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Archive For February, 2006

Indie Games Get To Defending, Twisting

February 21, 2006 12:01 PM | Simon Carless

towerd.jpg The indie stalwarts at GameTunnel have just posted their February 2006 Indie Game Monthly Round-Up, including multi-person reviews of a plethora of titles.

Some of the best-received include Tower Defence, of which GameTunnel head honcho Russ Carroll comments: "Very reminiscent of Curator Defense, but with less weapons, but "she's got it where it counts" with a more engaging game play style (and better graphics to top it off!)".

Also getting a metal award of some kind is IGF finalist Tube Twist, for which Seth Robinson suggests: "I think what really makes it interesting is there is never a single correct solution, you can hammer away at your own idea and usually get it working." Overall, lots of fun stuff to check out here, all precisely and informatively reviewed.

Frag Dolls, Meet Girlz Gaming House

February 21, 2006 6:04 AM | Simon Carless

girlz.jpg Over the wires comes news that chip company VIA has set up 'the first-ever year-round eSports training house' in Sweden, named The Home of Chrome, and with a unique female bent - the official site is at Girlzgaminghouse.com.

As the 'Girlz page' explains: "The girlz 0f destruction is a 7-member, international all-girls PC gaming team hailing from seven different countries and are widely regarded as the highest level professional female Quake 4 players. Presently 4 girlz 0f destruction team members are living full-time at the CHROME Home and with over 10,000 matches already played between them they each train on average for five hours a day."

However, unlike the Frag Dolls, which were specifically formed by Ubisoft for promotional purposes (not that there's anything wrong with that, many claim!), Girlz Of Destruction have been around since 2001, when they started as a Rocket Arena clan for Quake, and are just now getting sponsored by VIA/S3 to hang around in a Swedish house and post odd things on weblogs. So there.

Be-Pachi Music Gets The Freq Beat

February 21, 2006 12:12 AM | Simon Carless

bepachi.jpg Via somewhere in the vicinity of the DDRFreak forums, we spotted a new update of a neat Beatmania PC clone called 'Be-Pachi Music', which comes in both 'mini' ("a full-featured game using a limited window size") and full-screen, newly updated versions.

Both apps play the 'BMS' format of Beatmania-'style' music files for the PC - check out the relatively old BM98 FAQ over at JPopMusic.com for more information on this, but the format allows for completely original songs and song data to be put into a Beatmania-type format.

Interestingly, the full-screen version looks a lot like a certain Harmonix title, at least visually, with author Alis commenting: "I was trying for the 'FreQuency' 3D style of game play and power-up system, including multipliers and Auto-Play. FreQuency's 'selectable multiple instrument play' might be implemented sometime in the future, I don't know exactly when." Gameplay cloning issues notwithstanding, this is pretty neat stuff.

Used Games - Good For The Biz?

February 20, 2006 6:14 PM | Simon Carless

used_games.jpg In December, we covered an earlier take on the same subject, but now, the Hollywood Reporter's Paul Hyman discusses the advantages and issues of the used video game market with a number of industry veterans.

Obviously, there are agendas to be put forward, and thus, the IEMA's Hal Halpin suggests that: "I think publishers are making noise because they'd like to get a piece of that almost $1-billion that GameStop is making ... and that's all there is to it", whereas Atari's Wim Stock's "...preference would be to have some sort of agreement with retailers that used games could only be sold, say, three or six months after the launch of a product."

However, the ubiquitous analyst Michael Pachter suggests that "...the existence of the used market increases the number of new purchase transactions... because only people who bought new games have games to trade in." So it's all OK, in a chicken/egg type way? Uhm, possibly.

GameSetChat: Xbox 360 Live Feature Wishlist?

February 20, 2006 12:15 PM | Simon Carless

stking.jpgSince we recently covered someone who already made it to 20,000 Gamerscore on Xbox 360 Live, we thought we'd throw it open to reader comments on an important subject - what else needs to be done to make Xbox 360 Live into the absolute bestest next-gen online console service in the world, as opposed to just the only, as it is currently?

Some of the things we'd particularly like to see:

- Better balancing of achievements based around difficulty, so that getting 1000 points on Ridge Racer 6 is just as easy (or hard!) as getting 1000 points on King Kong, and it's not tempting to play games you don't care for just to score big points (ahem, Madden NFL 2006, for GSW editors!)

- Removing games from your 'played games' list on your profile if they're Xbox Live Arcade titles that you've just tried the demo of - listen, we admit it, we played Hardwood Backgammon once, but we don't want to be reminded of it for the rest of our natural Xbox 360 life.

- Regular tournaments based around specific achievements, even in Xbox Live Arcade titles, so that the person keeping alive without firing the longest in Geometry Wars gets an extra 0-point achievement, or kudos, or a free lollipop?

- Classic Sega titles downloadable over Xbox Live Arcade using Saturn emulation. Immediately. Including Nights Into Dreams.

- Everyone actually being able to find an Xbox 360 in stores so they can participate in this discussion.

That's a few of our wishlist items for the rapidly crystallizing chunk of adorable precious metal that is Xbox Live for the 360 - how about you, dear GSW reader?

Getting Retronauty With Taito Legends

February 20, 2006 6:15 AM | Simon Carless

bubob.jpg Over at 1UP, Jeremy 'Toastyfrog' Parish puts his formidably Rubik's Cube-shaped brain to work in profiling the Taito Legends remake series, including "bubbles, kiwis, and majestic invaders", in his second Retronauts column.

