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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 July, 2010

Pac-Man Seance Summons A Shirt Design

July 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

English artists Stuart "Bramish" Colebrook combined a public domain image of folks gathering around for a seance with a sprite of Blinky to create this awesome shirt design, currently up for voting at Threadless. It almost looks like a comic from Married To The Sea!

Colebrook describes the concept: "You know how it is - one minute you're chasing a pizza shaped yellow thing around a maze for no reason at all, and the next you've been summoned by a bunch of Victorian chaps and chapesses as the sit around a table chanting like morons. We can all relate, right?"

If you want to show off this goofy "Medium Difficulty" image on your chest, make sure to vote it up at Threadless -- if enough people give it a high ranking in the next six days, the online shirt shop might feel compelled to print and sell the design.

Astro Port Releases Small Demo For Gigantic Army

July 28, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Japanese doujin developer Astro Port have put out a two-stage demo of Gigantic Army, a 2D run'n gun that has you fighting huge robots (naturally) with your mecha. It reminds me a lot of Dracue's Gunhound -- though with much bigger enemies -- which isn't a bad thing!

While some of the text is in Japanese, it's an action game and most of the UI elements are in English, so you should have no trouble playing through it. It also features some snippets of English dialogue with its background communications, which really add to the atmosphere (even if they don't have anything to do with the actual gameplay)!

Doujin publisher Curious Factory has so far localized two Astro Port games, Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser and Witch-bot Meglilo, and also plans to release the studio's Armed Seven shoot'em up. If the company is still around, perhaps it will also publish Gigantic Army? You can download the PC game's trial here.

[Via The2Bears]

Baby Castles To Host Super HyperCube, Katawa Shoujo

July 28, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

NYC's indie game arcade Babycastles will host another wicked party next week featuring a musical performance by chiptune artist Glomag and a selection of playable indie titles picked out by video games journalist and GSW contributor Matt "Fort90" Hawkins.

The headline game of the "Hardcore Feelings" show will be Super Hypercube, a 3D puzzler project presented by the Kokoromi Collective and Polytron (Fez), with the latter group's Phil Fish attending. You can find out more about the game here!

Also at the event: Calvin & Hellen's Bogus Journey, a collaboration between Hellen Jo/Calvin Wong/Derek Yu originally exhibited at Game Over/Continue?; Untitled, another Game Over/Continue? project from Deth P Sun and Cactus; Katawa Shoujo, Four Leaf Studios' dating sim featuring disabled girls; Love Love 2, an enigmatic PS1 title from TYO and Seitron & Art Inc; and Rescue the Beagles by 16 x 16.

While Babycastles will have the games on display all month, you'll still want to attend the opening party on August 5th, as it's the only night Super Hypercube will be available due to "all the specialized hardware involved." Make sure to RSVP!

Interview: Paradox's Wester On Digital Distribution Consolidation, DRM, F2P

July 28, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Fredrik Wester, CEO of hardcore-oriented developer and publisher Paradox Interactive, chats with our own Chris Remo about his plans and thoughts thoughts on digital distribution, DRM, free-to-play, shaved heads, and more.]

For over a decade, Swedish publisher and developer Paradox Interactive has steadily grown with its portfolio of hardcore PC strategy game series like Hearts of Iron and Europa Universalis.

Now, Paradox is broadening its reach more than ever, reaching into the console market and exploring free-to-play territory on PC. The company's traditional hardcore focus has left it with a strong understanding of how to listen to and satisfy its dedicated base, and that's reflected in Paradox's attitude to controversial topics like DRM, and in the company's digital success -- it expects to see a majority of its business come from download sales in the next year.

We sat down with Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester to discuss his company's upcoming plans, its relationship with digital distribution groups like Steam and GamersGate, expected consolidation in online sales, and why DRM isn't the best answer.

Plus, Wester provides an update on his infamous head-shaving bet about the company's upcoming Victoria 2.

What's the state of Paradox these days? What's in your immediate future?

Fredrik Wester: We're continuing to grow as a company. We grew almost 40 percent in gross revenue last year and we're continuing the trend with almost 40 percent this year, and we meet all the budget goals. Mount & Blade: Warband did phenomenally well, especially in online sales, and was very well received by the audience.

