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Archive For February, 2006

Lost Planet's Japanese FPS Perspective

February 24, 2006 12:12 AM | Simon Carless

lostp.jpg Game Informer's online arm, which continues to run some pretty neat interviews, has caught up with Capcom's Keiji Inafune and Kenji Oguro regarding upcoming Xbox 360 Japanese first person (!) / third person shooter Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, which is due out in the West in 2007.

Inafune, of course, is best known as the creator of Mega Man, and it's intriguing to see such noted Japanese creators take on Western genres so head on, in a similar way to Namco's intriguing but ultimately sales-weak Breakdown for Xbox.

In particular, Inafune comments on Lost Planet's controls, always a difficult point with console FPSes: "I wish I could let you play it because I’m confident that it has very good controls to the point where anyone who’s played Halo can jump right into this and have no problem and be able to control it quite well."

Another particularly honest comment comes from Inafune regarding the addition of noted Asian actor Lee Byung-Hung as the lead game character: "We’re trying to get your casual gamer to purchase it as well. So midway through development we’re like, 'This is a popular actor right now in Japan. Putting him in the game may help Japanese sales.' In Japan we realized that the Xbox 360 was going to have an uphill battle. We’re going to need an extra hook to try and get people other than really hardcore gamers, which are the only types that are buying it right now in Japan." Wow, very direct.

Louisville's Bad Ass Gamer, Exposed

February 23, 2006 6:02 PM | Simon Carless

25.jpg You know that guy who's giving violence and video games a bad name? You know, 'that guy'? Well, we found him, and, according to a Louisville, KY story on NBC's WAVE 3 TV station, he's 17 year old Andrew Iredale.

Of course, the station itself is hardly blameless, since, well, let's hear the angle on this story about Eidos' '25 To Life': "WAVE 3's Jeff Tang finds out what the widow of a fallen officer has to say about the idea of people pretending to shoot cops for entertainment." Delightful.

But Andrew Iredale, WAVE 3's randomly picked teenage Kentucky gamer, doesn't exactly advance the cause, by commenting of the game: "I haven't played it, I hear it's, like, really good, gangsters and stuff", before continuing, happily: "I have San Andreas for X Box -- it's pretty tight."

If Andrew looked carefully at the graphic used for WAVE 3's story, he will note that 25 To Life is such a bad game that they could only find a used EB Games box to take a picture of (see top left of this story!).

So who actually wins, with stories like this? Well, paradoxically, WAVE 3 are boosting sales of the game by running scare stories on it - Eidos' Bill Gardner recently commented to Next-Gen that "The game, I thought, was weak. It rated poorly. But the politicians felt that they should step on the game, which caused it to show up much bigger than any marketing money we might have put behind it." Ugh, circle of... something horrid.

Arcade Flyers Everywhere, Not A Drop To Drink

February 23, 2006 12:18 PM | Simon Carless

r360.jpg Though video games are all cool as bits and bytes, sometimes we love physical artifacts too, and that's what ArcadeFlyers.net is particularly good at providing scans of - the wonderful artwork handed out to arcade operators from the 1970s to the present day.

In browsing, we particularly adore the Sega R360 brochure, showcasing the relatively rare Sega cabinet that allowed you to invert playing G-Loc. There's so much other good stuff in there, it hurts, though - a totally cute Boulder Dash poster, a fun Namco catalog from 1991, an absolutely awesome early Japanese Sega brochure... the list goes on.

In addition, Coin-Op.tv recently ran an interview with the ArcadeFlyers.com curators, particularly noting a rare flyer they would live to get their hands on: "For Japanese flyers, I am having a hard time finding the original Puck-Man flyer by Namco. Earlier this year, I heard about an auction in Japan where a set of video game flyers was being auctioned and it included an original Namco Puck-Man flyer. The auction ended at over $600!!"

Steinmeyer Showcases Game Prototypes For Feedback

February 23, 2006 6:02 AM | Simon Carless

steinme.jpg We at GSW previously covered Phil Steinmeyer's launch of his neeto casual PC title Bonnie's Bookstore through the PopCap website, and now he's taking a distinctly unconventional step - posting a total of 16 playable PC prototypes to get feedback on the best game ideas for his next title.

Steinmeyer is formerly known for his work on Tropico and later versions of the Railroad Tycoon series, and comments of this concept: "I’d really like to get solid feedback from a variety of folks, so I’m going public with these prototypes very early. They are crude prototypes, but hopefully show either the germ of something fun, or reveal an idea that frankly just doesn’t work."

There's actually a specific download page with more information on the prototypes, for which it's noted: "All games are variations on the basic color-matching puzzle paradigm that's used for most casual games. But I think the mechanics of each game represent anywhere from moderate to major originality vis-a-vis currently popular match-3 games." This is a genuinely interesting and honest way to solicit feedback, and GSW thinks Mr. Steinmeyer should be applauded for his audacity.

Cave Story Creator Gets Translations, Glasses

February 23, 2006 12:06 AM | Simon Carless

cavestory.png Wandering around the Internet somewhere (Indygamer?), we found the Studio Pixel Fan Page, a basic but extremely handy guide to the works of Cave Story PC dojin game creator Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya.

Cave Story itself, which is downloadable [.ZIP] in English-patched version from the Fan Page, is a charming 2D title best described by its translators as "a freeware sidescrolling action/adventure/platformer title with leanings towards Wonderboy and recent sidescrolling Castlevania titles."

But even if you've seen it (and you probably have, you geek!), the fan page has other rarities, including super-odd mini game Glasses [.ZIP], in which you "Control the hero and catch your glasses... you will get points based on how well your glasses fit." We're not making this up.

