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February 18, 2006

Was ABC's PictochatGate Preventable?

chatplz.gif Premiere site of gaming parenthood GamerDad has posted a very interesting 'LongShot' column following up on the recent GSW story about the dangers of PictoChat - or rather, Philadelphia ABC-6 Action News' impressions of those dangers.

GamerDad's Dave Long reveals: "What's not in the story is anything explained by the GamerDad this reporter consulted before going to air. On Monday morning, I received a call from Nydia Han of Channel 6 Action News, asking me about this exact story, the workings of the Nintendo DS, Pictochat and Wi-Fi." In fact: "When contacted for the story, I talked for a good fifteen minutes about the possibility of this situation occurring and what might have to take place to facilitate it. I specifically explained that turning on the DS in a public place has never turned up a Pictochatter."

Nonetheless, as Long notes: "Unfortunately, the story is written in such a way that nothing I said is made clear at all. The story essentially makes it sound like your kids can be contacted on the DS by anyone at any time and that you should beware of predators with Nintendo DS lurking on every corner and on the Internet." Ack, doubly annoying.

Pogo Sticker Jumps Around, Jumps Around

pogosticker.jpg Jump up, jump up, and get down? Matt Wegner's physics-related game blog Fun-Motion has a review of Jetro Lauha's fun PC freeware title Pogo Sticker, which, incidentally, was the very final game entered into the IGF this year (though it didn't get into the finals, aw!)

As Matt explains: "Jetro is most known for his Dismount games, although he has long been involved in the demo scene and currently works for Sulake Corporation (developers of the famed Habbo Hotel)."

The concept is simple but fiendish enough: "In Pogo Sticker, you control a rather abstract-looking pogo man. Clicking the mouse increases your jump height, and moving the mouse to the left or right of your little dude will steer him in that direction on his next jump. Your power meter slowly reduces over time. You need to be sure to keep increasing it, although be careful: Hitting your head too many times will fail the level, as will coming to a complete standstill." Well, for us, it's frustrating, but borderline good frustrating - we still like flinging people down stairs more, though!

Mario Adventure Author Talks Glorious Sequel

marioa.gif Following up on a recent GSW post about the majestic 'Mario Adventure' homebrew mod of Super Mario Bros. 3, the Vintage Computing website has interviewed hack author DahrkDaiz on his retro modding past, present, and future.

Unfortunately, it turns out Mario Adventure will never function 100% correctly on a real NES, as DD explains: "I reprogrammed the game to take advantage of a bug most emulators have, however, I did not realize at the time that it was a bug. The hack would work on a real NES, but not properly all time. The main bug being the status bar moving up over the screen at certain times."

But we do get exciting news on DahrkDaiz' next hack, as he explains of his forthcoming SMB3 hack: "It makes Luigi and Mario be separate characters with each having special powers of their own for different gameplay, including Luigi’s floaty jump and slippery control and a new item box for Mario found in Mario Adventure. Each character has their own separate 8 worlds to play through, so this is literally two hacks in one." Roll on, new hackness!

UK Resistance Goes OutRun 2006 Crazy

outrun2006.jpg Former Sega fansite and current distended monstrosity UK Resistance appears to have invented an employee of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast adapter Sumo Digital, and then conducted an interview with said person.

Some of the fun, informal answers include the differences between the Xbox and PS2 versions of the game, which is OutRun 2 plus the SP tracks plus FUN ("Biggest difference is the controllers, but we've tweaked them with the help of AM2 to keep the right feel and control"), and info on the expanded Mission Mode ("We hope to divide opinion once again on the mission mode. We've split the missions into Heart Attack type stuff and Racing missions, as we know not everyone likes the same things as us. We've added kittens and lions as well as the obligatory fruit and there's even a beach ball to dribble.")

Finally, UKR would not be UKR without a little Richard Jacques worship, but unfortunately Sumo's Steven Lycett hasn't met him. Still, he does a good job of guessing: "I imagine he's really smartly dressed but with pop star hair. I bet he hangs round with top models and smokes fags with a cigarette holder. In fact I think I hate him for that."

February 17, 2006

Schadenfreude's Dung Ho! - The New Katamari?

dung_ho.jpg Our sister website Gamasutra has a new star columnist, in the form of German wunderkinds Schadenfreude Interactive. For last month's Gamasutra column they presented a postmortem of their avian RTS Age Of Ornithology - this month, they're explaining the history of the Black Forest-based studio in some charming detail.

