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February 25, 2006

Kenta Cho Returns With Mu-cade

mucade.jpg So, all you really need to know is that ABA Games' Kenta Cho, creator of such greatness as rRootage and Torus Trooper, has released a new Windows PC freeware action shooter, Mu-cade.

Fortunately, though we haven't had a chance to try it yet, The2Bears have already fired Mu-cade up, and notes that Kenta Cho describes it as “The Physics Centipede Invasion", before explaining of the game: "The goal is to knock and bump the enemies out and avoid the same for your centipede."

Evidently, there's some interesting new tactics in this title: "There’s some classic “snake” element going on, your centipede body seems to grow. This tail is apparently a weapon also, as ‘X‘ causes your tail segments to explode. ‘Z‘ is the usual main weapon." As always, Cho's neat visuals are also in full effect, and well - why haven't you downloaded it yet? We heart you, Kenta.

Casual Game Creators Spill On Sales Stats

cactus.jpg Intriguing indie/casual related blog GameProducer.net has just posted the latest in its 'Sales Statistics' series for casual games, this time dealing with PC adventure/RPG game Morning's Wrath.

The feature is notable because it gets casual PC developers to reveal actual sales, a rare thing indeed. It turns out Morning's Wrath has sold just 100 units from October 2005 to February 2006, somewhat of a disappointment, but previous casual titles profiled have done significantly better.

For example, improved over those stats somewhat is the info on Cactus Bruce And The Corporate Monkeys, which reveals 555,000 downloads and 4993 units units thus far sold in a year or so, despite being a relatively obscure title developed in just two and a half months. No precise dollar figures are given here, though, rats - but some great info!

Developers, Modders Discuss The Joy Of Creation

mod.jpg Ziff Davis' 1UP.com has posted an excellent new feature from PC mag Computer Gaming World described as 'an all-angles roundtable talk on the art of modmaking'.

In the first section, representatives from Valve, DICE, Id Software, and Epic talk about the advantages and disadvantages of modding, with Epic's Jeff Morris being particularly well-spoken: "Player-created content keeps products on store shelves, no doubt about it. It pretrains potential hires, can generate great mainstream press, and is a wonderful feedback mechanism for fans. The downsides, however, are pretty potent. One is opening your game up to vulnerabilities. You also have the potential of copyrighted material showing up 'in your game'..."

Elsewhere, both modders turned game professionals and current modders weigh in, with Robert Crouch of the Dystopia Half-Life 2 mod noting: "Investors and publishers see innovative product as a massive financial risk. Without a proven market, they're hardly going to sign big contracts and give developers free reign to create anything out of the ordinary. As modders, we risk only our own spare time, and even if our projects fail to pick up players, we've still gained valuable experience."

OMG, BlingGames Gets Lil Jon Crunked-Up

crunkgolf.jpg Really, the mobile game market is the only place you can get press releases which are 'jaw-gaping experiences'. Such is the case with this Lagardere Active North America release GSW just got, touting BlingGames.com, a mobile game site from the U.S. division of the big French firm that "thoroughly incorporates hip-hop culture with one of the premier games, “Lil’Jon Crunk Golf,” featuring the superstar rapper/producer playing his own version of golf on New York City rooftops."

Oh, but Lil 'Jon Crunk Golf is only the beginning from BlingGames, which is the sister site of the apparently popular Blingtones hiphop ringtones hub. Other games include 'Hot Secretary', in which "the player is the head of a major rap company seeing how far his female assistant will go to get the job done" (uhh, excuse me?), and, wait for it, 'Stackin’ Bling' "an addictive puzzle game that involves colorful, jeweled blocks - a blinged-out twist on the puzzle/action games of the past." Sounds totally blinged out.

Of course, it probably helps that "Behind the launch of BlingGames is a team of industry veterans composed by Nicolas Gaume, who previously founded Kalisto Entertainment at the age 19 in 1990." See, from Nightmare Creatures to Lil' Jon's pimp cup isn't the six degrees of separation we previously reckoned on.

February 24, 2006

2006 IGF Audience Award Voting Opens

saints.jpg Oop, this one almost slipped under the radar, but a story from sister site Gamasutra relays the opening of the IGF Audience Award voting for 2006, as kindly hosted by GameSpot, with great PC indie demos galore available.

