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Archive For February, 2011

Final Hours Of Chinatown Fair

February 28, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Not long after we talked here about Chinatown Fair, the "last arcade in Chinatown", rumors began to circulate about the game center closing. Sadly, those rumors were partially true, as it closed up shop yesterday and will move away from its Mott Street location -- where the arcade stood since at least the 1950s -- possibly migrating to Williamsburg.

NYC The Blog has a great collection of photos from the arcade's last hours, showing regulars continuing to crowd around the fighting games and classic cabinets even as machines were being removed. The site also posted depressing images of the celebrated game center now empty and lifeless, and cabinet pieces waiting on the street for someone to transport them to storage.

For more photos of the arcade taken over the past several decades, you can check out this new Chinatown Fair Arcade archival project, which seeks to " share all the memories of the Chinatown Fair arcade on a multimedia platform". You can also see a few photos from NYC The Blog's report after the break:

Drunken NES Breathalyzer Video Game

February 28, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If you were one of those hip dudes (or dudettes) that made time last weekend to visit Pulsewave, the monthly chip musi show at New York City's The Tank, you would have have seen this neat homebrew breathalyzer game for the NES from electrical engineer Batsly Adams.

To play, you simply consume some alcohol, then breathe into a modified NES cart that is plugged into the first controller slot. According to Dauragon, the game then "gives you a point value based on how slizzr’d you are and ranks you amongst your fellowship of drunkards."

In addition to this Drunken NES video, EM Dash has posted a bunch of videos from last weekend's Pulsewave, capturing performances from Minusbaby, Crashfaster, DocPop, and others. Watch them all here!

[Via TCTD, Peter Berkman]

Interview: Bringing Nancy Drew To iPad: Books, Meet Games, Meet Books

February 28, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[This week, Her Interactive, the creator of the Nancy Drew games, has launched its first iPad title, with Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch, and our own Christian Nutt talks to CEO Megan Gaiser about the company's philosophy. ]

The game is a hybrid storybook and adventure game, incorporating plain text with minigames, some of which flow directly and logically from the story and others which seek to relieve the boredom younger users might feel when confronted with prose.

The goal is to attract new players to Nancy Drew. And while the company could port its successful PC point-and-click games to the iPad, the first stop is something entirely different.

With the Mobile Mysteries series, Her Interactive is "looking to create an entirely new Nancy Drew mystery experience. It seemed like a great opportunity to blend the elements of game mechanics, interactivity, and books.

"The definition of games, much like the definition of books, is no longer black and white, and this gave us the opportunity to explore this new genre," Gaiser says. "We're storytellers, and mystery makers, so this is just another way of telling a story."

Meandering, Mytho-Poetic Adventure: New Trailer For Sword & Sworcery

February 28, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

More than a year since its unveiling, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery -- the much hyped collaboration from Capy (Critter Crunch, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes), Jim Guthrie, and Craig "Superbrothers" Adams -- is finally close to release, mere weeks away from singing and dancing and adventuring on your iPad. 

This new "Audience Calibration", along with sharing new clips from the game, tells us we'll meet with Sword & Sworcery on the Vernal Equinox, or March 20th. Superbrothers also shared the following text about the title:

"S:S&S EP presents a yarn about a lonely warrior monk lady on a woeful errand in the remote mountain wilderness of the Caucasus, far from the Scythian steppes. This concept is a deliberate distortion of Robert E. Howard's seminal works of sword and sorcery fiction. Any student of Hyborian geography will tell you that The Caucasus of around 1000 BC is a loose inspiration for the home country of Howard's immortal creation, Conan the Cimmerian.

S:S&S EP differs from other genre fiction in that the story is framed by a fellow known as The Archetype who is purportedly conducting a psycho social audiovisual experiment on an unsuspecting 21st century audience. This enigmatic man is intended to echo intellectuals & entertainers like Carl G. Jung, Carl Sagan, Rod Serling, William Shatner & faux Sony spokesman Kevin Butler. The Archetype was, however, created with a very specific individual in mind."

You can check Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery's Facebook page for future updates. Or, you know, you could just keep following us here, as we're bound to post any news about the game, too.

Kairosoft Releases Hot Springs Story

February 28, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Kairosoft, the studio behind last year's breakout hit Game Dev Story, has released a new sim to iOS that once again has players managing all aspects of a facility, though this they'll oversee a Japanese hot springs inn instead of a game developer.

In this new title, players will try to lull their guests into "hot spring nirvana" by perfecting their inn's layout of rooms, restaurants, arcades, and baths. They'll also decorate a Japanese garden with "lanterns, pine trees, azaleas, and more."

Much of Game Dev Story's user interface has been replicated here, but newer iOS devices (iPhone 3GS and later, iPod Touch 2nd generation and later, and iPad) allow for zooming and rotating the screen.

You can buy Hot Springs Story from the App Store now for an introductory price of $3.99.

[Via mister_raroo]

Bit.Trip Flux Debuts On WiiWare Today, Runner Hits PC Tomorrow

February 28, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Bit.Trip Flux, the last entry from Gaijin Games' beloved minimalist/rhythm series, hits WiiWare today, following CommanderVideo as he finally returns home and taking players back to the classic (but difficult) paddle-based gameplay we saw in Bit.Trip Beat.

