to Rare and THQ. [Via Malaclyps.]

[Oh, and the Rare Classic Picture packs and Rare Classic Theme (scroll down!) have classic Ultimate! icons and backdrops for your Xbox 360, including Sabre Wulf, Atic Atic and Alien 8, if you're feeling nostalgic.]

Xbox 360 Gamercard Customization, Scoring Glitches

robot.jpg Although the default Xbox.com Gamercard for Xbox 360 users (here's mine) looks fairly nice, there's already a host of third-party websites taking Microsoft's data and rearranging it into sleeker designs for you to embed in your websites, and one of the best of these is Glop's Xbox Live Gamercard Generator.

The site generates GIF, JPG, or PNG graphics specific to your Gamertag in 11 different designs, and the app's author is kindly hosting them on its own site and dynamically updating them so you can permalink them (here's mine, elongated) - unfortunately one imagines this will get bandwidth-heavy, eventually? (Random note: Glop.org is also home of the 'Boycott Starforce' webpage, if you're into sue-happy Russian game protection software.) [Via QT3.]

Another interesting new X360-related site is Achieve 360 Points, a third-party site that's listing all of the Xbox 360's achievements in one place, along with the icons and point values for each. It's still early in development, but its FAQ page has some very interesting tidbits on a few achievements which simply aren't gettable: "The creators of [Outpost Kaloki X] have stated that the "Eight-Port Master" and "Adventure Story Gold" achievements are not possible at this time, and cannot release information as to whether Microsoft will allow them to patch or fix these at this time", plus: "There is a glitch in Joust/Robotron: 2084 that makes the game go from Wave 99 back to Wave 0, thus rendering these achievements impossible." Interesting.

'I'm OK' Springs Thompsonsoft Onto Global Stage

imok.jpg Derek Yu, who helps edit TIGSource, has announced the release of his latest game project, Thompsonsoft's 'I'm OK - A Murder Simulator', for which he contributed 2D art alongside a completely demented team.

The official Thompsonsoft website explains: "Consisting of 3 alcoholics and a foreign exchange student, Thompsonsoft is a new game company formed around the singular idea that Jack Thompson is the most brilliant game designer in the universe. After reading "A Modest Video Game Proposal", we formed this company to create any game that Jack Thompson designed. Our first title, "I'm OK", is based on Jack's masterful design from "A Modest Video Game Proposal" and it's a murder simulator so cruel, so bloodthirsty, so horrifyingly violent that it makes Grand Theft Auto seem like Sunday Funday."

Now, obviously this concept has been done a least twice before, including The Fighting Hellfish's 'Defamation Of Character' Grand Theft Auto mod that caused Penny Arcade to donate $10,000 to charity on Jack's behalf, and Dr. Ian's disturbing Bodythumper: Starring Osaki Kim, but 'I'm OK' is a whole new level of horrific NES-like Thompson-inspired 2D carnage. With dancing brains you can pee on.

[DISCLAIMER: Seriously - this game is very, very, very wrong. Actually, it's epochally messed-up, and includes unnecessary sprite-based violence on animals, minors, and executives. Needless to say, not safe for minors, work, or pretty much anything. Oh, and don't read Thompsonsoft's brief history of video game violence while you're at it.]



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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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