As the Gama story explains: "From February 22nd through March 17th, gamers are encouraged to vote for their favorite indie game from a pool of 19 IGF Main Competition finalists which are hosting PC demo versions online at the official IGF Audience Award page... The overall winner which receives the most votes will receive a $2,500 prize and the IGF Audience Award for 2006."

You need a free GameSpot reg to vote and download, but you can then grab some great indie trials, including some being made available for the first time, like Large Animal's neeto Saints & Sinners Bowling and Black Mountain Games' putt-putt game Putt Nutz. There's also demo version of Dofus, Weird Worlds, Darwinia, Professor Fizzwizzle, and all manner of easily leechable PC indie games, so have at it!

Futuristic Sex Robotz Do WoW, High Nerdcore Geekery

robotz.jpg Oh my. You may have heard of the, uhh, nerdcore hiphop phenomenon, as highly rated by the Penny Arcade chaps and geeks (not necessarily of the gaming variety) worldwide. Well, the latest addition to the overall genre is the freely downloadable 'Hotel Coral Essex' album from the colorfully named Futuristic Sex Robotz (site NSFW, music v.v.v.NSFW).

The Creative Commons-licensed 15 track album [.ZIP, also see BitTorrent link], is well, as nerdcore as it gets, and is chock full of piracy and profanity-laced game references - the track 'Back In The Day' includes as its chorus: 'Back in the day, Shufflepuck Cafe', and drops rhymes about '..hours and hours making Marathon maps', even referencing ZZT and cancelled PlayStation slasher Thrill Kill. It's powerfully juvenile, y'all, and again, _not for minors_, esp. the uber-misogynistic non-game related tracks. Wethangyou.

And, of course, the coup de grace is 'WoW', which is, yes, about World Of Warcraft, and includes such couplets as: "I got one of those things that they call a job, so I can't spend all day running a mob", and: "We started out life in the Valley of Trials, now we stack gold in big-ass piles". Needless to say, you will either be horrified or delighted, and quite possibly both.

Gamezebo Gets Casual With Game Coverage

gamez.jpg While perusing Phil Steinmeyer's site the other day, he turned us on to Gamezebo.com, a new, professional-looking website that is specifically designed around casual game reviews, previews, and features - a very neat idea.

One notable recent addition is a new editorial by gameLab's Nick Fortugno on 'Platformers For The Masses', commenting: "There are games coming out all the time that don’t fit into the traditional casual game genre. Some quickly disappear into the archives, but some succeed, and a few go on to become genre defining themselves. Casual gamers don’t just want a new face on the same old. They want something new."

There are also some refreshingly direct reviews of casual titles that may not get reviewed on the GameSpots of this world, most recently for Sandlot Games' Tradewinds: Legends, which "lets players take to the Arabian seas in a game that thrillingly combines nautical battles with good old fashioned capitalism." Ar-harrrr! All in all, a neat idea, and we wish 'em luck.

Lost Planet's Japanese FPS Perspective

lostp.jpg Game Informer's online arm, which continues to run some pretty neat interviews, has caught up with Capcom's Keiji Inafune and Kenji Oguro regarding upcoming Xbox 360 Japanese first person (!) / third person shooter Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, which is due out in the West in 2007.

Inafune, of course, is best known as the creator of Mega Man, and it's intriguing to see such noted Japanese creators take on Western genres so head on, in a similar way to Namco's intriguing but ultimately sales-weak Breakdown for Xbox.

In particular, Inafune comments on Lost Planet's controls, always a difficult point with console FPSes: "I wish I could let you play it because I’m confident that it has very good controls to the point where anyone who’s played Halo can jump right into this and have no problem and be able to control it quite well."

Another particularly honest comment comes from Inafune regarding the addition of noted Asian actor Lee Byung-Hung as the lead game character: "We’re trying to get your casual gamer to purchase it as well. So midway through development we’re like, 'This is a popular actor right now in Japan. Putting him in the game may help Japanese sales.' In Japan we realized that the Xbox 360 was going to have an uphill battle. We’re going to need an extra hook to try and get people other than really hardcore gamers, which are the only types that are buying it right now in Japan." Wow, very direct.

