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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 February, 2010

Retro Gamer, GamesTM Issues Now On iPhone

February 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Despite its focus on the past, Retro Gamer is looking to current technologies to keep the magazine alive, and is now available on the iPhone. Fans of the publication can download a Retro Gamer Magazine app for $1.99, read the latest issue, and buy back issues for $4.99. There are also options for purchasing 6-month ($21.99) and 1-year ($49.99) subscriptions.

Those of you in the U.S. who've spent crazy bucks on subscriptions or single issues at Barnes & Noble will immediately notice that it's much cheaper than the crazy prices you've been paying for import copies. I wonder if Retro Gamer will be able to get its Videogames Hardware Handbook on the digital store? I spent $20 for that "bookazine" last month.

Those of you who scoff at the idea of reading the magazine on such a small screen (dismissing its zoom, scan, and bookmark features), keep in mind that this will be even better on the iPad! In fact, this is now my primary reason for wanting the Apple device now: cheaper issues of Retro Gamer. All it requires is an initial $499 minimum investment.

GamesTM, another UK-based magazine from Imagine Publishing (which is working with PixelMags for these apps), also has a $0.99 app for the iPhone with an option to buy back issues.

[Via Retro Gamer]

GDC 2010 Adds Civilization V, Hecker, Harmonix Talks

February 24, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

[It's insane that there's less than two weeks to go to GDC 2010, and my colleagues on the show are still highlighting a few last-minute neat talk additions - here's the first set.]

As the Game Developers Conference 2010 pre-show registration deadline approaches, organizers have confirmed talks from Spore's Chris Hecker and The Beatles: Rock Band's UI director, as well as a premiere of Civilization V's engine tech.

The near-final additions are helping to round out the March 9-13 event at San Francisco's Moscone Center, which includes two days of summits -- spanning iPhone, indie, social games and more -- and three days of main conference content.

In particular, the freshly highlighted lectures for the show (organized by this website's parent company) include the following notable talks:

- Presenting a lecture called "Achievements Considered Harmful?", former EA fellow (Spore) and current Spy Party developer Chris Hecker tackles an intriguing angle on a major trend: "Achievements, awards, and rewards are ubiquitous in games these days... Unfortunately, more than 50 years of psychology research seems to indicate achievements may be doing subtle but irreparable harm to players and their feelings about playing games."

- In the sponsored lecture "Firaxis' Civilization V: A Case Study in Scalable Game Performance", Firaxis, 2K Games, and Intel "present the world premiere game engine and technology sneak peek of Civilization V, launching this fall." Along the way, according to the talk, "you'll learn how Firaxis developers have used the newly released GPA 3.0 PC platform tools and Threading Building Blocks to offer Civ V playability on myriad systems."

Valet Hustle Raises Gay/Lesbian Rights Awareness On iPhone

February 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

While Valet Hustle initially seems like a standard Diner Dash-style game in which you park cars and pick up customers outside of nightclubs and restaurants, developer Factory Games took an interesting approach to the story for its debut iPhone game: both of its playable characters, Ren and Akira, are gay.

The two protagonists both have wealthy Japanese businessmen as fathers, and both were expelled from boarding school after they were caught kissing another student of the same sex; upon hearing the news, their respective fathers order them to take over the family's parking valet company. As players progress through the game's levels, they'll learn more about Ren and Akira's personal lives.

The game features an electronica soundtrack (with an option for custom tracks), 3D cutscenes, and six levels set in Tokyo and New York. As an added bonus, Factory Games is donating a portion of the proceeds from Valet Hustle sales to the Human Rights Campaign, which is devoted to campaigning for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.

"It's cool to have been involved in the creation of Ren and Akira, two characters who triumph over prejudice by simply being themselves," says Lulu Magdangal, who served as the story development consultant on Valet Hustle. "I can only hope that Valet Hustle is the start of a trend and more game companies embrace both the gay and lesbian communities."

