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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 Indie Games: Clash of the Titans

April 25, 2009 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days, as well as any notable features on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The goodies in this edition include the release of IGF finalist Zeno Clash, a unique 'Spot The Differences' game, a couple of Ludum Dare 14 competition entries, and a game where you play the anti-hero carrying out evil deeds.

Game Pick: 'Zeno Clash' (ACE Team, commercial indie)
"An IGF finalist in the 'Excellence in Visual Art' category, ACE Team's Zeno Clash is now finally available for purchase from Steam and Direct2Drive. This hybrid melee fighting game sure packs a punch, delivering a surreal world to explore and an eccentric cast of characters well-deserving of the award nod. Some may find issues with the storyline and length of the adventure, but for the asking price you won't get anything else quite like it out there in the market."

Game Pick: 'Mind Wall' (Seth A. Robinson, freeware)
"A puzzler similar to Kokoromi's Super Hypercube, where players would have to fit a coloured block through a wall before it is done automatically for them. The shape in play will always appear as a silhouette at the bottom left corner of the screen, and a one-square hole has to be made somewhere on the wall before this shape will pass through successfully. Also available for the Mac OS X."

Game Pick: 'Tombed' (auntie pixelante, freeware)
"Tombed is dessgeega's submission for the Ludum Dare 14 competition, a short game that borrows one or two gameplay elements from Mr. Driller. Danger Jane is on a quest to raid an ancient tomb, but finds herself running away from a ceiling of spikes that threaten to squash her and end her endeavours prematurely. This is where you step in, as the invisible guiding force assisting her with digging through coloured blocks and navigating the winding passages that obstructs her path downwards."

Game Pick: 'Headspin: Storybook' (State of Play Games, browser)
"On the face of it, Headspin: Storybook is basically a 'Spot The Differences' game, but the way it is all presented is rather lovely. Provided with an open book, all the pop-up on the right-hand page must be the exact mirror image of the left-hand page to progress. There's a time limit involved, of course, and clicking each object will make it spin and face the opposite direction."

Game Pick: '(Don't) Save The Princess' (Shen Games, freeware)
"A fair princess has been kidnapped, and the valiant knight has been dispatched by the king to save her daughter. Playing the role of the evil-doer, you must find a way to thwart this hero's efforts and prevent peace from being restored to the land. Magical launching platforms have to be placed all over the screen in an attempt to fling him around, eventually landing in the jaws of your pet monster."

Controllers X-rayed, CAT Scanned

April 24, 2009 8:00 PM | Eric Caoili

For several months now, Dutch radiology technician Reinier van der Ende has been taking x-rays of video game consoles, controllers (like the Nintendo Zapper pictured below), and even carts, posting them online in an online photo set with a simple title, X-Ray Funnies. Perhaps it helps pass the time during those slow nights at the hospital?

NYC artist and medical student Satre Stuelke had the same idea of capturing a controller's internals with medical imaging technology, and did a CT scan on the PlayStation 3's wireless controller as part of a Radiology Art project. As Offworld points out, Stuelke also posted a short video that rotates the DualShock 3 and gives you a 3D view of it.

Full Maps for Super Mario Advance 4's e-Reader Stages

April 24, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

To spice up Super Mario Advance 4, the 2003 GBA port of Super Mario Bros. 3, Nintendo released a series of e-Reader cards which which enabled players to load new stages and power-ups, provided they had a copy of the game, two GBA systems, a link cable, and the gigantic e-Reader+ add-on.

Because of that complicated and expensive setup -- and because different region-specific and region-locked cards were distributed randomly in game bundles and card packs -- it's unlikely that most gamers who picked up Super Mario Advance 4 ever saw all the e-Reader levels, much less played them. It's a shame considering they include elements from Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island, and they're the only Nintendo-designed 2D Mario levels that were released during the decade between Yoshi's Island and New Super Mario Bros.

NeoGaffer Mama Robotnik, however, reminded me that someone ripped and posted full maps of the 30 stages, so that if I want, I can just put my fingertip up to the monitor and pretend it's Luigi jumping through the level and collecting coins. I'm not saying that's something I wasted my entire afternoon doing, only stopping to write this post after I kept dying on one of the Airship stages, but if that turned out to be something I wanted to pursue, the option is there.

