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Archive For March, 2011

Pica Pic: Brilliant Site Brings LCD Handhelds To Your Browser

March 24, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Polish design group Hipopotam Studio have created a site so beautiful and wonderful that it can't be legal: Pica Pic, a collection of LCD handhelds playable in your browser (each button tied to a button on your keyboard).

The games are perfect ports as far as I can tell, and includes familiar handhelds like Acclaim's Bartman and Tiger Electronics' The Terminator, as well as curiosities like Nu, Pugodi! from Russia and Coffee House from Taiwan.

There are 17 playable games in all, and ports for Plane & Tank and Zelda (Game & Watch) are forthcoming. Each game also has online leaderboards that you can submit your score to! Get your name on there quick before someone takes this site down!

[Via Engadget]

Mega64 Indie Dreams And Drives At GDC

March 24, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Mega64 always makes a point to honor indies at the Game Developers Conference each year with a video, and this year the comedy video team produced this touching tribute to the folks who turned in their indie jackets for a stable job and full benefits in the gaming industry.

The group explains, "Most people who watch Mega64 are successful businessman, so you all know how it feels to lose touch with your roots in the middle of a corporate world. Our new video ... showcases a man, powerful in the video game industry, longing to return to his indie roots… Be prepared to cry."

And if you haven't seen them yet, don't forget to watch Mega64's other GDC videos from this year, including its look at Heavy Rain brought into the real world and the startling reveal of how the Shenmue series was meant to end (narrarated by Shenmue director Yu Suzuki!)

Sword & Sworcery Now Out For iPad

March 24, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If you're on Twitter, you've probably seen a million other people already talking about the game, but in case you haven't, the much-anticipated Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is finally out for the iPad, and all kinds of dudes are loving it.

Sword & Sworcery is an "exploratory adventure game" in which players "traverse a mythic little realm, use a sword to do battle, and evoke sworcery to solve mystical musical mysteries." It also has some sort of Twitter integration!

The iOS title features a unique pixelart visual style from Craig "Superbrothers" Adams, an album's worth of music from noted indie rocker Jim Guthrie, and designs/code from indie developer Capybara (Critter Crunch, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes).

You can buy Sword & Sworcery for your iPad now for $4.99 -- the iPhone/iPod Touch version is scheduled to release in a month.

Interview: PopCap's Roberts On Why 'Good Games Are Good Games'

March 24, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Sister site Gamasutra's editor-at-large Chris Morris talks to PopCap CEO David Roberts about the rise of casual gaming, the company's credibility rise with Valve's Orange Box, and why Bejeweled's popularity rises from the fact that "good games are good games."]

PopCap Games, to borrow (and slightly mangle) a phrase from Barbara Mandrell, was casual when casual wasn't cool.

Long before companies like Rovio and Zynga were dominating headlines, the Seattle-based development house was building a loyal following with titles like Bejeweled and Bookworm. And that gives it some perspective in this fast-growing market.

"Last year was the most pivotal in the gaming industry in a couple of decades," says David Roberts, CEO at PopCap.

"The two things that have changed in the casual space, from where we sit, are the iPhone… and Facebook/Zynga. The fact is that we had the uphill battle of convincing 50-year old women that they could play games [in our early days]. Now it's easy."

The surge in casual has certainly helped PopCap fatten its coffers. The company hit revenues of $100 million last year and has sold 10 million games on the iPhone alone.

It has, along the way, become one of the few casual game companies that the core community has truly embraced. But it wasn't that long ago that "serious" gamers didn't pay a lot of attention to PopCap.

"That evolved over time," says Roberts. "The press, in particular, was a bit skeptical of us. The credibility really started when Valve bundled that version of Peggle with The Orange Box. … We made no money off of that. But it was the start of how core gamers changed their gaming habits."

Koumajou Densetsu II Translation Patch Now Available

March 23, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Doujin group Frontier Aja announced that an English and French translation patch for its recently released Castlevania clone/"Touhouvania", Koumajou Densetsu II: Stranger's Requiem, is now available (it's a big 280MB file, so expect to wait a while for that to download). 

As we mentioned a few months ago, Koumajou Densetsu II features linear-style level designs similar to Castlevania's older games but takes a lot of inspiration from the series' recent (anime-inspired) visual style, music, and monsters. Oh, and there's a bit of flying around and dodging shmup-style bullet patterns, too.

You can find a collection of links to purchase Koumajou Densetsu II: Stranger's Requiem here.

[Thanks, John P.!]

Amon Tobin's Chaos Theory Remixed Double LP

March 23, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Probably the awesomest thing I've seen for Ubisoft's Splinter Cell 3D is the new Amon Tobin album, Chaos Theory Remixed, a collection the Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Soundtrack songs remixed (naturally) and the OST for the Nintendo 3DS game.

Along with two new/unreleased tracks from Tobin, "Breaking Protocol" and "Splinter Cell Conviction Theme Menu", the album has ten remixes from artists like Kid Koala, Daedelus, King Cannibal, Eskmo, and others.

