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Archive For December, 2010

Leaky World: Molleindustria's Wikileaks Stories Project

December 27, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Italian indie Molleindustria, developer of thought-provoking games like Oiligarchy and Every Day The Same Dream, has released Leaky World, an interactive interpretation of Wikileaks spokesman and editor-in-chief Julian Assange's "Conspiracy as Governance" essay.

Molleindustria describes Assange's essay as one that "effectively and concisely describes the drama of transnational power in the information age", though the developer makes sure to point out that it believes the document has several flaws.

Developed in ten days, Leaky World has players connecting cities/nodes on a world map to grow "the global network connecting members of the ruling class" and "to establish complete hegemony before the resistance reaches a critical point."

As the nodes receive more connections, they're more likely to leak information. Once those nodes reach that point, a real world headline about appears at the top of the game, allowing players to pause Leaky World and read the news article.

This project is the first release out of Wikileaks Stories, an initiative inviting independent game designers to "use their artform in the service of freedom and democracy, transforming the information revealed by Wikileaks into computer games."

You can play Leaky World and read Assange's "Conspiracy as Governance" essay on Molleindustria's site.

[Via Infinite Lives]

IGF Nuovo Finalist B.U.T.T.O.N. Now Out For XBLIG

December 27, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

The Copenhagen Game Collective's 2011 IGF Nuovo finalist game Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now, or B.U.T.T.O.N., is now available on Xbox Live Indie Games for you to download and play with up to seven friends.

The one-button party game is split into rounds, during which players must set their controllers down and take six steps back. They're then instructed to complete a physical task (e.g. "Lie on the floor) followed by a micro-challenge (e.g. "Any player whose button is pressed loses").

IGF's Nuovo Jury explained B.U.T.T.O.N.'s nomination:

"B.U.T.T.O.N.'s raucous approach to essentially controller-less play (bar its titular set of buttons) was praised for going 'programmatically in the opposite direction' of the wider industry's take on motion controls like Kinect, Move and the Wii, which 'aspire to control and discipline your movement,' and was called 'one of the few titles here that potentially introduce a new kind of gameplay instead of adding a new twist to existing forms.'"

You can buy B.U.T.T.O.N. for just 80 MS Points or try out a free demo on Xbox Live Indie Games right now. It will release for PC soon.

Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: Top 5 Handheld Games

December 27, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Continuing big sister site Gamasutra's 2010 roundup, here's GSW co-editor Eric Caoili's top 5 handheld game selections, including monumental releases like Dragon Quest IX and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.]

Though analysts and mobile gaming advocates will have you believe that everyone's abandoning the Nintendo DS and PSP, that gossip thankfully did little to distract handheld studios from continuing to craft compelling games in 2010.

During a year when many seemed content to spend their portable gaming time with ill-tempered birds and other iOS apps designed for quick entertainment, masterful developers like Kojima Productions and Level-5 forged experiences that immersed players, pulling them in with rich stories, rewarding mechanics, and clever surprises.

Along with its usual collection of quirky titles, the Nintendo DS was impossible to ignore in 2010 for fans of Japanese RPGs, what with a year full of titles like Infinite Space, Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Etrian Odyssey III, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, and many others.

And PSP owners enjoyed a wealth of top-notch handheld adaptations for home console franchises (e.g. God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta), not to mention an assembly of strange but endearing niche releases like Patchwork Heroes, Invizimals, and Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman.

Here are our picks for the top five handheld games of this year (stay tuned for a separate summary of 2010's best mobile titles):

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Marching Past Xmas

December 26, 2010 12:00 PM |

['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.]

Merry Christmas to everyone! I don't have much to say this week -- I am at the ol' family home at the moment, and I want to save my remarks on the game-mag business in 2010 for next week's column. (The short version: Not stupendous, but a great distance healthier than I had imagined 12 months ago.)

For today, then, why not enjoy a game that (in my opinion, anyway) is one of the best cover-disk giveaways of all time? Xmas Lemmings 1991 made its debut on one of the disks mounted on Issue 30 (Jan 1992) of Amiga Format, the most dominant "general-purpose" Commodore Amiga mag (as opposed to games-only publications like Amiga Power and The One) in the UK for most of its existence. It covered games, productivity applications, and the user scene all in one book, and at its peak was a pretty enormous mag that had major clout across the entire European computer business. That, no doubt, is one reason the editors were able to nab this exclusive four-level mini-game set in a wintry Lemmings universe.