February 23, 2006

Louisville's Bad Ass Gamer, Exposed

25.jpg You know that guy who's giving violence and video games a bad name? You know, 'that guy'? Well, we found him, and, according to a Louisville, KY story on NBC's WAVE 3 TV station, he's 17 year old Andrew Iredale.

Of course, the station itself is hardly blameless, since, well, let's hear the angle on this story about Eidos' '25 To Life': "WAVE 3's Jeff Tang finds out what the widow of a fallen officer has to say about the idea of people pretending to shoot cops for entertainment." Delightful.

But Andrew Iredale, WAVE 3's randomly picked teenage Kentucky gamer, doesn't exactly advance the cause, by commenting of the game: "I haven't played it, I hear it's, like, really good, gangsters and stuff", before continuing, happily: "I have San Andreas for X Box -- it's pretty tight."

If Andrew looked carefully at the graphic used for WAVE 3's story, he will note that 25 To Life is such a bad game that they could only find a used EB Games box to take a picture of (see top left of this story!).

So who actually wins, with stories like this? Well, paradoxically, WAVE 3 are boosting sales of the game by running scare stories on it - Eidos' Bill Gardner recently commented to Next-Gen that "The game, I thought, was weak. It rated poorly. But the politicians felt that they should step on the game, which caused it to show up much bigger than any marketing money we might have put behind it." Ugh, circle of... something horrid.

Arcade Flyers Everywhere, Not A Drop To Drink

r360.jpg Though video games are all cool as bits and bytes, sometimes we love physical artifacts too, and that's what ArcadeFlyers.net is particularly good at providing scans of - the wonderful artwork handed out to arcade operators from the 1970s to the present day.

In browsing, we particularly adore the Sega R360 brochure, showcasing the relatively rare Sega cabinet that allowed you to invert playing G-Loc. There's so much other good stuff in there, it hurts, though - a totally cute Boulder Dash poster, a fun Namco catalog from 1991, an absolutely awesome early Japanese Sega brochure... the list goes on.

In addition, Coin-Op.tv recently ran an interview with the ArcadeFlyers.com curators, particularly noting a rare flyer they would live to get their hands on: "For Japanese flyers, I am having a hard time finding the original Puck-Man flyer by Namco. Earlier this year, I heard about an auction in Japan where a set of video game flyers was being auctioned and it included an original Namco Puck-Man flyer. The auction ended at over $600!!"

Steinmeyer Showcases Game Prototypes For Feedback

steinme.jpg We at GSW previously covered Phil Steinmeyer's launch of his neeto casual PC title Bonnie's Bookstore through the PopCap website, and now he's taking a distinctly unconventional step - posting a total of 16 playable PC prototypes to get feedback on the best game ideas for his next title.

Steinmeyer is formerly known for his work on Tropico and later versions of the Railroad Tycoon series, and comments of this concept: "I’d really like to get solid feedback from a variety of folks, so I’m going public with these prototypes very early. They are crude prototypes, but hopefully show either the germ of something fun, or reveal an idea that frankly just doesn’t work."

There's actually a specific download page with more information on the prototypes, for which it's noted: "All games are variations on the basic color-matching puzzle paradigm that's used for most casual games. But I think the mechanics of each game represent anywhere from moderate to major originality vis-a-vis currently popular match-3 games." This is a genuinely interesting and honest way to solicit feedback, and GSW thinks Mr. Steinmeyer should be applauded for his audacity.

Cave Story Creator Gets Translations, Glasses

cavestory.png Wandering around the Internet somewhere (Indygamer?), we found the Studio Pixel Fan Page, a basic but extremely handy guide to the works of Cave Story PC dojin game creator Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya.

Cave Story itself, which is downloadable [.ZIP] in English-patched version from the Fan Page, is a charming 2D title best described by its translators as "a freeware sidescrolling action/adventure/platformer title with leanings towards Wonderboy and recent sidescrolling Castlevania titles."

But even if you've seen it (and you probably have, you geek!), the fan page has other rarities, including super-odd mini game Glasses [.ZIP], in which you "Control the hero and catch your glasses... you will get points based on how well your glasses fit." We're not making this up.