Sound Current: 'Kenji Kawai - Game and Anime Intersections'

February 24, 2010 12:00 PM | jeriaska

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' video game interview series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska talks to acclaimed Japanese film and game composer Kenji Kawai about his work on soundtracks spanning Folklore for PS3 in the game space, through Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and The Sky Crawlers in the film domain.]

Among anime film composers working today that also write music for videogames, Kenji Kawai is among the most internationally recognized. For instance, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, for which he wrote the score, was the first animated film to be a finalist for the Palme D'Or award.

The film is one in a series of collaborations with director Mamoru Oshii, which includes the anime motion picture The Sky Crawlers. A game adaptation for the Wii, titled Innocent Aces, has recently been localized by Xseed, featuring a game score by sound studio MoNaca.

Kawai's contributions to videogame soundtracks include 2007's Folklore for Playstation 3, a collaboration with Hiroto Saitoh and SuperSweep musicians Shinji Hosoe and Ayako Saso. His most recent film Assault Girls, which opened in Tokyo last month, takes place within a virtual reality game environment.

In this interview following the reception of Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces in North America, Kawai offers his perspectives on the intersection between music for Japanese animated films and videogames, based on his own experiences writing scores for both media.

Best Of GamerBytes: An In-Depth Look At January Sales

February 24, 2010 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

bladekittenupdater.jpg[Every week we round up the top news and interviews of the last week from console digital download site GamerBytes, featuring new information about Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, DSiWare and PSN Minis.]

A bit of a quiet week this week. In fact, only 2 major news stories made it out - the fact that Midway's XBLA titles have been removed, and Krome Studios have announced a new title for the PlayStation Network.

But that allows us to have full view of our monthly analysis of Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network sales. To find out what did well last month, give them a look.

Gamerbytes Originals

In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, January 2010
In-Depth: North American PlayStation Network Sales Analysis, January 2010

Store Updates
XBLA Update - P.B Winterbottom, Plus Cheap Battlefield 1943
NA PSN Store Update - Cheap Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, PSOne Games And More
EU PSN Store Update - Wounded Dragons, Alien Zombie Death, Minis Month, Deals Galore And More
NA Nintendo Update - Ace Attorney 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Prehistorik Man, Scrabble Classic And More
EU Nintendo Update - Flight Control, Phoenix Wright, Tales Of Monkey Island 5 And More

Microsoft (Xbox Live Arcade, XBL Indies)

Midway Titles Removed From XBLA
You cannnot download Ultimate Mortal Kombat III anymore.

Sony (PlayStation Network, Minis)

Blade Kitten Episodic Platformer Announced For PlayStation Network
"Krome Studios has announced that their title Blade Kitten will be released this spring in an episodic form, heading exclusively to the PlayStation Network."

Crystalis Cover And Other Game Boxes Remade

February 24, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Similar to Covered, the popular blog in which artists redraw classic comic book covers in their own style, illustrator Lamar Abrams has re-created several boxes for Japanese video games, adding a lot of his playful personality to the serious covers.

Here we have his update of the NES packaging for SNK's forgotten NES RPG Crystalis (larger version after the break); the green monster lurking in the background is my favorite of the re-imagined elements. Video game comic community Life Meter has several more Abrams pieces for titles like Soul Blader (a.k.a. Soul Blazer in the U.S.), Time Soldiers, and Kaizou Choujin Schbibinman 2. More, please!

505 to Zoe Mode: You're the One That I Want (to Develop the Grease Wii Game)

February 24, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Italian publisher 505 Games announced its choice for the developer of its upcoming Wii game based on iconic film/musical Grease: Zoë Mode, the Brighton-based Kuju Entertainment subsidiary. 505 also revealed Big Head Games (Elefunk) as the studio behind Grease's Nintendo DS edition.

Zoë Mode seems like a perfect choice for the project, as it has a long history of working on music-based titles like Singstar (Rocks! and Pop Hits), Guitar Hero song packs, Disney Sing It, Dancing With The Stars, and most recently XBLA charity game Chime.

