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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 September, 2006

Atom Expands On 'NewsGaming' Mandate

September 23, 2006 3:02 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/airp.jpg  hspace= Now, we already covered the 'Airport Security' game done by Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games for Shockwave.com, but it's worth noting that this is just part of a bigger program from parent company Atom, according to a press release they sent us.

It goes like this: "Atom Entertainment, Inc. said today it has opened the first "NewsGames” channel at the fast growing online games destination AddictingGames and said it will develop dozens of new titles each year and promote the best user-generated games that mock the most popular headlines and cultural topics of the day."

Interestingly, they want to grab most of the titles for free: "Most of the content at the NewsGames channel will be harvested from user submissions. Today, users can create games just about as quickly and easily as they can shoot, edit and publish video Atom Entertainment expects to see much of the content in the NewsGames channel to come from user submissions and online gamers." Apart from Persuasive's games, of course.

So what do you get here? "Other titles in the NewsGame channel have already proven to be huge hits. The Zidane Headbutt game was an international sensation, generating almost 4 million games plays in just a few weeks online. Cheney's Fury, a game that mocked our vice presidents errant shotgun blast and has seen 1.4 million game plays, also joins the cast of games available here. And Bush Backrub, a game that lampooned the President's awkward massaging of a European head of state and has seen more than 1 million game plays, is also at the new destination." Hurray!

GameSetPics: Alt.Highlights Of TGS, Part 2

September 23, 2006 8:12 AM | Simon Carless

The second of what will probably be three parts in alt.TGS photos. I've tried to stray away from the most obvious stuff (everyone is taking pictures of Devil May Cry 4, after all), but who knows, this selection may be just as predictable in a 'alternative stuff' way, right?

Oh well, please to enjoy anyhow:

All fans of harmonicas and Irem should take note - mech adventure Bumpy Trot 2 was in full effect at TGS 2006.

Over at the Hudson booth, alongside a life-sized Bomberman (not pictured, doh!), there was this van entirely covered in post-it notes with sketches of Bomberman made by fans - cute idea.

A little more Hudson booth action - not quite sure who these lovely onstage ladies are.

Oh, Yoot Saito! Seaman 2: Human had a preview theater within a black monolith-type object, with the typical 'fake history' video goodness on monitor screens.

Over at the Capcom merchandising stand, they had this rather gorgeous Okami plush.

D3 fans such as Jiji will probably be delighted by the appearance of a real-life Onechanbara at the company's TGS booth. Other people too, we're guessing?

Super Mario Theme, All Funked Up?

September 23, 2006 2:30 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/fri.jpg Via a bunch of people, including Waxy, we have an interesting weblog post about a musical theme from Super Mario Bros, and how it may possibly have been 'borrowed' from an older funk record.

It's noted: "A while back, while digging through LA’s now closed Aaron’s Records, I ran across a Record from “Friendship”, and I recognized the bassists name, “Abraham Laboriel”. I remembered a buddy of mine telling me that Abe was a “sick bassist”, and at 99 cents, i couldn’t resist. So I bring my loot home, and pop it on my technics. The very first track I played is called “The Real Thing”. I was instantly floored. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was listening to a funked out version of Super Mario Brothers “Underworld” theme."

The MP3 comparing them is there on the page, and commenter 'Olli' is the most intriguing of the blog respondents: "Video games really wasn’t considered that big a deal by anyone over the age of 20 in 1985, certainly not enough to sue over musical similarities. it wasn’t uncommon in those days for vg composers to borrow parts of pop melodies for game soundtracks because there was virtually no risk involved. this is only a small bit of the melody that’s similar though... koji kondo may very well be a fan of friendship, i know he borrowed bits of songs by three suns and other space age pop bands for super mario world and yoshi’s island."

Tim Sweeney, Let Off The Leash!

September 22, 2006 9:19 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/sween.jpg Something else I worked on for Gamasutra at TGS - I was one of the only Western journalists in a CEDEC Premium talk with Epic's Tim Sweeney, and it was great to see him being honest in the Q&A, freed from perhaps over-restrictive PR shackles.

