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Archive For December, 2009

King of Kong DVDs Autographed by Wiebe For $10

December 30, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Donkey Kong's second highest scoring player Steve Wiebe is running a limited promotion for his newly released debut album, The King of Song, an 11-track Christian music collection of songs like "Pilot In My Soul" and "A Song For The World".

If you buy the $9.95 (shipping included) CD online before January 1, 2010, he'll include a free signed DVD copy of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, the documentary following his attempt to take Donkey Kong's high score record from current holder Billy Mitchell, with your order "while supplies last".

You can preview all of the tracks from The King of Song through his online shop. If you don't really need the DVD but want to buy his music in a digital format, you can also purchase them through iTunes.

[Via dchrisd]

Best Of Indie Games: Let's Do the Cha Cha at El Dorado

December 30, 2009 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog co-editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days 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 a physics-based remake of the classic Oregon Trail, a short adventure game from the prolific Ben Chandler, a pair of submissions for the Experimental Gameplay Project's art game theme, a one-switch arcade game for the Christmas holidays, and a tactical defence game from the developers of Closure and Fig. 8.

Here's the highlights from the last seven days:

Game Pick: 'Let's Go Find El Dorado' (Justin Smith, freeware)
"Let's Go Find El Dorado is a physics-based remake of Oregon Trail, made by Justin Smith (Enviro-Bear 2000) as an entry for the 16th Ludum Dare competition. Your objective here is to guide the family wagon to the city of El Dorado safely, and to achieve this goal you will have to navigate treacherous mountain range, cross polluted rivers, and brave the dangers of visiting native tribe camps that might assist or impede your journey to the promised land."

Game Pick: '!' (Ben Chandler, freeware)
"! is a game about !, Robot, and his assignment to finding the missing town monument. Count Can't has stolen it for his own nefarious schemes, and the mayor wants you to get it back before his afternoon golf session is over. Like Ben's other releases, this adventure game is short in length and can be completed in under twenty minutes."

Game Pick: 'We The Giants' (Peter Groeneweg, browser)
"We The Giants is a 2D platformer which took Peter Groeneweg five days to put together, though most players will probably spend less than ten minutes to reach the end of the game. It is recommended that you stick around for the credits, as anyone who completes the short adventure will receive a small (if unsubstantial) reward for their efforts."

Game Pick: 'Earth' (Alexis Andre, freeware)
"Earth is a Space Invaders-type shooter with a message, made for the Experimental Gameplay Project's art game theme. Besides playing the game in the conventional way, the developer has included optional methods to complete your mission as well. This experimental project isn't going to appeal to everyone, but it does fits the bill perfectly as an installation in a Space Invaders-themed art exhibition."

Game Pick: 'Dracula Cha Cha' (Lobo, freeware)
"Dracula Cha Cha is a one-switch game created by Lobo for the year-end festive season, in which you play a cheery vampire who goes on a quest to collect presents and gifts. You have sixty seconds to grab everything and reach the finish flag, and if that's not enough you can also earn extra seconds by picking up mystery gift boxes or scoring combos."

Game Pick: 'Tetraform' (Tyler Glaiel and Greg Wohlwend, browser)
"You'll need to keep your wits about you if you're going to achieve a decent score in Tetraform, a tactical defence game from the brilliant minds of Tyler Glaiel and Greg Wohlwend. It's your job to protect 'that geometric thing in the middle' by selecting enemy ships and crashing them into each other, while building up your planet with powerups."

Atari Chips Reconstructed

December 29, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Using data recovered from Atari's original reel-to-reel tapes sent to chip design firms decades ago (pictured), Atari Museum's Curt Vendel has been working to reconstruct several of the company's proprietary chips such as the GTIA (used in Atari's 8-bit computers and 5200), the MARIA (Atari 780), and the TIA (from the Atari 2600).

"The effort has been successful for the most part and several of Atari's proprietary chips are coming back to life in simulation," says Vendel. "Now we need to see if they can be recreated in a [chip frabricator] at a reasonable cost. What is the potential of this? Doing the chips in smaller SMT packaging, and potentially bringing back to life some of the later CMOS designs of combo chips which could lead to a SoC - System on a Chip."