Firstly, CEO Karsden Mörderhäschen explains the genesis of the firm: "After some success in the 1980s with my Commodore 64 arcade clone Wurstzeit (Sausage Time), I founded Schadenfreude Interactive with my best friend and fellow programmer, Bruno Schwartzritter. Bruno is the author of Mutantkameleschlagen, a delightful game inspired by Jeff Minter's Attack of the Mutant Camels. We are all very proud of Bruno, as he is here considered to be the Alexei Pajitnov of the Black Forest."

But the biggest revelation is perhaps of a precursor to the Keita Takahashi classic: "Two years ago we had a console game in pre-production entitled Dung Ho!, which allowed one to play as a dung beetle rolling a giant ball of -- the name says it all, ja? I got this idea while watching an Animal Planet special on dung beetles in the wee hours of the morning (I was perhaps delirious, having eaten some bad sauerbraten)... Dung Ho!'s game mechanics were indeed very similar to Katamari Damacy, and so we could not continue development for fear of legal repercussions."

Aw, what a shame. Why not console yourself with the new Katamari Damacy webgame, and a slice of bratwurst?

Bionic 20,000 X360 Achievements Man Speaks!

stking.jpg The absolutely excellent Xbox 360 Gamerscore-related site Achieve360Points has just posted a mini-interview with crazy-obsessive X360 gamer ST TheKing, who has, unbelievably, already exceeded 20,000 Gamer Points for the Xbox 360.

Given that there's only about 35 games released for the Xbox 360 so far, and about half of these are Xbox Live Arcade titles (which only have a maximum score of 200 points, whereas retail titles have a 1000 max score), ST's current score of 20,350 shows awesome power, and the Quebec native notes of himself: "I'm a single, 20 year old guy. I go to college and play games. I have been a gamer since I was 7, when I got the NES; since then gaming has been in my blood. I like to think I'm a perfectionist, hence my determination to get every single achievement in every game."

He also comments on the hardest achievement he's got ("the No Crash Victory: Single Races achievement from Ridge Racer 6 because it's both really hard and time consuming"), and the hardest that he hasn't yet got ("That would be the 100 wins in survival in Dead or Alive 4. One of my friends has been able to pull it off, but I don't like this game enough to put the time in to get it and I'm not that good at it either.") Admire, and worship.

Monk Gets Compulsively Game-Picky

monk.jpg Reliable web game sensei JayIsGames has put up a mini-review of the free 'Monk's Mind Game' Flash game, a particularly neat web browser game find.

As Jay explains: "Monk is a detective with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) in a show of the same name on the USA network. To increase exposure for the show, and to generate traffic to the show's website, a new game has been launched that focuses on the trivial and repetitive tasks that Monk might face on a daily basis."

Turns out that "Monk's Mind game features 32 Wario Ware-style mini-games that a player must complete, three (3) times of increasing difficulty, to win" - we particularly enjoy the cutlery straightening, but we were never cool in school, like Tony Shalhoub.

Xbox 360 Gets More Little Blog Helpers

x36.jpg Over at the weblog of Jason 'Loonyboi' Bergman, he's been rather handy and pointed out some new-ish official Xbox 360-related blogs, as posted by real Microsoft employees about real X360-related shenanigans.

As Jason explains: "Major Nelson's blog has been required reading for a while now, but Microsoft has done A Good Thing and expanded their outreach to include two more blogs...Gamerscore is entertaining for me, as it's actually from the Xbox PR team, but the most interesting of the three Xbox journals is the new Xbox Team blog. This is just all kinds of fun."

We actually particularly enjoyed a somewhat lengthy PR mini-rant against a recent Next-Gen article that was headlined 'Xbox Live Arcade GM Jabs Nintendo, Sony'. The Microsoft PR person, John Porcaro, notes testily: "Take a look at the summary. The context of the story is [Greg Canessa] comparing Nintendo’s future Virtual Console with Xbox Live Arcade, and how classic games are just a subset of what we’re doing online, but the summary implies that Greg is dismissing the entire back catalog of Nintendo games." And thereby invoking fanboooy wraaaaaath.