Some extracts: Sweeney "...did comment specifically on how difficult it is to program for multi-core processors and the even more complex Cell chip used in the PlayStation 3. He noted that it "takes about twice the effort and development cost to develop for a multi-threaded CPU," compared to a single-core CPU. Even more than that, according to Epic's analysis, fully exploiting the PS3 Cell chip "required about 5 times as much cost and development time than single-core.""

But it's not all bad for PS3: "While Sweeney seemed to be disquieted by the complexity of developing for Cell, he did praise Sony elsewhere in his keynote for an "enlightened business model" when it comes to online PS3 capabilities - one that will apparently allow Epic's users to create Unreal Tournament 2007 levels and content on the PC, and distribute them via the PlayStation 3." Apples for everyone!

GameSetGuide: Video Game Events in NYC

September 22, 2006 4:35 PM |

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/nycc.jpg[New GSW contributor Henry Cao is going to be writing a video game music/audio column for us in the near future, but in the meantime, he happens to have written this neat guide to upcoming game-related events in New York City, so we're reprinting here. Contact us if you'd like to do the same for your city.]

Come Out and Play Festival
When: September 22 - 24, 2006
Where: Eyebeam, 540 West 21st St.
What: From the creators of I Love Bees, PacManhattan, and more, the Come Out and Play Festival seeks to celebrate new styles of play through street and alternate reality games. The festival kicks off with a performance of Modal Kombat - a game of Mortal Kombat played by using real guitars - followed by a game of Space Invaders on the side of a building with your body as the controller. Sonic Body Pong will also make an appearance; there’s no screen - you have to use your sense of hearing to hit the ball!
Free, but many games require registration.

When: September 23, 2006 at 10 pm
Where: The Tank, 279 Church St.
What: Home to the scene of chiptunes, NYC’s latest show is headed by Nullsleep and Bit Shifter. If you’ve ever wondered why your Game Boy sounds like crap, run – don’t walk – to this show for an orgasmirific evening of bleeps and bloops.
$6 for all ages.

Wired NextFest
When: September 29, 2006 – October 1, 2006
Where: Jacob Javits Center, 655 West 34th St.
What: Alright, so this event is less about video games and more about the automatons who will one day subjugate mankind. And who cares about solar-powered cars, a glove that speaks sign language, or a digital camera that lets you see your own veins? “How am I supposed to rot my brain cells with these?” you ask. Well, you can, and look like a hamster in a cage while doing so! The VirtuSphere will be adopted by the future of arcades (heh heh. Look Beavis, I just made a dichotomy) and the military… but don’t tell Jack.
$15 for adults ($20 at the door), $12 for students, $5 for children. Adult ticket includes one-year subscription to Wired magazine.

New York-Tokyo Music Festival
When: September 30, 2006
Where: Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
What: New York-Tokyo’s annual music festival seeks to bridge Japanese and American culture with live performances by some of the best artists from both countries, but don’t let the name fool you – anime and games get the full-fledged treatment too! Featuring newly-released titles like Xenosaga III, Hot PXL, and Eureka Seven, the fun never stops (unless these games suck). Afro Samurai starring Samuel L. Jackson will also premiere; a reliable source tells me that Sam yells “I want these motherfucking ninjas off this motherfucking plane!” before every fight. Okay, not really.

8 Bit: A Documentary about Art and Videogames
When: October 7, 2006 at 8 pm and October 11, 2006 at 6 pm
Where: Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd St.
What: Billed as a rockumentary of video game art, 8 Bit explores the “repository of the marvelous”, at least according to the press release. What’s that mean? It means you’re stupid unless you’re in this movie. Ohhhhhhh.
$20 for adult museum admission, $12 for student museum admission, free for children.
$10 for adult film admission, $6 for student film admission, free for children but requires ticket.


Nintendo Fusion Tour
When: October 8, 2006 at 6 pm
Where: Roseland Ballroom, 239 West 52nd St.
What: Who’s the star of this nationwide tour? Hawthorne Heights? Emery? Emo band #471? Non, monsieur. It’s the Nintendo Wii, or the “Wiiiiiiiiiiiiii!” if you’re crowd surfing while slitting your wrists. In an unrelated note, there was a guy who wore a Halo 2 T-shirt when Shigeru Miyamoto visited the Nintendo World Store, and all the Nintendo fanboys hissed at him (at Halo 2 shirt-wearing-guy, not Shigsy). Man, you guys piss me off.

