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Archive For November, 2010

Scorpion & Sub-Zero & Reptile & Smoke & Ermac

November 22, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

These Beatles t-shirt parodies probably went out of style years ago, but I'll risk looking unfashionable for the sake of highlighting this neat tribute to Mortal Kombat's palette-swapped ninjas: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Smoke, and Ermac.

Integral Apparel is selling the design, though you'll need to contact the shop to get a price for your shirt brand/size. It's also selling an alternate version of the tee with the letters in white instead of appropriate colors, as well as a "Kano, Scorpion, Liu, Raiden, and Shang" shirt that isn't nearly as cool.

Exclusive: Behind The Scenes Of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

November 22, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

The latest issue of GameSetWatch sister publication Game Developer magazine, available for subscribers and for digital purchase now, includes an exclusive, in-depth postmortem of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, written by Beenox's Martin Rheaume.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions includes four distinct incarnations of Marvel's popular superhero, from the classic Amazing Spider-Man to the more obscure 1930's-inspired Spider-Man Noir.

The game's four worlds each feature unique aesthetics and gameplay mechanics tailored to each version of the web-slinging protagonist.

Developer Beenox is a subsidiary of Activision and had previously worked on titles including Guitar Hero: Smash Hits and Monsters vs. Aliens, as well as the PC versions of several previous Spider-Man titles. Shattered Dimensions, however, was the studio's first chance to fully develop a title based on a comic book license.

These excerpts, extracted from the November 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, reveal various "What Went Right" and "What Went Wrong" highlights from throughout the creation of the game.

Throughout the article, Beenox reveals how the game played to the strength of its license, how the studio underestimated the task it had assigned itself, and the miscommunication that impaired the internal audio team.

Four strong visual directions

With such a wealth of history behind the established license, Beenox chose to highlight a handful of the character's most iconic styles:

GDC China Announces Keynote From Final Fantasy XI, XIV Co-Creator Tanaka

November 22, 2010 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

GDC China organizers have revealed a keynote from Square Enix senior vice president Hiromichi Tanaka on building Final Fantasy XI and XIV, as the latter is poised to become the first-ever official Final Fantasy title to debut in China.

Following the recent news that leading Chinese MMO operator Shanda Games and Square Enix have announced partnership to bring Final Fantasy XIV to the region, Tanaka becomes the second keynote for the December 5th-7th Shanghai event.

In the keynote, 'Final Fantasy XI & XIV: Developing and Operating a Cross-platform, Cross-region MMORPG', Tanaka will discuss "the managerial know-how fostered during the lifespans of Final Fantasy XI and the newly released Final Fantasy XIV, with a focus on our team’s global distribution-based development concept and RMT countermeasures."

Namco's Robo Restle, Sega's Golden Gun, And More At IAAPA

November 22, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

It doesn't look look nearly as exciting or chaotic as Robot Wars, but Namco showed off a coin-op title called Robo Restle, (previously Robo-Basho) in which players control real robots and try to flip each other over, at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

It looks pretty simple at the moment, with its lack of environmental traps or alternate ways to attack each other, but apparently this is just a prototype version. Namco expects to update it software (to add a narrator and more) and release Robo Restle to arcades some time in 2011.

Plenty of other companies had new arcade machines to show off at IAAPA, which you can check out videos for at Arcade Heroes. After the break, I've embedded a clip for a new rail shooter called Sega Golden Gun, which was developed by Sega China and uses the House of the Dead 4 engine:

Gunstar Heroes Now On iPhone

November 22, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

For those of you who've begged for years to see a portable release of Gunstar Heroes (not counting the Game Gear version and Gunstar Super Heroes), rise up off your knees. Treasure has released a port of the cherished run'n gun Genesis game on the iPhone and iPod Touch!

Yes, the virtual controls are likely awful, but this iOS edition still offers 360-degree shooting, the weapon combo system, and two-player co-op via Bluetooth -- a definite plus considering the Game Gear/GBA releases were single-player-only.

And maybe the controls won't seem nearly as terrible if you slap on some Tactile+Plus stickers? You can buy Gunstar Heroes now from the App Store for $2.99.

Japan's Classy PS Move, Beat Sketch Commercial

November 22, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Though it hasn't released in the States yet, Beat Sketch (or Beat Sketchers, as will be known here) received its own PlayStation Move bundle in Japan. To promote the game and motion controllers, Sony produced this sharp commercial show the pack's possibilities.

Beat Sketch is an augmented reality game allowing you to use the wand controller to "draw to the music". To illustrate that point (har har), ad agency Wieden + Kennedy enlisted the help of talented UK artist Serge Seidlitz to create the colorful characters you see in this spot.

None of the artwork I've seen people make with the game looks this impressive, but this probably a much better idea for the commercial than showing someone's clumsy stick figures.

[Via Super Punch]

Column: Homer in Silicon: How Do I Get the Policy Wonk Sword?

November 22, 2010 12:00 AM |

['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist. This week she looks at Lionhead's Fable 3.]

