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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 June, 2009

Innex Readying Sega Nomad Successor

June 25, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

The Nomad, Sega's 1995 handheld that enabled gamers to play Genesis/Mega Drive carts on the go, is making a return in the form of Innex's officially licensed Retro Gen. You might recognize Innex as the exclusive U.S. distributor of the recently popularized 3-in-1 Virtual Retro Adaptor for Wii.

Unlike the original Nomad, the Retro Gen includes a build-int rechargable battery via USB and a TV out function [Update: As JP notes in the comments, the original Nomad had TV out as well]. You can also play licensed games that have been downloaded and saved to an SD card using a special development cart, which is also compatible with the company's Sega Genesis clone, Firebox.

One drawback of Innex's portable, though, is that it doesn't allow a second player to plug in a controller, a feature that Sega Nomad owners enjoyed.

Innex showed the Firebox and Retro Gen off at E3, but the only coverage I've seen of them from the event has been online retailer Videogame Central's interview/advertisement with the distributor's vice president Joey Ngoy. Videogame Central is also offering preorders for the products on its site. The Retro Gen is scheduled to ship on July 25th.

COLUMN: Design Diversions : 'Bad Monster, No Biscuit'

June 25, 2009 8:00 AM |

FinalFantasyLegend%28Redbull%29.jpg[‘Design Diversions’ is a biweekly new GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Andrew Vanden Bossche. It looks at the unexpected moments when games take us behind the scenes, and the details of how game design engages us.]

When people ask if video games teach us anything, the answer is yes: they teach us how to be better at playing video games. But games also teach us, sometimes subtly, sometimes accidentally, about game design. The choices of design aren’t usually obvious.

Most of the time, it’s enough that a game is fun, or scary, or dramatic, and it’s better to focus the player on the experience rather than how the experience was created. Sometimes, though, an unusual choice of design breaks this rhythm and makes us suddenly conscious of the conventions we take for granted.

One game that unintentionally shares this information (to its determent, unfortunately) is SaGa, a game marketed in the states as The Final Fantasy Legend. The SaGa series is perhaps best known for becoming progressively more obtuse and bizarre with each iteration. Its beginning on the Game Boy, however, was fairly standard for RPGs of its time, asking the player recruits a party of four to do normal RPG things like kill monsters and find treasure.

But this game gives particular insight into enemy design and its incompatibility with player design through an interesting, though flawed, option for players: it lets you play as nearly any enemy in the game.

Prototypes For The Prototype Big Daddy

June 25, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

To create BioShock 2's protagonist, the first Big Daddy ever created in Rapture, 2K Marin went through many prototypes to convey its unfinished feel. "The artists had to imagine what the very first Big Daddy would have on him -- this Big Daddy had to feel like he was a rough draft or a work-in-progress, an amalgam of Big Daddies to come," the developer explained.

2K Marin has posted several shots from its creation process for the character, similar to its overview of Big Sister's evolution. Above, you can see a "near final concept rendering" of the first Big Daddy. I've also included a couple previews of earlier drafts after the break:

GameSetLinks: Broken Promises, Cheaper Games

June 25, 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.]

Jumping on the midweek GameSetLinks, we're kicking off with a neat GameCulture pointer (you should be reading GameCulture, by the way, it's refreshingly wideranging) on whether the music is getting squashed by games and movies -- as well as digital download issues.

Also in this set of good linkage - games you should care about for the rest of the year, the iPhone 3GS tech explained, why games getting cheaper may be a bad thing, how you can learn things from users of your game, the alleged Wii gathering dust problem analyzed, and more.

Ahead of curve:

A Sinister Plot: Are Downloads Really Killing the Music Industry? | GameCulture
'Rather than suffering precipitous losses to nefarious P2P users, the plot (produced by The Guardian) suggests that music industry has, instead, been squeezed to near-death by its colleagues — games and movies.'

Game Tycoon»Blog Archive » Mending Broken Promises
A very thoughtful (and not really flame-y) editorial on why many Wiis are collecting dust: 'Long story short, Nintendo has made a bunch of promises, explicitly and implicitly, and has failed to actually keep many of those promises.'

Fullbright: games I'm looking forward to
A useful, video-filled, annotated list from Steve Gaynor about upcoming games he cares about.

Mobile Orchard: A Huge Leap Forward: Graphics on the iPhone 3Gs
V.useful essay by Noel Llopis, who's on our GDC Austin iPhone advisory board and is the Game Developer mag code columnist.

The Bottom Feeder: Indie games: Still Too Cheap. Getting Cheaper.
'I have been arguing that these low prices will result in a desolate and uncreative Indie games space. Look at the offerings at the casual portals, and I think you'll see that I have a point.'

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Calling Young Gamers. Share your AHa! Moment!
New non-profit, the Learning Games Network, with an interesting competition.

The Players Are Wrong, But Listen Anyway « Double Buffered
'It turns out that most of the direct feedback you get from users DOES have value, if you just know how to mine it. Anyway, here’s my informal guide to Actually Learning From Users, broken down into helpfully pedantic steps.'