Digital Life
When: October 12 – 15, 2006
Where: Jacob Javits Center, 655 West 34th St.
What: Digital Life is mainly a consumer electronics event, but it does have a respectable game division – especially if you’re up for Star Wars: Battlefront II and Dance Dance Revolution tournaments. Highlights for this year include the premiere of Final Fantasy XII and appearances by a roster of as-of-yet unnamed B-list celebrities. Highlights for last year include a black Batman, an unplayable Xbox 360, and an appearance by Carmen Electra. Holy crap, I couldn’t walk through the crowd around her. I couldn’t even see her – she might as well have been Carmen Sandiego.
$12 for adults ($15 after Oct. 12th), $8 for students ($12 after Oct. 12th).

Digital Play: Reloaded
When: Wednesday and Thursday at 11 am–5 pm, Friday at 11 am-8 pm (free after 4 pm), Saturday and Sunday at 11 am-6:30 pm
Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 36th St.
What: “Digital Play: Reloaded is organized around the theme of action in its different uses and interpretations. Music, dance, and movement-oriented video games originating in Japan constitute a shift from traditional, often violent game scenarios” is how this event’s described on its website. Here’s the summarized version: you get to play video games in a freaking museum! The bad news? There’s no “suggested donation” system (aka “show your significant other just how cheap you are”) that’s the bread and butter of other museums – you actually have to pay! Like if you were going to the movies. Except you’re not. Those Commie bastards!
$10 for adults, $7.50 for students, $5 for children ages 5-18, free for children under 5.

Honorable Mentions:

When: October 27 – 29
Where: Valley Forge Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What: I don’t know what this event’s about, but it seems to have gotten much bigger from last year; the recent cancellation of E3 is probably why. In any case, it’s close enough to NYC that it’s worth mentioning, and anything that uses Ben Franklin to promote itself is okay in my book.

GameSetPics: Alt.Highlights Of TGS, Part 1

September 22, 2006 11:24 AM | Simon Carless

Wow, TGS takes it out of you, and I'm sure you guys are inundated by reading all kinds of articles about the 7 zillion games exhibited on the TGS show floor. Well, I haven't even had time to catch up on other people's picks, but here's the stuff I got excited about at the 2006 Tokyo Game Show while wandering confusedly round the show floor:

You've seen it featured on GameSetWatch as a student project, but now Jenova Chen's Flow is coming to PlayStation 3 as a Sony-published game, judging by this pod at the Sony booth - congrats to him!

Not sure which I like best - the fact that there's a camouflage PSP, or the display case they put it in.

This is a fruit-covered lady demonstrating Super Monkey Ball for the Wii. Really, does it need any more explanation?

Of course, I ran into Brandon Sheffield and Tim Rogers with their tongues close to floor level while gazing delightedly upon D3's Earth Defense Forces 3 (formerly EDF X?) for Xbox 360. What chance a Western release?

After Gitaroo Man, more great rhythm games getting PSP conversions - this time, it's Parappa The Rapper, and I know it's just a straight conversion, but I'm so buying it.

Kutaragi On 'The Future Of Gaming'

September 22, 2006 4:17 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/kutaa.jpg So, I was at Tokyo Game Show all day - you'll see some pictures from it on GSW in due course, including some alternate highlights - but I did an in-depth write-up of Ken Kutaragi's Sony keynote for Gamasutra which perhaps doesn't even convey the semi-insanity of it.

Ken obviously has a grand plan around networking and shared metaverse-style information (!), yet as I noted: "But how do the two poles of a networked ecosystem and the PS3's extreme power get reconciled? Kutaragi freely admitted that the PlayStation 3 "may be called overkill" in terms of its "enormous computation power", but he explained that, over the next 2 to 3 years, "networking will live alongside packaged media."" If you understand this, please explain to us all!

