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Archive For June, 2006

Jagwired Gets Wired On Atari Jaguar

June 27, 2006 6:02 AM | Simon Carless

jagcolor.jpg Once again, AtariAge comes up trumps, with a new post revealing that issue #6 of Atari Jaguar-related zine Jagwired is now available in PDF form.

The official Jagwired site explains: "Jagwire Magazine will be printed every 2 - 3 months and will cover the Atari Jaguar and Lynx gaming platforms. The magazine will have all the latest news, game tips and cheats, event coverage, reader feedback, new game and hardware coverage, interviews, and stories from fellow game collectors."

Looks like the download site for the PDF is a bit slow, but Jagwired itself is a fun 45-page zine trawl through Jaguar fandom, including some amazing custom-molded Jaguar cart casings - it's noted: "No two cartridges are the same as each one is hand made; the production rate is a massive 3 a day maximum! Each cart is then allowed to harden a further 3 days whilst on a former of its opposite half, to make sure the fit is perfect."

What's more: "Some games naturally lend themselves to a specific color scheme – Doom for example Orange and red, Iron Soldier Blue, Alien v Predator Purple, and Bubsy Yellow are just some that have been suggested. But in the end, the only limit is your imagination!" There are also some neat pics of a purple sparkly Jaguar cart case (hah!) - fanboy overload.

Second Life Gets ZeroOne Art Exhibit

June 27, 2006 3:31 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/cornfield.jpg We've previously discussed San Jose's ZeroOne art/interactive festival a couple of times, and now Alice at the Wonderland blog points out a Second Life-related art exhibit being shown as part of the event.

More specifically, the 'New West' themed exhibit will be shown at the San Jose Museum Of Art (we've been there, it's nice!) from August 7th to 13th. Here's the portentous-ish concept beyond the show: "The theme “New West” is highlights ISEA06’s location in San Jose, and both celebrates and critiques the western United States as a symbol of the pioneering spirit in design and technological innovation. Second Life, a player-created “metaverse,” or open-ended persistent online virtual world, is very much like a “new west,” with equal measures of innovation, resourcefulness, chaos, experimentation, lawlessness, and entrepreneurialism."

Like the New West, huh? So it's a bit like Deadwood, only with more girly goth raver costumes - oh, and the brothels have more furries and adult babies in them? Pshaw. Oh, which reminds us, we grabbed someone to write our Second Life column (the very Scottish-Canadian Mathew Kumar, who you may have seen writing for Eurogamer recently), so watch out for his missives from the 'New West' in the near future. And no, we're not going to stop using that bloody cornfield picture, either.

GameSetQ: Xbox Live Arcade Retro Picks?

June 27, 2006 12:47 AM | Simon Carless

smtv.png So, we thought it was time we resurrected the GameSetQ feature ("a daily question to be answered by GameSetWatch readers in the comments of this lovable weblog, and in some way related to the day's gaming issues"), because we were thinking about Xbox Live Arcade, and retro game remakes, and, well...

One of the things we like the best about XBLA for Xbox 360 are the retro remakes that you can pick up for $5 or so, from Smash TV to Gauntlet and beyond - the Wikipedia Xbox Live Arcade page has a full list of the upcoming ones, as announced at E3, though God knows when they're actually arriving. They include, from Midway, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Paperboy, Defender, Cyberball, Root Beer Tapper; and from Namco, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Rally-X, Dig Dug, Galaga; from Sega, Sonic The Hedgehog; from Konami, Contra, Super Contra, Frogger, Time Pilot, Scramble, Track & Field. Phew, that's a lot! But.. it's not enough for us! The question is:

"If you could pick any arcade game to appear on Xbox Live Arcade for the $5 download price, what would it be? It needs to be an original (non-licensed) title, because otherwise everyone will pick Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara, and that's never going to happen."

Answers below - and if we get enough people voting for the same games, we can set up an online petition and then Microsoft are SURE to take notice, because all online petitions ever made are guaranteed to be successful! We know it!

Nerdcore Hiphop, Video Games, And You!

June 26, 2006 8:30 PM | Simon Carless

rtorr.jpg So, you guys like a little nerdcore hiphop, right? It's that geeky, often game-referencing melange of high pitched (generally white) voices and staccato (generally beepy and/or ironic) beats, and the Rhyme Torrents website has posted the freely distributable 4xCD Nerdcore Hip-Hop compilation album, including a bunch of those game-related tracks.

We actually asked Jason Gortician, who compiled the excellent compilation, to rank his favorite video game-referencing songs, and it went like this: "1. The Posse Track [.MP3 link]. It has several game-related verses, including Ham-STAR's Final Fantasy run-down, and ZeroBitRate's verse dedicated to his FPS skills and how he's going to win at GenCom. Plus it's 16 minutes long with 13 MCs, and I managed to work the VIC-20, Amiga 600 and BeOS into my verse. ; )"

Next up: "2. "The Last Fantasy" [.MP3] by Benjamin Bear. This is about his brother-in-law dissolving his marriage due to his wife's deep involvement with Final Fantasy XI. A true story, more or less, and equal parts 'street' and 'geek'. Clever, that."