February 16, 2006

Capcom Conference Reveals Karting, Fashion Gems!

re4ada.jpg As always, the seething piranha waters of the Gaming-Age Forums are dangerously frenzied at this time of year, with plenty of press days and game announcements going on, but a particularly funny thread based around today's Capcom Gamers Day press event in Las Vegas has a lot of forum ooze-dwellers pretty confused.

According to 'well-placed' posters Amir0x and Duckroll, some of the newly announced titles from Vegas include Breath of Fire: Dragon Sin for DS ("From the developers of Megaman EXE... all new story featuring Ryu and Nina), Resident Evil DS 2 ("RE3 on the DS (but it's called DS 2)"), and Devil May Cry: Virgil Kart Tournament for PSP ("Characters from DMC1-3... Darkest and more mature kart racer ever.")

But perhaps the coup de grace? Resident Evil 4: Ada's New Dress for PSP ("Brand new adventure in the RE world... Help Ada explore the jungles of Peru in search of her new dress... Over 150 different clothing pieces to collect... Find Fashion Magazine hidden around the game as "recipes" to combine clothing into dresses.") These titles sound pretty darn smart, especially the RE4 side-story, and we're really looking forward to more cleverly made-up but actually plausible game announcements in the near future.

Suzuki Vrooms On About Psy-Phi, Shenmue Online

smon.jpg The lippy oiks over at Kikizo have, nonetheless, scored an excellent interview with Sega's Yu Suzuki, in which the difficult to track down Sega sensei discusses his new arcade fighter Psy-Phi and a multitude of other subjects.

Some particularly interesting points - on the future of Japanese (and Western arcades), Suzuki comments: "What I really think the continuing popularity of arcades will hinge on is "live entertainment" and real human relationships. Currently this is a weak point for most arcades."

In addition, the long in development Shenmue Online is touched on, and apparently, Mr. Suzuki has a more hands-on role than some realized following a shift in development in 2005, as he comments: "I'm working hard on it - real busy!... Remember how some of my old arcade games were in the previous Shenmue games? They'll be here, too. The player will be able to follow the Shenmue story through the game. It's not based on any existing Shenmue title. There are a lot of features in Shenmue that carry over well into an MMO game."

Beggar Prince's Resurrection Man Quizzed

bprince.gif Somewhat obscure Australian site Little Mathletics has cooked up an interview with Beggar Prince cart re-releaser Brandon Cobb, chatting with the Super Fighter Team boss about his translation and actual release of a previously unseen-in-the-West Sega Genesis RPG.

The title in question is currently available from the official 'Beggar Prince' website, and is "the first commercial game release for the Sega Genesis in the United States since 1998". It was originally published by Taiwanese company C&E Inc in Asia in 1996, and Super Fighter has officially licensed it and translated it from Chinese for this Western release.

Cobb is especially 'detail-oriented' over his choice of factory to actually manufacture the carts, explaining: "For production, it's a matter of finding a factory that still produces these things - and that isn't a simple process. Not only that, but if you value your customers you'll find a factory that does things right - makes a good, sharp product rather than a cheap imitation." An expensive imitation it is, then! [Via PressTheButtons.]

Ore Commander, Shock C - Revolutionizing Peripherals?

shockc.jpg Every once in a while, there's a news story so demented that you may think that it's entirely fictional. This is the case with a recent Tim Rogers-penned piece on Insert Credit which discusses Japanese peripheral developer Hori's range of bizarre 'PeriBorg' peripherals, designed by Eiji Morikawa.

After all, Rogers is a rampant baby-eating egomaniac who, like, makes things up, right? Well... half-right. Actually, as you can see by the PeriBorg official site, insane controllers like the Ore Commander ("a rubber-band-equipped finger clip attached to a wrist-mountable battery pack... if you let the... tip of your thumb hover over a [PS2] controller button and then flex it ever so slightly, your thumb tip will begin to vibrate [for super-fast button pressing]), well, actually exist.

But the coup de grace? It has to be the Shock-C, "a pair of scissoring, knuckle mounted plastic eating utensils, positioned so that you can hold something in your hands (like a game controller) while also eating out of, say, a bag of potato chips." Forget the Nintendo Revolution controller, I think we've found the future of gaming, right here, right now.