In addition, the Doukutsu LJ fan community is translating Pixel's Japanese-language diary as he writes, including such gems as "06/02/08: I slept. I hope it gets warm soon", and: "06/02/14: No real work done." Ah, we jest - there's actually other good info and correspondence from Pixel fans up there, for the curious.

February 22, 2006

Ex-Gizmondo Exec Wrecks $1 Million Ferrari

enzo.jpg We love now largely bankrupt handheld game maker Gizmondo, for the modeling agencies, the racehorses, and so much more besides. Now, via sister site Gamasutra, here's the latest reason to gawk and marvel.

All we need to do is quote: "According to news reports, former Gizmondo executive Stefan Eriksson has been involved in a high-profile accident in Los Angeles which destroyed his $1 million Ferrari Enzo sports car, following a crash at more than 120 miles per hour during an alleged street race." What's more: "The 2003 Ferrari Enzo was racing a Mercedes-Benz SLR when it crashed into a light pole on the Pacific Coast Highway, shearing the car in two. A 'German man called Dietrich', the supposed driver, according to Eriksson, allegedly fled the scene."

But wait, the coup de grace? "The Los Angeles Times reported Sheriff's Sgt. Philip Brooks as noting that Eriksson "...had a .09 blood-alcohol level, but if he's a passenger, that's OK. But he had a bloody lip, and only the air bag on the driver's side had blood on it. The passenger-side air bag did not. My Scooby-Doo detectives are looking closely into that." The Times notes that Sergeant Brooks then added: "Maybe the 'driver' had a friend who picked him up. Maybe he thumbed a ride. Maybe he was a ghost."" Story of the year, hands down.

GameTap To Get Ultima Re-Releases

u5.jpg Just a little tidbit, here, but you may have heard that Electronic Arts has been added to recent press releases as another of the publisher licensees for the recently launched GameTap subscription gaming service from Turner - though EA doesn't have any games live on the service right now.

Well, we note that a recent Dean Takahashi weblog post over at the San Jose Mercury News confirms online rumors that early iterations of Richard Garriott's classic Ultima series will be appearing on GameTap in the near future - Takahashi comments: "Big companies such as Electronic Arts have joined. That's why Gametap will soon post Ultima 1-6."

This is definitely good news for Lord British fans, and continues GameTap's intriguing drive to make classic games available officially, albeit with a 'rental' business plan. How about M.U.L.E. next, guys?

Is The Act Of Playing Games A Productive Task?

dodgeb.jpg The Guilded Lilies weblog, which "explores the unique experience of being a grown woman playing computer games", has a new post up discussing "further thoughts on what it means to be productive" in relationship to playing video games.

The author, L Laughy, notes: "I approach my day by seeing it as full of potentially productive time, instead of thinking strictly in terms of fully productive time. I allow for the fact that my mind has a tendency to rebel if not given regular license to relax... It is important that when I do allow myself these breaks that I don't feel guilty about it. Thinking that gaming is a waste of time, especially if you love to play games, is a sure way of associating guilt with your pleasure."

She then cites a Psychology Today article suggesting: "Play appears to allow our brains to exercise their very flexibility, to maintain and even perhaps renew the neural connections that embody our human potential to adapt, to meet any possible set of environmental conditions." So... is playing games psychically and karmically necessary for us, or is that purely the excuse of the 'one more game' crowd? Opinions welcome.

AOU Sleuthings Illuminate Half-Life 2 Survivor

hl2surv.jpg We covered hints on the AOU show before the annual Japanese arcade trade event happened late last week, but now Hirohiko Niizumi has done an excellent, comprehensive write-up of the show for GameSpot, revealing good info on a number of games, including Taito's Valve-licensed arcade title Half-Life 2 Survivor.

Niizumi explains: "The game plays in a cockpit cabinet that features a 32-inch LCD monitor in 1360x768 resolution and 5.1 channel surround sound speakers... the machine uses an IC card for players to store their data. While the PC version used a keyboard and mouse for controls, the arcade game uses two differently shaped trigger sticks. The left trigger stick is used for movement, and it also has a button for sending short messages to team members. The right stick is used for attacking, and it has three buttons: one for attacking, one for selecting a weapon, and one for using alternate attacks. The cabinet also has two foot pedals: one for ducking and the other for jumping."

