Our Properties: Gamasutra GameCareerGuide IndieGames GameSetWatch GDC IGF Game Developer Magazine GAO

Recent Comments

  • Keith Burgun: RISK *and* Monopoly in the same game? That'd be like having Creed and Nickelback at the same concert. read more
  • creath: Not quite free, as it is ad-supported. read more
  • nerd: The analog version built? Nice work. read more
  • xot: Sort of funny coming from a guy whose original work was funded by the military and revolved around light gun shooting games. To call today's read more
  • umiopi: so who decided ralph baer was the father of videogames now?, I'm sick of history rewriting read more

About GameSetWatch

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.

Read More

Xbox 360

Codemasters' DiRT Invades Your Flickr

June 2, 2007 1:15 PM |

- Over at The-Inbetween, there's a somewhat aggrieved post explaining that Codemasters has been promoting upcoming racing game DiRT using Flickr, and in a pretty obnoxious way, too.

In fact, the blogger was already a fan of the franchise: "The Colin McRae series of rally racing games are probably my favourite non-arcade racers... The next-gen incarnation of the series is something that I’ve been looking for, in spite of the series’ name change to the bland four-letter word title “DiRT.”"

But then: "This morning I receive a message in my Flickr inbox: “You are Dirty1CMD’s newest contact!” Nice! I go and check out his photo stream and what do I see? Nothing but screen shots of DiRT. I check the profile: "This site has been set up to showcase images from the new Colin McRae Dirt game. All the game images are from XBOX360 so far. PS3 shots will be added as soon as they are approved. I’ve not added anybody as a contact who wasn’t into Rally, cars or Videogames. Sorry if anybody feels like they’ve been spammed. I’ve tried to be subtle.""

So, the conclusion from The-Inbetween: "Hey, I’m all for using Flickr to show your screenshots and to build a small community around your site, just don’t be spamming me about it — and yes, a mere “contact add” is spam when it’s coming, unsolicited, straight from Codemasters’ ad wizards." Indeed!

Van Lierop Curses Out Xbox Live Achievements

May 31, 2007 8:42 PM |

- Here's a thought-provoking discussion - over on the IGDA forums, Raphael Van Lierop (formerly at Relic, now working for 3D Realms) has been discussing Xbox Live Achievements, and he offers a very contrary view to a lot of enthusiasts of the system - myself included.

Lierop concedes: "I have many friends who LOVE achievements. They love the bragging rights, they love being able to compare achievements they obtained to other people, they love the idea of continuously revisiting a game in order to collect every last little achievement no matter how mundane or tiny or ridiculous or how far out of the realm or 'normal' gameplay they are required to go to obtain it."

But he suggests: "Personally, I dislike them...a lot. I find they are changing the way we play games, and the focus of the games we play, and make. I feel that games should be crafted to have enough intrinsic reward, that a secondary external reward system should not be required... was it really necessary for us to go back to the old 'High Score' system from the days of arcade games? I would have hoped that the gameplay and immersiveness of the 'next gen' gaming experience would have been enough reward, and that we wouldn't have had to fall back on cheap gimmicks."

This is a pretty interesting point of view, and I don't totally disagree with it - I myself have been known to do some pretty stupid things in Xbox 360 games just in order to get 10 Achievement Points - often things that aren't really the point of the game. But if it's enjoyable, and you can still play the game as originally intended and get points for that - who's really hurt? [Via Dearest Cope.rnic.us.]

GameSetPlaying: May 27th, 2007 Edition

May 27, 2007 9:48 PM |

- Woops, it's been a while since I did one of these, but nonetheless - I'm going to talk about the games that I've been checking out recently, and then I'll open the floor for GSW readers to do the same in the comments. Here goes:

- WarTech: Senko No Ronde (G-Rev/Ubisoft, Xbox 360)
Though it's had a pretty low profile thus far, and $60 is certainly quite a lot to ask for a Japanese arcade shooter/fighter conversion, what I've played of Senko No Ronde so far has impressed me - it's a really artful mix of bullet-heavy shooting and one on one combat. Reviews have gravitated significantly, with 1UP's 5/10 getting some interesting and heated commentary over at Zerochan's LJ [Ta Xian!] - I like Eurogamer's review, which gave it 8/10, a lot more. But it's definitely a very niche title, and the pricing is a bit questionable. But hey, I bought it.

