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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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Mobile

Capybara Ratchets Up The... Pillowfighting?

May 30, 2007 7:24 PM |

- Over at sister cellphone gaming site GamesOnDeck, the folks at Canadian mobile developer Capybara Games have conducted a suitably irreverent postmortem of Pillowfight, the possibly ironic game which apparently started from a one-sentence quip: "Here's an amazing idea: Let's make a pillow fighting game starring total babes!"

So, uhm, they did - and the results were surprisingly non-cheesy: "Pillowfight was recently reviewed on both IGN and on Mobilegamefaqs, receiving the IGN Editors Choice Award and the Mobilegamefaqs Gold Award respectively, proving that titles with sexy subject matter don't have to be devoid of great gaming experiences."

But there's good game design behind all the feathers, too - witness this smart approach to the genre on cellphones: "Because of the extreme control limitations every mobile game faces, it was clear to us that trying to emulate arcade-style fighting would just lead us to an over-bloated and clunky experience. We really wanted to avoid that, so designer Matt Repetski and the team decided try to create something that was more akin to Mike Tyson's Punch Out than it was to Street Fighter. By focusing on a very simple move set, our game became much more about timing and reading the opponent's attack pattern, instead of cumbersome movement and complex button inputs." Aha!

Why Prey Makes Sense On... Cellphones?

May 5, 2007 6:35 AM |

- So over on sister mobile game site GamesOnDeck, there's a new interview with SkyZone's Chief Publishing Officer Bob Shireman which is interesting because it discusses the firm's conversion of 3D Realms/Human Head's Prey for cellphones - a project that on the surface, seems ridiculously high-end.

However, he comments: "Prey is a complicated PC game and staying true to that product while acknowledging the limitations was quite a challenge. Ensuring playability is first and foremost our goal and once we make a game that is fun, then we focus on bringing the key elements from the PC and console title to mobile. With Prey for mobile, the Deathwalk sequence is intact but changed slightly to fit the form factor."

Shireman also makes an interesting claim of cellphone titles: "You very seldom hear, "It was a great title on the Xbox, PlayStation, PC but the mobile version sucked" when reading about 3D titles nowadays. Of course it's a different experience. Of course it isn't as aurally or visually rich. Consumers get it. Given that, they still want it to be fun, engaging, and re-playable."

[Oh yeah, and on the mobile front, sometime GSW columnist Matthew 'Fort90' Hawkins has started pro-blogging for mobile site Zedge, and he just posted a neat editorial in two parts called 'Cell Phones: Yet Another Ellis Island For Gamers?' Notably, consumers nowadays "...just want some a quick burst of fun, and both the Wii and cell phones are providing it, though one is doing a better job than the other."]

Katamari Damacy Mobile - Demystified, Innit?

April 24, 2007 9:33 PM |

- Over at our sister mobile game site Games On Deck, the lovely Mathew Kumar has got out his journalist deerstalker and tracked down specifics on the announcement of Katamari Damacy Mobile, a currently Japanese-only cellphone version of the franchise.

Sounds like a pretty interesting title, because you actually tilt your phone to roll the Katamari: "Namco Bandai has announced Katamari Damacy Mobile, a fully 3D cellphone title featuring motion sensitive controls... The game is currently only confirmed for Japanese release, and will come pre-bundled with the iMode FOMA P904i phone. It will also be made available through download at the Bandai Namco Games Japanese web portal, starting this June."

What's more: "The motion sensitive controls are to be provided by Gesturetek's Eyemobile Engine (as previously discussed in a Games On Deck Q&A) which allows movement to be sensed through use of the in-built camera featured on many phones. It doesn't require that the phone have any dedicated hardware [other than the camera!] to sense motion."

[Oh, and a Japan-only release of a 2D mobile version of Katamari is also mentioned, which I'm not sure I realized existed. Neat - let's keep piling up more Katamari information on GSW until we've created a big aggregated pile of it!]

Muscle-Controlled Gaming For Mobile Phones?

March 22, 2007 10:37 AM |

- Over at a Forum Nokia blog, Finnish developer and researcher Arto Holopainen has been talking about his company's physically operated game controller experiments, specifically the "idea of using muscles to control wirelessly mobile phone applications like games" - intriguing!

He explains: "Since the first case study [.PDF link], the muscle controlling has advanced quite far. Now the actual muscle controller is kind of wearable “sleeve” that is made of skin tight material like sport clothes. The “sleeve” has built in textile electrodes to measure EMG signal from muscles as well as integrated small Bluetooth enabled bio-amplifier to collect and to forward the information wirelessly."