Rusty Dawe Dispels I, Robot's Pacific Ocean Myth

June 24, 2009 8:00 PM | Eric Caoili

The I, Robot rumor that collectors have passed around for years is that due to the arcade game's unpopularity (the title is now recognized by many as years ahead of its time), Atari was able to place close to half of its production run in U.S. arcades.

The remaining machines were allegedly dumped in the Pacific Ocean for some reason or another -- some claim that similar to Atari's E.T. landfill urban legend, the company wanted to rid itself of the machines -- contributing to the rarity of I, Robot cabinets today.

"Not true," says former Atari designer Russel "Rusty" Dawe, according to an interview with Coinopspace transcribed via Rotheblog. "Total myth. I would have LIKED to dump about 500 I, Robot controls into the Pacific -- they were a nightmare, but that didn’t happen..."

Captain Olimar And His Legomin

June 24, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Norwegian Filip Felberg has been building his favorite video game characters with Lego blocks, as bored gamers are wont to do, and his latest project has him recreating the unique cast of creatures from Nintendo's Pikmin franchise.

Felberg did a remarkable job capturing the strange creatures's bug eyes and idiosyncrasies with his colorful figures, and almost all of the characters are easily recognizable. You can see my favorites below and the entire collection so far in his Flickr set.

Opinion: Girls Fart - Gaming At The Anatomical Level

June 24, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In his new opinion piece, following his ruminations on resumes and his advice on 'being a Wiener', Reset Generation/Pocket Kingdom co-creator Scott Foe explains why saying 'games aren't art' is like saying 'girls don't fart.']

Looking back, I was either single-minded or just plain unthinking, but, by the age of twenty-one, I had accomplished the one goal to which I had ever set myself: That first year of legal drinking encapsulated my first day of gainful employment in the games industry. (To be fair, legal drinking doesn't mean very much to someone who has lived in Japan.)

That first day at Sega was even better than the Christmas when Santa forgot that I had handcuffed my baby brother to the towel rack in the bathroom.

I had, count'em, not-one-but-two Dreamcast development kits on my desk - my desk, in my cube, at Sega, where I was going to be making videogames, for profit, and would soon be on a first-name basis with Sonic the Hedgehog. ("Yo! Sonic! What's up hawg?")

And, even better, my co-workers were going to leave me alone for a whole week - leave for some event in Los Angeles called "E3."

Crazy people! Who would want to leave one's very own cube, leave one's very own Dreamcast development kits for sweaty, smoggy Los Angeles? (Little did I know that only there, at E3, could one actually pose for pictures with a real, living, breathing female!)

I was to myself in candy land, the most curious candy being the stack of "Fishing Controllers" sitting right outside of my cubicle wall. It was time to get to work...

Play Him Off, 8-Bit Keyboard Cat Shirt-Wearing Guy

June 24, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If you love Keyboard Cat, specifically the meme's 8-bit rendition by Jude Buffum, I'm sure you are overjoyed to find out that someone has finally developed a way for you to take the feline pianist's image with you wherever you go. Yes, you, too, can wear a shirt of a cat wearing a shirt.

Did you witness your friend trip over a crack in the sidewalk and fall flat on his face? Make sure to smile and stand over him, chest puffed out and hands at your hips, so everyone can admire your foresight in bringing this online phenomenon to the real world.

Did you walk into your girlfriend's bedroom only to find her making out with your best friend? Give them a wink and gesture towards the judging cat on your shirt. Did your parents just admit that they're getting a divorce, and it's all your fault? Imagine their reaction when you unzip your jacket and start humming that famous tune.

Play them off, Keyboard Cat shirt guy. Play them all off until that ache in your heart subsides, and everything that ever hurt is forgotten.

2009 GDC Austin Announces Initial Free-To-Play Centric Sessions

June 24, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[As my colleagues ramp up for GDC Austin this September - I'm helping out with the Indie and iPhone Summits there - they're also adding a bunch of neat content for the main, online-centric Conference. Here's the first fruits...]

Announcing its initial set of lectures, the online game-focused GDC Austin 2009 event has revealed free-to-play centric lectures from Sony Online (Free Realms), Gaia Online and Rebel Monkey (CampFu) for the September conference.

The first set of lectures announced for GDC Austin span the gamut of 'connected games', from traditional high-profile subscription MMOs through free-to-play online games, social network games, and even online components to console games.

The event, to be held September 15th-18th, 2009 at the Austin Convention Center in Texas, now includes six online-centric 'tracks' for the Main Conference, which takes place Wednesday 16th to Friday 18th.

These tracks, which span design, business & marketing, social networking & community, services, programming and production, have some lectures specially focused on free-to-play, microtransaction-powered games. Initial highlights from these include:

Shiva And Lisa 3 Brawls Its Way To PSP, PC

June 24, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

MasterDerico has released Shiva and Lisa 3, the final chapter in its beat'em-up trilogy built with the latest version of OpenBOR (Open Beats of Rage), an open source and moddable game engine inspired by Sega's Streets of Rage series.

Available for PC and PSP, Shiva and Lisa 3 features four characters with over 20 moves each (including specials, super specials, cancels, and more), two story modes with different levels and enemies, a practice mode, and more.

You can download the game and its soundtrack at series fansite StreetsOfRage.net. MasterDerico has also posted an explosion- and combo-filled trailer with an epic soundtrack -- you should watch it at least once!

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