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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 April, 2009

Best of FingerGaming: From Tap of the Dead to Moo Cow Fury

April 28, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Every week, Gamasutra sums up sister iPhone site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and reviewers Tim Lockridge and Louise Yang.]

This week, FingerGaming details a major upgrade for Metal Gear Solid Touch and reports on the release of 12-year-old Nicholas Weintraut's Moo Cow Fury. Featured reviews for this week cover Flower Garden, Tap of the Dead and Oceanic.

- Review: Flower Garden
"Flower Garden encapsulates the best parts of the simulation genre while avoiding its pitfalls. The daily responsibility aspect of its gameplay made me want to keep coming back to unlock more flowers, and the presentation quality is uniquely charming."

- Metal Gear Solid Touch Gets Major 'Complete Version' Upgrade
"Metal Gear Solid Touch 2.0 features eight all-new missions. One of the new stages features a sniper battle with classic series villain Sniper Wolf, while another pits Metal Gear REX against Metal Gear RAY."

Braid's Tim To Be Unlockable in Super Meat Boy

April 28, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Super Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes have big plans for their indie platformer, a PC and WiiWare port of Flash game Meat Boy. Along with the game's new art direction, they expect to include around 100 levels and several multiplayer modes -- co-op, versus, and a four-player party mode.

McMillen revealed earlier this month that he's enlisted 12 independent developers who've donated their characters as unlockables for Super Meat Boy's versus mode, whom players can access by collecting band-aids scattered throughout the game's stages (there may be a PC- or Wii-exclusive unlockable). One of those characters will be Braid's time-tampering protagonist Tim, McMillen disclosed in an interview posted on Wii's Nintendo Channel yesterday.

You can watch the interview, ripped and posted by game weblog GoNintendo, as well as some in-game footage here (the first half of the clip is another Nintendo Channel interview with Ronimo Games about Swords and Soldiers):

GameSetInterview: 'Making Mods and Taking Names: Offtopic Productions'

April 28, 2009 8:00 AM |

TNM%20GSW.jpg[Continuing a GameSetWatch-exclusive series looking at some of the most interesting alternative games, indie titles and mods out there, Phill Cameron sits down with the folks behind epic Deus Ex mod The Nameless Mod -- to discuss the spectacular fan-created add-on.]

Offtopic Productions are the men and women behind The Nameless Mod, a modification of Ion Storm's cult PC title Deus Ex that was in development for seven years before it was released.

That's crazy long even for a commercial release, so for a small group of what started out as enthusiasts managed to keep it together for so long, you know the end product is going to be something special.

Turns out, it was. TNM has received a good amount of critical praise, and an even more respectable amount of downloads in it's first few weeks, numbering in the tens of thousands. This is no small feat for a modding team, and especially for a game like Deus Ex that's been out for quite so long a time. TNM plays on this, setting itself in a forum based around Deus Ex, to allow for satire and wit to ease the players into the gameworld.

I talked to Jonas Waever, Offtopic Productions' lead man, about how it felt to get the game out, how hard it was to make, and whether he thinks it was all worth it:

Girl with a Triforce Earring

April 28, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Taking inspiration from Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, artist Clint Wilson reimagined the eminent painting with Princess Zelda replacing the woman, and lurking creeps and Link's silhouette in the background.

The Triforce over the Hylian's head cover is a bit much, and the earring looks tacky, like something a 'tween would buy at Claire's, but other than those quibbles, it's a neat homage!

The art is available as 24×32 4-color silkscreen prints through online shop Nakatomi, though Wilson only produced 100 signed and numbered copies. There is also a "Gold Cartridge Variant" using all gold metallic ink - only 30 copies of this.

GameSetLinks: Gaming Stances For Victory!

April 28, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's daily link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

Further along the GameSetLinks fun and games for the week, and this set of gorgeous RSS-trawling starts out with the diversification of Way Of The Rodent into a piquant weblog - which may have been around for a little bit, but hey, we catch on slow.

Also hanging in here - a discussion on how to curate video games in a museum context, some quixotic rambling, how MMO server farms work, the slight hipster return again, and more.

Time bandits:

World Champion Stances II - the Revenge! | Daily Rodent
The uniquely cheeky, British Way Of The Rodent web-mag has opened a blog now - and it's pretty good fun, as this post (security guards playing NES games) shows.

Versus CluClu Land: Against my Better Judgement, I Discuss Citizen Kane and Maybe Art
'One of the major problems with this discourse is that the are-games-art conversation almost never goes anywhere.'

Patching the Game (Part III) @ Imaginary Cogs
A multi-part series on actually hosting MMOs in data centers - v.interesting. (Via Zen Of Design.)

Vorpal Bunny Ranch: Quixotic Rambling
Freeform thoughts on games, Don Quixote, and more. Uninhibited game discuss is good, abstractly.

The Cure for Hipsters » PixelVixen707
He's already been joshing at me, now the rpgsbebroke guy gets poked at by an ARG product, intriguingly.

Valuable Games » How to curate video games and interactive media?
'The challenge is fitting an interactive and often social medium into the traditionally hands-off and reserved context of most art museums.'

Super Ultra Baseball 2 English Translation Released

April 27, 2009 8:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Despite its name, Super Ultra Baseball 2 is the fourth entry in the Ultra Baseball series, with the first two games released in the U.S. as Baseball Simulator 1.000 and Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. Translation group VX has put out an English patch that fully translates the 1994 Super Famicom title, also converting metric units to the United States Customary System and correcting minor graphics issues.