You can purchase Chaos Theory Remixed's MP3s from iTunes or Amazon, or the double LP version (pictured, includes a 3D inner sleeve and glasses!) from Ubisoft's online shop.

[Via GoNintendo]

Gadget: Past as Future Brought To iPhone, iOS

March 23, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I had never heard of Synergy's interactive movie Gadget: Invention, Travel, & Adventure from 1993 (or its special Gadget: Past as Future edition released four years) until today, but apparently noted director Guillermo del Toro says it went on to inspire films like Dark City and The Matrix.

Eastern Mind's Bruno de Figueiredo also tells us that the PC/Mac release "stamped an inimitable hallmark in the history of interactive CD-ROM as one of the most profoundly influential works of digital art whose inscrutability has mystified video game critics, still unable to find a fitting label with which to categorize it."

"This rare masterpiece by Haruhiko Shono bears witness to a pioneering cycle of history when advancements in technology have succeeded in inviting established artists from various fields into dabbling with the stirring new prospect of interactivity; but also a phase of particular meaning to video game studies and criticism, then treading their very first steps into a wider understanding of that once trendy term," he adds.

And thanks to Apple's iDevices, you won't have to track down a copy of on eBay or dubious torrent sites to experience it yourself, as Gadget: Past as Future is now available for the iPhone and iPad, packing 4 CD-ROMs/2GBs worth of content into a single app.

Gadget's description on the App Store is as odd as you'd expect from a ground-breaking Japanese interactive movie from the '90s:

"Starting from West End Hotel, Room 306. The mystery man Slowslop waiting for you in the lobby. A photograph – “Find the Scientists!” Aboard the train you talk with scientists and other passengers from whom you collect information and gadgets that will keep you on the go. While following in the tracks of Horselover, the facts concerning a comet that is fast approaching earth, the existence of a small spaceship called the Ark and other unexpected developments gradually come to light."

The iOS versions features new touch/swipe controls optimized for the touch-based devices, auto-saving, hint pages, re-rendered and even re-constructed movies, and high definition movies on the iPad version.

You can download Gadget: Past as Future on your iPhone/iPod Touch for $4.99 or on your iPad for $6.99.

Battle Slots: RPG With A Slot Machine Spin

March 23, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Casino PC game publisher Phantom EFX has jumped into the recently popular RPG-hybrid space with Battle Slots, an upcoming title that blends RPG elements with slot machine gameplay.

The game features over 100 locations, more than 200 quests, and a "magical slot machine" that replaces the typical match-three puzzles you see in RPG/puzzler hybrids. Here, spinning the machine determines your mana, attacks, summons, and more.

As you earn money in battles, you can upgrade buildings in your village (to increase the strength of your allies) and expand your zoo (filled with beasts that have unique spells and abilities). This sounds like it has a lot more depth than your typical slot machine game!

Battle Slots will release for Windows some time this year, and Phantom EFX is considering PSN and XBLA ports, too. You can preorder the PC version before March 31, you can get it with a 20 percent discount off its standard $19.99 price.

[Via GamerBytes]

Katamari, Killzone Inspired Yarn

March 23, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I'm unsure if there's any demand for these unique products, but Sarah Knopf is selling a collection of dyed yarn "one of a kind variegated, semi-solid and over-dyed yarns" inspired by the colors of video games like the Katamari and Killzone series.

Her Prince of the Cosmos yarn, for example, features "a mix of lemon, chartreuse, kelly green, red and violet (with some brown spots where certain colors like green and violet meet)", while the Hellghast yarn is "mostly black with a flash of red and orange".

Knopf is selling skeins of the yarn for $20 each, with each skein offering enough yardage to make a pair of adult size socks. You can buy them on her Another Crafty Girl shop at Etsy. The image above shows the Hellghast, ISA, and Kaznan Jungle yarns.

Opinion: Surprise! Your Game Is Canned

March 23, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this opinion piece originally published in Game Developer Magazine's March 2011 issue, EIC Brandon Sheffield discusses what it is like to experience a sudden and unexpected game cancellation.]

Until last month, I was contract narrative director for a mid-tier budget, big publisher-backed original IP for retail Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as my work as EIC for Game Developer magazine.

Then, suddenly, one executive shuffle later, projects were getting canned left and right, mine among them. It’s happened to nearly everyone in the industry, but it’s the first time for me, so I’ll delve into this a little bit.

Well, That Sucks!

Nobody saw it coming—the game’s alpha was approved and paid for, response from the publisher was positive, and all our ideas were really coming together. The story made sense and had a flow to it.

All gameplay elements existed in the alpha, and our unique look was showing through. Five days after that, word came down that it was over.

Ultimately, it came down to publisher finances, there was nothing anyone could do about it, and frankly I don’t even blame the publisher.

Still, one can’t help but think—what if we’d put a little more effort in? What if we’d worked longer hours, or made our ideas more obvious in the alpha build? Would it have helped? Doubts and misgivings are difficult to avoid.

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