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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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Column: Roboto-Chan

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Super Ultimate Power

April 24, 2007 6:28 AM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the effect of the animated series Ideon on the future of gaming.]

ideon_waveleader1.jpgIt's safe to say that ninjas are suitably potent. In the aeon old conflict with their natural adversaries, the eyepatch wearing pirates, ninjas have a distinct advantage due to their ability to channel real ultimate power. However, much like with mecha, you have two sides to ultimate power; real and super.

To commemorate my final entry into the Roboto-chan pantheon, I feel it necessary to cover the arbiter of super ultimate power and its effect on gaming as a whole. For those who are concerned about my imminent departure, fear ye not! Similar to the super robot shows from the 70's, I have sourced a plucky replacement with hot blooded fists of justice. He will pilot the column with equal skill and insight (think Hot Rod rather Ultra Magnus in terms of competence). Naturally, as of the column's next edition he shall light our darkest hour.

Anyway, on with my final contribution to the column...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Redesigning the Barrel

April 11, 2007 9:55 AM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the effect of one designer who has taken the concept of real robots to their zenith.]

steel_battalion_quasar1.jpgAbout seven years ago I stumbled across some interesting designs within the pages of Newtype. I used to buy Newtype semi-regularly, mainly for my Five Star Stories fix but also because the magazine often held host to some pretty interesting stuff.

The designs that caught my eye were from a soon to be serialised novel by the name of For the Barrel and they were, quite frankly, utterly revolutionary. You see, For the Barrel was a re-imagination of the original Gundam series, except with a far greater emphasis on realism. The designwork was consequently unnervingly palpable.

A few years later, Capcom announced a truly bizarre mecha game on the original Xbox. It would have a monstrous bespoke controller covered in a myriad of happy flashing buttons. Naturally, the mecha designs needed to look the part especially with such a high emphasis on realism for the game.

The common link between the two is a man by the name of Junji Okubo and it's about time his effect on mecha design and the future of gaming was covered.

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Shooting the Core

March 27, 2007 6:21 AM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the frequent Western misinterpretation of what mecha games set out to achieve.]

ac4_ss_rank_small.jpgNow with the release of Armored Core 4 abroad, reviews and forum discussion are a mixed bag. The main problem is down to a misinterpretation of what mecha games set out to achieve and consequently offer in terms of gameplay. Fallacious comparisons are often made to other types of gaming genre as a means of categorising the quality of whatever mecha game is currently under the spotlight. So, I think it's time for a little cultural clarification...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Welcome to the Circus

March 14, 2007 1:37 AM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the effect of two Japanese animators on mecha gaming.]

itano_circus1.jpgWhen people look at mecha games, outside of Japan, they often overlook the main sources of influence. After all, from a pop-cultural standpoint Japan is literally immersed in mecha. From anime to manga, mecha is all pervasive and has been around for over half a century.

There are consequently two very important figures in anime that have inadvertently shaped the last twenty years of mecha gaming and will continue to do so for a good long while to come. And so we shall talk about them!

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Rebuilding Virtual On

February 27, 2007 1:09 PM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the foibles of owning an arcade gaming classic (all photos were taken prior to cleaning, just in case you are curious) and special thanks to Saur and Trevor for their fearless assistance in the rebuilding.]

vo_cab_11.jpgA few years ago I managed to acquire a Virtual On arcade cabinet. One of the slightly more difficult aspects of owning an arcade machine is that you sometimes have to move it around. Considering that this particular cabinet weighs nearly half a ton and is pretty sizeable, it doesn't exactly travel well.

Basically, to get the machine anywhere means it has to be completely disassembled and then rebuilt in its new abode. Two weeks ago, some friends and I did just that.

More after the jump...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Lost Warriors

February 13, 2007 12:51 PM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers an overlooked game from the mid-nineties.]

mw1.jpgWhat with the general populace savouring the bug blasting wonders of Lost Planet, it seems worthwhile covering a game from 1995 that bears striking similarities to Capcom's latest opus.

The game was Metal Warriors on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and it was pretty damn amazing for its time too but due to the then recent release of Sony's first PlayStation console it somewhat fell under the radar.

More after the jump...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Aces High

January 30, 2007 12:21 PM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the Another Century's Episode games.]

amuro_nu_ace2.jpgThose of you may remember my low-down of the Armored Core series and a nod to the developer, that of From Software, who created it. As of 2005 From Software have branched into more licensed gaming fare and whilst that may sound like terrifyingly bad news, they've approached the task with similar otaku fervour and created a whole new franchise that epitomises their nerd-like stranglehold on all things mecha.

More after the jump...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Gattai and Henkei

January 15, 2007 4:01 PM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column gives a brief rundown of two main design features that have been responsible for the enduring success of Japanese mecha.]

garland_henkei1.jpgThere are two facets of the mecha pop-cultural mythos that are synonymous with it being pant wettingly awesome. They've spawned toys that have caused riots due to their subsequent demand and more importantly forged tenets of mecha design that survive until this day.

These are the respective abilities of combination (gattai) and transformation (henkei). In game playing terms these abilities are also something of note, though we have yet to see Japanese gaming truly catch up in terms of useable functionality.

More after the jump...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Brothers in Arms

January 2, 2007 8:03 AM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column investigates a fascinating Gundam arcade game]

senjou_gameplay1.jpgI had planned on doing a "best of 2006" list, much like the rest of the online throng. Yet, whilst on holiday in Japan, I feel compelled to cover something more pertinent. We all know that the Japanese arcade scene is still moderately thriving and suitably extreme in terms of hardware. However, some of the more interesting and unique arcade games often lack coverage.

One of these is the recently released Gundam Senjou no Kizuna. It's a fascinating game purely off the back of its insane cabinet, which features a panoramic display (that you literally sit in), two joysticks and two pedals.

Immersion is a word oft misused in describing games but Senjou no Kizuna really fulfils that description in ways that traditional games simply don't.

More after the jump...

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Armored Hardcore

December 19, 2006 9:13 AM |

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the epic Armored Core series]

aclr_game.jpgWhat with Armored Core 4's release a scant few days away, it seems only sensible to write a retrospective on possibly one of the most successful mecha gaming franchises ever created.

You'd think that a dedicated gaming intellectual property that affords immense creative freedom on the part of the player would be championed outside of Japan as well as within. While the latter is certainly true, the former is sadly not the case.

Admittedly, From Software's Armored Core games have often received rather disappointing localisations and non-existent marketing but some balk at the series' ongoing complexity, both in terms of the controls and intricate customisation.

The truth is that these games have a very traditional learning curve in effect and not just as a series but for each and every game. In the current climate of zero effort rewards maximum enjoyment, Armored Core is decidedly antagonistic in its approach on making the player learn the game. In many ways, the Armored Core series is the spiritual successor to games like Assault Suits Valken.

Armored Core 4 does look to change this slightly but more of that later. Anyway, here's more history on Armored Core than you shake a reinforced ceramic composite stick at (oh, and each of the gameplay screenshots double as links to in-game footage for this edition of the column).

More after the jump...