Out first really hardcore simulator, Ship Simulator Extremes, is releasing in August, and it's exciting for us to move into a new genre. We did our first console release with Lead & Gold, a team-based cowboy shooter, on PSN and PC so far, and we're working on what we'll call "other consoles" as well. We can't mention them [by name], but we hope to have it out on a few more platforms by the end of the year.

And we're looking at some free-to-play games. That's not really revolutionary in any way, but we found some great stuff at E3, and previously as well, so we'll release our first free to play game in January of next year.

The Secret Story Of Sabreman Stampede

July 27, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

As MundoRare, a shrine for all things Rare, Ltd., closes up shop (its farewell post lamenting the studio's decline is worth reading), the fan-site posted its final feature, an in-depth look at the company's cancelled Sabreman Stampede game.

MundoRare says the title was first introduced as Donkey Kong Racing, a GameCube sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, at E3 2001. After Microsoft purchased the British developer from Nintendo, Rare adapted the game's license to feature Sabreman, the hero of its ZX Spectrum/BBC Micro/C64/CPC/GBA series Sabre Wulf.

According to an anonymous Rare employee who spoke to MundoRare, the game was converted from "a racing game involving jumping from one animal to another" into more of a "sandbox adventure style" title for the Xbox in which Sabreman crash landed on an island, completed tasks for villagers, learned how to ride animals, and explored the area.

"[It was] basically Grand Theft Auto with animals," explained the source. "You have a huge open landscape and you can catch animals, and ride them around." Catching the animals to ride them was a controversial topic with the team, as it "involved catching animals that didn't want to be caught -- essentially it's a cruelty-to-animals simulator."

The Rare employee blames the game's eventual cancellation on a lack of design direction on the team: "... programmers and artists were constantly putting in more & more scenery, more animals with different handling, interesting features & mechanics. But, the skeleton of the game was just not there. It was severely lacking in major features, [such as] the game's progress, story, main tasks/objectives, etc."

You can read more about Sabreman Stampede's history and watch several new videos of the cancelled game at MundoRare.

Reproducing Van Gogh, Caravaggio Works In Art Academy

July 27, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Developed by Headstrong Games (House of the Dead: Overkill, Aragorn's Quest) the Art Academy series for DSiWare -- soon to receive a retail cart compilation in Europe next month -- allows users to replicate or create original artwork with virtual pencils and paint, offering lessons on the art tools, theories, and techniques.

To promote the game, Nintendo's Spanish arm has produced a set of videos showing viewers how the software can be used to reproduce works by famous artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Giorgio Morandi, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and Duccio di Buoninsegna.

Nintendo actually visited local museums to film the creation process next to the original artworks. While it seems impossible to create an exact reproduction of the paintings, Art Academy's tools are robust enough to allow for a close approximation of the famous pieces. You can watch more of the Art Academy video series after the break:

GDC Online Adds Zynga, Disney, Playdom, Lectures

July 27, 2010 1:00 PM | Simon Carless

[My colleagues are starting to roll out a bunch of good content for GDC Online now, and here's the tip of the iceberg, with a number of the leading online game folks heading to Austin in October - plus those neat Summits, too.]

As momentum builds for GDC Online (formerly GDC Austin) in Texas this October, organizers have announced key new lectures from the world's leading online game firms, including Zynga, Disney, Playdom and more.

The Austin, Texas-based GDC Online conference and expo -- taking place October 5-8, 2010 -- is focused on online games of all kinds -- including social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online titles, large-scale MMOs, and more.

With a leading advisory board guiding the evaluation and choice of lectures, and the newly announced GDC Online Awards honoring the leading games in the space, the conference is a must-attend for those working in online games.

Some of the highlights from newly announced sessions -- as the August 4th alumni registration deadline for GDC Austin 2008/2009 attendees and speakers approaches -- include:

- 'AAA To Social Games -- Making the Leap' sees Playdom VP John Donham, most recently at Metaplace and a 20-year veteran of online games, discussing why "developing games for social networks is a dramatic shift from making titles for PCs, consoles, or even the Internet." The session will "provide you with a solid basis for revising your strategy as you approach social game development."