In addition, the Doukutsu LJ fan community is translating Pixel's Japanese-language diary as he writes, including such gems as "06/02/08: I slept. I hope it gets warm soon", and: "06/02/14: No real work done." Ah, we jest - there's actually other good info and correspondence from Pixel fans up there, for the curious.

Ex-Gizmondo Exec Wrecks $1 Million Ferrari

February 22, 2006 6:03 PM | Simon Carless

enzo.jpg We love now largely bankrupt handheld game maker Gizmondo, for the modeling agencies, the racehorses, and so much more besides. Now, via sister site Gamasutra, here's the latest reason to gawk and marvel.

All we need to do is quote: "According to news reports, former Gizmondo executive Stefan Eriksson has been involved in a high-profile accident in Los Angeles which destroyed his $1 million Ferrari Enzo sports car, following a crash at more than 120 miles per hour during an alleged street race." What's more: "The 2003 Ferrari Enzo was racing a Mercedes-Benz SLR when it crashed into a light pole on the Pacific Coast Highway, shearing the car in two. A 'German man called Dietrich', the supposed driver, according to Eriksson, allegedly fled the scene."

But wait, the coup de grace? "The Los Angeles Times reported Sheriff's Sgt. Philip Brooks as noting that Eriksson "...had a .09 blood-alcohol level, but if he's a passenger, that's OK. But he had a bloody lip, and only the air bag on the driver's side had blood on it. The passenger-side air bag did not. My Scooby-Doo detectives are looking closely into that." The Times notes that Sergeant Brooks then added: "Maybe the 'driver' had a friend who picked him up. Maybe he thumbed a ride. Maybe he was a ghost."" Story of the year, hands down.

GameTap To Get Ultima Re-Releases

February 22, 2006 11:07 AM | Simon Carless

u5.jpg Just a little tidbit, here, but you may have heard that Electronic Arts has been added to recent press releases as another of the publisher licensees for the recently launched GameTap subscription gaming service from Turner - though EA doesn't have any games live on the service right now.

Well, we note that a recent Dean Takahashi weblog post over at the San Jose Mercury News confirms online rumors that early iterations of Richard Garriott's classic Ultima series will be appearing on GameTap in the near future - Takahashi comments: "Big companies such as Electronic Arts have joined. That's why Gametap will soon post Ultima 1-6."

This is definitely good news for Lord British fans, and continues GameTap's intriguing drive to make classic games available officially, albeit with a 'rental' business plan. How about M.U.L.E. next, guys?

Is The Act Of Playing Games A Productive Task?

February 22, 2006 6:02 AM | Simon Carless

dodgeb.jpg The Guilded Lilies weblog, which "explores the unique experience of being a grown woman playing computer games", has a new post up discussing "further thoughts on what it means to be productive" in relationship to playing video games.

The author, L Laughy, notes: "I approach my day by seeing it as full of potentially productive time, instead of thinking strictly in terms of fully productive time. I allow for the fact that my mind has a tendency to rebel if not given regular license to relax... It is important that when I do allow myself these breaks that I don't feel guilty about it. Thinking that gaming is a waste of time, especially if you love to play games, is a sure way of associating guilt with your pleasure."

She then cites a Psychology Today article suggesting: "Play appears to allow our brains to exercise their very flexibility, to maintain and even perhaps renew the neural connections that embody our human potential to adapt, to meet any possible set of environmental conditions." So... is playing games psychically and karmically necessary for us, or is that purely the excuse of the 'one more game' crowd? Opinions welcome.

AOU Sleuthings Illuminate Half-Life 2 Survivor

February 22, 2006 12:08 AM | Simon Carless

hl2surv.jpg We covered hints on the AOU show before the annual Japanese arcade trade event happened late last week, but now Hirohiko Niizumi has done an excellent, comprehensive write-up of the show for GameSpot, revealing good info on a number of games, including Taito's Valve-licensed arcade title Half-Life 2 Survivor.

Niizumi explains: "The game plays in a cockpit cabinet that features a 32-inch LCD monitor in 1360x768 resolution and 5.1 channel surround sound speakers... the machine uses an IC card for players to store their data. While the PC version used a keyboard and mouse for controls, the arcade game uses two differently shaped trigger sticks. The left trigger stick is used for movement, and it also has a button for sending short messages to team members. The right stick is used for attacking, and it has three buttons: one for attacking, one for selecting a weapon, and one for using alternate attacks. The cabinet also has two foot pedals: one for ducking and the other for jumping."

There's a really good snapshot of the Half-Life 2 Survivor cabinets on Impress Watch, which also has lots of nice show pics in general, including a Sega photo report with a totally neat House Of The Dead 4 sculpture pictured in it.

Tales From YouTube: Sega Gets Suplee, Bow Tie

February 21, 2006 6:08 PM | Simon Carless

suplee.jpg Further perusal of the video dump to end all video dumps YouTube has revealed some interesting videos related to the history of Sega's game commercials.

Firstly, there's an apparently 'classic' Sega commercial in which a youthful Ethan Suplee (currently to be seen in My Name Is Earl) hits himself over the head with a dead squirrel to get 'color' for his original Game Boy. The alternative? Buying a spanking new Sega Game Gear, of course!

Also available on YouTube, thanks to the SMSPower folks, also hosting other Sega commercial goodness, there's an early '80s Japanese Sega SG-1000 commercial, in which we find out that the add-on SK-1100 keyboard for the obscure console will allow you to wear a bow tie, program basic, and giggle annoyingly. Still, you can't beat the classic 'Say-gaaaaa' sound effect at the end, and that's what counts.

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