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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 October, 2006

Okami As A 'Tribute To Excess'

October 26, 2006 2:18 AM | Simon Carless

tjtj.jpg Clover may be gone, but people are still talking intelligently about the company's games - people such as G.Turner at The New Gamer, who contributes a wonderful essay called 'Okami: Gorging on Excess'.

It starts simply: "Okami is a game of excess. From its sumptuous hand-painted look to its litany of collectibles, every aspect of this adventure has been worked over and added to until it's bursting at the seems with originality and enthusiastic energy, but sadly also includes some redundancy and trivialities."

There is plenty more sumptuous, wonderfully considered prose here: "Every single weapon in the game has its own unique non-combat animations: one sword has a simple array of thorns that rotate up and down the blade, while a disc-weapon stunningly & perpetually breaks apart in a dozen pieces and then reforms itself. Okami is loaded, almost bloated, with these sort of extravagances and often is better for it, weaving in character nuances and making the world feel more fleshed out and alive."

He ends: "But when the excess doesn't add to the characters, when it doesn't showcase the story or the world design, when it just causes me to mindlessly increase quantities of items I'll never need, then I can't help but remark that not all of Okami is as rich as it could have been." Deep thinking++, eh?

Beyond 3DO: Calling Nostalgic Graphics Whores!

October 25, 2006 9:21 PM |

losteden.jpg [Having gained a mid-week day pass from his 3DO-specific blog, 3DO Kid peers down from his lofty tower and tries to convince you to buy games no sane man would conside. Fee now to explore beyond Hawkins' dream machine, he rambles incomprehensibly on... His first 'Beyond 3DO' column discusses why the dreaded 'FMV adventure' is much more pleasant that you might actually guess.]

What you find when you delve in to the sinister depths of the just-post-SNES, pre-PSX era - the 3DO, the CDi and the CD32, is that in many ways these machines were a Frankenstein’s Laboratory of game development. The results? Well amongst the ports, the Interactive Movies, the half-baked upgrades of the 16bit library and, of cause, the handful of actually decent titles, there is an oddity of a genre that has [crack of thunder] …no name!

I call them “Pre-rendered tat”. And they aren’t any good …to play… but as eye candy, perhaps worth a second glance if and only if, you happen to be a nostalgic graphics whore like me.

[Click through for more.]

Atari Action Galore At VGXPO In Philly

October 25, 2006 3:25 PM | Simon Carless

tjtj.jpg I believe some Game Developer staffers will be at VGXPO in Philadelphia this weekend (our associates are running a neat Game Career Seminar there), but separately of that, Atari Age has revealed some Atari-related retro goodness going on at the fun-looking consumer game show.

The explain: "Atari, Inc. has teamed up with AtariAge, AtariMuseum.com, and AtariProtos.com to bring an Atari-sponsored classic gaming booth to the VGXPO taking place on October 27-29th at the Valley Forge Convention Center near Philadelphia. At this booth you'll be able to meet and talk with Atari executives, including Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Bruno Bonnell, play and buy the latest Atari homebrew games, examine, play and learn about various prototype games, and learn more about Atari's rich past."

What's more: "Awesome Arcades will also be on hand with several of their new arcade cabinets that you can try firsthand. In addition, you'll be able to sign up to win one of 100 Atari Flashback 2 game consoles being given away! " Nice to see Atari playing nice with Atari Age and the other 'keepers of the flame', here.

Red Vs. Blue Makes Green, Haw

October 25, 2006 10:21 AM | Simon Carless

tjtj.jpg Another good article on The Escapist from Allen Varney, then - this one is about Red Vs. Blue's machinima triumphs, and the promise of the machinima scene in general, and includes a slightly awkward Cartoon Network vs. Rooster Teeth cost comparison at the start.

But from then on it's pretty much gold, with machinimartist Hugh Hancock noting of the group's significant fan base: "The impact of RvB on comedy machinima has been considerable, and on Halo machinima, huge... no one has really equaled Rooster Teeth's success. They're a medium-sized community on the web themselves, above, beyond and separate from the rest of the machinima scene."

There's a nice conclusion, too: "Often, by the time we hear of fortunes being made in a new way, it's already too late to get in. But in machinima, the barrier to entry remains absurdly low, the need for professionalism desperate. If you're funny or interesting, can voice-act well, and produce reliably over the medium term - and you don't quit - there's absolutely nothing blocking you from success."

Uncle Monsterface Blasts Wii Tribute Album

October 25, 2006 5:04 AM | Simon Carless

tjtj.jpg More important breaking Wii news, as follows: "We, Uncle Monsterface, sock puppet rock and roll extravaganza, are releasing an online album dedicated to Nintendo, set to release in tandem with the Wii... and we thought you might find such a crazy endeavor interesting." Us? Never!

