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GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

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Archive For March, 2006

Calderoids Makes Asteroids Art, Dahhhling

March 9, 2006 8:19 PM | Simon Carless

calder.jpg Oh, art, here you come, messing with video games again. The folks who created Pac-Mondrian, which was handily described as 'Pac-Man meets Piet Mondrian as only an abstract painter and a ravenous circle-being can!', are at it again, and they've now launched artgame project Calderoids.

Wha? Well, the chaps at Prize Budget For Boys explain: "In Calderoids you dodge and destroy Alexander Calder's kinetic mobiles in the triangular ship of Atari's space shooter Asteroids. The ubiquitous mobiles we hang over baby cribs were originally
conceived by Calder as fanciful models of the universe: 'There is, of course, a close alliance between physics and aesthetics.' Based on a physically exact model of the behaviour of mobiles in space, Calderoids frees you from gravity to fly around and blast Calder's sculptures in your cosmic spacecraft."

Thus, you can now play Calderoids online (Java required), and also "in an arcade cabinet modified from an Asteroids original at Toronto's InterAcess [as part of Artists Crack The Game Code] until March 25."

And wait, wait, we found an arty quote to end with: "Calderoids combines the relatavistic theories of Alexander Calder's kinetic sculptures with the virtual dimensions of Atari's arcade classic Asteroids in a game that spans 20th century models of the universe." So there.

Game Ads A-Go-Go: Dumb Ads of the '90s

March 9, 2006 4:12 PM |

vcg_logo_gsw.jpg['Game Ads A-Go-Go' is a weekly column by Vintage Computing and Gaming's RedWolf that showcases good, bad, strange, funny, and interesting classic video game-related advertisements, most of which are taken from his massive vintage game magazine collection.]

Hello, folks, and welcome to the first episode of 'Game Ads A-Go-Go' on GameSetWatch. I've dredged up all my early 90s gaming mags from the murky depths just for you, and I'll be going through them every week to show you interesting ads of the recent gaming past.

This week we'll be looking over a few ads from classic game mags that feature dumb marketing copy. And If you didn't know, "copy" is the "writing part" of the ad -- that is, the words. I'll also be throwing in some snarky commentary to go with them (everybody seems to love "snarky commentary" these days). So, on with the show...

Feed me Bullets

First off, we have an ad for the Super Nintendo game The Untouchables, which daringly proclaims "They've got a bullet with your name on it."

untouchables_small.jpg

Sure they do -- that is, if my name is "Untouchables." This just in: Suicide rates among the Untouchables at an all-time high.

This Sounds Dangerous

Next on the block, we have an ad from NAKI for their rechargable Game Boy and GameGear batteries. Apparently they're explosive. In fact, they're "ALMOST NUCLEAR."

naki_nuclear_small.jpg

The statement in the slanted box to the left reads: "WARNING:NAKI battery packs cause extended play which has been known to result in mind melt!" If that weren't bad enough, the ad goes on to talk about their batteries creating a "gaming explosion," and also about how you can "nuke your Game Boy or Game Gear" with their "totally nuclear" rechargable batteries. So to sum up the capabilities of this product: their batteries scramble your brains, destroy your $100 gaming handheld, then proceed to explode in your face. But you'll find no pansy conventional explosives here -- it's a nuclear explosion, so it takes out not only you (the owner of the device), but at least the whole block as well. In other words, this is a horrible product. Where can I get one?

All-You-Can-Eat War Buffet

The Gulf War in the early 1990s caused a huge merchandising explosion unknown to any war since, well, ever. Quick to capitalize on how totally awesome wars are (especially when we overwhelmingly crush a tiny army that is outfitted only with 1960s-era military technology), game developers jumped on board and created opportunities to reenact this time-honored human tradition.

super_conflict_small.jpg

The red tagline near the bottom reads: "Super Conflict is all the war you'll ever want."

Which is, what? None?