I don't understand all the technical details of Vendel's achievements, but he explains, "The future just got a little brighter in terms of preserving and continuing the legacy of Atari's custom IC chips." You can follow the discussion about reconstructing the chips at the Atari 8-bit Computers Forum, where you'll also see several high-resolution images of the chips (resized versions included after the break).

Genetos Takes You Through Shoot'em Up History

December 29, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Tatsuya Koyama's Genetos starts off as a basic fixed shooter, giving you a cannon to push around the bottom of the screen and fire at advancing rows of Space Invaders-esque aliens. By the final stage of the game, though, you're dodging thousands of bullets while darting across the stage to shoot streams of enemy-seeking lasers at ridiculously designed bosses.

Genetos, which saw its 1.00 version released last week, is designed to take you through the evolution of shoot'em ups, updating your ship to handle the challenges introduced with each level/generation. In the third stage, for example, your ship receives the ability to drop bombs (along with its increased firepower) to deal with the dozens of enemies filling the screen.

You can download the PC game for free and see screenshots at Genetos's official site.

[Via Shmuptacular]

Q&A: West Meets East: Makoto Shibata On Quantum Theory

December 29, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Director Makoto Shibata (Fatal Frame) talks to our Christian Nutt about the inspiration for his West-targeted PS3/Xbox 360 shooter Quantum Theory, and details Tecmo's internal development process and plans.]

Tecmo has been one of the most consistently successful Japanese developers in appealing to a Western audience -- with its Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden franchises, as well as the lesser but notable success of its cult survival horror franchise Fatal Frame. This is so true that Koei Tecmo president says he sees Tecmo as the part of the merged company which will teach Koei how to appeal to Westerners.

Makoto Shibata, director of the company's upcoming Quantum Theory, worked on the Fatal Frame games but now has a bigger mission: to create a third person shooter that can appeal to a broad Western audience, not a select one.

A fan of Western games and a man with an eye for detail, he's serving up a PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 title which seems to owe a great deal in inspiration to Western titles -- particularly Epic's Gears of War.

The game does have a Japanese sensibility, too -- your AI partner isn't another lumbering soldier, but a lithe female warrior who dashes in for Devil May Cry-style combo attacks. Shibata calls out Japanese games -- Resident Evil 4 and his company's own Ninja Gaiden -- as influences.

Two years into its development, the game is due early next year. We tracked down Shibata and discussed the development processes and technical decisions Tecmo made with the title, and its influences and aims:

8static Rewarding Donations With Chip Music CDs, Shirts

December 29, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Though 2009's Blip Festival, arguably North America's biggest chip music event, is now behind us, that doesn't mean you'll have to wait another year for another concert featuring video game hardware as instruments. There are lots of smaller shows popping up all the time, and don't forget about monthly events like Pulsewave in New York City and 8static in Philadelphia.

In fact, 8static is looking to raise some money to fund its performances, free workshops, and open mic sessions. Visual artist Don "No Carrier" Miller launched a project at donation-ware platform Kickstarter looking to bring in $2,000 to buy a subwoofer, on-stage monitors, and a projector. He points out that local artists and fans have pieced together some of the equipment, but they still "need dedicated gear for the future of *static."

As incentives, 8static organizers are offering exclusive MP3 compilations of unreleased tracks by local chip artists, CDs from Alex Mauer and Animal Style, T-shirts designed by Animal Style and Enso/No Carrier, pixel art prints featuring Enso's art shown at Ready>Run, Animal Style's Teletime cartridges, glitchNES 0.2 cartridges, Pro-sound modified Game Boys, and more depending on the size of your pledge.

8static has already received more than $1,400 pledges toward its $2,000 goal with 45 days to go, so it's likely the project will reach it's target soon. Even if the project hits its goal before you have a chance to donate, though, you can still pledge money to collect one of the rewards.

Send A Belated 8-Bit Xmas NES Cart To Friends, Family

December 29, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

After reading about Sivak Games's Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril, the homebrew Mega Man-esque game releasing for NES next month (trailer, demo ROM ), I checked RetroZone to see if the online shop is taking preorders and discovered another neat NES cartridge that I wish I knew about weeks ago.

RetroZone's 8-Bit Xmas 2009 cart features a four-player homebrew game called Snowball Fight, which is pretty straightforward: throw as many snowballs at your friends as you can before the time runs out. What really separates this from traditional NES cartridges, though, are the LEDs installed in the clear shell and the option to add in-game custom text messages/player names.