Furthermore, the follow-up Q&A saw Mr. Kutaragi in even more flippant mode, particularly: "When asked about the expensive nature of the PS3, Kutaragi somewhat bizarrely claimed that in the U.S., the $499 pricing had retailers and publishers happy at "such a great function for that price", trying to paint a picture where Europe was similarly happy, and it was only Japan (where the lower-spec model is 59,800 yen ($515), and the higher-spec price up to retailers) that price came up as an issue." You should have seen the Westerners in the audience when _that_ comment came through via translation.

GameTap Grabs Classic Cyan Title & The Last Express

September 21, 2006 9:03 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/tle.gif Man, the guys at GameTap are piling on the intriguing game content for their 'all you can eat' PC subscription stylee service - they just signed up Jordan Mechner's cult 'The Last Express' and Cyan's Spelunx working on PC for the first time - info follows below from their official PR.

"Among the highlights [of the new GameTap update] is “The Last Express,” Phoenix Licensing’s debut game on GameTap. When The Last Express was originally released, it received Editor’s Choice awards from Computer Gaming World, PC Gamer, and dozens of gaming websites, as well as being awarded the “Best New Adventure and Role Playing Game” by Games Magazine. Created by Jordan Mechner, the mastermind behind the incredibly popular “Prince of Persia” series, “The Last Express” is an indelible adventure experience."

"While Cyan is best known for its “Myst” franchise - with “Myst Online: Uru Live” debuting on GameTap this holiday season and “Myst,” “Riven: The Sequel to Myst,” and “Myst III: Exile” currently available in the network – one of their past game gems is “Spelunx and the Caves of Mr. Seudo.” This is an educational game cleverly disguised as a cave exploration adventure. Previously only available for the Mac, it is now making its PC debut."

COLUMN: 'Cinema Pixeldiso' – Resurrection of the Little Match Girl

September 21, 2006 1:56 PM |

['Cinema Pixeldiso' is a new column by Matt 'Fort90' Hawkins, which takes a look at movies that are either directly based upon or are related to video games, with a focus on the obscure and the misunderstood. This week’s selection hails from South Korea and was produced in 2002.]


http://www.gamesetwatch.com/matchgirl1.gifSo most video game movies are based on video games, right? Well here's one based on... an old Christmas story by Hans Christian Anderson?

Resurrection of the Little Match Girl tells the tale of Joo, a quiet, downtrodden regular Joe who spends his time either working a crappy Chinese food delivery job, or in the arcades playing various arcade shooters - which help fuel his fantasies of blasting away all the rude customers he has to deal with. His main aspiration is to be a pro gamer like his best buddy GG. Why? Women, naturally. In one of the film’s earliest scenes features both guys having dinner with two girls, and when GG tells the ladies about the StarCraft competition he’s set to participate in, along with all the money and fame that’ll come if he nabs the top prize, both get into an argument in the bathroom over the chance to bag him. Joo on the other hand is completely cast aside.

[Click through for more.]

Inis Creator On Japanese Indie Game Development

September 21, 2006 5:42 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/yano.jpg Since TGS is kicking off tomorrow, GSW posts may be slowing down a bit more, but here's my latest for Gamasutra - an interview with Ouendan and Gitaroo Man co-creator Keiichi Yano, discussing how independent developers thrive in the Japanese market.

Here's some neat bits: "How about hiring to add to the team at Inis? Yano commented baldly: "Hiring is really a pain in the butt in Japan", noting that for a company like Inis, "it's very hard to get [the right] caliber of person", despite the specialized game schools operating in Japan. However, Inis is starting to attract seasoned developers to bolster its existing staff - the Inis co-founder explains: "We have the lead programmer of Final Fantasy XI on our team right now", an impressive addition to the company."

And more: "So, what's in Inis' future? The company has shown elements from an Xbox 360 technical demo on its website, and Yano confirmed that they are moving ahead, and we will "eventually" see some kind of Xbox 360 game from his company - no publisher or game details yet, though. As for other possible projects, Yano commented enthusiastically: "I want to do a Wii game, like everybody else" - but it doesn't appear that any such title is in active development." Please to enjoy!

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