- Parappa The Rapper (NanaOnSha/Sony, PSP)
Probably a title that should be released on the PlayStation Store as a downloadable PS1 title, really, but the native PSP version was available on Play-Asia for $17.99 the other week, and I couldn't resist. This version comes out here in July, and there's a lack of extras - though there are apparently downloadable remixes in the U.S. version - how do you get to them in the Asian version, if they exist, anyone? But c'mon - even without them, you get widescreen, old school Master Onion action - what is there not to love?

- The Red Star (XS Games, PlayStation 2)
This has been a stupendously long time in the making, but having rented The Red Star for PS2 from GameFly, I can say that it's an awesome throwback to classic early '90s Capcom brawlers, taking the Christian Gossett comic book license and melding it into something that feels like Strider for a new age, with extra 3D and style galore. See, Acclaim's demise eventually spat out something wholesome! Oh, and it's revealed of the game on Wikipedia: "A projectile weapon used by the character Maya Antares is named the "Davbrentsky AKA4U." This is a reference to the UK comedy television series The Office, which features a character played by actor Ricky Gervais named David Brent, who speaks a line ending with the phrase "...AKA, for you.""

Other things I've been checking out? Just got Brooktown High: Senior Year for PSP, so will be trying that this week. And a quick perusal of my Xbox 360 GamerCard, which has just topped 6,000, will reveal bits of the ugly truth (yep, I just completed TMNT. Absolve me, Lord!), and some slightly better XBLA tastes, hopefully - still pluggin' away on Jetpac Refuelled and Lumines Live, and have been using Boom Boom Rocket's Visualization Mode as a background during soirees. Yikes, socialization outside friends lists? I'll try not to let it happen again. What have you been playing this week?

Dead Rising - Fixing What's Wrong With Games!

May 22, 2007 3:16 PM |

- Once again, GSW sister site Game Career Guide has been brave and let Eric-Jon Waugh out of his fenced-off area to analyze, from a game design point of view, a recent and interesting video game.

This time, he takes the lawnmower to Capcom's Xbox 360 exclusive Dead Rising, and within which he calls the game "...the self-appointed answer to everything wrong with videogames as they are now."

He sets the scene rather beautifully, too: "Somewhere between note-sharing exercises like the Game Developers Conference and the growing impact of games like Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War on the Japanese charts, goaded on by the phenomenon known as "gamer drift", in which existing players stop playing and no new players can be found, Western games have slowly begun to resume their aborted influence on Japanese design - just as Japanese design has influenced the West since Nishikado's Breakout-tile Invaders first began to boop down from orbit."

He then neatly files Dead Rising in an interesting place: "At its core what Grand Theft Auto wants is to recapture the glory of Asteroids and Centipede - the old American school, from before Atari fell off a cliff and the PC scene got weird... Dead Rising is that same idea, plus structure. It completes the picture by dragging GTA back into Ed Logg territory, and turning it into the modern equivalent of an Atari Games battle of attrition. Namely, sort of, Gauntlet." Waugh thing, I think I love you.

Tetris Evolution: A Study In Contrasts

May 21, 2007 3:50 AM |

- One of the games I picked up recently (and, actually, was the first to reveal, thanks to GameFly's advance listing madness) is THQ's Tetris Evolution for Xbox 360, Sure, the game is inexplicably not for XBLA, rather shipping on a disc. But the Mass Media-developed title is at least a relatively cheap $29.99, so we'll have to forgive it for not being Arika's awesome Tetris Grand Master Ace arcade conversion.