He continues: "You just wear the sleeve and start using it. MuscleControl application in mobile phone receives muscle activity and translates it to phone commands. Instead of creating own games that uses the “sleeve” in closed-box like fashion, the beauty of MuscleControl is to act more like a joystick driver that can be used to control other applications. So basically you can use and configure it to commands you like. Nice isn’t it?"

What's more: "In addition to just for fun, the application can be harnessed for more serious use like muscle rehabilitation (games for health) and for help to disabled persons (to activate e.g. phone call with certain muscle activity). And of course one obvious usage is the sport exercises. Wouldn’t it be nice to monitor your muscle activity during your training and to get to report afterwards? There are some many applications for MuscleControl that I’m just wondering why this hasn’t been done before..." Neat stuff.

[Actually, speaking of the 'alternative mobile gaming' area, sister site GamesOnDeck has just posted a neat feature about proximity-based gaming from Tom Soderlund, creator of the game BotFighters.]

Jack Bauer's Cellphone Shenanigans, Call For GoD Help

March 17, 2007 7:51 PM |

- Over at GSW's new sister mobile biz site GamesOnDeck, we've just posted a two-part postmortem to I-play's cellphone game 24: Agent Down, and the Big Blue Bubble-developed game is definitely one of the more creative mobile titles in the West of recent, being a sequel to a previous BAFTA-winning title.

Among other points, there's some interesting comments about the constraints of cellphone gaming: "It was crucial to give our players as much content as possible in an application which most players do not realize is oftentimes smaller than a single page of a word document (i.e. under 300k of memory) to fit onto their mobile device. For 24: Agent Down we had 243k (max) to 60k (minimum)." Looks like the final game got reviewed decently, anyhow.

While I'm here and you guys are listening, myself and Mathew Kumar of GamesOnDeck are looking for regional correspondents, especially in Japan and Korea, but also in Europe, to weigh in on the regional mobile game scenes (which are _very_ different) on a regular basis. Anyone here into writing and plays cellphone games, or could do at a stretch? Then mail us at GSW and we'll pass it on!

GamesOnDeck Launches For Mobile Madness!

March 5, 2007 8:41 PM |

- So GameSetWatch and Gamasutra has another sister website, hurray - and this one is dealing with the increasingly interesting cellphone game biz - here's the full rundown, with quote from, uh, me:

"CMP Technology's Game Group, organizer of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference (GDC) and creator of the Webby Award-winning Gamasutra.com, has launched GamesOnDeck.com, a website aiming to be the mobile game industry's leading source of news, features and job listings.

An expansion of the already successful mobile industry coverage on Gamasutra, GamesOnDeck.com, edited by Mathew Kumar, publishes daily news and twice-weekly features on the cutting edge of the mobile game industry, giving due attention to the fast-growing sector.

The first features to appear on GamesOnDeck give unprecedented insight into Nokia's new plans for its N-Gage mobile gaming platform, including an interview with Nokia's Gregg Sauter about the company's plans for the device, as well as an editorial from the company's Mark Ollila suggesting: "Forget the console wars. The real innovation lies with mobile."

The site complements the CMP family of products which also includes the celebrated annual conference for mobile game developers, GDC Mobile, the 2007 edition of which opens today at San Francisco's Moscone Center. GDC Mobile 2007 will feature more than 50 sessions, keynotes by Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins and PeopleJam's Robert Tercek and the Mobile Game Innovation Hunt, a competition which gives developers and publishers the opportunity to pitch their most innovative game to a panel of expert judges and the audience for a chance to win unique prizes.

"The CMP Game Group is always looking to support the videogame industry with editorial publications and websites of the highest quality," said Simon Carless, editorial director, CMP Game Group. "With the evolution of our GDC Mobile conference proving the rapid speed at which the mobile game industry is maturing, a site dedicated to the segment like GamesOnDeck.com felt like a logical and necessary addition to our product suite.""

World's Strongest Man Goes Mobile Game Crazy!

March 1, 2007 12:24 AM |

- Let's not play, here - there was only one major piece of gaming news over the last 24 hours: "Breakpoint, part of MNI SA group, is creating a mobile [cellphone] game featuring the World’s Strongest Man – Mariusz Pudzianowski... Thanks to the game the player will have a chance to become the World’s Strongest Man, taking part in an unusual take on the famous strength competition. Instead of the usual disciplines, the player will compete in a series of unique tests of strength and endurance from all over the world... and some completely out of this world!"

