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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

Interview: Kill Screen & The Evolution Of Game Magazines

December 24, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this GameSetWatch-first interview, writer Lee Bradley sits down with Jamin Brophy-Warren to discuss the imminent debut of Kill Screen, a magazine that is trying to take a distinctly different approach to print writing about video games.]

"We're so concerned about the minutia that we've missed the much more interesting question of 'how does this game make me feel?'"

Kill Screen is the ambitious new magazine from ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Jamin Brophy-Warren and collaborators such as Chris Dahlen. Launching in January, it's a project that promises a fresh approach to games journalism. Rejecting the established cycle of news, previews and reviews, Kill Screen aims instead to provide literate, thoughtful pieces on the people, culture and meaning of the medium. In Brophy-Warren's own words, "We want to be what early Rolling Stone was to rock n' roll or Wired was to tech. We want to look like the Fader and walk like the Believer." It's an enticing prospect.

To achieve this lofty goal, Brophy-Warren has enlisted an impressive line-up of talent. Kill Screen's 'Issue Zero' boasts the work of writers from the likes of the New Yorker, GQ, The Colbert Report, PopMatters and Paste.

Triumvir Opens Preorders For Shadaloo Psycho Brigade Gear

December 23, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Finally, a new line of clothes to replace my Wu Wear wardrobe! Triumvir debuted its new line of Capcom-licensed clothing for its Shadaloo Psycho Brigade brand. The Shadaloo (not to be confused with "the shoobadoop"), for those of you who don't follow the Street Fighter series' story, is the crime syndicate run by Mr. Psycho Crusher himself, M. Bison.

The gear is similar to Fangamer's more subtle merchandise, opting to present a stylish set of militant apparel with logos alluding to the fictional organization, instead of doing something obvious like slapping a mushroom on the center of a bright green t-shirt, writing in big letters "1UP" underneath the design.

"What I wanted to do with Shadaloo Psycho Brigade was to create an unorthodox approach from the 'video game/anime x clothing line' genre that we are used to seeing here in the USA," explains Triumvir's creative/art director Brian Chen. "... In my opinion it is more about the concept of the Psycho Brigade character than the clothing itself, because the clothing was created for the character."

As a result of the thought put into the items (and the quality of the materials/construction), the Shadaloo hats/vests/shirts/tees/etc. are probably priced higher than what you're used to seeing with video game apparel. The Psycho Brigade “Cold Weather” M-65 Jacket with its Shadaloo unit/flag patches, for example, is $200. Preorders over $100 receive a free Pyscho Brigade Folded Skull Cap, at least.

I've included a few of my favorite pieces from the collection below, but you can see the full line on Triumvir's shop. Orders are expected to ship on January 8th.

Festive Wallpapers, Level Pack For LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival

December 23, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If you're still having trouble getting into a Christmas mood, the European PlayStation blog might have the cure for you: holiday-themed LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival wallpapers for your computer and your PSP. The U.S. PlayStation blog also put out backgrounds for the game, and they're near identical except for one slight difference (see after the break).

While you're thinking of LocoRoco, don't forget that Sony released a new Midnight Carnival level pack in the U.S. with three different stages: Shamplin 3, BungaBongo 1, and BuiBui Fort 3. Even if you don't own the game, you can still buy and play the level pack so long as you first download Midnight Carnival's free PSN demo first. Neat!

The Best Of 2009: Top 5 Game Companies

December 23, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In the latest in big sister site Gamasutra's look back at 2009, Christian Nutt presents a list of the top companies in the business -- and what got them there this 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, and Top 5 Disappointments.]

We've already covered the top five developers of 2009 -- and a fine crop of studios it is. But there's more to the world of games than development skill, and there's more to Gamasutra than recognizing it.

No, in a challenging year and a splintering market, there are several companies that stood out as companies. Some are developers, and some are not -- but the point is that just as studios deserve to be recognized for their fantastic games, so do industry companies that do exceptionally well.

Here's our pick for a list of the top companies influencing the game biz this year, and what made them so vital:

Top 5 Game Companies of 2009 (listed alphabetically)

Apple

Apple has done tremendous things for the game industry this year. While we all now recognize that the iPhone has not been the faultless goldmine that developers hoped for in late 2008, the platform is still empowering real developers to make really interesting games and make real money in the process.

Apple isn't a passive participant in this process, either. While the workings of the App Store can be oblique to the inexperienced, and the approvals process for apps is opaque, the company supports developers by promoting apps not based on budget or ad buys, but quality and buzz. Big hits can come from indies, not just major publishers. And someone at Apple is knowingly promoting games like Tiger Style's Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor and Firemint's Real Racing as "best of 2009" games over shinier, better-marketed titles from bigger companies.

GameSetPics: 2009 Game Company Xmas Cards - Twisted Pixel To Rare

December 23, 2009 10:00 AM | Simon Carless

Well, it's that time of year again where video game companies send out their Christmas cards - some of them very cool, actually - and so here at GameSetWatch, we thought we'd break out the scanner and bring back a holiday tradition - neat game developer Xmas card scanning! (It's nice to showcase the often-custom artwork to the world, especially if it arrives in physical form and isn't posted online anywhere.)

The alert among you may recall that GSW did just this in 2006 and 2007 - lots of cool cards there, and links to other people scanning them. But we skipped it in 2008, partly because we were too freakin' busy - but also because there were lots of other outlets, including C&VG, the folks at Joystiq, and the GamerTell guys on the case.

This year, it seems to have been a lot quieter on the scanning front, but I did find a GamerTell gallery with a number of neat Xmas cards in it. (Comment or ping us if you know of other outlets showcasing cards, or have some you've scanned yourself.)