There's a really good snapshot of the Half-Life 2 Survivor cabinets on Impress Watch, which also has lots of nice show pics in general, including a Sega photo report with a totally neat House Of The Dead 4 sculpture pictured in it.

February 21, 2006

Tales From YouTube: Sega Gets Suplee, Bow Tie

suplee.jpg Further perusal of the video dump to end all video dumps YouTube has revealed some interesting videos related to the history of Sega's game commercials.

Firstly, there's an apparently 'classic' Sega commercial in which a youthful Ethan Suplee (currently to be seen in My Name Is Earl) hits himself over the head with a dead squirrel to get 'color' for his original Game Boy. The alternative? Buying a spanking new Sega Game Gear, of course!

Also available on YouTube, thanks to the SMSPower folks, also hosting other Sega commercial goodness, there's an early '80s Japanese Sega SG-1000 commercial, in which we find out that the add-on SK-1100 keyboard for the obscure console will allow you to wear a bow tie, program basic, and giggle annoyingly. Still, you can't beat the classic 'Say-gaaaaa' sound effect at the end, and that's what counts.

Indie Games Get To Defending, Twisting

towerd.jpg The indie stalwarts at GameTunnel have just posted their February 2006 Indie Game Monthly Round-Up, including multi-person reviews of a plethora of titles.

Some of the best-received include Tower Defence, of which GameTunnel head honcho Russ Carroll comments: "Very reminiscent of Curator Defense, but with less weapons, but "she's got it where it counts" with a more engaging game play style (and better graphics to top it off!)".

Also getting a metal award of some kind is IGF finalist Tube Twist, for which Seth Robinson suggests: "I think what really makes it interesting is there is never a single correct solution, you can hammer away at your own idea and usually get it working." Overall, lots of fun stuff to check out here, all precisely and informatively reviewed.

Frag Dolls, Meet Girlz Gaming House

girlz.jpg Over the wires comes news that chip company VIA has set up 'the first-ever year-round eSports training house' in Sweden, named The Home of Chrome, and with a unique female bent - the official site is at Girlzgaminghouse.com.

As the 'Girlz page' explains: "The girlz 0f destruction is a 7-member, international all-girls PC gaming team hailing from seven different countries and are widely regarded as the highest level professional female Quake 4 players. Presently 4 girlz 0f destruction team members are living full-time at the CHROME Home and with over 10,000 matches already played between them they each train on average for five hours a day."

However, unlike the Frag Dolls, which were specifically formed by Ubisoft for promotional purposes (not that there's anything wrong with that, many claim!), Girlz Of Destruction have been around since 2001, when they started as a Rocket Arena clan for Quake, and are just now getting sponsored by VIA/S3 to hang around in a Swedish house and post odd things on weblogs. So there.

Be-Pachi Music Gets The Freq Beat

bepachi.jpg Via somewhere in the vicinity of the DDRFreak forums, we spotted a new update of a neat Beatmania PC clone called 'Be-Pachi Music', which comes in both 'mini' ("a full-featured game using a limited window size") and full-screen, newly updated versions.

Both apps play the 'BMS' format of Beatmania-'style' music files for the PC - check out the relatively old BM98 FAQ over at JPopMusic.com for more information on this, but the format allows for completely original songs and song data to be put into a Beatmania-type format.

Interestingly, the full-screen version looks a lot like a certain Harmonix title, at least visually, with author Alis commenting: "I was trying for the 'FreQuency' 3D style of game play and power-up system, including multipliers and Auto-Play. FreQuency's 'selectable multiple instrument play' might be implemented sometime in the future, I don't know exactly when." Gameplay cloning issues notwithstanding, this is pretty neat stuff.

February 20, 2006

Used Games - Good For The Biz?

used_games.jpg In December, we covered an earlier take on the same subject, but now, the Hollywood Reporter's Paul Hyman discusses the advantages and issues of the used video game market with a number of industry veterans.

Obviously, there are agendas to be put forward, and thus, the IEMA's Hal Halpin suggests that: "I think publishers are making noise because they'd like to get a piece of that almost $1-billion that GameStop is making ... and that's all there is to it", whereas Atari's Wim Stock's "...preference would be to have some sort of agreement with retailers that used games could only be sold, say, three or six months after the launch of a product."

