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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 December, 2009

GameSetLinks: The Pixel Skill Ceiling

December 26, 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 with these recently dredged set of GameSetLinks going back a few weeks, we kick off with author Steve Poole's set of the top games of the decade, always a nice starting point for an ensuing apocalypse of commentary - there's one of those lists coming up on Gamasutra next week too, uhoh.

Also in this set of links - Tynan Sylvester on the concept of the 'skill ceiling' in games, more info on the almost completely mythical, MST3K-related Darkstar, Edge on the making of the MUD, and lots more things besides.

Advanced technology:

Steven Poole: Colossi
'Everyone seems to be compiling lists of the best games of the decade, so here, with minimal special pleading or argumentation is mine'

Tynan Sylvester: Skill Ceiling
'People talk about the depth of games a lot, but it’s tricky to figure out exactly what that means. I’ve been thinking about a new way to measure the depth of games. It’s the Skill Ceiling.'

...on pampers, programming & pitching manure: iPhone TouchPets post-mortem talk at PAGDIG
Some really interesting figures in here: '850k people have downloaded and connected. Peak server load has been about 25k people.' More than that playing at once (doesn't connect all the time.)

Satellite News - The official Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan site » Darkstar Survey
The 9 years in production MST3K-related game coming out soon? With console versions to follow? We'll see, eh?

Apocalypse POW!: Warning: This Game Is Canon
We've mentioned these before, but I never mind linking to Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden - and one of the co-creators' games is entered in the IGF this year.

My 10 Best Gaming Moments of the Decade « Save the Robot – Chris Dahlen
Hey, I'm involved in one of them - neat!

The Making Of: MUD | Edge Online
Nice historical piece.

Download Videogaming Illustrated Issues

December 25, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Video games collector site Digital Press has started posting downloadable PDF issues from Ion International's early 80s magazine Videogaming Illustrated. The bi-monthly publication debuted in August 1982 under several variations of its original title (Videogaming and Computer Gaming Illustrated, Video and Computer Gaming Illustrated) before that magazine was killed off in March 1984.

The selection of PDF images is still incomplete, but you can already grab seven different installments full of classic video game advertisements, previews, and feature articles like "Astronaut Defends Videogames" (April 1983) and "The Videogame Which Takes Six Months To Play" (Dec. 1982). You can download the Videogaming Illustrated issues here.

[Via Stonic]

GameSetPics: 2009 Game Company Xmas Cards - WB to Namco

December 25, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

After the first and second parts were posted pre-Xmas, we're finishing up (for now!) our round-up of the most fun game publisher and developer 2009 Christmas cards we got into the offices of GDC, Game Developer magazine, and Gamasutra.

Reminder: our full Xmas card archives, including cards from 2006, 2007, and 2009, are available on GameSetWatch. We took a break in 2008, but the C&VG folks, the Joystiq chaps, and the GamerTell guys were on the ball last year.

[UPDATE 2: There's still a GamerTell gallery with 2009 cards, but Kotaku just posted a bunch of 2009 holiday cards they got, including some we don't have up - thanks, Stephen and Kotaku folks. Also, Crispy Gamer rounded up a number of the electronic cards, and 1UP has photos of their cards.]

In any case, here's the third and final Xmas set for 2009 - we'll round up stragglers and Japanese New Year cards in the, uh, New Year:


The Warner Bros. holiday card showcases their move into games with a bunch of their franchise characters, including those from Batman, F.E.A.R., Scribblenauts and the Lego games, hanging out and playing a cute retro game featuring... themselves? Blimey.

Virtual Tours For R-Type: Flash of the Void

December 25, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Irem Corporation recently introduced R-Type: Flash of the Void, a 3D minigame version of its 2D shoot'em up franchise, to its online lounge in Japan's PlayStation Home. For those of you who haven't had a chance to check it out but are still curious about the attraction, Psyvariar has posted a photo tour of the minigame and Irem's virtual space.

Along with exploring the hangar of R-Type ships and the official gift shop, the photo set includes shots of Irem's festival area and the prizes you can win there. One of the prizes is a virtual R-Type fighter model that you can display in your PS Home apartment! It's not as impressive as the real thing, but it's much cheaper!

If moving images are more your thing, I've also embedded a three-minute video from R-Type: Flash of the Void below:

Doctor Popular's Hackedivision Pitfall Cover Art

December 25, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Illustrator, game designer, and professional yo-yoer Brian "Doctor Popular" Roberts created this watercolor and ink remake of Activision's Atari 2600 cover art for Pitfall. Inspired by the comic book recreations at Covered, he added a few details like the broken ladder rung, underground human remains, and the scorpion's lobster claws, while keeping the art as colorful as the original.

"Pitfall was one of my earliest video game addictions," says Roberts. "As a longtime fan of the 'platform game' genre, I’ve always considered Pitfall to be the godfather of the genre. Although it’s not technically the oldest side-scrolling game, I feel that modern platformers more closely resemble Pitfall than Donkey Kong. The art on all the classic Activision games were great and usually worked the Activision rainbow into the art in interesting ways."