The game stands out for its use of ability-boosting power-ups and special moves. Because SUB2 was created without a Nippon Professional Baseball license, it instead features 18 teams spread across three leagues -- Sunny, Paradise, and Ultra. Those actually sound way more fun than the NPB's Central and Pacific leagues.

Developer and publisher Culture Brain intended to release SUB2 in the U.S., but later canceled the localization for unspecified reasons. The studio is still around creating games for the DS, and even recently released Super Choujin Ultra Baseball DS with online support, anime characters, and an NPB license.

[Via RHDN]

Puzzle Kingdoms Sneaks Out For PC

April 27, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Infinite Interactive has released a couple RPG/puzzle hybrids since the unexpected success of Puzzle Quest -- Neopets Puzzle Adventure and Galactrix -- but Puzzle Kingdoms is designed as a return to the Warlords universe that the studio was known for before PQ, with more emphasis on the RPG/puzzle formula's strategy portion.

As with PQ, Puzzle Kingdoms has you matching gems to deal damage and gather mana that can be used for spells against your enemies, except you now command armies instead of a single hero with an ancillary party, and resource management plays a bigger role in deploying your army.

The game is planned for Wii and Nintendo DS, but the PC version is already available online through digital distribution services Direct2Drive and Steam. Though there's no demo, you can preview Puzzle Kingdoms with a short trailer posted on D2D's product page.

"This was news to me too!" said Infinite Interactive head Steve Fawkner, when he found out about the title's availability after fans posted about it on the company's forum. "I thought the PC version was going to be coming out behind the DS and Wii versions."

COLUMN: Chewing Pixels: 'A Tale of Destiny'

April 27, 2009 4:00 PM |

['Chewing Pixels' is a semi-regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column written by British games journalist and Flash game producer, Simon Parkin. Today, a fictionalized account of a real-life tragedy from the heart of Akihabara.]

“IRASSHAIMASE!”

In the fifth minute before he is hit by a rental truck, Kenshin Kitano allows himself a slight nod at the shop assistant’s near-hysterical greeting. Eyes down, he makes his way to the back of the electronics store, around the stack of dusty peripherals for forgotten music games and idiot train simulators.

In the corner there's a set of crumpled, tragic dance mats, all the bright plastic detritus of a long gone Japanese videogame boom.

In the fourth minute before he is hit by a rental truck, Kenshin Kitano makes a beeline for the bargain tray, entertainment platter of the student gamer. Clack, clack, clack, he flicks the cases forward in quick succession, making staccato snap decisions as their titles flit past his eyes: no, no, maybe.

Cracked jewel cases holding broken games: the forgotten work of long-gone studios. If their creators could have seen their creations then as they are now, would they have persevered in making them, he wonders? Probably. Everything and everyone ends up on a bargain tray one day or another, right? Doesn't stop us.

In the third minute before he is hit by a rental truck, Kenshin Kitano’s fingers pause on the second to last jewel case. Tales of Destiny: a middling RPG stacked behind a misfiled two-year-old Idol CD. 200 Yen? With the sidequests he can probably draw it out to sixty hours playtime which works out at, er, nearly 20 minutes per Yen. That has to be the cheapest escapism in all of Tokyo, he congratulates himself.

CosMind Releases Glum Buster

April 27, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

"Cheer up, dear friend, or they may come. And take you where the glum is from." Developer CosMind (Justin Leingang) teased gamers with that rhyme at last year's Independent Games Festival, providing little else to describe Glum Buster. He spent the past four years working on the action-adventure title in Game Maker during his spare time, but has for the most part kept quiet about its release.

CosMind contacted us last night, though, to tell us that he has released Glum Buster to PCs for free under a "charityware" scheme that will send money to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to "helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities."

I won't spoil too much of the game's charm, but Glum Buster features some unique environments and mechanics, and has you controlling a little guy in a raincoat, flying around the screen while using your mouse to shoot light at dark creatures. CosMind described his inspiration for the game in a recent interview with us:

Glum Buster was primarily inspired by the initial play mechanics of the prototype that I built. From there, bizarre as it may sound, it was continually inspired by itself. I was constantly fueled by the development of each component - be it play mechanics and dynamics, graphics, sound effects, functionality, etc.

As a result, inspiration begat inspiration. It was a pretty gratifying reciprocal process, really. Outside of that, the largest inspirations were my constant, thick-as-brick daydreams - I'm pretty much stuck in perpetual daydream - and good ol’ Mama Nature. The decision to make the game stemmed mainly from my desire to learn and work with a new tool set in my free time at home.

You can download the game from CosMind's Glum Buster site.

Gamasutra Expert Blogs: Time to Ditch the Term 'Game'

April 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Showcasing highlights from big sister site Gamasutra's Expert Blogs, industry veterans talk about alternatives to the word "game," classic Treasure shoot 'em up love, and Wii's hardcore gaming conundrum.]

In our weekly Best of Expert Blogs column, we showcase notable pieces of writing from members of the game development community who maintain Expert Blogs on Gamasutra.

Member Blogs -- also highlighted weekly -- can be maintained by any registered Gamasutra user, while the invitation-only Expert Blogs are written by development professionals with a wealth of experience to share.

We hope that both sections can provide useful and interesting viewpoints on our industry. For more information about the blogs, check out the official posting guidelines.

This Week's Standout Expert Blogs

How to Replace Levels In MMOs, Part 3
(Brian "Psychochild" Green)

In part three of a series of posts exploring the alternatives to having character levels in MMOs, Brian "Psychochild" Green proposes a system, inspired by Lord of the Rings Online's "deeds," that throws levels out the window completely.

He argues that there are other methods aside from leveling that can give gamers a sense of achievement, solid pacing and relevant information.

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