February 15, 2006

Uru Makes Sudden, Lurching Semi-Comeback

uru.jpg Over at Adventure Gamers, they've broken the excellent news that Cyan Worlds' PC game Uru Live is hopping back online, thanks to what Cyan co-founder Rand Miller describes as "limited funding from a third party that allows us to breathe some refreshing new life and optimism into all things Uru."

The newly launched D'mala Untìl Uru Shard FAQ (try saying that 3 times quickly!) explains: "Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (sometimes called "Uru Prime") was a Myst themed computer game released by Cyan Worlds and Ubisoft in the Fall of 2003. It was meant to be the first adventure-game based multiplayer online game, but the Uru Live 'Prologue' was shut down in early 2004 by lack of funding."

Although Uru Live was certainly a controversial experience when launched, and its lack of success was one of the contributing factors to Cyan's untimely death and almost immediate resurrection, text adventure creator Andrew 'Zarf' Plotkin wrote up some excellent notes on all aspects of Uru, showing why this intriguing world should arguably at least be given a chance to make it on its own. Viva Uru!

Going Shopping With Kata Dama's Prince

katadog.jpg We're still not bored of Life Meter Comics or Katamari Damacy just yet. Not at all.

So their latest video game comic art post, cross-posted to LJ, and showcasing a gorgeous Katamari art page drawn by Jacob Chabot of Beetle Bug Comics, is completely awesome, especially as it shows the Prince striving to roll up a spaghetti dinner.

As the Life Meter Comics guys say: "When this piece by Jacob Chabot came in, I was all over it. The colors, the drawing, the blocky people...he brings the trials of the Prince of All Cosmos to life in every shade of awesome! (Poor Prince...)" Happy, very happy, we are.

Nearly Departed Seeks Braaaaaains

nearlydeparted.jpg The rather handy Fort90 points out a great-looking new cartoony 2D PC/Mac adventure game made with the 'LASSIE Adventure Studio' game maker, and named 'Nearly Departed'.

The John Green-created game is subtitled 'The Story of A Reluctant Zombie', and the story synopsis explains: "You emerge from a grave, apparently a zombie with amnesia, and have to solve the mystery of your demise while resisting your craving for BRAINS!'

Screenshots are pretty darn neat, and there's a downloadable Windows demo available at the LASSIE page -which is an acronym for 'The Lingo Adventure Scripting System and Interactivity Engine', of course, you crazy people! Oh, and indie adventure distributor Pinhead Games will help get 'Nearly Departed' out to the public when it's done, too, yay. We're keenly looking forward to it.

Stay Alive, Watch Video Game Horror Movie

stayalive.jpg A couple of the GSW editors received a 'mysterious package' the other day (pictured at left, next to our friend Godzilla!) - a white unlabeled DVD in a white DVD case, with the words 'Stay Alive' in a blood-like font on the front, and the URL canustayalive.com.

Well, turns out the disc has a DVD trailer for the game-themed horror movie 'Stay Alive', opening in the U.S. on March 24, and co-starring Frankie 'Malcolm In The Middle' Muniz and Adam 'The Hebrew Hammer' Goldberg, among others. The game disc in the movie is the same as the disc GSW was sent - therefore we currently fear for our lives.

There's also a trailer on the official site, spouting some such nonsense about there being '100 million gamers in America', and 'a quarter being addicted', and the UHM page for the flick explains: "Follows a group of young teens in New Orleans, who stumble upon a new video game called Stay Alive. The game details the grisly true story of a 17th century noblewoman known as 'The Blood Countess.' A chilling connection is made when the gamers are murdered in the same method as the character they played in the game." Uhoh, we're pretty sure The Blood Countess isn't bringing cupcakes. Or good in-game CG.

February 14, 2006

Nintendo DS Hurting Children!

oldds.jpgPhiladelphia ABC-6 Action News at 11 tonight poses the question, "Is the Nintendo DS connecting your child with Strangers?" It also asks, using an exclamation point instead of a question mark, "Are unsuspecting kids being lured into dangerous chat rooms using this toy!"

"Never did I think I had to warn her..." reads an unattributed quote.

We've been struggling in trying to figure out how kids can be "lured into dangerous chat rooms" while using the Nintendo DS, considering that the DS's chat program, PictoChat, can not be used over the internet, and also keeping in mind that the only way to interact with a living being over the internet through your Nintendo DS is to do so through a game that supports Nintendo WiFi Connection, all of which require both parties to input "friend codes" before they can play with each other.

