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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 March, 2011

Adorable El Shaddai Figures Given The El Shaddai Treatment

March 30, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Giving this set of El Shaddai figures the serious voiceover and presentation it deserves, Bandai produced this awesome trailer for the adorable Enoch and Lucifel toys mimicking the original, offbeat trailer for Ignition Entertainment's action game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.

This series is the latest from Bandai's Deformeister Petit label, and includes action poses like... Lucifel talking on his cell phone and gingerly handling an umbrella while winking. Enoch almost looks intimidating with his Arch weapon, but those big eyes and that smile makes you want to just pinch his cheeks.

These and several other mystery figures from the set will release in Japan "about July", a couple months after the El Shaddai game hits the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 there.

[Via @ShaneWatch]

ARTnews Looks At 'How Video Games Became Art'

March 30, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

The latest issue of ARTnews -- described as "the oldest, most widely-read fine arts magazine in the world" -- has an excellent article on the art world's embracing of games in the last decade with exhibits showcasing experimental titles like Mark Essen's Flywrench and installation's like Cory Arcangel's "Beat The Champ" coming to the Whitney Museum this May.

Describing "how video games became art", the piece presents a number of examples of video game/art crossovers, like Eddo Stern's Best... Flame War... Ever (an online argument turned into an animation or two masks quarreling over "armor class mitigation and "shadowknights"), Ian Bogost's Independent Games Festival finalist A Slow Year, and many others.

The article also covers the challenges of games seeking acceptance in the art scene, such as interactive experiences having to shed "their gameness" to court museums, the art world tending to "focus on certain types of gaming art and overlook others", and museum patrons that have set habits of spending only a few minutes with pieces on display.

There are also some great quotes in the ARTnews feature, like this one from Chris Melissinos: "People always ask me, 'If video games are an art, where is your Great Gatsby?' I like to remind them that it was almost 50 years after it was published before Gatsby was hailed as a classic." In the world of art and video games, the game has hardly begun."

G. Rev Releases Strania Shmup To XBLA

March 30, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Strania: The Stella Machine, the new shoot'em up from Japanese developer G. Rev (Senko no Ronde, Border Down) that promises "retro-style graphics and old school shooting action", released to Xbox Live Arcade today across all major territories.

The game features sword-wielding mechas, co-op support both locally and online, and an "Over Dose" feature that gives players limited invulnerability for a short period of time while multiplying their score.

As shown at the end of the above trailer, G.Rev is already working on a downloadable content release called Side Vower for Strania, which will allow gamers to play as the opposing forces from the original game, experiencing the story from the perspective of the Vower army.

You can download Strania for 800 MS Points or grab a free demo at the XBLA marketplace.

[Via Mecha Damashii]

Interview: Spaces of Play on Spirits and the Creative Uncommon

March 30, 2011 12:00 AM |

[GameSetWatch correspondent Jason Johnson talks with the heads of Berlin-based indie Spaces of Play about their enchanting iOS puzzler Spirits, their different lifestyles and approaches to level design, and more.]

Spirits is a Lemmings-tinged puzzler with a whimsical, well, spirit. It emphasizes player choice, creativity, and freedom. Other times, it’s a diehard brain-teaser with the elasticity of a crossword puzzle. Its harmonious discord echoes the creative differences of its creators, and their remarkable ability to play off each other to orchestrate a multi-award winning game.

I rang up Mattias Ljungström and Marek Plichta of the Berlin-based indie collective Spaces of Play to talk about how their contrasting styles came together to shape a cohesive vision.

Spirits is filled with little creatures called spirits. When I first saw them, I thought they were jellyfish, or mushrooms. What exactly are spirits?

Mattias Ljungström: If you look closely, the spirits actually spawn from piles of leaves.

Marek Plichta: Each one is the spirit of a fallen leaf.

You say they are spirits. Is that kind of like ghosts?

ML: We don’t have an extensive story. We like to hear other people’s interpretations. But, yes. They are the spirits of dead leaves. They have fallen from a tree. So they are the spirits of a tree. Of nature.

Anamanaguchi, Nullsleep To Rock Blip Festival 2011 This May

March 29, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

8bitpeoples and The Tank have announced that Blip Festival, the premier chiptune concert series featuring renown micromusic performers and visual artists from around the world , will return to New York City for its fifth year, running from May 19 to 21 at Manhattan's art and technology center Eyebeam.

This year's lineup includes big names like Anamanaguchi, Bit Shifter, cTrix, Henry Homesweet, Nullsleep, and many other artists not yet announced -- you can see all the musicians revealed fo far on Blip Festival 2011's official site.

In addition to the nighttime performances, Blip Festival will host an "array of daytime workshops, lectures, and demonstrations that illustrate the openness and encouragement that are hallmarks of the chip community." 

You can purchase three-day passes for the event right now. Single-night tickets will go on sale starting April 19.