Available for 800 Wii Points, the game has players bouncing back incoming blocks to the beat of the music, and features a co-op two-player mode, a new Meta mode, new power-ups, new beat types, music by chip musician Bit.Shifter, and no Game Overs.

And if that isn't enough Bit.Trip for you, tomorrow Gaijin will release Runner, the IGF award-nominated WiiWare title that originally released last May, on Steam tomorrow with HD graphics, online leaderboards, achievements, and new difficulty modes.

Interview: Markus Persson On Bringing Achievements to Minecraft

February 28, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Our own Mike Rose talks to Markus 'Notch' Persson about the future of hit online indie title Minecraft, as he explains why achievements are in his plans, and how sales went up after a price rise.]

We had a chance to visit Mojang headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden last week, and along the way, sat down with Markus Persson, known online as Notch, about the future of his surprise indie smash Minecraft.

The open-world 'sandbox' title, which started as a one-man project, has ended up selling 1.4 million copies to date at anywhere between 10 euros ($13.75) and 15 euros ($20.60), and this has allowed Mojang to hire people and expand its vision for the blocky hit.

By way of introduction, Persson told us that he's really excited about the mods being created by the community for Minecraft, which runs in a browser as well as as downloadable PC, Mac, and Linux versions.

In fact, the Swedish native hope that one day the Minecraft modding scene will be as popular as Half Life 2 mods, and that people will approach him in the future with ideas for commercial mods for Minecraft.

Ideas for mods? Persson himself would like to work on a Capture the Flag-style game set in the Minecraft world, and said that it would be "the best idea ever" to build on the game's retro-style framework, citing Team Fortress Classic as an angle he'd like to approach the idea from.

Along the way, we also had a chance to ask Persson a number of additional questions about the smash title, which is nominated for awards in both the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards at this year's Game Developers Conference, which kicks off in San Francisco next week:

Analysis: The Difficulty With Difficulty

February 27, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Simon Parkin explores how difficulty in games has been scaled in recent years, comparing the likes of Dead Space 2 and Deathsmiles to classic '80s titles Defender and Pac-Man.]

At the October 1980 Amusement and Music Operators Association Trade Show in Chicago, the pinball machine manufacturer Williams unveiled Defender to delegates. The shoot ‘em up represented the company’s attempt to re-enter the video game business from which it had departed years earlier.

In contrast to Space Invaders’ neat mechanical rows of shuffling aliens, Defender’s attackers arrived in a squall of chaos. Its designer, Eugene Jarvis, wanted to make what he later dubbed a ‘sperm game’, an experience that would appeal to thrill-seeking males, offering the player a rush of excitement derived through bedlam and difficulty.

The game’s showing was a disaster. Delegates at the show wrestled with its over-fussy control system, many claiming that the twitch gameplay was too challenging.

Players walked away from the machine, repelled by its complexity and Jarvis, who had only finished coding the game hours before the show opened, walked away from the show disheartened.

His game, it seemed, was too hard.

But in the weeks and months that followed the show, Jarvis’ dismay proved misplaced. Rather than being turned off by the difficulty of the game, a section of arcade players flocked to conquer the game as a mark of prestige.

Soon after its release Defender was taking around 150 million quarters per week across the U.S. But its significance was greater than simply re-establishing Williams’ place at the gaming table.

In-Depth: Inside The 9th Annual Scene.org Awards - Part 2

February 27, 2011 12:00 AM |

[In the second of a multi-part series of demoscene-related posts on GameSetWatch, following the first set of nominees, AteBit's Paul 'EvilPaul' Grenfell looks at the Scene.org awards for the best demos of the past 12 months.]

The next three Scene.org awards categories under our microscope are Best Demo on an Oldschool Platform, Most Original Concept and Breakthrough Performance.

Best Demo on an Oldschool Platform

A heavy Commodore presence in this year's nominees with four C64 demos and one Amiga.

Another Beginning by Offence & Prosonix

A real oldschool C64 demo here, from the The Last Ninja reference at the beginning to the need for the viewer to PRESS SPACE to skip between parts - none of this "newschool" trackmo nonsense here!

Gejmbåj by Snorpung

A neat demo running on the original monochrome Game Boy, and pushing it hard.

Sound Current: 'Back in the Swing of Things - Simon Viklund on Bionic Commando Rearmed 2'

February 26, 2011 12:00 PM | jeriaska

[In the latest of his 'Sound Current' interviews with notable video game musicians, Jeriaska sits down with Stockholm-based Simon Viklund to discuss his soundtrack to console downloadable title Bionic Commando Rearmed and its sequel.]

Composer Simon Viklund has written music and served as creative director on several current generation game titles developed in Sweden. In 2007 he led the team at GRIN behind Bionic Commando Rearmed for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation 3's Playstation Network, a downloadable remake of the 8-bit action title Bionic Commando.

For the soundtrack, released as a digital album through iTunes, the musician arranged compositions from the NES game by Capcom composer Junko Tamiya. More recently, he has returned to score the direct sequel, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, this time handled by developer Fatshark.

Unlike the enhanced remake, Rearmed 2 features an entirely new storyline and original music compositions in addition to arranged renditions of the NES music. This interview with the composer investigates the challenges of tapping into the feel of the classic Bionic Commando soundtrack and what narrative elements have been seen as vital to the the Rearmed series of games.

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