GameSetWatch co-editor Brandon Sheffield suggests that a potential dangerous chatroom lurer could post an ad on CraigsList asking children to email him or her to exchange Animal Crossing friends codes. Once the friends code exchange is made, the child can visit the stranger's town and chat, awkwardly, one slow and character-limited line at a time. By the time the child has picked all of the stranger's fruit, bought out the shop, trampled a few flowers and left, the stranger might, in theory, be able to say "what are you weari-"

My plan is a little more elaborate, and involves the only other WiFi-enabled DS games people might actually own, Mario Kart DS. Now, there's no chat feature in Mario Kart DS, so we potential predators could not say naughty things in-game to other players. And while it is possible to race against strangers using an internet connection, there is no way to communicate with them, before during or after the race.

However, I think I've found a loophole. Mario Kart DS has a custom icon option, which enables players to draw their own decal to use on their karts. For those with no pixel skill, there is a free online converter to downsample a picture of your choosing into a decal. Theoretically, a dangerous chatroom lurer could use this option for communication with strangers - i.e., children!

Now, for this example, we'll assume that our predator wants to lure people into a particular chatroom...let's say, "teenchat" through America Online. I don't know if such a room exists, but it sounds likely - and dangerous - enough. Using the custom decal maker, a predator could make an image such as this one:

chatplz.gif

Which, when downsampled and displayed on a DS, looks like this:

teenchatds.gif

Now, this isn't easy to read, but it's not impossible. And while most decals are displayed either on the hood or the sides of a cart, Donkey Kong does have one car that can display a decal on the back side. So a child-to-dangerous-chatroom facilitator could use this car, display their message icon, and try to drive in front of a player as much as possible, hoping that a) the person is a child, b) the child can read the text somehow, c) the child has AOL, and d) the child is curious enough to go into the chatroom, where the evil predator is waiting to do dangerous things!

We're pretty sure this is the answer ABC-6 will have tonight.

[UPDATE - 7.54pm PST, 02/14/06: ABC-6 has the article version of their story up now, which makes it clear that they're talking about Pictochat and citing a particular incident, and includes 'Internet Safety Expert' Keith Dunn's dire warning: "Predators are using Nintendo DS anywhere in the world" - thanks to commenters for pointing this out.]

Gorillaz Get The Cool Mobile Game Shine

ges.jpg Casual and mobile game developer/distributor RealNetworks has announced a Gorillaz-themed mobile game, named 'Gorillaz Entertainment System', and featuring "four easy-to-grasp, mini-games based on each of Gorillaz' band members; 2D, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel."

The press release goes on to froth of the title, which has a teaser video available on the site of the Real-owned Finnish developer, Mr. Goodliving: "The graphic elements are a unique blend of retro "arcade style" games and the utterly contemporary Gorillaz artwork. Gorillaz Entertainment System was created in conjunction with Jamie Hewlett and his studio design team at Zombie Flesh Eaters in West London."

Well, the vid reveals that someone has been playing International Karate+, if nothing else, but it looks like a diverting Gorillaz diversion for slathering fans of the virtual pop band. And Shaun Ryder.

The Game Is Terrible, The Name Is Fragrant

zombi.jpg We meant to post this, like, 3 zillion years ago, but it's still funny so we'll do it now - Scott Sharkey over at 1UP posted his list of the 'Worst Games, Best Names', and much hilarity ensued.

As Sharkey gleefully explains in his intro: "Sometimes the best part of a game is the title. The images they can plant in our minds are often far more interesting than the game itself could ever be. We thought it'd be fun to share a few of our own favorites, and then completely ruin the magic by explaining what they actually were. Enjoy."

Of course, giving away the winner, it had to be: "Simple2000 Series Vol. 95: The Zombi Vs Kyoukyousha", of which it's explained: "Volume 95 in English, in case you were wondering why such a stupid title took #1, is 'Zombies Against Ambulances'". The final rave: "Simple 2000 games are nothing if not literal, so unlike pretty much every title on this list, Zombies Against Ambulances is guaranteed to be exactly what you think it is-- Pure, unmitigated awesome."

