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About GameSetWatch

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

Michael Jackson's Secret Sonic 3 Shame

March 27, 2006 11:14 AM | Simon Carless

sonic3.JPG Over at the increasingly vital YouTube, there's a new fan-made video exploring Michael Jackson's contribution to the Sonic 3 soundtrack, a concept that at first sounds wacky, but, when confronted with overt musical evidence, notably less so.

The detective work surrounding the video started after an interview with Roger Hector of Sega, in which he revealed: "Sonic 3 (also called Sonic & Knuckles) was a lot of fun, but it was also very difficult. Michael Jackson was originally brought in to compose all the music for the game, but at the very end, his work was dropped after his scandals became public. This caused a lot of problems and required a lot of reworking. But the game turned out great in the end."

Thus, the video, a transcript for which is available on the same forums, and which notes, among other things, that the "...piece of music played at the end of Sonic 3, bears a strong resemblance to the michael jackson song 'Stranger In Moscow'", and that "In the Sonic and Knuckles collection [for PC], some of the music has been replaced... All these tracks in the original Sonic 3 have one thing in common, they all use various "Hey" and "Go" type vocal sounds, which is a trademark of Michael Jackson." Yay, conspiracy theories are plenty of fun, and this one seems on the money.

Classic Brochures Still Being Digitized

March 27, 2006 3:11 AM | Simon Carless

aic.JPG Great Scott! We first mentioned Jason 'Textfiles.com' Scott's new Digitize.textfiles.com classic print brochure scans a few days back, and he's been adding even more great stuff since then, so let's check back in.

We particularly enjoy the 1983 Adventure International print brochure, for "the Scott Adams-helmed Software publishing house (1979-1984). Includes the Scott Adams adventures, video games, strategy games, financial software, utilities, and additional adventure games or game development kits."

Also neeto, though, is the 1983 Sierra On-Line Hi-Res Adventures Promotional Catalog, "an introduction to the Hi-Res series of adventure games by a mysterious Host who travels through time and space to sell you games." Interestingly, one of the ads is for the video game version of The Dark Crystal, the classic Henson film, converted to home computer by Roberta Williams, and sometimes forgotten nowadays. Keep up the great work, Jason.

Shifted Librarian Keeps Shifting Into Gaming

March 26, 2006 10:10 PM | Simon Carless

libr.jpg A particularly interesting subject is the use of video games in libraries, as recently covered in a Gamasutra wrap-up of the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium. Now, Jenny at The Shifted Librarian is organizing the troops around gaming and libraries, making for even better news.

She notes: "We've had trouble moving the discussion forward on the Gaming in Libraries website due to a lack of staff time and resources, so I ended up deciding that we should just put all of the wiki-style information on Meredith's already-oh-so-wonderful LibSuccess site. It made sense to take advantage of such a great, existing resource and that way, we'd be part of a larger community."

Jenny continues: "I finished editing the Gaming section to add entries for every library that came to the March Gaming SIG at MLS that is doing some type of gaming (video, board, card, etc.) and that gave me some info about it." This is totally great work, and very much to be applauded, as games move into public spaces in a variety of neat ways.

Mega64 Goes GDC, GRAW, OMGWTF

March 26, 2006 3:29 PM | Simon Carless

ico.jpg We mentioned this briefly earlier in the week, but we were delighted that the Mega64 guys showed some spectacularly funny Season 2 previews (including some totally great Luigi's Mansion and Ico sketches) at the Game Developers Choice Awards [UPDATE - just noticed GameDev.net has a nice pictorial awards write-up] in San Jose last week - we also got to say hi to them, and were oddly more fanboy about them than when meeting any game creators.

As Dr. Poque notes on his blog: "The Shadow of the Colossus/Ico team thanking us in their acceptance speech was one of the best moments of my entire life. I'm still glowing after it." You can see a tiny, tiny teaser for the Ico sketch in the Mega64 Season 2 trailer on their official site - though the fake Season 2 trailer is possibly better, haw.

Finally, on the newly released Mega64 front - Xbox 360 Live has these for download, but YouTube also has them - the Mega64 guys' Crosscom promotional trailers, in two parts, for Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. More great stuff, and as far as we're concerned, these people still need to be given a cable TV show, like, yesterday.

Wired Gets It Wright

March 26, 2006 10:48 AM | Simon Carless

wright.jpg So, the new April 2006 issue of Wired Magazine has made it into stores, and it's guest curated by The Sims and Sim City's maestro Will Wright, who appears on the cover with Spore-mirrored sunglasses.