[RedWolf is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vintage Computing and Gaming, a regularly updated "blogazine" that covers collecting, playing, and hacking vintage computing and gaming devices. He has been collecting vintage computers and game systems for over 12 years.]

Tony Hawk's Sk8land Gets Graffiti Mosaic

March 9, 2006 11:17 AM | Simon Carless

sk8land.jpg The guys at Agora Games, the company behind the online community for Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land for the Nintendo DS, mailed to mention that they have "recently put together a mosaic consisting of the best moderated graffiti artwork uploaded [using DS Wi-Fi] by THAS players."

They explain: "Whether you’re an active community member or not, it’s possible that your art has made it into the 16,200 tile mosaic, which is made up of over 8,000 unique player created images", and further note: "You can download a large, 9MB version and zoom in to see the individual graffiti tiles. You’ll notice many of our community members have already found their artwork!"

For example, StigTrix is very excited, exclaiming: "My PurePwnage logo, Gollum, Pikachu(with pink background!?), Grim Reaper, Dr. Evil, SNES logo, Olympic flame... That's all I can find for now!" Is this the point where we offer a prize for the first person to find a logo that doesn't actually appear in the mosaic, and then send you all frickin' insane?

Pursuit Force Gets JP Shooting Force

March 9, 2006 7:11 AM |

Bigbig Studios' PlayStation Portable stunt-filled super fuzz title 'Pursuit Force' shipped to retailers this week in North America, just days after Japanese publisher Spike released it in the East. Reviews have generally been positive (with the exception of EGM's opinion), but the real action is online -- and free.

Following in the footsteps of last year's Kenka Bancho promotional bad-ass eye-beam shooter, which features the best rock guitar loop ever, Spike has released Shooting Force -- a sort of straightfoward, alternate universe Spy Hunter-meets-Cave bullet hell shooter designed to promote its PSP muse. Okay, it's not quite "bullet hell", but the later levels can get quite frantic, as can the slalom bonus rounds. Maybe it's just "bullet Jersey".

Freeloaders looking for cheap fun should also check out Spike's Shinobido: Imashime-inspired Shockwave platformer. It's a surprisingly playable, tower-climbing, throat-slitting ninja diversion, with great sound and production values.

WARNING: For all games, keep in mind that Macromedia Shockwave is required, semi-annoying advertisements will precede each initial session, and that some menu guesswork may be necessary if Japanese language deficient.

Might & Magic Scores 'Evil Faces Of Cinema'

March 9, 2006 3:17 AM | Simon Carless

prrk.jpg We at GSW got a rather fun press release today that we figured we'd reprint, since it deals with the delightful combination of Might & Magic and the Oscars. Seriously.

Here's how: "Award-winning composing partners Rob King and Paul Romero’s moody opus, Evil Theme, was selected for the Evil Faces of Cinema montage for the 78th Annual Academy Awards pre-show Oscar Countdown 2006, which aired Sunday, March 5, 2006 on ABC. Originally scored for the best-selling computer game, Heroes of Might & Magic III, the specially edited composition was featured with film clips of legendary evil villains of cinema including Darth Vader, Hannibal Lector, Freddy Kruger, The Exorcist, The Mummy, Bela Lugosi (as Dracula) and many other famous characters." Dude, Bela Lugosi!

In fact, sister site Gamasutra recently featured an audio gallery from the duo, which reveals, vitally, that "they had a Top 10 hit in Taiwan on EMI Records with Gigi Leung's "Short Hair"." Also, Rob "started out as the audio director for New World Computing and brought Paul in on the first Heroes of Might and Magic score." So now you know. Anyhow, Seacrest out.

Gizmondo Crash Gets Computer Sim, Exec Gets DNA Test

March 8, 2006 8:25 PM | Simon Carless

enzo.jpg Oh, we are _so_ not bored with Stefan Eriksson of ex-Gizmondo's Ferrari Enzo crash in Los Angeles the other week, and nor is the local press, judging by a new report in the Malibu Times which reveals that "Former Gizmondo director Stefan Eriksson surrendered a DNA sample at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's Station... in the company of his attorney."