In-Depth: Behind the Scenes of Saints Row 2

April 24, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[What went right and wrong in making Volition's hit 2008 title Saints Row 2? The April 2009 issue of sister publication Game Developer magazine explains, straight from the horse's mouth, and here's some choice extracts for GSW readers.]

The latest issue of Gamasutra sister publication Game Developer magazine includes a postmortem of THQ and Volition's over-the-top, open-world crime romp Saints Row 2, written by producer Greg Donovan.

The following excerpts from the piece explain how the Saints Row 2 team coped with feature creep and game instability, ultimately delivering a well-received multiplatform product.

Says Saints Row 2 producer Greg Donovan: "When everything was said and done, the game was localized into 14 languages across 15 separate SKUs. From a purely quantitative perspective, development was a logistical challenge and it would not have been completed without collaboration across many departments and studios."

Carving Out a Unique Identity

Released in Q4 2008, publisher THQ pit Saints Row 2 against a slew of other high-profile video games during the holidays. Donovan was aware that creating an action game that stood out from the crowd of holiday releases was crucial. In this excerpt, the game's producer writes:

Make Your Own Glow In The Dark Space Invaders Lamp

April 24, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Craftster Kris DeGraeve for put up a 16-step guide for creating your own Space Invaders lamp (or chandelier) with glow in the dark aliens, like the piece above. The light source runs on a 9-volt battery, and required a bit of "3D modeling/printing, laser cut acrylic, resin casting, UV reactive pigment, LEDs" and simple wiring to bring it all together.

It sounds like the type of afternoon project that somehow morphs into an entire-weekend affair! Once you've got it working, though, you can slowly sway the lamp side to side, pretending the aliens are approaching the surface of your soon-to-be subjugated end table. Here are some larger shots of DeGraeve's lamp:

Preview Jab Strong Fierce With Over Two Dozen Works

April 24, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

"The Hero" by Christian Ward

As previously posted, the Nucleus gallery in Alhambra, California will host Jab Strong Fierce, a Street Fighter tribute art exhibition opening tomorrow and running until May 11th. The show is sponsored by Capcom, i am 8-bit, Udon Entertainment, and several other companies, and will feature pieces from over 40 talented artists. You can see the full artist lineup and find more details on the event's official site.

Rather than wait for photos and reports from the exhibit's opening night, I've gathered photos for over two dozen of the pieces that will appear at the show, and have collected them here for those of you who want an early look or who won't be able to attend. My favorites are definitely Ward's paintings and Khylov's Japanese bamboo mats, but they're all fantastic. Enjoy!

Interview: Harvey Smith Talks Thinking Big, Getting Small On iPhone

April 24, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Colleagues Brandon Sheffield and Christian Nutt recently caught up with Arkane's Harvey Smith to talk about his work on the recently debuted KarmaStar for iPhone, his current "first-person game with depth" main project, and more.]

Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith has a heritage in titles like Deus Ex and Blacksite: Area 51 in his time with Ion Storm and Midway, but at Austin GDC last year he revealed he was well into developing a strategy title for iPhone as a "side project."

The result was card-based KarmaStar, published by Majesco, and part of Smith's work at the Austin office of the French-headquartered Arx Fatalis developer.

Smith has been publically discussing the cultural transition from large-scale development to a small team on a small -- but deep -- small-platform title, explaining his strategy of always-on video conferencing to keep teams connected.

Now, we catch up with Smith to talk about KarmaStar, possibilities for genre depth on the iPhone platform, distributed development and more:

What were your inspirations, strategy-wise? What card-based titles influenced you?

This side project was an odd undertaking, since I didn't start out with any game template in mind. I think Uno is a classic, I like Munchkin, and once in a while I get hooked by a board game like Settlers of Catan. I played more Chron-X than Magic.

But that's not how KarmaStar came about. It was more abstract and driven by the fact that I just wanted to make a little strategy game for the iPhone.

Mad Dog McCree Returns For Another Grab At Your Money

April 24, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I spent too many quarters on the original Mad Dog McCree arcade game than I care to admit, beguiled by its live-action video and terrible acting. I hated myself everytime I walked away from the machine, knowing those quarters should have gone to a game that deserved it, like Time Killers or Pit Fighter (these games didn't actually deserve my money either).

Substantiating GameFly's rumors that the shooting game would see another release 19 years after its arcade debut, the ESRB has rated Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack, coming to Wii courtesy of Majesco. The title's use of Pack leads me to assume that this will be a disc release that will also include sequels Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold. And here I thought Konami's release of Target: Terror last year was an awful idea.