- In 'Scalability for Social Games: YoVille, Mafia Wars and Farmville', Zynga's Robert Zubek expands on his GDC 2010 Summit talk from the leading Facebook game firm to "describe architectures and proven techniques for building scalable server infrastructure, particularly for social web games, operating on the web and social networks."

COLUMN: 'The Game Beat': What's in a Length?

July 27, 2010 12:00 PM |

Limbo screenshot[The Game Beat is a bi-weekly new GSW column by Kyle Orland examining the video game press and the process by which gamers get information about the games they love. This week, it examines the industry’s somewhat misplaced obsession with a game’s duration, rather than its content.]

Without a doubt, Xbox Live Arcade’s Limbo is an instant classic. The reviews are near-unanimous in their praise. Limbo is “bleak and beautiful.” It’s “haunting.” It’s “elegant and minimalistic.” It’s “clever." It’s “gorgeously constructed." It “will stay with you for a very long time.” Some are already calling it “a masterpiece.” Others are breaking out the dreaded a-word: “Art.”

But there’s one other thing Limbo reviewers are almost equally unanimous about. Some seem almost reluctant to bring it up. Others seem proud that they were able to find some flaw to balance out an otherwise glowing review.

Regardless, the critical consensus seems to be that Limbo is excellent but, well... it’s kind of short.

Best of FingerGaming: From Let's Golf 2 to Castlevania Puzzle

July 27, 2010 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Every week, Gamasutra we sum up sister iPhone and iPad site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable game platforms, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and authors Tucker Dean, Jason Johnson, and Ryan Hibbeler.]

This week, FingerGaming covers Konami's Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night and Gameloft's Let's Golf 2, among other notable debuts.

Also within are the lists for top-grossing, most-downloaded free and paid Apps from Apple's store, as well as reviews for Helsing's Fire and Monkey Island 2 Special Edition.

Here are the top stories from the last seven days:

- Top-Grossing Game Apps: Wheel of Fortune, Battle for Hoth Climb Charts
"Sony’s Wheel of Fortune Platinum remains a big seller even after an increase to $1.99, outselling chart mainstays Bejeweled 2, Tetris, and Doodle Jump."

- Review: Monkey Island 2 Special Edition
"Monkey Island 2 Special Edition is an excellent update to a well-loved classic that remains largely entertaining almost two decades later. However, unless portability is an important factor, I would recommend interested parties pick up the PC version instead."

- Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night Now Available in App Store
"Borrowing Taisen Puzzle Dama's core gameplay, Konami has crafted a unique puzzler that features backgrounds, music, and characters taken directly from its classic platformer Castlevania: Symphony of the Night."

Hydorah Developer Details Next Project

July 27, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If you've already played indie shoot'em up Hydorah -- which you should, as it's not to be missed (and it's free!) -- you probably can't wait for the next project out of Spanish indie developer Locomalito, who, for the most part, designed and coded the Gradius/R-Type-influenced game by himself over the course of three years.

Locomalito gave some clues on his next title, The Curse of Issyos, in his interview with our sister site IndieGames.com earlier this month, calling it an ancient Greek mythology action-arcade game. He gave up even more details on the project in a recent Q&A with Just One More Game:

"It’s the kind of game I love to play now, as I don’t have time to play more than 30 or 40 minutes a day. It’s a straightforward (hard) arcade/platform game, with no more than 30 minutes of gameplay in a row. The Curse of Issyos has NES style graphics/look and feel, chip tunes, clear playability…

It’s focused on Greek mythology. I’m trying to mix the smell of Mediterranean sea ambiance and the power of 8bit games, two things I love!

The references for this game are titles like Shinobi, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, Castlevania III, and Megaman."

Fans of Hydorah who can't get enough of the game, even after reading its "Making Of" document, should definitely read the full Just One More Game interview to check out some sketches from Locomalito, the story behind his strange nickname, his ideas on what makes a memorable boss, and more.

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