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Archive For May, 2011

Valve Releases Free Portal 2 Soundtrack

May 27, 2011 2:00 AM | Danny Cowan


If you can't get enough of Portal 2's ambient soundtrack, Valve has made a collection of tracks available on its site as a free direct download.

The 22-track "Songs to Test By" album is not a complete soundtrack (the ending theme isn't included, in case you're wondering), but it's certainly a more reasonable alternative to downloading the unofficial Portal 2 audio rip, which is said to contain more than 200 individual files. It turns out that there's a lot of music in Portal 2!

Also available at Valve's site are a selection of iPhone- and Android-compatible ringtones, including a version of the excellent "Turret Wife Serenade."

Shinobi Reboot Planned for 3DS

May 27, 2011 12:00 AM | Danny Cowan

Sega's Shinobi series has had a rocky recent past, despite a stellar run in the '80s and early '90s. The Rolling Thunder-inspired arcade original, the Genesis launch title Revenge of Shinobi, and the ninja/canine buddy cop drama Shadow Dancer were all great games, and 1993's Shinobi III was one of the best games of the 16-bit generation.

After that, it all went to hell. Shinobi Legions on the Saturn introduced digitized graphics and full-motion video cutscenes. A pair of sequels on the PlayStation 2 subscribed to Ninja Gaiden's design philosophy, and were frustratingly difficult. And the less said about the portable spinoffs (Cyber Shinobi, oh god), the better.

Reaching into its back catalog of classic franchises -- I imagine after briefly considering yet another Golden Axe reboot, and not even remembering that Streets of Rage exists -- Sega announced plans to publish a new Shinobi game for the Nintendo 3DS in September.

Foundation 9 subsidiary Griptonite Games (developer of the well-regarded Nintendo DS version of Spyro: The Eternal Night, among other things) is handling development duties, which seems like a good fit. Better still, the game appears to be a 2D platformer, and sticks to traditions established by Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi III -- the eight-way shuriken somersault is in, and there's even autoscrolling surfing and horseback riding sequences. It's all quite promising!

For Those Who Enjoy Chiptunes, Shmups, & Pandas

May 26, 2011 10:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins

D N A U X B is an animated short by London-based animator Tony Comley. Actually, it's a music video for the album "We Go Dream Team", by Gameshow Outpatient, another project of Comley's.

Now, I'm still not clear if D N A U X B refers to the name of a song or the lead character. I've done my best to look around for answers via the assorted online presences that Comley has, but I still can't figure it out. Perhaps it's supposed to be this big mystery? You know, kids today.

I'm also not 100 percent if the audio can indeed be classified as chiptunes, but it certainly sounds like it to me. I also initially thought the lead was a cat, not a panda. But I do know it sounds awesome and can't wait to hear more, plus hope additional videos are forthcoming.

[via @brandonnn]

Poster Girl For Tokyo Game Show 2011 Revealed

May 26, 2011 8:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins


The mascot for this year's TGS has just been unveiled, an anime girl that's comprised of assorted bits and pieces from various game controllers. Looks familiar? She should; it's the same exact character from Tokyo Game Show 2010.

I guess the organizers really dug artist Ippei Gyoubu's handiwork and requested a repeat performance. I personally don't mind, since I totally dug the design last year, though many it would seem are less than pleased. Many other outlets reporting this news have called her everything from "ugly" to "creepy", as well as sporting a "PlayStation bias".

Yet the most intriguing comment is this one from Andriasang's post on the matter: "I find it incredibly ironic that the main visual for an industry that is currently falling over itself to simplify and streamline the user interface in order to be more inviting to new players is a tangled web of wires, knobs, buttons, and joysticks." Interesting observation.

Hey, I'm just glad there's a show this year, especially after all that Japan has been through.

[via Andriasang]

David O. Russell Bids Uncharted Farewell

May 26, 2011 6:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins


Celebrated screenwriter and director David O. Russell, whose credits include such films as I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter, and my personal favorite, Three Kings, has just walked away from the big screen adaptation of Uncharted, according to Variety. The reason given was "creative differences" with Sony, for whom the movie would be made for (their Columbia Pictures subsidiary to be exact).

The news should come as a relief to many. Initially when Russell was attached to the project, many were hopeful, given his strong caliber of work. The fact that he was clearly enthusiastic whenever the subject was brought up made the deal even sweeter. Once actor Mark Wahlberg was cast as the lead, only one question remained: what could possibly go wrong?

A totally different and rather eye-roll worthy take on the subject matter, that's what. It was eventually revealed that Russell's idea for Nathan Drake and his cohorts was nothing close to the exploits of some average dude, one who happens to be a treasure hunter that gets himself in hairy situations, and tries his best to be a ladies man, but doesn't quite have it. Instead the plot revolved around a crime family, similar to the Sopranos, who still have a sense of justice and keep the peace in the world of art and antiques. Needless to say, the rather large and passionate fan base was not pleased. So again, it's just as well that the movie is no more. Or is it?

Over the years, several movies based upon gaming's most treasured properties have been attempted and later abandoned. I'm talking about the AAA licenses from the truly big publishers, films based upon Metroid and Halo for example, but neither materialized due to a variety of reasons. Lack of resources was cited for the latter, whose director, Neill Blomkamp, would go on to helm another sci-fi tinged epic about conflict (District 9). As for the former, plain and simple developmental hell caused its steward to abandon ship; as much of a fan of John Woo I was back in the day, the very idea of him overseeing the adventures of Samus Aran never did sit quite right.

But Uncharted's story might be different, since Sony has the experience, and more importantly the money, to get a movie made. Which was a totally wild beast for Nintendo and Microsoft. Time will only tell if the project is indeed dead.