How South Koreans Rocked The Retro Consoles

neskorea.jpg Some of the hardest of the hardcore rare game collecters hang out over at ASSEMblergames.com, and a new messageboard thread (warning, lots of graphics!) showcases a big gallery of older South Korean game consoles.

These apparently include a bunch of rare variants and rebadged examples of common Japanese and Western game hardware from Sega, Nintendo, and others, even including (much further down the page) a rebadged Neo Geo AES.

Some of the fun items include a Hyundai-badged Korean 'Comboy' NES, as well as some Samsung-badged Master Systems with an odd Daewoo console - it's pretty interesting to see the variant labeled hardware, if you're a geek. Later commenters in the post even show off the Korean version of Metroid, for some odd reason. Still, a diverting journey, for some.

February 13, 2006

Dot S Mania Reaches Bubble Bobble Land

bubbob.jpg It was only a few days back that Series 3 of Tomy's .S pin-toys were featured on GSW, and now Japanese site Impress Watch has pictures of the next .S toys.

As you can see, the rather wonderful new toys, which feature boards, mounts and pins, and have multiple possible patterns, include, oh my, both Bubble Bobble and Ghost 'N Goblins toys.

Licensed from Taito and Capcom respectively, the titles join the previous .S toys, which include Ice Climber, Balloon Fight, Mario, Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Dig-Dug. Gotta catch 'em all?

Monkey Island Gets Distinctly Unreal

miut.jpg Yar-harrrr! The Monkey Island series of games continue to inspire fanatical devotion, and the latest example of this is an interview over at ModDB regarding the Unreal Tournament 2004 mod 'Plunder 3D'.

As the Plunder 3D website explains: "We aim to make Puerto Pollo wich is the city of Plunder Island and The Fortress playable... the gametype will be teamplay based." The art showcased so far is pretty neato, and the gameplay may be equally jovial: "You might find yourself hunting for treasure on the undead team, or defending it as the pirate."

According to the Norwegian student developers, the "...first public beta [will be] out in the first half of 2006, hopefully even earlier" - as long as LucasArts doesn't set the law offices of Murray the Talking Skull on them for not really having the MI license, of course.

Hit & Myth, Gizmondo Texas All Mythed Out

hitmyth.jpg You may recall a GSW post back in December about the Gizmondo Texas-developed action-RPG Hit & Myth, then thought to be close to release.

Well, since then, unfortunately, Gizmondo Europe has officially liquidated, as the distinctly dodgy business practices of the firm got too much for it, and a post on the Viridian Games weblog tells the Gizmondo Texas side of the story in fascinating detail. [Incidentally, GSW operatives have a pre-release copy of Hit & Myth, and it's a shame most people will never see it - it's a fun Gauntlet-style shooter.]

It's explained: "Hit & Myth went gold in late October, but Gizmondo didn’t have the necessary cash to publish it. They didn’t even have the cash to pay for the XForge library we had used to create the game, requiring us to spend another month rewriting the game to work without that library... Then we started working on other projects, like the Gizmondo version of Johnny Whatever (which could still be the most awesome game ever if done right - imagine a cross of Guitar Hero with Grand Theft Auto III)."

Sadly, Gizmondo Texas is now closed down, with designer Wynne McLaughlin also posting about its closure, before revealing a new position at NCSoft working on Tabula Rasa. But we salute some of the honest developers caught out by the perhaps less legit suits, and wish 'em good luck. Oh, and we need to tell you about the Gizmondo version of 'Halo: Spartan' sometimes, don't we? Now there's an interesting story.

'War On Terror' Comes To PCs

wont.jpg GSW co-editor Alice posted on Wonderland about a truly terrifying new PC game named, we kid you not: 'War On Terror'.

Actually, after throwing that buzzword out (and let's not forget, Fugitive Hunter has already had you boxing Osama Bin Laden, so the concept isn't _that_ far out), the subtitle is 'Modern Warfare RTS', which is, of course, not dissimilar to the subtitle for EA's Battlefield 2, 'Modern Combat' - though it's a different style of game, apparently.

Meanwhile, a commenter points out a description of a game from the Hungarian developers: "The game delivers a completely new perspective into the meaning of “war against the terrorism”, presenting ultimate sacrifice, valor, heroism and honor, gives new meaning of treasons and lethal secrets, presents an epic adventure, where the fate of the world depends on alliances, on trust and on those few brave men and women whose are not fear from the consequences and able to face and fight against the deadly unknown." What's next - a 'Mission Accomplished' carrier landing sim?

