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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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Tilt Warning: Pinball News Overload

November 29, 2011 6:00 PM |


After having an absolute blast playing several Stern tables (e.g. The Sopranos, Nascar, Family Guy) for hours with friends over the holiday weekend, I really wish I had spent more time talking about recent pinball machines at GameSetWatch, especially since so few other video game blogs mention them. Regrets!

I'll try to make up for it a little with this post -- let's start with the above image for the "beginning stages" of the first prototype for the Emerald City Limited Edition Wizard of Oz machine, the first table coming from recently founded company Jersey Jack Pinball. Please follow ECLEWOZ's development here, and support Jersey Jack!

You can't talk about modern pinball without mentioning Stern, which just debuted three cabinet designs and improvements for LE Transformers Pinball. It has also been putting out a mini-documentary series for Transformers Pinball, which you can watch here.

And speaking of Pinball-themed documentaries, Brett Sullivan's award-winning film Special When Lit: A Pinball Documentary is now streaming on Netflix and worth a watch. And of course, I must point you to Pinball Donut Girl, another documentary about this fine co-op tradition, which is in production and needs your attention.

Upcoming virtual pinball games to look out for!: Farsight Studios' Pinball Arcade (iOS, Android, Xbox 360, PS 3, PS Vita, and 3DS), and Zen Studio's Zen Pinball (iOS) and Zen Pinball 3D (3DS eShop), and Game Prom's Da Vinci Pinball (iOS and Mac, DLC for the company's previously released Pinball HD).

They don't capture half the experience of playing on a real table, but they're wayyy cheaper to buy and maintain. If you'd like to keep up with the latest going-ons in the pinball world, Pinball News and Arcade Heroes are both excellent places to start.

2011: A Year In Orange And Blue Video Game Covers

November 28, 2011 8:00 PM |

Movie posters are notorious for overusing orange/blue contrast, but video game covers are even worse. It's gotten especially bad over the last year, as I noted in a previous feature.

It's the lack of imagination that gets me, I suppose. These covers almost always follow a strict formula: a vertical line down the middle of the package divides orange and blue, often as a lazy way to distinguish opposing factions. Effectively, game publishers are saying, "There are good guys and bad guys in this game. There will be conflict. You like conflict. Buy our game, idiot."

Publishers also think that some regions are stupider than others, as demonstrated by the difference between the North American and European boxart for Tron: Evolution: Battle Grids. Gamers in the United States are dumb, make no mistake, but at least they're able to grasp the cover art's creativity and subtlety without needing additional color to drive the point home.

(The point, by the way, is that two guys are fighting.)

Yes! Jin Saotome Making Articulated, Poseable Skylanders

November 22, 2011 12:00 PM |


Jin Saotome is already familiar around these parts for producing wicked video game action figures out of G.I. Joe and McFarlane Toys parts, but now he is changing the world by customizing the latest toy craze: Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure figures.

He admits that the toys are already well made and intricately scuplted -- one of the reasons why people don't mind shelling out $7.50 each to buy and import them into the complementary PC/PS3/Xbox 360/Wii/3DS game -- but notes they're not articulated.

Saotome went ahead and fixed that, customizing a few Skylanders statues with full articulation in their necks, shoulders, waists, elbows, hips, and knees. You can even remove them from the base, make them sit, and wave. Very neat!

So far, he's made these modifications to a Drobot, Prism Break, and Chop Chop. Unfortunately, he's not taking commissions at the moment, but he is currently selling the Chop Chop on eBay (auction ends in 5 days and is already up to $30+!).

Zeboyd's Cthulhu, Breath of Death VII Bundle Sells 100K+ Copies On Steam

November 22, 2011 9:00 AM |

Zeboyd Games announced that its Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII Combo pack, which were priced at $3, has sold more than 100,000 copies on Steam between its launch on July 13 and the digital distribution platform's Halloween sale last month.

That's far more units than the studio sold with the original Xbox Live Indie Games releases -- Breath of Death VII has moved 55,000 copies at $1 since April 2010, while Cthulhu Saves the World went through over 20,000 copies at $3 since December 2010.

When Zeboyd initially launched the bundled two-pack on Steam and hit the top sales spot on the service earlier this year, it revealed the games "made more revenue in less than a week on Steam than [they] have in over a year and a half on Xbox Live Indie Games."

"The days of worrying over whether or not we could support our families while making games we would want to play ourselves are behind us," says the indie studio. "Counter-intuitive though it may be, there is obviously a definite audience for quality console-style RPGs that are aggressively priced on the PC."

Zeboyd is currently working on the third release of episodic series Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness (Hothead shipped the first two entries in 2008) for 2012, and has "many new intriguing ideas" for RPGs and other game types planned afterward.

Pac-Man Fever's Gary Garcia Passes Away

November 18, 2011 9:00 AM |


Gary Garcia (pictured on the right), one-half of pop duo Buckner & Garcia and co-creator of early '80s hit single "Pac-Man Fever", reportedly passed away at his home in Englewood, Florida yesterday.