This is to work out if Eriksson's blood is on the driver's side airbag of the crashed Enzo, of course - and if it is, he may be facing a drunk driving charge, quite apart from the other 'fake Homeland Security' and lying to police farrago. As for a colleague that was also on the scene: "Brooks said Thursday that the mysterious man who was with Eriksson at the crash site is a U.S. citizen named Trevor, but Brooks would not release his full name. "We would like to talk to him, but we can't get to him," Brooks said. "He is believed to be on board a $14 million yacht that is cruising Santa Monica Bay right now." Trevor gave a home address that was traced to a boat slip in Marina del Rey that had been occupied by the massive luxury yacht, which is reportedly registered to a [former Gizmondo executive] named Carl Freer." How many Gizmondos make a $14 million yacht, again?

But, and here's the kicker [via WreckedExotics], CBS 2 has an online video with a computer simulation of the crash commissioned by police, complete with footage of the Ferrari being hauled away, and a police spokesperson revealing that the Ferrari hit the power pole that split it in half while, uhh, sideways and 2 feet in the air. Impressive stuff.

Cherish The Chips: Nintendo A Go Go

March 8, 2006 3:12 PM |

fds.jpg ['Cherish The Chips' is a bi-weekly column by Jeremiah 'Nullsleep' Johnson, discussing the latest and greatest goings-on in the world of the 'chiptune', and covering the best classic or modern music created using those pesky video game machines.]

Nintendo Gets Its Chip On

Chiptunes are nothing new, their history stretches back to the 1980's when kids first started making music with their Commodore and Atari computers, a tradition still kept alive today. But what about Nintendo? Up until the turn of the century, the NES and Game Boy were content to stick to their roles as gaming machines and nothing more. But now, with a diverse selection of tools for writing the music, and a thriving community of musicians harnessing the hardware, this relatively young scene is reaching maturity.

lsdj.jpgPocket Full of Bleep

The Game Boy's got a lot going for it, small, portable, battery-powered and built like a tank, it's an all-terrain music workstation. Combine it with LSDJ or Nanoloop, the two most popular pieces of software for creating Game Boy music, and you can push the little grey brick to it's limits. Although their interfaces differ drastically, the first presenting a standard tracker interface and the latter a semi-abstract matrix of squares, they both afford a high degree of control over the sound capabilities of the GB. And there are plenty of great examples of how far you can push it, take the new release by Bit Shifter or the japanese lo-fi trance stylings of USK just for starters.

nru_logo.jpg NES Tracking, Not Just For Nerds

Then there's the big brother, the NES or Famicom, depending on what region of the world you're in. While the first tracker to show up for the NES, Nerdtracker 2, was originally conceived of as an entry into a 'most useless utility' competition (where it took 1st place), there are a some less restrictive tools that have appeared recently. The latest of which is FamiTracker, a continually improving Windows-based application that's easy to pick up and start writing NES tunes with right away. Beginners will have an easy time finding support from the active community of users over at the 2A03.org forums.

midines.jpgMidines to Impress

If you're more comfortable working with midi than columns of hexadecimal numbers, you might want to go the Midines route. A 'hardware / cartridge interface (game) that enables MIDI control of the 8bit NES sound chip,' from NES super-genius x|k, it certainly has the most potential to break into the mainstream music studio. You can hear it on x|k's own recent release Outra, as well as an appearance on track 3 of the upcoming Venetian Snares album from Planet Mu.

nes_dpcm.jpgHey Hey MCK

Finally, if this all sounds too easy and you'd prefer to get down and dirty in a text editor to write your music, go straight to MCK or one of it's variants. An audio driver for the NES that takes MML (Music Macro Language) as it's input, it has somewhat of a niche appeal. But that hasn't stopped it from being used to great effect by Konami-fetishist RushJet1 or the previously mentioned Japanese fami-pop trio YMCK.