February 12, 2006

XOC Goes Mockugame-ary Soundtrack Crazy

xocwow.jpg The clever folks at Edge Online have pointed out that Jason 'Xoc' Cox, who was responsible for the insanely good 'SMW' cover album for Super Mario World, has just put out a new release, named 'Videogame:TheMovie:TheGame:TheCoverAlbum'.

This insanely well-done concept album is based on an (allegedly fictional!) '80s NES cart, and it's explained: "While the levels [of Videogame:TheMovie:TheGame] were obviously appropriated from various well-known sources [including Mega Man, Gradius, Metal Gear, Castlevania, Adventure Island, Super Mario Bros., and Zelda II], sound-alike music was created exclusively for the game, aping the style and feel of the originals."

So, this means you get two entire albums of music, including the 'original NES versions' and the beautifully arranged 'cover version', with full guitar/drums/band instrumentation, done in immaculate, genius style, and downloadable for free. We called XOC's 'SMW album' "the 'Pet Sounds' of Mario covers" - is this the White Album of fake video game soundtracks? Surely.

Lara Croft Is My, Your Desktop Buddy

desktoplara.jpg Good news, everybody! According to this page on the official Tomb Raider: Legend website, it appears that: "Lara Croft is about to enter one of the most treacherous environment known to man. A dark place where things are lost forever and hidden treasures of unimaginable brillliance [sic] and horror can be unearthed by only the most adventurous...your desktop."

Wait, have you seen our desktop recently? No matter. According to the breathless PR copy: "Lara will keep herself sharp and fit exploring the vast obstacle course that is your desktop environment." We tried installing the Windows executable to see how that worked, and found out that Lara pops up, plugs the game in a tart English accent, then stretches (yes, yes, unfeasible bounce) and runs around the bottom of your screen until you get bored of her - which is quite quickly.

Still, with the actual game looking rather pretty, especially for the Xbox 360, and with Crystal Dynamics having been given some seriously extended deadlines to better the franchise, we're hoping that the gameplay will match the fetching visuals. Heck, with even unlikely sources excited about the game, Lara may be back with much more than a whimper.

Mega64 Preps For Season 2 With Ubisoft Wackiness

mega64.jpg You may well have been turned back on to Internet game-video japesters Mega64 by their new Katamari Damacy video, released a few days back as a preview for Season 2 of their cable-access/DVD shows.

But a glance at the Mega64 news reveals a whole bunch more prank/comedy viral videos the Mega64 guys were commissioned by Ubisoft, a lot of which seem to have flown under the non-SomethingAwful radar - we last looked around the time of the rather hilarious Cold Fear videos, and there's been plenty of new material since then.

New-ish stuff posted late in 2005 includes some very silly Prince Of Persia vids, some weirdo 187: Ride Or Die vids, including some machinima spoofs apparently not noticed by many, and the rather fun 'Myst Is Life' video, where-in a hardcore Myst fan tries to live out the classic rotate/point interface in real life. [Incidentally, the GSW editors have seen a lot of Season 2, for 'secret reasons', and oh my lordy, there's some genius material in there - esp. the much-fabled Luigi's Mansion sketch.]

Blitzum Does A Bang-Up Job On Quantum

quantum.jpg Hanging at the California Extreme classic arcade show in San Jose last summer, the GSW editors had a chance to play Atari's 1982 arcade machine Quantum, which we think is a bit of a lost classic - only 500 ever made, allegedly.

In any case, Tim W's Indy Gamer blog just highlighted a Quantum PC freeware 'clone' called Blitzum, and explains of the gameplay: "In the original, the player has to manipulate a trackball to capture particles by drawing circles around them using a comet's trail."

It's all pretty addictive stuff, and the new version (OK, a bit old but we didn't spot it until now) was recreated in Blitz Basic by Mark Incitti, who has also very naughtily coded some other clones, including 'Blitz Wars', which is very very much like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Much like the recent Lumines clones, we don't really approve of clones of brand-new games, but at least until Quantum turns up on XBLA, it's fun to mess with Blitzum.



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'.)

Game Career Guide (for student game developers.)

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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