Anyhow, having pooled the GDC, Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra office's cards for this good cause, we'll be showcasing some of the best cards we got across multiple posts today, tomorrow, and Xmas day. Here goes:

  

The awesome Austin, TX-based indie studio Twisted Pixel, creators of The Maw and 'Splosion Man, sent along this card, complete with 'Season's Meatings' salutations and Splosion Man himself handing out all kinds of slabs of raw flesh for the holidays. Also, if you're going to put hilarious gurning employees and Die Hard references on the back of your card, don't expect us not to scan it, yay:

Famitsu Explains Darius's 'Burst', Hosts Live Zuntata Performance

December 23, 2009 9:00 AM | Eric Caoili

To promote the Darius Burst's release in Japan this week, Taito teamed up with Famitsu to create a page separate from its official site to share details on the PSP game's impressive but expensive preorder bonuses, previews of the bosses, and short interviews with series composer Hisayoshi Ogura and Taito's in-house band Zuntata.

The latest update to Famitsu's Darius Burst site has three new videos demonstrating some of the game's mechanics. In the above clip, you can see why Taito added "Burst" to the game's title, as the burst gauge is a vital feature that helps you quickly eliminate waves of enemy ships and make short work of bosses.

Famitsu actually held an event for the release last night, in which it previewed Darius Burst, showed superplays (expert playthroughs) for Darius Gaiden and G-Darius, interviewed developers, and hosted a live performance from Zuntata. Fortunately, KoshitsuVideo captured some choppy video of the Zuntata portion (the band starts playing around 2:30):

Forever Hero: Segata Sanshiro Figures

December 23, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I'm upset that I came across this video far too late to send it to friends as a Christmas gift suggestion, but I'm holding onto hope that Santa has this blog in his RSS newsreader and will leave a Segata Sanshiro statue in the stocking hung over my fireplace.

Sega Toys manufactured this tribute to the Sega Saturn mascot -- the least they could do after he sacrificed his life to save the company's executives from a missile attack -- some time around 1998. Though the packaging has English text like "He Became Legend" scattered around, I don't think I've ever seen this in any North American shop.

The back of the box reads: "SEGATA SANSHIRO is an authority of justice who guides young men to SEGASATURN Do. He hates to things by halves! In pursuit of SEGASATURN Do, he practices asceticism and keeps challenging various things day and night!!"

The Saturn Junkyard, which stumbled upon the above video, also has photos for another Segata Sanshiro figure, which came with an inflatable bop bag!:

Mobile Castlevania's Soundtrack Saved From The Shadows

December 23, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Castlevania: Order of Shadows has always seemed to me like an odd game in Konami's vampire-slaying franchise, not just because it's the oft-forgotten mobile installment but also because of the people who worked on it.

Though series producer Koji "IGA" Igarashi was involved in its creation, Konami contracted several Western developers to work on the game.

Tyrone Rodriguez, now at Nicalis working on the Cave Story WiiWare remake and Night Game, was the lead designer on Order of Shadows. And Vincent Diamante, who composed the music for Thatgamecompany's acclaimed PSN game Flower, also worked on the mobile title's soundtrack for Konami.

Diamante has uploaded every song he composed and arranged for Order of Shadows online ("delivered by a collection of Roland JV patches"), including a couple tracks that didn't make it on the final game. You can hear the full soundtrack, one of the few saving graces of a mostly panned game, on his YouTube playlist. Highlights below:

Interview: Gaijin's Roush Talks Retro Inspiration, Indie Reality

December 23, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this interview, our own Christian Nutt talks with Gaijin Games art director Mike Roush about the studio's popular retro-inspired WiiWare series Bit.Trip -- now in its third iteration -- the Santa Cruz company's vision, and the indie landscape.]

Mike Roush, director of art at Santa Cruz, CA-based Gaijin Games, has made a splash with the retro-influenced aesthetics of the Bit.Trip series -- Beat, Core and Void -- all released for WiiWare by Aksys Games.

The company, has only three staffers -- Alex Neuse on design, Chris Osborn on programming, and Roush -- yet has shipped three downloadable titles and built a community of fans.

In addition to the series' hip, retro style, we talked to Roush about the company's history, philosophy, and influences -- and how he sees the landscape of the digital download gaming market for indies.

(And if you're looking for more Gaijin, you can read Gamasutra's postmortem of Bit.Trip.Beat, the studio's first game, which ran earlier this year.)

Homebrew DS Remake For C64's The Detective Game

December 22, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Headsoft, the same homebrew team that released Manic Miner In The Lost Levels and Warhawk DS, has completed another unauthorized remake of a classic title: Sam Manthrope and Argus Press Software's The Detective Game, originally published for the Commodore 64 in 1986.

As with the original game, The Detective takes place in London in 1974, placing you in the role of a Scotland Yard investigator looking to solve the murder of a rich aristocrat. While looking for clues at his mansion, you learn that someone is killing off the departed noble's friends, relatives, and employees. To beat the game, you need to collect 10 pieces of evidence and identify the murderer.

The remake features new graphics and music, and is adapted for the Nintendo DS's two screens -- the moving question marks in the second screen seem distracting, though. The group also created new packaging with original art (complete with a "Not Official Nintendo Seal), in case you want to print the designs and decorate a blank game case.

I've included videos from both The Detective and The Detective Game below so you can compare how the games look. You can download The Detective's ROM for free at Headsoft's site, and you can play it in either a Nintendo DS emulator or on an actual system, provided you have a homebrew flashcart device.

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