Who could have predicted that the same machines that introduced us to Mario and Zelda would be repurposed so many years later to bring this lo-fi symphony to whole new generation? Now where's my PowerGlove piano?

[Jeremiah Johnson is co-founder of chipmusic and computer-art collective, 8bitpeoples.com based out of New York City. Working with Game Boys and NES consoles to create music, he has been featured in various publications ranging from Wired to Vogue.]

Driver Gets Griff, Flash... Fun Gameplay?

March 8, 2006 10:39 AM | Simon Carless

d4.jpg The continually entertaining MTV News game section, which now has a dedicated news page for its exclusive Stephen Totilo-sourced reports, has a new story discussing the soundtrack to Atari's 'Driver 4: Parallel Lines', and subtitled: 'Rappers don't retire anymore. They make songs for video games.'

Totilo talked to both Grandmaster Flash and Professor Griff from Public Enemy, both commissioned for new songs for the Driver 4 soundtrack, and, according to Totilo: "One of the Public Enemy tracks on the soundtrack, "Narcissistic Fix," includes a simple message from another rap dad to his son: "Now when's the last time you read a f---ing book?"" Of course, Professor Griff, the author of this line, is a controversial figure himself, having been at one point fired from PE for allegedly claiming that "Jews are responsible for the majority of the wickedness in the world", though by now, is presumably much mellowed.

Of course, the final words should probably be left to Professor Griff: "What other kinds of games can we make that feature the talents that hip-hop artists have to offer? Is it always gonna be the driving, shoot-'em-up, bang-bang kind of games?" Oh, Griffy, but that's the only kind of game there is.

Mega Man Metastasizes Through The Millenia

March 8, 2006 6:45 AM | Simon Carless

megam.jpg We're so not bored of 1UP's 'Retronauts' columns that we already covered the first two, so there's no reason not to link to the third 'Retronauts', about Mega Men (!) old and new.

Though Jeremy Parish notes of the series' over-complex lineage: "Even those who have been into the series from the beginning (such as myself) can't help but shake their heads in dismay at a series where spin-offs (Mega Man X) get spin-offs (Mega Man Zero) that get spin-offs (the upcoming Mega Man ZX for DS)", he does wax lyrical about Mega Man: Powered Up for PSP, the forthcoming title that is "a complete reimagining of the very first game, supervised by [series creator Keiji] Inafune and digging deep into the series mythos."

Particularly to be drooled over in 'Powered Up' is apparently the construction mode, covered heavily by Parish in his 1UP preview, and a very good use of the PSP's PC transfer/storage capabilities. Overall, it's concluded with grins and trebles all round: "By and large, Powered Up seems to do the original Mega Man justice. The one missing element is a pixel-perfect port of the NES game... but apparently you can download 8-bit stages from Capcom's servers, so maybe there's no reason to complain."

UK Resistance Finds Vintage Sega Ads, Plus... US Resistance?!

March 8, 2006 2:32 AM | Simon Carless

segaviz.jpg The continually entertaining UK Resistance has now dug up some early '90s UK Sega ads [vaguely NSFW] that appeared in Viz magazine, the "popular British adult spoof comic magazine".

We particularly admire the 'To be this good takes AGES / To be this good takes SEVEN PINTS' tagline, but all of the print ads are delightfully bad/good/something - as UKR's Commander Zorg notes wistfully, in between staring at ladies through the window with his binoculars: "Nowadays it's all viral marketing web sites. How we miss proper adverts with prices on."

However, all is not well in UK Resistance land, since a shocking new site named US Resistance has appeared, and seems to be attempting a semi-lame 'American humOr' version of UKR's patented 'what are girls? we like Outrun!' schtick.

As a commenter ably puts it: "I like the way US Resistance has placed UK Resistance in its 'sites we hate so much they don't even deserve a functioning link' section, even though the idea to put that section on the front page at all came from UK Resistance. Americans: this is what people call irony." Unless, of course, this is a tremendously elaborate UKR-originating joke. In which case, we may need to go and lie down.

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