He continues, "I particularly like the art on the Pitfall package and enjoyed having an excuse to study it more. One of the surprising things about this classic cover is that the protagonist is the least interesting thing on the whole image. I doubt that was on purpose, so I was glad to add a little more depth and excitement to our swinging hero."

Roberts says he painted the piece over a week's worth of BART rides, but you can hardly tell it was painted on a train! You can compare his version with the original below:

Best Of 2009: Top 10 Games Of The Year

December 25, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Closing out big sister site Gamasutra's look back at 2009, its staff presents a list of the top 10 games of the year. Previously: Top 5 Biz Trends, Top 5 iPhone Games, Top 5 Controversies, Top 5 PC Games, Top 5 Handheld Games Of 2009, Top 5 Console Downloadable Games, Top 5 Major Industry Events, Top 5 Developers, Top 10 Indie Games, Top 5 Disappointments and Top 5 Game Companies.]

No year-end retrospective would be complete without a look back at the top games. Gamasutra staff together selected what we feel were the finest, most groundbreaking and impressive games of 2009.

Our individual staffers also chose honorable mentions, personal picks that didn't fall within our group top ten, but that we nonetheless wanted to single out.

Without further ado, we present our Top 10 Games of the Year:

10. Retro Game Challenge (Namco Bandai, Nintendo DS)

Retro Game Challenge isn't really just one game. It's a compilation of brand new retro games wrapped in a clever metanarrative that traps the player in 1980s Japan, forced to master a slew of cartridges. The games start basic but reach the NES' early '90s peak -- starting out with classic arcade titles and culminating in Haggleman 3, a ninja action game with the complexity (and quality) of later era NES games like Castlevania III or Ninja Gaiden II.

Clash of Heroes's Rare Alternate Title Screen

December 24, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

After years of working on mobile and downloadable titles, Toronto-based indie studio Capy put out its first retail release this month, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes for the Nintendo DS, but there's one special build for the addictive puzzle/RPG game that you won't find in stores.

According to one of the game's developers, his 5-year-old loved the game so much that he drew a title screen for the game. "He's been a big fan and a great tester, so I decided to make a special build with his drawing," says Buckets. "With a little help exporting the art from [Capy president and co-founder Nathan Vella], we were able to play what is arguably the best version of Clash in existence!"

As you can see below, the alternate art is an epic piece. It's a shame it wasn't included in the final build.

GameSetPics: 2009 Game Company Xmas Cards - Denki To Hudson

December 24, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

After yesterday's start, we're continuing to round up the most fun game publisher and developer 2009 Christmas cards we got into the offices of GDC, Game Developer magazine, and Gamasutra. Why? We think scanning them and making them available online is a neat Xmas-y thing to do. And we're pretty much game nerds, so we love the custom artwork.

Reminder: our full Xmas card archives, including cards from 2006, 2007, and 2009, are available on GameSetWatch. We took a break in 2008, but the C&VG folks, the Joystiq chaps, and the GamerTell guys were on the ball last year. This year, there's a a GamerTell gallery, but please comment or ping us if you know of other outlets showcasing cards, or have some you've scanned yourself.

In any case, let's get straight on with this second (of three) sets of Christmas cards from various friends and colleagues throughout the world:


The fine folks at Scottish indie developer Denki, currently making the wordgame-tastic Quarrel for Xbox Live Arcade, went for a special card featuring one of the in-game characters (we discover when opening the card!) peering through a Christmas tree, with bonus Scrabble-y holiday greeting writing.

Hydorah For The Holidays: Shoot'em Up Demo Released

December 24, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Spanish indie developer Locomalito (8bit Killer) released a PC demo for Hydorah, his upcoming horizontal-scrolling shoot'em up inspired by classic shmups, not just in its 16-bit style graphics but also in its design. This preview build only includes the game's second level (one of 17 stages), but the absence of a checkpoint system should give you enough challenge to make this last a bit.

Locomalito says the final release will feature "short and intense levels, fantasy spacial landscapes, unlockable weapons, secrets, and a large library of enemies and bosses." Though Hydorah was obviously influenced by similar titles like Gradius and R-Type, the developer says he also took some design cues from non-shmups like Castlevania and Turrican.

You can download Hydorah's free demo from Locomalito's site, where you'll also find a dozen screenshots for the title.

[Via IndieGames.com]

Masters Of The 8-Bit Universe

December 24, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Jude Buffum, whose pixelart we've featured here many times before, created this "Battle Bones" piece for Gallery 1988 and Mattel's upcoming "Under the Influence: Masters of the Universe" show, opening January 8th in Los Angeles. The tribute will display re-interpretations of He-Man and friends from more than a 100 artists.

"As a product of the eighties, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a big part of my childhood, so I was super excited to be a part of this show," explains Buffum. "One thing I love about the characters is that they are so iconic and colorful that they can be reduced to very few pixels and still read."

Gallery1988 sometimes sells limited edition prints of artwork it's shown in its galleries -- perhaps there will be an opportunity to buy one of "Battle Bones" once the show's ended?

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