Now, there are a couple of notable issues with Evolution - most particularly that nowhere in the manual or the game itself (that I could find!) does it explain the T-Spin, a tricky rotation move that you need to master to get more than one Achievement. Fortunately, the excellent TetrisConcept wiki has a special page devoted to it and mastering it.

In fact, TetrisConcept goes even further in terms of tactics, and has an 'ST Stacking' page, explaining "...a more-or-less sustainable (under Random Generator) method of stacking tetrominoes to form successive 4-line clears and T-spins." And yep, used it and busted out a two-line T-spin in no time, so it definitely seems to work.

Personally, I like Tetris Evolution a lot more than the mediocre Tetris Worlds from the previous gen - though Evolution does have the 'infinite rotate at bottom of screen' or 'Easy Spin' rule by default, which is part of the almost weirdly scary, Henk Rogers-enforced Tetris Guidelines now. I quite like it, but many purists rage over it.

Finally, what's particularly neat is that Evolution has networked high-scores, and you can see the actual game replay from the people on top of each of the (many) Xbox Live high-score tables for each mode. Seeing what the masters are doing is incredibly useful for racking up high scores of your own, particularly for the limited-time modes, and gets a massive thumbs-up from me. [If you don't have the game but wants to see Tetris masters in action, there's an excellent YouTube Tetris video glossary on TetrisConcept, too.]

The Gorillaz/Guitar Hero II Connection

May 7, 2007 3:11 PM |

- One of my favorite niche weblogs, the animation-centric Cartoon Brew, has been praising the recent animated Guitar Hero II Xbox 360 ad, but it bought up some interesting info on the director along the way.

Editor Amid notes: "Gorillaz animation director Pete Candeland of Passion Pictures has turned out a visually stunning spot [.MOV, alt. YouTube link] for the videogame Guitar Hero II. It would have been even better if the animation of the guitar playing had been more closely timed to the music, but the superb drawing and movement of the two main characters, not to mention great inking style, makes this spot a winner."

Anyhow, Candeland's portfolio page on the site reveals that he did indeed work with Gorillaz creator Jamie Hewlett on the music videos to tracks like Manana and the awesome Dare clip, as well as a bunch of other neat animated vids, along with a whole bunch of collaborators.

[And also, I had the same reaction as a Cartoon Brew commenter, actually: "I saw this ad while skipping commercials on my DVR the other day and it was actually visually interesting enough that I went back, JUST TO WATCH THE COMMERCIAL." This is impressive! Score several to Activision for commissioning this.]

Alien Hominid's Adorably DIY Trophies Handed Out

May 3, 2007 7:19 PM |

- Aha, look what we got from John Baez: "Independent game and toy developer The Behemoth announced today the first shipment of exclusive handmade trophies honoring the top players of Alien Hominid HD on Xbox Live Arcade". And more to the point, there's a special 'making of' page showing how the trophies were constructed.

Why is this cool? Because physical objects are still completely awesome for awards/special editions, even though XBLA-stylee digital downloads work awesome for delivering games. And what other game developer would have a paragraph like this on their site?

"At first we thought we could laser engrave the base, but we could not find anyone who had a laser with a spindle in the San Diego area... Thank goodness Al Gore invented the internet, otherwise we'd all still be living in caves. After a fairly short web search our solution became apparent...use photo etching for the base!"

It's explained on The Behemoth's homepage: "If you're not certain how to enter our competition, it's simple! First make sure you have a Xbox 360, then you need to log-on to the Xbox Live Arcade service and download Alien Hominid HD (only 800 Microsoft Points!) Finally, you need to be the top scorer in any of theese three categories: Alien Hominid HD (Main Game - Hard Difficulty), All You Can Eat (Weekly Ranked Match), PDA Games (Monthly Ranked Match)." More info on the Alien Hominid leaderboard page, of course.