Like a lot of Future Publishing mags, Amiga Format lasted far longer than an outsider would expect -- the final issue was published in May 2000, a full six years after Commodore International declared bankruptcy. (The last Amiga mag to get distributed to newsstands was Amiga Active, which toiled on in the UK until November 2001.)

[Kevin Gifford used to breed ferrets, but now he's busy running Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]

Best of FingerGaming: From World of Goo to Real Racing 2

December 26, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

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

This week, FingerGaming covers World of Goo, Hook Worlds, Real Racing 2, and The 7th Guest, among other notable debuts.

Also within are the lists for top-grossing, most-downloaded free and paid Apps from Apple's store, along with a review for Mushihimesama Bug Panic.

Here are the top stories from the last few pre-holiday season days:

- Review: Mushihimesama Bug Panic
"Cave have a knack for crafting exhilarating shooters, and exterminating throngs of hovering jellyfish, towering sand worms, and twittering ladybugs while twisting through waves of fatal purple orbs in Bug Panic definitely fits the bill."

- New Retro Revivals: The 7th Guest, Riven, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and More
"Today's deluge of new releases continues with Midway's one-on-one fighter Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and the classic point-and-click adventure games Riven and The 7th Guest."

- Top-Grossing Game Apps: Infinity Blade Heads Cross-Platform Charts
"Epic Games' Infinity Blade leads as the App Store's highest-grossing iPhone game in its second week of release, leading over strong chart performers like Rovio's Angry Birds and Capcom's Smurfs' Village."

Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: Top 5 Cult Games

December 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Continuing big sister site Gamasutra's 2010 round-up, Brandon Sheffield presents our top 5 cult hits of the year, a eclectic mix of games from the B-movie esoterica of Deadly Premonition, to the pressures of running a professional game dev sweatshop.

Previously in our end-of-year round-up: Top 5 Handheld Games, Top 5 PC Games, Top 10 Indie Games, Top 5 Developers, Top 5 Trends, Top 5 Major Industry Events, Top 5 Surprises, Top 5 Disappointments, Top 5 Controversies, and Most Anticipated Games Of 2011.]

What is a 'cult game' these days? The word is often used to describe 'niche' titles, but now that smaller JRPGs and scrolling shooters have found the right price point and a dedicated Western following, that description seems lacking.

Nowadays, I think wit's more appropriate to borrow from the movies, and define cult games in a similar way. The "B" games that have some very interesting ideas, don't necessarily sell like gangbusters, but which come up again and again in editors' "best-of" lists, and which academics and theorists talk about for years to come.

These are the games that tried something interesting, and perhaps because of it didn't find a huge mainstream audience. But they did find some dedicated fans, who are eager to see what will come next from these unique minds. It's the idea of an "auteur" game made within a traditional structure (indie games are nearly always this way now).

Here I present to you my picks for the five best cult games from 2010:

Best Of Indie Games: Cat Astro Rogues

December 25, 2010 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog co-editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The goodies in this edition include a browser game inspired by old Game Boy titles, a survival roguelike game, a top-down space shooter with both single and multiplayer modes, and a game where you'd get only one chance to save the human race.

Here's the highlights from the last seven days:

Game Pick: 'Cat Astro Phi' (PhotonStorm, browser)
"Cat Astro Phi is a space exploration shooter in the style of an old Game Boy title. The protagonist keeps losing his cat Jonesy on alien planets, and must constantly grab keycards, pick up energy cells and rescue the feline."

Game Pick: 'Rogue Survivor' (Roguedjack, freeware)
"Rogue Survivor is a survival roguelike sandbox game with plenty of depth to explore. You are put in the role of an average person in the middle of a zombie outbreak, and must stay alive for as long as possible. Apart from finding weapons and barricading yourself into a safe area, you'll need to make sure you have a good supply of food and perhaps some friends to help out."