[via Variety]

Minecraft Pocket Edition Announced

May 26, 2011 4:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins

An official portable version of the immensely popular indie sandbox title Minecraft is finally on the way. Price and release date have yet to be disclosed, but it's first stop is at least been known: the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (aka the PSPhone), where it will also enjoy a window of exclusivity.

Notch (one of the primary forces behind Minecraft) explained that the abundance of buttons found on the handset was one primary factor for it being chosen as launch hardware. Which is sure to be sad news to iPhone & iPad fanboys everywhere. Some have already expressed a certain degree of indignation as a result, to the point that a select number feel honestly betrayed.

At least it's coming; as Jens Bergensten (the other person behind the game) explains, this latest iteration utilizes a rewritten engine to support the iOS in the future. The bad news is how it won't sync up with the PC version for cross-platform play. Till then, Apple loyalists can keep themselves occupied with Sword & Sworcery, Eliss, Pong Vaders, and countless other exclusives that the platform enjoys. As well as the unofficial Minecraft client, for those who still have a copy before it got yanked by Apple (which might actually be superior to the real deal, if it does indeed speak with desktop players).

It's also worth noting that the Xperia Play makes its official North American debut today, via Verizon Wireless. Previously, one's only option was an unlocked GSM version for a large wad of cash (which is the case for most carrier agnostic phones, alas). It's been out in Europe for a little while now, with sales of PSone software, the main thrust of the device, being sluggish to put it mildly. Will Minecraft be the killer app the phone clearly needs? Time will only tell.

[via reddit & Cult of Mac]

GDC Europe 2011 Adds Silent Hill, Zynga, BulletStorm Talks To Program

May 26, 2011 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

GDC Europe 2011 organizers have debuted fresh talks for August's show, with online game-centric talks from Zynga's Mark Skaggs and The Settlers Online's Teut Weidemann, plus AAA lectures on the creation of Bulletstorm and the upcoming Silent Hill: Downpour.

Taking place Monday through Wednesday, August 15-17, 2011 at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost ahead of the major gamescom trade show, GDC Europe 2011 has now revealed more than 60 sessions in the event's just-launched Schedule Builder.

Some of the new highlights from the Main Conference sessions, which encompass tracks on Business & Marketing, Game Design, Production, Programming and Visual Arts, include:

- Zynga's Mark Skaggs is giving a lecture called 'Designing Successful Social Games' as part of the Game Design Track, discussing "the design frameworks he uses when creating social games, including the popular global sensations FarmVille and CityVille."

- In 'Silent Hill: Past, Present & Future', Czech studio Vatra Games' Matthew Seymour and Brian Gomez, working on this year's much-awaited Silent Hill: Downpour, "provide a survey of this seminal survival horror series, describing the challenges of disempowering players and creating a sense of dread when mainstream titles are empowering players like never before."

- Also in the Main Conference, German game development veteran Teut Weidemann (Turrican, X-Out) is talking on 'F2P Online Games: The Game Is Not Enough', focusing on The Settlers Online and 'out of client' learnings for the popular European online game around "web presence, support, payment systems, community management, and e-marketing."

- A high-profile talk debut at GDC Europe is 'The Triforce of Courage: Bulletstorm's Key Learnings on Global Distributed Development', with Epic's Tanya Jessen discussing the popular console title, which was developed in Poland but produced by Epic in the U.S. -- focusing on the "challenges and lessons learned from developing AAA in a global distributed way."

Turn-Based Tactical Game Frozen Synapse Releases With 2-For-1 Deal

May 26, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Fans of turn-based strategy games in the vein of X-Com and Jagged Alliance (and if you aren't a fan, what's wrong with you?), get your wallets out because indie developer Mode 7 Games has just released Frozen Synapse for Windows and Mac.

Frozen Synapse is a contemporary take on the genre, keeping the turn-based squad tactics (with moves played out asynchronously, much like Laser Squad Nemesis) while adding a "modern" UI, various multiplayer modes, an "advanced map generator," and more.

There are tons of online/community features, too, like email notications (for play by email), friends lists, leaderboards, matchmaking, rating/commenting on games, exporting matches to Youtube, and Facebook/Twitter integration.

And because Mode 7 realizes that these games are best played with a friend, when you buy a copy and register on the multiplayer server, you'll receive another full copy of Frozen Synapse that you can give to someone else. Rad!

L.A. Noire Memes: Scumbag Cole

May 26, 2011 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

We live in a internet world where everything must be combined with everything for our entertainment: Zangief and that kid who piledrived his bully, Mario and Star WarsMass Effect and Hipster Ariel, etc.

The recent release and popularity of L.A. Noire has spurred bored dudes to create a number of meme images for the game, my favorite being this one that combines protagnist Cole with the Scumbag Steve meme (who, it turns out, was actually a pretty stand-up dude!)

This one was created by Reddit's Lambchops_Legion, but you can see more and even make your own at Meme Generator. Here's another funny L.A. Noire/Cole image and meta-meme, too:

BloodRayne Returns In An Explosion Of Body Parts

May 26, 2011 11:00 AM | Ryan Langley

Wayforward is one of my favorite little developers -- they've had their hard times, having to make Barbie games to put food on the table, but once in a while they're able to go all out with something awesome, like Shantae or Contra 4. The new BloodRayne is the latter.

Wayforward have taken what was previously a pretty clunky 3rd person action game into a Dishwasher: Dead Samurai style slash fest. Lots of blood, a lot of crazy demons and ungodly creatures to slaughter, and a lot of combos to figure out.

It's just nice to see Wayforward do something HD for a change, and good on them.

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