For some reason, I don't remember these offenses that the ESRB pointed out for its Teen rating: "In [one] scene, a woman says to the camera, 'You're my type, everyone is,' while a man in his long johns (i.e., underwear) moves past her. There is also a reference to "dirty peeping toms" and occasional depictions of women with exposed cleavage."

[Via Penny Arcade Forums]

GameSetLinks: Informing On The Citizen Gamer

April 24, 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.]

As the weekend looms ever-larger, it's time to take another wander around the RSS for our GameSetLinks roundup, starting with Game Informer's chat to seminal Activision co-founder David Crane and friends - always good to see sites talking to the people who made the game biz what it is today.

Also in here - a nice chat with Phil Fish, a random nod to upcoming game-related movie Citizen Game (pictured), a neat article called 'A Thousand Deaths Is A Statistic', and rather more things besides.

It's totally on:

Game Informer: 'Old School: Talking Games With David Crane, Steve Cartwright'
Man, I forget about GameInformer.com sometimes, but they do some really nice features - this one with some seminal Activision devs.

CrispyGamer: 'My Sister Annotates Blazing Prattles Ep. 21'
'I just had the following, unsolicited instant messenger conversation with my 15-year-old sister (pictured, right).' Certainly new, and game-related, and journalistic...

Kotaku - Going Indie: Fez Creator Phil Fish's Moment Of Clarity - fez
'Those IGF nominations didn't hurt. "I pleaded with my boss to let me go to GDC — not even send me there, like they were doing for so many other employees, but just let me go," Fish recalls. "They wouldn't give me clearance to leave." IGF Fez awards or not, Phil Fish, you are not going anywhere. "So I had to quit right there and then," he says. "That's when I became indie. It felt good."'

GI.biz: 'WiiWare threshold misinterpreted // News'
'Earlier this month, it was reported that many indie developers struggled to meet the sales threshold.' To be fair, we actually said - in our original report - that 'at least one' had. So GI/EG is apparently debunking its own inflation? Hee.

Citizen Game - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
'Citizen Game is an upcoming science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. The film stars Gerard Butler as an unwilling participant in an online game in which participants can control human beings as players.' Interesting because they're the Crank creators, and that has a lot of video game references in the credits sequence, etcetera.

Game Informer: 'Indie Week: Day One - What Does It Mean To Be Indie?'
The website of the world's biggest game magazine does a whole week speaking to IGF finalists - v.neat. (Also they speak to me, boo.) Also see Pt.2, Pt.3.

A Thousand Deaths Is A Statistic | Resolution
A really nice article on death in video games for a UK game site that I wasn't aware of, and appears neat. (Via RPS.)

TIGSource forums: Dutch Tv special on GDC/IGF
Hey, v.neat!

Pulsewave April Video Flyer, Show This Weekend

April 23, 2009 8:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Every month, God bless them, New York City venue The Tank hosts Pulsewave, an event focused on "experimental and lo-fi music, with an emphasis on the burgeoning neo/retro art scene around chipmusic." Previous Pulsewave headliners include micromusic giants like Trash80, Starscream, Anamanaguchi, Nullsleep, and Minusbaby to name a few.

With the approach of each show, organizers put out a video flyer with original graphics and music to promote the upcoming party. Appropriate to the audience and Pulsewave's theme, the flyers are presented with 8-bit graphics, like an attract mode or title screen for an NES game. In fact, you can even download a ROM and play the flyer in an NES emulator (or on a real console, if you're one of those odd sorts who have an NES flashcart).

Here's the newest clip, a skyline scene invoking memories of Punch-Out!! and River City Ransom, and advertising this coming Saturday's show, which will feature French acts Je Deviens DJ en 3 Jours and Dr. Von Pnok, as well as Larry (a duo consisting of Graffiti Monsters's Louis Shannon and Anamanaguchi's Ary Warnaar):

You can download the ROM for this piece here.

Seeing as I'm located nowhere near New York City, these nicely produced flyers are the real highlight for me whenever I think of Pulsewave. Programmer Don "No Carrier" Miller codes the slick production, chiptune artist Alex Mauer composes the wistful music, and illustrator Alex "enso" Bond (only 19 years old!) creates the charming graphics.

Bond also runs Pixelstyle, a fantastic Tumblr site celebrating "the aesthetic of pixels, whether from games, demos, original artwork, or anything else."

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