Wait, let's read on: "In addition to being a bizarre sock puppet rock band, Uncle Monsterface are a bunch of Nintendo fanboys. And they're gonna prove it... Featuring the full length songs: I'm Sorry (But Your Princess Is In Another Castle); Bring Back the Eggplant Wizard (song for Gunpei Yokoi); and MIYAMOTODE,the album will also feature short songs dedicated to the land of Hyrule (Zelda) and Samus Aran (Metroid)."

It's explained: "The album will release via snocap.com as a download-only purchase with each track costing under $1." But more importantly, Uncle Monsterface have opened for Harry & The Potters, which makes them about as geek-rock as it's possible to be in this day and age - and the early MP3 sample of 'Miyamotode' indicates that we're dealing with some extremely broken minds. Make of this what you will!

COLUMN: 'Parallax Memories' – The Brawler

October 24, 2006 11:57 PM |

Final Fight CD Box['Parallax Memories' is a regular column by Matthew Williamson, profiling classic '16-bit' games from the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and other seminal '90s systems. This week's column profiles Capcom and Sega's Brawlers: Final Fight and Streets of Rage!]

I can't, in this column, talk about God Hand (or any other excellent current game), so I figured I may as well discuss its roots. In the early nineties, brawlers (aka beat-'em-ups or fighters) weren't new; they were a heavily copied formula. Of all of them, two stand out as notable because they were major selling points in what was, at that time, a "next-generation" console war. These games were Streets of Rage for the Genesis (titled Bare Knuckle in Japan) and Final Fight for the SNES.

What these games had was the ability to punch, kick, and hit punks, rockers, and ne'er-do-wells in the face, and other body parts. The primal and visceral act of pummeling someone, especially a bad guy, cannot be matched by jumping on their heads or selecting from menus. Even adding a sword as a permanent weapon completely changes the feel of the attack in these games. That instinctive action of clenching your hand into a fist and tenderizing a body part can only be properly evoked by a direct button hit that brings your rage to life on the screen. Doing this to twenty-five baddies in about one minute only increases the sensation.

ffight.pngFIGHT!

Brawlers are instantly classifiable as cheesy. They're entrenched in (debatably) bad machismo action films from the eighties and late seventies, with a just hint of anime influence. No one attempts to justify why the President was captured or whether you are a bad enough dude to get him back. These are just accepted at face value and have gone into videogame (and film) history as what some people like to call "campy" or even "corny." The game puts you into the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, and Sonny Chiba. We’re not in high-brow territory here.

And what sets Final Fight and Streets of Rage apart is … well, honestly not that much. But they are of the best in the genre, specifically the best of that era. Both have these absolutely ridiculous stories (only heightened by the full voice acting for the Sega-developed Final Fight CD), each one synthesizing about fifteen action flicks. In Final Fight, the mayor's daughter is kidnapped by the evil gang that Mayor Haggar (who is one of the playable characters, mind you) refused to "play ball" with. Streets of Rage involves a group of vigilantes who want to take back the streets from crime that has gone so far as to corrupt even the local police.

Both games have you finding food in garbage cans, fighting punks with outrageous clothing and hairstyles, and temporarily using improvised weapons to get the job done faster. The games also shared the same amount of releases per system, a trilogy for each. There was obviously some brawler-specific competition going on between Sega and Nintendo, even if Final Fight wasn’t a Nintendo property. As the series progressed, they started to come into their own a little more. FF stayed truer to its original form and remained more closely based in reality for setting and enemies. SoR, on the other hand, grew more and more ridiculous. Though by this time these trilogies and completed, most people had already chosen their console of choice, and it was probably made based on Sonic and Mario more than Haggar and Axel.

streets_of_rage_3.gif
Let's Rock!

Slowly, games became more self-aware. They started to make fun of their earlier days, when they were still gaining health from turkeys found in back-alley garbage cans. With the introduction of 3-D, characters became "more realistic," and the Uncanny Valley began separating them further from our empathic desire to feel fist on flesh like we used to. In Final Fight and Streets of Rage, the brawler was at the top of its game; what happen to us gamers to make us stray from it?

It'd be hard to pin down what brawlers did to make people like them less; it's easier to point out what they didn’t do. When most gamers' tastes were changing with in the current and "next" generations, brawlers were short, repetitive, uninspired, clichéd, and corny. Or at least that’s what reviewers were saying they were after their receptive peak. So it's a real shame that when a company decides to bring this kind of game back and fix the genre's problems (well, not the clichéd and corny parts, but those are welcome to stay) with God Hand that many people are going to over look it, too.

[Matthew Williamson is the creator of The Gamer’s Quarter, an independent videogame magazine focusing on first person writing. His work has been featured on MTV.com, 1up.com, Chatterbox Radio, and the Fatpixels Radio Podcast.]