Long before MC Frontalot, Mega Ran, and other geek-themed musical acts made a living out of video game songs, Buckner & Garcia rose to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts with "Pac-Man Fever", a Pac-Man parody of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever".

The group followed it up with a full novelty album packed with tracks about arcades games, like "Do The Donkey Kong", "Ode to a Centipede", "The Defender", and "Mousetrap. That album went on to sell more than a million copies.

Buckner & Garcia wrote and non-gaming songs, too, like "The Theme To WKRP In Cincinnati", "E.T., I Love You", and a number of ad jingles. Pac-Man Fever also saw a re-release in 1999 with re-recordings of the original album's tunes.

Though Buckner & Garcia were out of the spotlight for the most part in recent years, the pair saw its songs from Pac-Man Fever released on Rock Band Network in June, and earlier this month recorded its latest (and last) track, "Found Me the Bomb", a tribute to gaming site Giant Bomb.

Cheetahmen Lost Prototype Reproduced In $499 Deluxe Edition

November 16, 2011 9:00 AM |

If you thought that the Cheetahmen saga had come to a close with the demise of Active Enterprises, you were wrong. In an unexpected development, Active Enterprises has returned with a new game that promises to provide "the missing answers to the question of why Cheetahmen will be forever etched in gaming history."

Cheetahmen: The Creation purports to be a previously undiscovered Cheetahmen game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that Active Enterprises is releasing in a $499 "special collector package."

Limited to 500 pieces, the deluxe edition includes two copies of the game (one sealed for collectors, and one to play or trade), a t-shirt, an exclusive CD, a poster, and a reproduction of the Cheetahmen comic originally packaged with Action 52. The Creation is also available as a standalone cartridge, priced at $199.

The real story is only slightly less strange.

Skyrim Is Kind Of Goofy

November 14, 2011 12:00 PM |

It's reasonable to expect a game as expansive as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to have its share of oddities, and whenever a game attempts to simulate human interaction, something is bound to go wrong. As the above example demonstrates, one particular Skyrim...uh, "feature," has a beneficial side-effect, in addition to being hilarious.

You can see more Skyrim silliness after the break below.

The Simpsons Check Out Latest Games At E4

November 14, 2011 9:00 AM |


Since no one watches The Simpsons anymore because everyone is convinced that the show stopped being entertaining many seasons ago, it's up to me to recount the family's brief video game-themed segment in last night's new episode (Season 23, Episode 5 - "The Food Wife").

In the program's opening minutes, Homer takes Bart and Lisa on a special Saturday trip to the Expensive Electronic Entertainment Expo, where they're amazed by all the latest new titles and hardware from Protovision, Chalmskin Interactive, Electronic Crafts, and Funtendo.

Some of the parody games on display at the E3 spoof include Grand Theft Scratchy: Itchy City Stories, Dig Dug Revelations, Earthland 2: The Outing of the Realms, Shaun White: Time Snowboarder, World of Krustcraft, TMTOMO, HTMFL, and DL2L2D.

While Bart plays Guts of War II: Entrails of Intestinox, Lisa spends time with Marching Band, which is like a cross between Rock Band and Major Minor's Majestic March, except one of the challenges is to study for a chemistry test during the 12-hour bus trip back home.

If you or your DVR missed the episode, it should show up on Hulu in a couple days. The rest of the episode, which has Marge and the kids running a foodie blog, isn't as bad as you'd expect from recent Simpsons shows!

Kids Build MAME Arcade Of The Gods

November 6, 2011 9:00 PM |

While looking around for videos of new arcade games and setups, I came across this interesting video of a young student at New Zealand's Mercer School showing off the tabletop and upright cabinets her class built to turn their computers into MAME machines.

From what I can gather, their designs are based on local Māori gods like Ruaumoko and Tangaroa. As you can see when the student lifts up one of the control panels, these aren't simple projects -- looks like they did a bit of soldering to get these working.

What a neat project to get kids excited excited about their class work. Along with learning about electronics and teamwork, they get to play Pac-Man and other arcade titles at the end of the day. Educators, take this idea and implement it in your own classroom!

PBS Arts Talks Importance Of Indie Games

October 27, 2011 12:00 PM |

PBS Arts' Off Book series, which looks to "showcase new and under-exposed art forms and reach arts communities online", has produced this really slick episode on the importance of video games as "a storytelling medium" and "a place for self-expression"

This video features interviews with several folks from NYC's gaming community, including GameLab head Eric Zimmerman, NYU visiting assistant arts professor Jesper Juul, Gamasutra editor-at-large Leigh Alexander, and Babycastles curator Syed Salahuddin.

The group talks about the evolution of video games, the emergence and popularity of indie titles in recent years, the use of choice in marquee games like Portal and BioShock, and even Cactus/Doomlaser's immensely weird Flash game Hot Throttle.

Oh, and it also features chiptune songs by Trash80, 4mat, and one of my favorite groups lately, The Shortsleeves. Click those links, listen to their music, and make your life a million times better!