Finally: "3. "Lo-Fi AllStars" by MechP. It seems the NES is the game system of choice for many nerdcore hip-hop heads. I suspect this is generational. MechP astounds by making a track that is old school in feel and spirit, by invoking misty-eyed nostalgia over this much-beloved system while at the same time giving the nod to hip-hop's origins."

Also, we love Jason, cos he compiled us links to the game-related material: "To save you the trouble, allowing you to cut right to the chase, here are what I think are most of the game-related tracks: Disc 1: White Warrior, Interlude
Zombie Panic, Legendary Rhymes, The Last Fantasy, RPG, Emulation Station... Disc 2: Kung-Fu Is My Mom, Penny Arcade, Lo-Fi All-Stars... Disc 3: Black Market OC Remix (the last verse, mainly. Boffo), Joystickin'... Disc 4: WoW, Arkanoid, Saving Throw, Nerdcore For Life." We here at GSW say - please to download and spread and tell all.

Luke Smith New Hulk, Luke Smith Smaaaash!

June 26, 2006 5:30 PM | Simon Carless

lsmithola.jpg So, one of 1UP's newest employees, Luke Smith, who handles news for them, has been causing all kinds of media havoc with his post on Square Enix's hilarious embargo attempts on the already Japanese-released Valkyrie Profile 2.

He was man enough to paste the entire email from the Squeenix crazies, which explained: "The following areas are embargoed until the corresponding dates: * 6.23.2006 - Dipan, Dipan Castle, Royal Underground Path, Kythena Plains, Coriander, Sedberg Mountain Runes, Turgen Mine, Vilnore; * 6.30.2006 - Ancient Forest, Audola Temple on the Lake, Kalstad, Surts Volcano Caverns", and so on.

Of course, you just know that the Japanese game media (where posting mag scans can get you convicted in court, last we heard!) would follow this type of thing slavishly, but Smith is right to comment of this particular request: "Information that exists in the public domain cannot, should not and most importantly won't be relegated to silence. Ultimately doing so flies in the face of the very people you and your company need (especially with VP2) to attract -- gamers."

Arguably even more interesting is another recent blog post by Agent Smith, this one discussing why: ""No Comment" is PR's attempt to brush of the pursuit of information -- which, more than rewriting press releases, should be the onus of responsibility for News Editors". He then goes on to explain how he played hardball with one particular Q&A in which "the developer had [only] answered three or four of the questions from a 20+ question list we sent over". It's pleasing to see a world where the journalists exercise a little control over the PR people, not vice versa, and where people care enough about news to make a stand. Let's keep it up, hip hip!

COMIC: 'Our Blazing Destiny': Pokémon series

June 26, 2006 2:31 PM |

[Our Blazing Destiny is a new weekly comic by Jonathan "Persona" Kim about our society, cultural postdialectic theory, and video games. And monsters you pocket and then send out to die on the battlefield.]

Well, here's the latest piece of obtuseness from our regular Monday GameSetComic. This time, weekly cartoonist Persona explains: "This comic isn't about anything at all, really." And hey - it isn't!

Leninaide!

[Jonathan "Persona" Kim is sometimes a character animation student at the California Institute of the Arts, other times a ninja illustrator, but in his heart, a true comic artist looking for his destiny in the sea of stars. His path on the torrid road of comics include a quarterly manga on The Gamer's Quarter and his website on the internet drawing hub Mechafetus.com. He'll also be attending Anime Expo this year at the Artist Alley selling a doujinshi about Haruhi Suzumiya and Phoenix Wright! Strange!]

It's More Fun To Compute! (Magazine)

June 26, 2006 11:20 AM | Simon Carless

compute.jpg The ever-indispensible AtariAge has updated, revealing that a set of new issues of vintage computer programming/game mag Compute! are online, thanks to AtariMagazines.com curator Kevin Savetz.

Not just scanned pages, apparently, "the full text of 21 additional issues of Compute! magazine have been put online. This includes the magazine's first issue (Fall 1979), several issues from the period 1981 through 1983, and then others from 1989 through 1990. Compute! was published from 1979 through September 1994, covering every major computer platform (including Atari computers) until it became a PC-only publication in May 1988. Thus far, the full text of 44 issues of Compute! is available at AtariMagazines.com."

Even better, I did a follow-up email to check with Kevin, since he says on his site that he "has received permission from the magazines' publishers to make the material available on the Internet for free", and it certainly seems like he really asked the rights-holders and they said yes (he's a little vague about this so that they don't get lots of people bothering them) - so it's great to see authorized online resources like this.

[Heck, anything that has Player-Missile Graphics with the ATARI Personal Computer System by Chris Crawford, reprinted from the January 1981 issue, is good with us! Also great: Are Computers A Home Appliance? by Fred D'lanazio, from 1984. Go poke around some!]

Ed Boon On Getting Into The Game Biz

June 26, 2006 8:51 AM | Simon Carless

edboon.jpg Over at former Shiny co-founder David Perry's site, he's posted a fun Q&A with Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon about getting into the video game industry.