Neither 505 or Zoë Mode have revealed much about the licensed game save that it will "take fake full advantage" of the Wii's motion-sensing controls and microphone (not sure if they mean Wii Speak or a third-party accessory) for casual/family-targeted gameplay. As long as there's a scene in which we can serenade Frenchy with "Beauty School Drop Out" as an angelic Frankie Avalon, we're good.

"Grease is an iconic brand that has spanned generations and we are thrilled to be charged with the responsibility of bringing the Grease legacy to a new medium," says Zoë Mode's General Manager Ed Daly.

Men's Panic: Cho Aniki Zero Music Videos

February 24, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

As Aksys prepares the digital download-only PSP release of Cho Aniki Zero for North America this Spring, "neo psychedelic rock band" IDATENTAI put out this animated music video in Japan for the lead single off its album for the testosterone-filled shoot'em up.

The animated video stays true to the Japanese series's wackiness with semi-nude, brawny men flying around and a live action cameo of oiled up hunk "TopGun Tom". There's even an exercise video version for the promotional song (after the break) that features TopGun Tom performing Jowan Lifts and Hyper Media Squats!

I'm having trouble deciding which I enjoy more: this set of Cho Aniki Zero videos or Namco Bandai's surreal infomercial for Muscle March.

GameSetLinks: The Amplitude Of The Datastorm

February 24, 2010 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.]

You will see an occasional GameSetLinks out of us, even with GDC coming up and schedule being all kinds of crazy, so here's the first one in a while, headed out with Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel on getting somewhere in the indie game business - fine advice indeed.

Also in here - some curious Harmonix music licenses, discussion of EmoGame, some totally retro demo-scene goodness, why Playfish did the right thing by partnering with IP powerhouse EA, and various other neat things besides.

Stop stop stop:

The Bottom Feeder: Three Tips For Getting Started In the Indie Gaming Biz
'Let me say something here, and I don't want to put too fine a point on it. You need sleep to live.'

...on pampers, programming & pitching manure: Playfish's Smart Move in the Facebook Gold Rush
Interesting analysis - suggesting 'outbranding' with EA brands will be Playfish's route to success: 'Another flavor of spending your way out of the clouds. Specifically, license IP/Brands, from games or elsewhere, can help your title stand out in a crowded space.'

Apocalypse POW!: Retro Flashback: EmoGame
'EmoGame and its sequels were particularly enjoyable and novel because not only were they clever and well-designed from a gaming perspective, but they were also predicated on a staunchly devoted and surprisingly well-informed knowledge of pop culture.'

Royalty Network Revealing New Harmonix Project? - bemanistyle.com
Very interesting, Harmonix requesting some hiphop and trance tracks? PLEASE let it be the return of Amplitude.

Sonnez Les Jeux Video: During which part of playing a video game does the actual "playing" occur?
'During which part of playing a video game does the actual "playing" occur? Unfortunately, the answer to this question, like the answer to too many other questions, is: It depends.'

8bit today: DATASTORM 2010 PRODUCTIONS
Talking of demo-scene, here's some awesome products of an oldskool party in Scandinavia, including a MP3 on the C64 (!).

San Diego Reader | Sweat Like a Rockstar
Local alt.weekly has a go at the Rockstar San Diego story. 'According to an employee who calls himself “Captain Anonymous,” it’s a workplace that might as well be in Pyongyang, North Korea; he told me, “Employees are being surveilled, and the last person to speak anonymously whose identity was presumed (not proven) was fired.''

Video Games On Black Velvet

February 23, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Tucson-based artist Kyle Kulakowski specializes in video game-inspired black velvet paintings, a medium that uses black velvet in place of canvas, allowing vibrant colors to pop out more against the dark background. You've probably seen a kitschy black velvet piece of Elvis or Jesus sitting in a local thrift store at some time or another!

Kulakowski specializes in painting scenes from classic video games like Pac-Man and Joust (which look great when lit by a black light) as you'll see past the post break, but he also has a couple for more modern titles like the Psychonauts piece above -- noting that Psychonauts is the only video game to prominently feature black velvet paintings.

The artist is selling a few of the pieces on display at his deviantArt profile (contact him for prices) and is available for commissioned work.

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