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Archive For January, 2011

Super Crate Box Versus Coming Exclusively To Winnitron Machines

January 28, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I am really loving the trend of location/event-exclusive editions of indie games lately, even if it means I don't get to play them! If you've no idea what I'm referring to, last month, Semi Secret debuted a two-player version of Canabalt for the Winnitron 1000, an arcade machine built to play indie titles from Winnipeg developers.

Then last weekend, at Giant Robot's Game Night 4, Vlambeer showed off an X-mas edition of its game Super Crate Box. Now the studio has created another variant of the platformer with Super Crate Box Versus, available only on the Winnitron 1000 and the Winnitron NL (its Dutch arcade counterpart).

Super Crate Box Versus is built on top of the original game that was nominated for an Independent Games Festival "Excellence In Design" award, and adds two-player competitive battles, challenging players to grab crates while blasting the waves of enemies that fill the screen with machine guns, bazookas, and more.

At the moment, you can find the Winnitron 1000 at Winnipeg's LoPub and the Winnitron NL at Utrecht's Dutch Game Garden. Super Crate Box Versus will be revealed during the opening ceremony of the Global Game Jam in the Netherlands.

This Week In Video Game Criticism: On Auteurism And Excessive Exposition

January 28, 2011 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 how player directed stories limit the power of the author, character death, and excessive exposition.]

Another busy week for video game blogging (when is it ever not?), so we've got a nice haul here for your reading pleasure.

First up, Jaime Griesemer of Bungie has started writing about design, and largely multiplayer design: initially, it's drafts for larger arguments, but they're still well worth reading. Here's a definition of “affordance” that borrows from philosopher Martin Heidegger, and here's a definition of balance that says true and lasting balance is nigh-impossible.

Trent Polack at his Polycat blog wrote about 'The Systemic Integrity of Expression', or why he prefers games to make a statement in line with their mechanics. The excellent Kill Screen magazine (full disclosure: I write for them occasionally) has launched an excellent web-based blog outlet. We mentioned Simon Ferrari's piece there last week, and since then there's at least two more pieces worth reading.

First, in a new monthly column, Rich Clark looks at the world-view evoked by Hydro Thunder Hurricane: "There are only two speeds: boosting and not boosting. Hydro Thunder Hurricane portrays speed in such a way that it seems like a defensive and necessary response to the world." Similarly, Nora Khan in her piece 'Isolation Chambers' wrote about Dead Space, exploring its theme of sensory deprivation, isolation and silence.

Negative Spacecraft: Ikaruga Meets Shoot The Bullet

January 27, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Indie developer Paper Dino (Haiku Hero) has launched a creative and addictive shoot'em up -- that doesn't actually feature any shooting on your part -- called Negative Spacecraft, which is described as "what you might get if you Ikaruga and Shoot the Bullet had a drunken love-child".

It's difficult to master the timing at first, but the main gimmick of the black-and-white stages is your ship can only occupy opposite-colored space. Enemy ships stream out waves of white and black patterns, that you can safely push into by flipping your own craft's color right as you shift between spaces.

You'll need to quickly navigate between the black and white areas to get closer to your enemy, that way you can charge up and expand a small circle around your ship that harms nearby enemies. It's kind of a complicated premise, but it's all explained in the trailer above.

You can play Negative Spacecraft for free now at Addicting Games.

Solid Snake, Vic Viper In Scribblenauts

January 27, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Yesterday, Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima tweeted the above photo of Solid Snake making an appearance in 5th Cell's original Scribblenauts game. That might seem like an implausible crossover at first, but it makes sense after you realize that Konami is publishing the DS game in Japan this week!

Along with the Metal Gear hero, Japanese players can summon other Konami characters like the Vic Viper ship from Gradius and Manaka from dating sim series LovePlus. I wonder if other familiar Konami figures like Simon Belmont or Goemon or Frogger will eventually pop up, too?

Road To The IGF: Minecraft's Markus Persson

January 27, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Starting our 'Road to the IGF' interview series, talking to all of this year's 2011 Independent Games Festival finalists, Gamasutra speaks with Mojang's Markus "Notch" Persson about Minecraft, a finalist in three IGF categories.]

Markus Persson's Minecraft is up for three awards at this year's IGF awards - Technical Excellence, Excellence In Design and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. The sandbox exploration game has seen huge success already, with over one million copies sold.

Here, Persson explains his inspirations for Minecraft, his future plans for the game and when he hopes the final version will be released.

What is your background in making games?

I started playing around with BASIC when I was seven years old, and made my first text adventure "game" not long after that. I kept programming games as a hobby, and never received any formal education.

Several years ago while working as a Java programmer, I made Wurm Online with a friend, a fantasy MMORPG that's still up and running.

I left that project after a couple of years mostly because I was only working on the client, and felt frustrated with not having much control of the direction of the game.

Later, I got a job as a Flash game programmer for King.com. When I started there, we were 8 people, and my hobby programming wasn't a problem. When we were about 80 people, they told me to keep my hobby development secret, and when they informed me that anything I won in any competitions would belong to King, I quit that job to be able to focus on my hobby programming.

The first thing I made after that was Minecraft, so I kind of lucked out there.