Boon has advice on talking to your mother (yes, _your_ mother!) on why games is a good career: "I would probably try to educate her on the fact that the videogame business is an industry that is bigger than the movie business. I'm guessing that your mother still thinks that videogames are kids-stuff and doesn't take a career in games too serious. I'd probably draw some comparisons in terms of revenue generated by big game titles (GTA) that made more money than most movies ever did."

He also discusses his first ever interview: "I clearly remember my first interview at Williams Electronics in 1986. A guy named Bill Pfutzenreuter was asking me what games I liked playing and I said "Defender, Robotron, Missile Command, Joust". His response was "oh yea, I programmed Joust. I really though he was joking and said "get outta here" and he said "no, really, I did." I was floored as that was the first time I was talking to someone who had made such an impact on what I wanted to do for a living. I still have a hard time with the idea of someone thinking of me in that way." Fatality-ality-ality!

BreakQuest's Felicitious Creator Quizzed

June 26, 2006 5:49 AM | Simon Carless

breakq.gif A while ago, we were pretty obsessed with gorgeously physics-enhanced PC Breakout variant BreakQuest, so it's great to see that Fun-Motion has put up an interview with BreakQuest creator Fèlix Casablancas.

He explains of the concept behind the title: "I always liked breakout games, but I wanted one were you could feel in control so I thought about it and got the idea that a physics engine plus ‘advanced’ geometry (spline like bumper) would do it. There are too many breakout games out there so without this innovation I wouldn’t have done another one."

Again, there's some interesting comments regarding Felix's next game, which also reveals that BreakQuest was perhaps just a little hardcore for casual game portals: "You’re right, the next game is a color-matching game, but the matching rules and the board are different than anything you’ve seen (at least I haven’t seen anything like that), think portals will like this one better than BreakQuest. After this one is made I think I’ll get back to arcade games, probably with physics. About a BreakQuest sequel, maybe in the long term but don’t really know."

COLUMN: 'Free Play' - babarageo

June 26, 2006 2:39 AM |

[’Free Play’ is a new, regular weekly column by Ancil Anthropy about freely downloadable video games, and the people who make them. This week’s column profiles excellent Japanese 'doujin' PC Flash game website babarageo.]

The first thing you see when you visit babarageo is a game—a tiny shooting game, just fifty pixels tall. Move the ship with your mouse, dodge bullets, left click to fire, shoot enemies. At 1000 points the image below the game will change to something different. Maybe it’ll look like a screen from Dig Dug. Maybe if you click the cherries, your tiny ship will get a new weapon.

This game serves as the banner of doujin developer babara’s website. In a small way it’s every game on the site: simple gameplay, charming pixels, and nods to older games that reward the player who picks up on them. And it’s in Flash, seamlessly integrated into babara’s frontpage.

Kill ghosts, challenge skeletons

Xenoraider

babara’s influences are reflected in the population of babarageo - tiny tributes to Dragon Quest, Wizardry, Game & Watch-style LCD games. My friend Tim W. pointed out Great Kung Fu G on his blog—less a remake than a reinvention of Irem’s Jackie Chan title Kung Fu Master. In babara’s Flash version, enemies march toward the player to be swatted away by left-click combos, and dragon-headed bosses announce themselves with haughty laughter before striding onto the screen.

A less scoring-oriented title is Xenoraider, a kind of abridged Legend of Zelda. Xeno fights monsters, rescues fairies, and fetches items for bearded elders in a quest for a lost princess. Our hero swings a huge sword, but enemies do no damage—an acknowledgement that in contemporary Zelda games battles exist more to pace the game than challenge the player. Xenoraider’s solution is elusive.

Thousands of battleships

Boschvos

Other games take advantage of the fact that they’re on the internet — Dezao stars a tiny figure in a red cap who runs and jumps, collects coins and avoids enemies. The coins, enemies and pits are all positioned by visitors to the site: the game includes an editor which allows anyone to design a stage and add it to the game. There isn’t much room for fancy design in an auto-scrolling game with three lanes and only three objects, though. But Dezao wasn’t babara’s last experiment with user-created content.

Boschvos is a manic shooter to which anyone can contribute an enemy space fortress, bristling with lasers and cannons to fire at the player. The game currently boasts a fleet of over 350,000 user-made warships. Poking through them (the database seems glitchy—you may have to hold RIGHT until you reach playable stages) reveals gunboats shaped like boats and moons and Doraemon. I found a laser-armed fish that made me think of Darius. Other battleships are composed of a single weaponless tile, floating in space. And others are rigged to explode at a single shot.

The surprising part is that they’re all very playable. I don’t think I’ve encountered a design that seemed impossible to beat. And of course you can browse and skip through the entire fleet with the arrow keys. There are incentives for destroying enemy ships, though-though the ship you start with can’t pick up power-ups, victories unlock additional ships that can, each equipped with a different weapon.

Finally, be sure to check out...

...Robodome, a game of hefty robot combat that’s mostly about manuevering your stodgy bot to get a shot at your opponent.

[Ancil Anthropy is a game developer and space invader. She fills dessgeega.com with lots of good stuff and writes for a bunch of places, including The Gamer’s Quarter and The Independent Gaming Source.]

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