Game Pick: 'One Chance' (Awkward Silence Games, browser)
"One Chance follows the story of scientist John Pilgrim who, along with his team, manages to find a cure for cancer. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the 'cure' kills all human cells, and everyone on Earth begins to die. You're given seven days to find a cure and save the human race, but here's the twist - you've only got one chance."

Game Pick: 'Steel Storm' (Kot-in-Action Creative Artel, freeware)
"Steel Storm is a top-down space shooter with both a single-player campaign and a full multiplayer deathmatch mode. Through a series of missions, you zip around shooting down enemy ships and turrets, and grabbing every collectible you can find."

Game Pick: 'Battle Dex' (Bandera Games, freeware)
"Battle Dex is an online turn-based strategy game that features some card-play as a way of turning the battlefield in your favour. Before each battle you can choose a deck of cards with special abilities, and deploy them during battle. As you win battles, you'll receive more cards and be able to build better decks."

In-Depth: GamerBytes' Top 5 Console Downloadable Games For 2010

December 24, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

mncombat.jpg[In his round-up of the year's top console downloadable games, sister site GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley looks at a year that brought us standout titles and a flood of content alike, highlighting his favorite games for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare.]

Previously in our end-of-year round-up: Top 5 Cult Games,
Top 5 Handheld Games, Top 5 PC Games, Top 10 Indie Games, Top 5 Developers, Top 5 Trends, Top 5 Major Industry Events, Top 5 Surprises, Top 5 Disappointments, Top 5 Controversies, Most Anticipated Games Of 2011 and Top 10 Games of the Year.]

It's been an odd year for the console digital download space -- lots of promotions, a ton of new titles, but honestly I felt underwhelmed overall. Developers attempted to go a little further and in the end fell a little flat.

Publishers are finally attempting something with the digital realm -- THQ, EA, Ubisoft and Atari have all tried to be a part of games made by independent developers.

But the initiatives have had their up and downs. THQ and EA have done well with Costume Quest, Shank and the DeathSpank titles.

But Ubisoft's dealings with Bloody Good Time and Atari's Blade Kitten and The Undergarden has made the idea of getting together with a publisher a little more worrisome for devs.

Doesn't mean that there weren't any quality games around, though -- we've collected the top 5 games available for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, DSiWare and on PlayStation Minis, based on our own playing experience:

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Of History And Video Game Archaeology

December 24, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us a fresh roundup of links compiled by Ben Abraham, on topics including VGA woes, how games portray history, and how archaeology can serve as a vehicle for storytelling.]

Let's start with Rob Zacny's piece for Gamers With Jobs about the downside to cover mechanics: "Cover produces bland, repetitive action and unconvincing locations. Toward the end of Mass Effect 2, Shepard and her crew are supposed to be in some the strangest, eeriest places they've ever encountered. But the level design always undercuts the art."

Speaking of Mass Effect 2, Mitch Krpata has returned to the game, half a year late, in order to see what all the fuss is about and perhaps find a new GoTY candidate: "When it comes to maintaining a consistent control scheme, to conveying appropriate information to the player, and making it easy to parse your character data, BioWare doesn't get the most basic things right, not even by accident."

I'll give very good odds to anyone still wanting to bet that ME2 gets a GoTY from Krpata then.

Oh alright, let's get all our discussion of shooters out of the way then -- Pippin Barr at XugoGaming talks about "Theatre of War"and that old bugbear of scripting dramatic failures into games. Specifically, he's talking about a scene from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 which makes the player fail in the 'correct' dramatic way, not the ordinary "oh I ran the wrong way and fell off a cliff" failure. Theatre of war, indeed.

Hammer For The Holidays: Mountain Maniac Xmas

December 23, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

I meant to mention it earlier this month, but now probably the best time to post it anyway since we'll be slowing down our updates for the holidays: Pixeljam has released a Christmas-themed follow-up to its super addictive Flash game Mountain Maniac.

In Mountain Maniac Xmas, the same crazy, hammer-wielding guy is terrorizing towns by slamming huge boulders down a mountain pachinko-style, except now he's rampaging against Santa Claus and his minions.

In between stages and Abominable Snowman battles, you'll fight gingerbread mean, Santa's elves, reindeer, and more, all with chiptune arrangements of holiday songs playing in the background.

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