Little Deviants Helps Validate NGP's Rear Touchpad

January 27, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Amid all the console ports Sony showed off at its NGP (Next Generation Portable) reveal event last night, the company showed off at least one first-party original IP for the PSP successor last night: Little Deviants, a cute and colorful title that takes advantage of the system's rear touchpad,

Though I can't really think of too many compelling possibilities for the touchpad yet, Little Deviants uses the feature in a unique way, allowing players to push up and manipulate the landscape by pressing and moving their fingers against the back of the handheld.

As you can see in the demonstration above, deforming the landscape helps move the "deviant" ball creatures around the cartoonish sage. Tapping the rear touchpad will also make the deviants close to the area your touching hop.

Developers, please create more strange games like this around this odd feature!

Glow Artisan Free Now On App Store

January 27, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If for some reason you still haven't bought Glow Artisan, the Mobile IGF award-winning title released to DSiWare then Windows Phone 7 then iPhone, developer Powerhead Games has released a free version of the clever puzzler that you can now try out on your iOS device.

Again, the goal of Glow Artisan is to re-create puzzle "blueprints" by drawing/mixing lines made up of three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). This free edition includes 12 puzzles, two bonus picture-puzzles,  and the ability to create one puzzle from scratch or based on an included picture.

You can grab Glow Artisan Free from the App Store here. If you like it enough to buy the game, with a single $0.99 in-app purchase, you can unlock all 80+ levels, 160+ medals, the Picture-Puzzle creator, the Randomizer mode, the and more.

Spike, Acquire Debut New Way of the Samurai 4 Trailer

January 27, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Japanese publisher Spike has released a new trailer for Way of the Samurai 4, the latest entry to Acquire's action-adventure sandbox series that has players taking on the role of a ronin in feudal Japan, releasing overseas on February 17.

Eastern Mind, always a wonderful resource for niche import game news, has the best summary I can find of the game's plot:

"The newly announced Way of the Samurai 4 will be set, as expected, during the Tokugawa period. Its open-ended narrative will take place in a port town in the region of Ami, a town of fishing industry, old inns and open commercial relations with the foreign nations.

Expectedly, the town is dominated by three different factions, based upon genuine social standings that represent a cross-section of Japanese society of the Edo era; the Shogunate forces, struggling to keep the order in the town; the anti-foreigner militias, whose fervent patriotism demands Sakoku; and, lastly, the foreigners themselves, comfortably settled in Japan under the conditions of the Convention of Kanagawa.

Upon arriving to the town, the wandering Samurai is free to intersperse with any of the parties, although none of the choices is forever binding. ..."

Way of the Samurai 4 will release exclusively for the PS3 -- though its predecessor also debuted on the Xbox 360, sales for that edition were apparently disappointing. There's no info yet on a Western release, but hopefully Capcom, Agetec, UFO Interactive, or another publisher will announce something soon.

[Via Nobuooo]

In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, December 2010

January 27, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Sister console digital download site GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley offers charts and leaderboard data for Xbox Live Arcade titles in December 2010, which gives us an idea of which titles are were hits or misses last month on the Xbox 360's digital service.]

Previously, December's been a bit of a quiet month for the Xbox Live Arcade -- it's certainly difficult to get any recognition when everybody is on holidays. But Microsoft made the effort this year with some top quality games like A World Of Keflings, Raskulls and Ilomilo in their Games For The Holidays promotion.

Did it all pay off? And what of the many deals throughout the month -- both weekly and daily discounts on some of the top games? We delve deep into the leaderboard statistics for each of the new releases and see how it all went:


Trials Saga

For the week of November 29th, there was only one new release – Vogster's Unbound Saga. Based on the game's Leaderboards, it seems to have done poorly, with less than 4,000 players on its Leaderboards. The game did not get a lot of publicity prior to its launch, and currently has a Metacritic rating of 51, with few major websites willing to review it.

What was released during that week and did better was the newest track pack for Trials HD. This new 400MSP 'Big Thrills' pack added 46,043 new players in the first week, nearing 100,000 players for the month. This was less than the first pack, but still a very good amount.

PSP SRPG Spectral Souls Ported To Android

January 26, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Tokyo-based studio HyperDevbox (ExZeus Arcade) announced the launch of its Android port for Spectral Souls: Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires, Idea Factory's tactical RPG originally released for the PSP back in September 2006.

The original game wasn't received well by reviewers, but this Android port is notable for being the first port of a 1-gigabyte PSP title, with all those bytes promising high res graphics, 52 songs, 84 characters, and some 100 hours of gameplay.

Spectral Souls' story centers on "the tale is the Seven-Year War between humans and demons, taking place in Magic Age 1053 on Neverland, 'a world apart from our own, home to strange and dangerous creatures'."

HyperDevbox makes a point to note that it's releasing the smartphone port exclusively for Android during what it calls "an open war between the Android and the iPhone, with gaming being one of the battlegrounds."

The developer argues, "While other developers are struggling to make headway in the lower end of the market, HyperDevbox Japan is focused on the higher end, believing that the Android gaming market in particular has a robust future."

Spectral Souls is available through the Android Market now in the U.S., and the Japanese version will release some time next month. HyperDevbox says this is the "the first of a planned long series of premium titles from the company".

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