One of the articles already posted online from the issue is Wright's editorial on how games help, explaining: "Just watch a kid with a new videogame. The last thing they do is read the manual. Instead, they pick up the controller and start mashing buttons to see what happens. This isn't a random process; it's the essence of the scientific method."

Also up is a piece by Steven Johnson, which intriguingly claims of the big online game worlds of MMOs and commerce: "There is reason to believe that the divided metaverse is merely a transi­tional phase, and that its component worlds will coalesce." Oh, and a mini-article on 'one-minute games' by the writer of this GSW post, if you'll forgive the self-reference. In any case, fun stuff!

COLUMN: 'The Gaijin Restoration' - Chair Chasers

March 26, 2006 4:26 AM |

Label Art Work["I often import games from abroad and play them. On such occasions, my imagination is sometimes stimulated more as I don't understand the language.” – Fumito Ueda, creator of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. 'The Gaijin Restoration' is a weekly examination of underappreciated Eastern games that never cross to Western shores. This week's title is Konami Computer Entertainment School Osaka Laboratory's Team Wife of Estate's Chair Chasers [UPDATE: Here's the download link], which was made available on the interweb in 2002 for the PC and is a mouthful to present.]

You Had Me At Chair

Nintendo has Digipen. Their students slave away each year, and maybe we'll get a Rumble Box or two. A nifty aesthetic, a cool idea, a winning design; but I ask where's the heart? It's in Japan. Konami has their Osaka school, whose tutelage berthed The Time Wife of Estate, a most excellent moniker, and an excellent developer with the vision to bring the world the much needed Chair Chasers. A lengthy, narrated tale unfolds of a slain CEO, a battle for power, some sort of tie in with ancient Egypt and a simple warning that one's butt must not leave the chair. From there the game let's you choose from several protagonist - elderly salary man, secretary, company mascot, etc, and it's off to race!

Ancient Egyptians made the pyramids because they were in a congolmerate.  And they sat on chairs

Now to be fair, the narration is muted (and spoken with an odd, effected English,) the story ridiculous, the textures simple and the game short, but like a three legged canine at a dog show, this baby's got heart. In spades.

When Feats of Strength Are Not Enough

chair5.jpgChair Chasers is to be taken at face value: a kart racer, a student project made with love and polished with apple sauce for the teacher. With games like Stretch Panic being called glorified tech demos, I'm not sure how to pigeonhole something like Chair Chasers. It's very short at three tracks, but each follows golden threads of game design, adding more complexity and perfect little moments, that will bring back the smiles. Level one is fairly simple and lets you get used to the control for your character, as their feet kick around corners, and race towards power-ups including homing AIBOs, force fields and fan propulsion systems. The second stage features the dreaded staircase. The butts don't leave the seats, but each character has their own unique and humorous way to make it up the flight. Level three, the final race, is labrynthine in design and nefarious in implementation, with office doors blocking paths, shutting and opening at random. The highlight is a massive ramp that gives way to a 180 degree camera sweep as the avatar and competitors take to the air and strike some poses, with chair in tow. It's reminiscent of Sonic Adventure's first level race with the whale. Non interactive, but seamlessly intergrated, quick, and overly pleasant. Again, I'm smiling.

Each would-be CEO has a unique control scheme. Some make wide turns, others stop on a dime. Some clamber up the staircase fast, others plod on. When they wipe out, get pummeled by an exploding poodle or what have you, they each act accordingly, my favorite being the mascot having to make like the exorcist girl, and turn his head completely around. It's these little touches that we take for granted in big studio developed games. There is a near Miyamoto-esque attention to wonder.

no alt text boomer6.jpg

Still, In The End...

...it's a little game about racing chairs. While I still marvel at all the little touches, and how it just makes me smile. It takes a certain type of PC game to really feel console-y, and a lot of them are Japanese games. The consummate Cave Story, another Japanese developed PC game, is the last one that truly gave me that feeling. There's something accessible, and magical. When was the last time you actually thought about how down right weird Super Mario Bros. was? On the reverse, a lot of US developed console games are starting to feel like PC games. Did anybody play Sudeki? Well, no matter.

[UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Trifle, we've found a download link to grab Chair Chaser. In addition, we also have a video containing an edited open and some gameplay, as well as the CESA info page for Chair Chasers, a game that guarantees a smile and the obvious wtf.

chair4.jpgchair3.jpg

[Ryan Stevens is the associate producer on the various Cinematech shows on G4TV, which showcases many of the games written about here. He's been known to do the collaborative blog thing at That's Plenty.]