Wait, wait, we feel a quote from the man himself coming on: “Mobile games provide entertainment to anyone with a mobile phone” – ‘Pudzian’ commented – “Now everybody will be able to feel like a Strong Man, even while waiting at a bus stop”. (In case you were wondering, licensors Breakpoint are Polish compatriots of 'Pudzian', hence the keen local interest.)

But wait, that's not all: "While working on the game, Breakpoint’s team came up with several other ideas, including a lifestyle application that utilized Mariusz’s bodybuilding know-how, as well as an action game in which he would fight crime. These projects are to be undertaken following the success of the first game." Yep, 'Pudzian' is such a beefcake that he can predict cellphone game success, too. Though I will say that I really enjoy watching World's Strongest Man when it pops up at weird times on ESPN2 or similar channels.

Mobile Game Translation... Hilarity?

February 25, 2007 7:50 AM |

- Over at the Spyro-powered (uh?) Pocket Gamer, they have a fun little feature discussing mobile game translation oddities, noting that: "The money often just isn't there for foreign developers to pay for careful translations." And then fun happens!

Such as: "Magnetic Joe, for example, provides unexpected entertainment when it spontaneously imitates Sacha Baron Cohen's globe-conquering Khazak Borat on the instruction page, complete with boyish exclamation mark: "Take Joe to the exit while avoid spikes!"... Moorhuhn, on the other hand, adds literary depth to its translated marketing text when it warns that the player may "Get no air and fly deep frozen through the darkness of space." A line that wouldn't be out of place in a volume of poetry."

Pocket Gamer's favorite, though? "In the game author's words, Death Trap is "the best strategy that the survival horror games lovers have been hassling... Never heard of Death Trap? What better way to learn more than to read its very own marketing text: "Death Trap is a horror action game that the terrifying graphics will make you enticed with surreal illusion."" Fun piece.

Get Fugu, See Lyuboila Petrolova, Oil Baroness

November 20, 2006 3:04 AM |

- Poking around by clicking through on some of GSW's Google Adwords, we came across the Chinese mobile phone distributor Fugu Mobile, whose _awesomely named_ 'Lyiboila Petrolova, Oil Baroness' is available for free on the GameJump page.

Really, how can we resist a title explained as follows: "The anarchy following the breakup of the Soviet Union led to the rise of some unlikely oligarchs. The most unlikely of them all LUYBOILA PETROLOVA, a former porn star turned Oil Baroness with oil fields from the Balkans to Siberia. Help her consolidate her empire by connecting pipelines from her fields to oil hungry countries across the world."? And yes, you must "Lay the pipeline from the Tarim Basin to oil hungry China", for example!

Actually, a bunch of Fugu Mobile's games are highly wacky, including Press 5 Murder, where you skewer Simon Cowell, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, and Michael Jackson to a dartboard.

There are also some _really_ interesting choices of war settings, presumably due to a Chinese developer's different world view, including Battleline Okinawa, in which you're shooting down Japanese kamikaze pilots, Battle For The River Kwai, and The Infiltrator, where you must infiltrate a "50 mega-watt nuclear reactor" in North Korea and blow it up.

Guitar Hero Mobile Rawks Out, No?

November 17, 2006 4:12 PM |

- So we did a brief Gamasutra report on Game Developers Conference Mobile 2007, which will be held in San Francisco in March 2007, and "will bring together publishers, traditional platform game developers, handset manufacturers, aggregators, and operators to discuss the opportunities, challenges and viability in the space."

Thus: "Representatives from companies such as Sony Pictures Digital, Microsoft, I-Play, Digital Chocolate, GameEvil, Mofactor, G3 Studios, RealNetworks, Nvidia, ATI, Qualcomm, ARM Ltd., Texas Instruments, Ericcson, and Motorola" - all pretty normal.

But the big, somewhat unnoticed news seems to be a GDC mobile lecture called 'Guitar Hero Mobile: A Blockbuster Comes to the Little Screen', revealing cellphone SKUs for Harmonix's smash hit rhythm game.

Yep, apparently cellphone developer SONiVOX is bringing Guitar Hero to your mobile phone, and apparently the lecture "discusses how issues were dealt with in order to maximize the Guitar Hero experience for mobile handsets, such as synchronizing user input with rhythmic consideration and addressing how to create and maintain the multiple business relationships necessary to obtain licensing." But when, pray, is the game due?