Ordering one of the personalized carts will run you around $48 before shipping ($43 without the messages). The package includes a black dust sleeve for the cartridge and a printed Christmas card with a pin-up style cover. Though December 25th is already past, Retrozone is still taking preorders until the 31st. You can also download a free ROM for Snowball Fight from 8-Bit Xmas 2009's product page.

Cryptologic's Online Slot Game Cinematics

December 29, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Despite the wide range of video game topics we cover here, I don't think we've talked about online slot games much (probably for the best, as it reduces the amount of spam comments from online casinos). This video slot cinematic comes from a collection of clips recently uploaded by producer/composer Frank Baudille, who specializes in the audio design for these games.

Cryptologic, one of Baudille's clients, has purchased licenses to create online slot games based on a number of properties: Marvel Comics characters (The Incredible Hulk, X-men), DC Comics characters (Wonder Woman, Superman), Paramount Pictures films (Forrest Gump, Brave Heart), and even video games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Street Fighter IV.

The descriptions Cryptologic uses for its branded games, tying their slot mechanics into the licenses, are entertaining:

"Forrest Gump says that life is like a box of chocolates and the same holds true for the new 25 line Forrest Gump slot machine. You never know what you're gonna get... a big payout or one of three bonus features including the smashing new 5-level Hollywood Jackpots. It all goes together like peas and carrots, just like Jenny and Forrest in the newest 25 line branded, jackpot slot game from Cryptologic."

I've included a couple more videos and descriptions below for Cryptologic's Batman and Braveheart online slot games:

GameSetLinks: The Hidden Side Of Crash

December 29, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's semi-regular 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.]

Continuing the GameSetLinks goodness as the holiday season wanders onward, here's a few new links for your delight and browsing pleasure, including - as a starting points - some good work by Retro Gamer in recapping the history of Crash, a seminal early UK game magazine.

Also in this set of links - ten years of Penny Arcade, Kim Swift looks back on pre-Portal student title Narbacular Drop, an interview with Christian gaming veterans, some NES game covers you might not have seen before, and various other bits of neatness.

Good good:

25 Years of Crash | Official Retro Gamer Blog
The classic UK ZX Spectrum magazine gets interviews, video excerpts - the full thing is in the Retro Gamer mag, but this on its own is great history. (Via Driph.)

Crispy Gamer | Intern for a Day, Vol. 3: Ready at Dawn
'Can Jones get hired by the team behind God of War: Chains of Olympus?' I do think more of these slightly gonzo antics would be nice, in game writing.

Critical Distance | Ten Years of Penny Arcade
Nice, link-filled retrospective on the game culture mavens.

Narbacular Drop Interview | PC | Eurogamer
Totally cute Kim Swift interview from John Walker - more fripperies like this, plz.

The Bottom Feeder: Why the People on Your Side are Always Ripping You Off.
Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel on why you have to pay people to do things in games - v.funny.

Paul McCauley - Genesis Works - Interview - Adventure Classic Gaming
'Heaven is the first adventure game project from Genesis Works and is a literal adaption of Heaven as described in the Bible.'

1UP's Retro Gaming Blog : Lost Levels: The Hidden Gallery of NES Secrets
Frank Cifaldi is showcasing his awesome preservation work on 1UP - bravo to all concerned.

Play Robotube/Gaijin Games's Bit.Tonik

December 28, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

As the two studios promised it would, Gaijin Games and Robotube posted a playable Flash version of the game the developers created together in just 18 hours during Blip Festival 2009. Titled Bit.Tonik, it plays like a combination of Gaijin's Bit.Trip series and Robotube's Bloktonik, using assets and ideas from both to create a Breakout-style puzzle game.

Robotube's Jason Cirillo admits that the game is far from complete, as it has no game over screen, includes a "crotch bug", features an incomplete scoring system, doesn't fully integrate chip musician Glomag's score/sound effects, and needs a lot of polish. He says this is all because the game was released exactly as it was when the "Battle of the Brands" event ended.

Cirillo adds that Robotube and Gaijin plan to further develop Bit.Tonik and will also release a video diary from the event, a postmortem, and other "special little secret treats." You can play the game on Robotube's site.

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