The Rise Of The Next-Gen Linux Game

March 25, 2006 11:19 PM | Simon Carless

sauer.jpg Over at the Linux Revolution blog, there's a post about 'next-gen' Linux games that shows there's a number of neat titles out there - often available for Windows _and_ Linus' language, but available nonetheless!

The post's intro quips: "If you thought the Linux gaming world consisted of nethack, pp-racer, BZFlag, and well... fortune, you were wrong."

Among the new titles showcased include TA Spring ("a 3D remake of [Total Annihilation], but also has the capability to run brand-new content and serve as an engine for new RTS games"), plus Sauebraten ("The next-generation Cube engine/game. It features some funky realtime geometry editing, single and multiplayer action, and a pretty big user community.")

As the conclusion notes: "f there's one thing that should be clear, it's that modern, open source, next-generation games are beginning to emerge onto the Linux desktop. The graphics in these games these games is coming back up to par with commercial titles, and exciting new open-source game engines are allowing development to proceed at an incredible pace."

Schilling Grabs Endorsement, Stepping Over Teammates' Bodies

March 25, 2006 6:56 PM | Simon Carless

glanville.jpg Just before GDC, when we were running a wrap-up story on Gamasutra about Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's EverQuest II endorsement deal, our now-ex (aww!) co-worker Nich ran across an old ESPN.com column about Schilling's online travails which we'd forgotten about.

It concerns Schilling giving up two home runs to former teammate and Phillies center fielder Doug Glanville - and the explanation for this 'act of revenge' was a callous slaying by neglect inside EverQuest itself.

According to the piece, the two were teaming up "in Faydwer, in the zone of the Butcherblock Mountains, to kill Aviaks." But when the smackdown came down, Schilling was nowhere to be seen: "He had sent a message to me, saying, 'RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.' But he typed this as he was already a mile away from danger and standing next to the guards that protect him. Needless to say, my lifeless character was now chicken feed."

According to Glanville: "I vowed revenge on the soul of Bingbong... for the negligent actions of Cylc", and he concluded with sage advice: "Not enough attention is paid to the off-the-field motivators that create nasty on-field grudges... I believe video atrocities top the list. Curt Schilling assassinated my lovable Dwarf Paladin in EverQuest, happily smiling as his character stood in the safety of the town guards. That can create serious internal friction... I believe we need to analyze some of the video atrocities committed on PlayStation2 or Dreamcasts, or even the Commodore 64, if we need to go back that far."

Post-GDC: Developer Diaries Blossom

March 25, 2006 2:31 PM | Simon Carless

gdc_06_small.gif Over at the continuously excellent UK Guardian Gamesblog, they asked a few leading UK developers to document their time over at GDC this week, and a number of the results are in.

Dave Millard at Kuju put up a long synopsis of his week, which notes very cannily of the Nintendo keynote: "By the end, the crowd are in a frenzy and the whole thing has felt slightly religious." The new Scientology, we suspect.

Also contributing is Thomas Arundel of IGF Grand Prize winners Introversion, who recounts his winning experience at the IGF on Wednesday night, and he rather cutely understates: "I got a touch carried away, and vocalized a view on publishers that touched a chord with the audience", continuing: "For 60 seconds (we timed it on the video afterwards :) the hall erupted in applause and I genuinely experienced the best moment of my life."

GDC Tidbits: Volume 3 Of A Short Series

March 25, 2006 8:13 AM | Simon Carless

gdc06.jpg A final update from Game Developers Conference 2006 in San Jose, Calif - again, check out the mad crazy Gamasutra show coverage, if you dare, but here's some final vignettes:

- The absolute best thing about the Nintendo keynote yesterday was the Nintendo University-certified protestor walking around outside, and urging Nintendo to 'Drop The Bomb'. In the event, no such Megaton event occurred, but it's just an awesome example of fanboy love - we salute you, Sir!

- The second best thing about the Iwata keynote was, of course, the English-language copy of Brain Age given away to all the attendees, about a month before its official release date. Needless to say (and I know I was joking about a similar Sony thing earlier in the week), copies are already up on eBay. So if you need a photocopied note from Satoru Iwata in your collection, bid often, and bid early!

- The third best thing about the show was apparently the amount of Pictochat action going on in all the major keynotes. Of course, this anonymous metachat style leads to merciless barbs, such as when Valve's Gabe Newell accidentally started talking about 'beef' (as opposed to 'brief') in his Choice Awards intro spot, to a chorus of Pictochatted 'LOL' comments. Next time, GDC, let's see the Pictochatrooms projected on the screen behind the speakers - OMG?

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