In the early hours of Fable 3, I was delighted to discover that the malicious Reaver was still around from Fable 2, and not just because I adore Stephen Fry's voice acting. It was mostly because his sinister presence added weight to the ending of the previous story: my need to compromise with an obviously evil ally had had lasting repercussions for Albion.

Alas, most of the rest of the Fable 3 moral experience wasn't nearly so satisfying.

I was most looking forward to, and most disappointed by, post-kingship portion of the game, in which the player's options are reduced to binary choices in civic planning, and it turns out that being nice to people all the time (or, in the game's terminology, "good") will leave Albion without the money necessary to defend itself from evil.

There are all sorts of problems with this portion, both thematically and from the perspective of gameplay.

Lionhead does have a theme in mind. Things get harder and less clear-cut when we come to power. Promises cost more to fulfill than we expected. People we regard as friends make unreasonable demands. There aren't enough resources to go around. We have to choose whom to favor and whom to annoy. The stakes are higher than we knew.

It's a valid point, unconvincingly made.

In-Depth: Shoot 'Em Up Dev, Cave, On Finding A New Audience On iPhone

November 21, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Simon Parkin speaks to Yukihiro Masaki of Japan's venerable shoot 'em up creator Cave, about the company's forays into iOS development and where the studio hopes to take the genre it helped define.]

Founded in 1994, Cave has since established itself as Japan's most focused, prolific and successful shoot 'em up creator, while expanding its business significantly into other genres.

Famed for popularizing the 'bullet hell' style of vertical shoot 'em up, the developer's brand of challenging, twitch gameplay has dominated the genre in Japanese arcades, while region-free ports of their catalog to Xbox 360 has fostered a small but vociferous following overseas.

In recent months the company has been extending its reach worldwide with the release of ESPGALUDA II and DoDonPachi Resurrection for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

While Apple's mainstream touchscreen devices might seem like an ill fit for games that require pixel-perfect precision in dodging a maelstrom of bullets, some smart adaptation to the hardware has made both games underground hits on the App Store.

Indeed, the latter title secured over 30,000 sales in just four days, no mean feat for a release priced at a relatively steep $8.99.

Despite this recent, perhaps unexpected success on a mainstream platform, Yukihiro Masaki, manager for Cave's Mobile Contents Game Development and iPhone team producer, remains reserved.

"I guess it's all relative," he says. "I don't really have the sense that our games have been accepted, or are performing brilliantly worldwide necessarily. I think there are still a lot of people out there who have never played a Cave game so I'm not sure that we can call it a success yet."

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 11/20/10

November 21, 2010 12:00 AM |

['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day. This time -- an analytical look at the latest video game magazines released in the last couple of weeks.]


Heavens! It's been quite a while since I had a chance to sit down and crank out an honest-to-God Mag Roundup. There are lots of reasons why. I was on the road for a while. I had a lot of work hitting me on the weekends. My scanner broke. I was in Branson, Missouri for a night and it broke my will to live. And so forth. A bad time indeed, considering this is the busiest part of the year for print mags.

I'm finally ready to sit down and tackle the rather worrisome stack of mags on my desk, though -- and what would be right on top but the new Game Informer, the one that's got three different covers by Sam Spratt that advertise the "best characters of the past decade" feature on the inside. It's the first time I can think of GI doing a non-"world exclusive" cover, and making it something a lot more original and compelling than "Top 50 Holiday Games" or the like.

The feature it touts is pretty neat, too, giving 2-300 words each to their 30 character choices and also devoting a few pages to the best "storytellers" of the aughts -- Dan Houser, Ken Levine, and so forth. No Japanese folks at all made that list, which I find both interesting and sadly understandable.

Click on to continue your journey through the holiday-era issues of all the top game mags. There's a lot of them.

Interview: Klei's Cheng Talks Life After Shank

November 20, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Now that Shank is well past its late summer launch and received a wide-ranging critical reception, our own Leigh Alexander catches up with Klei's Jamie Cheng to reflect on the interesting journey of a small project gone big.]

It's been an interesting journey for Klei Entertainment and Shank. After the studio's publisher, Nexon Vancouver, shut its doors in 2009, the team went right to work on a 2D brawler with a distinctive visual style.

The title appeared in 2010's Independent Games Festival and took off quickly from there -- signed by EA Partners for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC, with renowned God of War writer Marianne Krawczyk on board.

Fortunately, it's a tale that's becoming more and more common these days: Indie developers quickly finding full-scale publisher partners and making a splash before the eyes of the everyday gamer.

But it's also a new arena: what's it like for indies to come up against the Metacritic machine for the first time? What changes and what stays the same for developers when an independent game gets really big?

We decided to catch up with Klei's Jamie Cheng to ask him some of these questions, now that Shank is well past its late summer launch and received a gamut of critical reception.

Often developers focus so tightly on the grueling process of creation and launch, and then the spreadsheet-ticking aftermath of sales data; in this interview, Cheng talks candidly about facets of the tiny-project-gone-big experience that are less-discussed, from connecting with the wider audience to personal experiences:

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