As Parish rightly points out: "Taito has been particularly busy on the retro front in the past year, releasing not one but four different classic compilations: Japan received Taito Memories I & II for PS2 and Taito Memories Pocket for PSP, while Sega published Taito Legends for Xbox, PS2 and PC in the U.S. And these aren't those crummy 32-bit collections with a paltry handful of games; we're talking 20 to 25 titles per set. Furthermore, only about half the games in Legends appeared on the Memories sets. All told, that's roughly 60 unique titles."

Following the history lesson, a few choice Taito classics are pointed out, with care given to not be entirely obvious - thus a tip for Return Of The Invaders, of which it's commented: "Imagine if Galaga had babies with Space Invaders -- that's what you have here. Enemies still approach in waves and patterns, marching steadily toward the bottom, but there's much more to the game than ducking behind shields and taking pot shots at alien sushi." Mm, alien sushi.

XOP Shmup Goes Marvellously Freeware

February 20, 2006 12:14 AM | Simon Carless

xop.gif Good news over at the Shmups forum, which is featuring a post announcing the freeware availability of a neat-looking Windows PC shooter named XOP.

As coder 'Udderdude' explains: "I wrote a 2D overhead shooter called XOP, and released it around 2002. It took me close to 1 1/2 years to make...I attempted to sell it as shareware, from toastsoft.com; however, this failed. Mostly due to the game's difficulty, low-res graphics, the fact that shareware shooters don't usually sell well (kiddie puzzle games sell much better), and my complete lack of any real marketing skills. I am now releasing it as freeware [.EXE link]. I feel this is better than letting it collect dust behind a $20 shareware fee. Download it and give it a try."

The game's screenshots look pretty darned neat, and the follow-up comments enthusiastic ("XOP is one of the best PC shooters I played for a long time", or "I'm really enjoying this. The gameplay is fun and the scoring system is just the way I like it"), so there's really no excuse for checking it out. Oh, and Udderdude also mentions his very Crystal Quest++-esque free Java shooter Space Dudes, also worth perusing. [Via The2Bears.]

Rubbing, Rabbits Both Fun For Girls, Boys

February 19, 2006 6:46 PM | Simon Carless

rubra.jpg Stephen Totilo's latest story for MTV.com managed to chat with the female Sonic Team designers behind Sega's Rub Rabbits! (aka Where Do Babies Come From?) for Nintendo DS.

Totilo makes some interesting points on the women-friendly gameplay, noting as background: "The DS has proven to be something of a laboratory for exploring games' gender appeal and women's influence on game design. The 2004 "Sprung" dating simulator was written by Colleen McGuinness, a writer for the TV drama "North Shore." In 2005 designer Heather Kelley, who works for game publisher Ubisoft, created an experimental game called "Lapis," which appeared to be about a cute, touchable blue bunny but was actually, according to Kelley, "a stealthy primer on female sexual pleasure.""

But a central point seems to be that games can unite female and male, as is intended by Rub Rabbits!: "Couples can definitely enjoy this game," said its lead designer, Emiko Sunaga. "I'd also like to think that those who aren't a couple yet will play together, and by doing so bring the bond between them closer together."

On Being A Good Animal Crossing Neighbor

February 19, 2006 12:22 PM | Simon Carless

acpoo.jpg The UK-based RLLMUK Forum has a rather amusing Animal Crossing-related messageboard post, thanks to user 'Frood42', who discusses his wife's attempts to remove an objectionable neighbor from the GameCube version of Nintendo's far too cute Animal Crossing.

As he explains: "This week a new animal came to stay in our town; 'Snooty' a rather rude aardvark, who for some reason is pink and looks a bit like a Clanger. My wife has taken offence to Snooty's rudeness and has been harassing her." The solution? "So far on her campaign of hate, she has hit Snooty repeatedly over the head with an insect net - when poor Snooty didn’t die she set up a pitfall and maliciously pushed her into it. When that didn’t finish her off she started a smear campaign outside of Snooty's house... She has finally resorted to the following hate mail."

While this obviously isn't going to work, nonetheless, the message of togetherness sent by Frood42's wife resonates throughout the ages: "You are a sh*thead, leave our town or you will die!!!!! We ALL hate you and your great big nose. BE GONE CLANGERCHOPS." Nice!

Getting Kraftier, Hacking The Kraft Dance Pad

February 19, 2006 6:14 AM | Simon Carless

kraft.jpg A few weeks back, we at GSW featured a news story on a free Kraft PC dance pad, which was available to order (fine print on the order page indicates it may not be any more) for free, with only shipping to pay, so that those who ate Kraft foods could, uhh, get healthy.

Well, now the good folks at Phobe.com have added a Kraft dance pad hacking page, which explains "how to change the button mapping so that the Kraft dance pad will work with other dance pad games such as Stepmania", as opposed to the limited custom games Kraft lets you download.

The problem, apparently, is when you try to jump on multiple buttons at the same time: "The Kraft dance pad controller does not appear to have a non-intrusive way to change its mapping like some controllers do by "holding up, select and start for 3+ seconds". Nor does it have buttons 5-8 available on the PCB or on the chip. So the easiest hack is to exchange the two less-used buttons - select and start - for down and left, thereby letting the system recognize up and down simultaneously."

Oh, and the authors note by way of a postscript: "We are not in any way endorsed by or related to, KraftTM Foods, but we do enjoy their delicious KraftTM Macaroni & Cheese."

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