Sucked Into The Undertow For XBLA

April 23, 2007 5:10 AM |

- Via XBLArcade, news of an IGN preview revealing Xbox Live Arcade title Undertow from Chair Entertainment, and it's a 2D underwater multiplayer shooter from the creators of Advent Rising. Blimey.

According to IGN, the gameplay of the title" ...is best described as Geometry Wars meets Battlefield. Movement is mapped to one analog stick with attack on the other. Shots come in a constant stream a la Geometry Wars and depth charges can be activated with the pull of a trigger... The goal is to destroy your enemies and take control of their bases, with victory coming from a similar system to the flag and ticket system Battlefield is famous for."

A glance at Chair Entertainment's website reveals that their other projects include work with Orson Scott Card on Empire, "...a chilling look at a near future scenario of a new American Civil War. Chair is now simultaneously developing a feature film, and a future comic book series and video game all inspired by that same universe."

(Some may recall that the Mustard brothers worked on Advent Rising with Scott Card, hence the continuing connection. In the meantime, good to see an underwater 2D shooter for XBLA - continuing the proud tradition of In The Hunt by other means!)

Some Notes On Boom Boom Rocket For XBLA

April 19, 2007 10:05 AM |

- So, it's true that EA/Pogo and Bizarre Creations' Boom Boom Rocket for XBLA is somewhat of a missed opportunity - at first, some presumed it would be Fantavision-like, and in fact it _is_ Dance Dance Revolution using a joypad, with little extra complexity. But I've been playing it quite a bit and enjoying it despite those faults (it's definitely been worth $10 of my money), and here's some random feedback along those lines:

- Composer Ian Livingstone has obviously been told to hew _very_ closely to some electronic artists - for example, '1812 Overdrive' is so Apollo 440 that it hurts (other commenters noted its resemblance to the Lost In Space Theme by the group). Madness and Goldfrapp are also referenced in major, but kinda fun ways, integrated into the classical tributes.

- The biggest issue that I and other Boom Boom Rocket players are running into is the odd ranking system for getting an A, as opposed to a B. It's about timing your notes perfectly as well as not missing any, and it seems like the difficulty has been cranked up just a bit high on it - plus there's no sensible degree of certainty on how you achieve a higher score. Or if there is, nobody understands it yet.

- Finally, a shout-out to the visualization mode in the game - which other people seem to dig enough to take pictures of. It drifts around the cityscape while fireworks explode in time to the music of your choice (streaming from your PC is pretty easy, of course). It's all slightly Minter-esque and gorgeous - you can control camera angles, pan, and zoom in real-time too. I've mainly been listening to 808 State's 'Lopez', featuring James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers, while flickpanning around the fireworks as they reflect off the buildings. Serene.

OXM Sez - Two More Bizarre Creations XBLA Games!

April 16, 2007 5:07 AM |

- Already talked about Official Xbox Magazine briefly this weekend, but there's one detail from the May 2007 issue of the mag (which you should subscribe to for the disc freebies, if nothing else, imho!) that I thought was worth passing on.

Specifically, in a look at Bizarre Creations' new shooter The Club (which will apparently consist of 50/60 levels, each a couple of minutes each, with elaborate Woo-style shootout combos being the name of the game!), this tiny sidebar caught my eye: "Aside from Boom Boom Rocket for EA, developer Bizarre has two other Live Arcade games underway, including one by Geometry Wars creator Stephen Cakebread."

First time I've seen this info, so I thought I'd communicate it on to you kind GSW readers. Actually, I invited Mr. Cakebread to speak at the Indie Games Summit at GDC this year, but he sadly wasn't available - but it'll be great to see what he comes up with next (I'm highly presuming a Geometry Wars sequel).

[And remember, though Boom Boom Rocket has its design detractors, and perhaps rightly so, it was actually designed by Pogo.com and executed by the Bizarre-ites - so fear not for the originality or playability of the other upcoming XBLA games, I hope.]