Independent Games Summit @ GDC 2007 Announced

October 24, 2006 7:01 PM | Simon Carless

igf2k7.gif We just posted this up on IGF.com, and it's well worth reposting here:

"Some of you may have spotted the news on Gamasutra that the Game Developers Conference 2007 website is open for business. As part of the new offerings for 2007 is a 'mysterious' new event on the Monday and Tuesday of GDC, called the Independent Games Summit. Well, the description speaks for itself:

'Featuring lectures, postmortems and roundtables from some of the most notable independent game creators around, including many of the Independent Games Festival finalists for this year, the Independent Games Summit seeks to highlight the brightest and the best of indie development, with discussions ranging from indie game distribution methods through game design topics, guerrilla marketing concepts, student indie game discussions, and much more.'

This means that we'll have the Summit on the Monday and Tuesday (March 5th-6th, 2007), and then the Festival Pavilion itself open on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of GDC (March 7th-9th), meaning an excellent few days of indie content for all. We'll be rolling out further specifics on the content and inviting people to speak over the next few weeks. If you have content suggestions/ideas, please contact us - we'd love to hear about them!

[There are also two special new GDC passes to help usher this indie era in, with the IGS Expo Pass, which'll get you into the Summit earlier in the week and then the GDC Expo/Festival area later in the week, for a pretty darn affordable $275 before Jan. 31st. The IGS Classic Pass is also available for those who want to attend all the talks at GDC proper, as well as the Summit.]"

Super Sonic Racing With Jacques, Davis

October 24, 2006 2:05 PM | Simon Carless

tjtj.jpg Thanks to UK PR gem Alison Beasley for relaying the VITAL UKR-relevant information!: "TJ Davis to guest at Richard Jacques gig during GameCity '06." The Iain Simons-organized event is looking pretty smart as it is, but now... wow.

It's explained: "As if it weren't enough that games music legend Richard Jacques was performing exclusively at the launch festival in Nottingham - today GameCity is ecstatic to announce a very special guest star at the event. During the candle-lit recital 'SEGA: A RETROSPECTIVE' Richard will be joined by none other than fellow music legend TJ Davis, thereby forming a collective of legends." OF LEGENDS, we tell you.

"Acclaimed vocalist TJ has worked with artists as diverse as Gary Numan, D:ream and Blur - although she is most renowned in the videogames world for her work with Richard on Sonic R and Metropolis Street Racer. TJ commented, 'I'm so excited to be able to perform with Richard at GameCity. Having performed all over the world with some of the greatest artists, it's a dream come true to finally be performing my videogame work in a 14th Century Church.'"

Here's the ridiculously classic TJ-starring 'Super Sonic Racing' [.MP3] from Sonic R (ta Super Sonic Sanctuary) - good lord, and the official R.Jacques concert page says it's only 5 quid to get in, too.

So really, I'm expecting all GSW readers in Europe to turn up and then send us reports. Except you, Zorg, we've intercepted your plans and will be sending Peter Moore in a ski mask to 'deal' with you.

MMOG Nation: Citizen Spotlight on AFK Gamer

October 24, 2006 9:05 AM |

['MMOG Nation' is a regular bi-weekly column by Michael Zenke about current events in the world of Massively Multiplayer Games. This week's column focuses on a single individual in the MMOG commentary blogosphere, a 'sidebar' column called Citizen Spotlight.]

- As an alternative to my usual commentary, this week (and again in the future) I'm going to be highlighting worthy blogs that deal with Massively Multiplayer games. While even folks not overly interested in the genre may have heard of the likes of Scott 'Lum' Jennings and Raph Koster, there is an entire ecosystem of smaller sites out there well worth investigating.

Today I'm going to highlight some of the best posts from the site AFK Gamer. Foton, the anonymous blogger behind the site, is a talented writer, a funny guy, and a very jaded game hag. Read on for links to the best of AFK Gamer, a short interview with the man himself, and a very worthwhile way to waste a Tuesday.

[Click through for more.]

GameSetCompetition: Win A Game Boy Camera!

October 24, 2006 4:03 AM | Simon Carless

- Aha, it's time for the next GameSetCompetition, and this one is for something I picked up when I was in Japan for Tokyo Game Show - a pristine-ish Game Boy Camera in box, for all your retro several-shades-of-gray picture hilarity!

As you can see if you squint at the above picture (the camera is posed next to my Chinese WoW Coke bottle and various other weird things, yes), Superpotato in Osaka was blowing out Game Boy Cameras for just 200 yen (yep, under $2), so I really couldn't resist picking a couple up. Of course, I have one already (and used to do Game Boy Camera galleries like my life depended on it, until I lost the PC connection cable), so I don't need 'em - so a lucky GSW reader will inherit this one!

The question this time round is pretty simple:

"How many pictures can the Game Boy Camera hold in its titanically large 1 megabit SRAM memory?"

Please send your answers to editors@gamesetwatch.com any time before Monday, October 30th at 12 noon PST. There will be one winner randomly picked from the correct answers, the judges' decision is final, and that's that. Have fun!

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