Monsters, Furniture Smashed In First Grim Dawn Gameplay Video

March 29, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Crate Entertainment, an independent studio formed by veterans of Titan Quest developer Iron Lore Entertainment, is working on another Diablo-clone that hopes to "better perfect the magical formula of exploration, character advancement, and loot collection" pioneered by Blizzard's game.

This first gameplay clip for Grim Dawn, which uses the same technology that was employed in Titan Quest, mostly shows off the hack-and-slash title's soldier class, um, hacking and slashing monsters, doors, and a threatening chair, sending chunks of flesh and wood everywhere.

Grim Dawn will feature fve classes with distinct and multple skill trees (more classes planned as DLC), destructible environments, dynamic weather, multiplayer support, crafting, a loot system designed to drop less junk items, and more.

There's no word on when Grim Dawn will release, but you can purchase the game in advance for $19.85. If you preorder the $32 Epic Fan edition, you'll get beta access, your name in the credits, and an in-game accessory. The $48 Legendary Fan version comes with all that and alpha access.

[Via butsomuch]

Blue Skies Turn Gray: UK Resistance Closes

March 29, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

After running the finest satirical Sega fansite available on this snarky internet for 15 years, Gary "Commander Zorg" Cutlack announced that UK Resistance is closing due to what he describes as "a general feeling of disconnection from a games industry that no longer accomodates or reflects our needs".

For those pitiful readers who never had a chance to enjoy UK Resistance (or its Blue Sky In Games campaign), it was "a site about games and game paraphernalia and how nothing's as good as we remember it, probably because we used to inhabit a fantasy world."

It was also the best online collection of lamentations over Sega's/Sonic the Hedgehog's fate, cheeky Sony-bashing, photos of spirals resembling the Dreamcast logo, and lewd artwork of Cream the Rabbit in uncompromising positions.

"It's time," explained Cutlack. "Or rather, it was time about three years ago and we have only just got around to making it formal." While the site will no longer receive updates, UK Resistance "will remain online in archive format for the forseeable future.

One UK Resistance reader, obviously devastated by the news, could only react by asking, "Does this mean the Dreamcast 2 isn't happening?"

Atari, Griptonite Remaking Warlords Again

March 29, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Even though it already released a Stainless Games-developed remake of classic arcade title Warlords to XBLA a few years ago, Atari announced that it's bringing another remake to XBLA and PSN this summer, this time with the help of Griptonite Games (Marvel Super Hero Squad).

As with the original, up to four players will "defend [their] castle walls from the destruction of fast-flying fireballs". They'll do this by moving moving their respective castle's shield around to bounce fireballs away Breakout-style, or grabbing and charging fireballs to send them at opponents.

This "reinvention" will add local and online game modes for up to four players, including competitive variants like co-op siege mode, 2 vs 2, or free-for-all battles. It also gives players a group of minions to capture control points, and gather power-ups that can improve defenses or harm enemies.

You can find more info on the new Warlords remake and watch a trailer at Atari's official site for the game.

Clash of Heroes HD Releasing In Two Weeks

March 29, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Now that Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is out for iPad, Toronto-based indie developer Capybara can focus on promoting another imminent release: Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes HD, a port of the fantastic DS RPG/puzzler to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

Publisher Ubisoft and Capybara released this new launch trailer, which says the PSN edition will hit April 14 (presumably, they meant April 12), and the XBLA version of Clash of Heroes HD is expected to release some time around then.

The new clip shows off the game's titular high definition graphics with redrawn sprites and new visual effects/animations. The port will also add online and offline multiplayer modes, new multiplayer-specific artifacts to enhance characters' powers, and more.

Sound Current: 'Serializing RPG Storylines on Final Fantasy Legends'

March 29, 2011 12:00 AM | jeriaska

[In his latest 'Sound Current' interview for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska talks to Square Enix's Takashi Tokita and Naoshi Mizuta about producing and composing for the newly launched in Japan Final Fantasy Legends mobile title.]

Square Enix first set out to create a turn-based role-playing game in serial installments with Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. The positive reception of the episodic form led game designer Takashi Tokita to use the same approach with Japan's mobile and iPod Touch title Final Fantasy Legends. Featuring an original storyline and game world, Legends harkens back to the sprite art of the Super Nintendo era.

For the original music score, composer Naoshi Mizuta was tasked with capturing the chiptune feel of earlier console eras. The musician, perhaps best known for his work on Final Fantasy XI, has performed as part of the Star Onions band in addition to writing music for Blood of Bahamut and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.

In this interview, Final Fantasy Legends' producer and composer discuss the pros and cons of developing serialized games for digital distribution platforms. Gamasutra will be following up with a further Takashi Tokita interview on the international release of Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection for Playstation Portable, an enhanced port containing Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.


Naoshi Mizuta and Takashi Tokita at Square Enix's offices in Shinjuku

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