However, the ubiquitous analyst Michael Pachter suggests that "...the existence of the used market increases the number of new purchase transactions... because only people who bought new games have games to trade in." So it's all OK, in a chicken/egg type way? Uhm, possibly.

GameSetChat: Xbox 360 Live Feature Wishlist?

stking.jpgSince we recently covered someone who already made it to 20,000 Gamerscore on Xbox 360 Live, we thought we'd throw it open to reader comments on an important subject - what else needs to be done to make Xbox 360 Live into the absolute bestest next-gen online console service in the world, as opposed to just the only, as it is currently?

Some of the things we'd particularly like to see:

- Better balancing of achievements based around difficulty, so that getting 1000 points on Ridge Racer 6 is just as easy (or hard!) as getting 1000 points on King Kong, and it's not tempting to play games you don't care for just to score big points (ahem, Madden NFL 2006, for GSW editors!)

- Removing games from your 'played games' list on your profile if they're Xbox Live Arcade titles that you've just tried the demo of - listen, we admit it, we played Hardwood Backgammon once, but we don't want to be reminded of it for the rest of our natural Xbox 360 life.

- Regular tournaments based around specific achievements, even in Xbox Live Arcade titles, so that the person keeping alive without firing the longest in Geometry Wars gets an extra 0-point achievement, or kudos, or a free lollipop?

- Classic Sega titles downloadable over Xbox Live Arcade using Saturn emulation. Immediately. Including Nights Into Dreams.

- Everyone actually being able to find an Xbox 360 in stores so they can participate in this discussion.

That's a few of our wishlist items for the rapidly crystallizing chunk of adorable precious metal that is Xbox Live for the 360 - how about you, dear GSW reader?

Getting Retronauty With Taito Legends

bubob.jpg Over at 1UP, Jeremy 'Toastyfrog' Parish puts his formidably Rubik's Cube-shaped brain to work in profiling the Taito Legends remake series, including "bubbles, kiwis, and majestic invaders", in his second Retronauts column.

As Parish rightly points out: "Taito has been particularly busy on the retro front in the past year, releasing not one but four different classic compilations: Japan received Taito Memories I & II for PS2 and Taito Memories Pocket for PSP, while Sega published Taito Legends for Xbox, PS2 and PC in the U.S. And these aren't those crummy 32-bit collections with a paltry handful of games; we're talking 20 to 25 titles per set. Furthermore, only about half the games in Legends appeared on the Memories sets. All told, that's roughly 60 unique titles."

Following the history lesson, a few choice Taito classics are pointed out, with care given to not be entirely obvious - thus a tip for Return Of The Invaders, of which it's commented: "Imagine if Galaga had babies with Space Invaders -- that's what you have here. Enemies still approach in waves and patterns, marching steadily toward the bottom, but there's much more to the game than ducking behind shields and taking pot shots at alien sushi." Mm, alien sushi.

XOP Shmup Goes Marvellously Freeware

xop.gif Good news over at the Shmups forum, which is featuring a post announcing the freeware availability of a neat-looking Windows PC shooter named XOP.

As coder 'Udderdude' explains: "I wrote a 2D overhead shooter called XOP, and released it around 2002. It took me close to 1 1/2 years to make...I attempted to sell it as shareware, from toastsoft.com; however, this failed. Mostly due to the game's difficulty, low-res graphics, the fact that shareware shooters don't usually sell well (kiddie puzzle games sell much better), and my complete lack of any real marketing skills. I am now releasing it as freeware [.EXE link]. I feel this is better than letting it collect dust behind a $20 shareware fee. Download it and give it a try."

The game's screenshots look pretty darned neat, and the follow-up comments enthusiastic ("XOP is one of the best PC shooters I played for a long time", or "I'm really enjoying this. The gameplay is fun and the scoring system is just the way I like it"), so there's really no excuse for checking it out. Oh, and Udderdude also mentions his very Crystal Quest++-esque free Java shooter Space Dudes, also worth perusing. [Via The2Bears.]

February 19, 2006

Rubbing, Rabbits Both Fun For Girls, Boys

rubra.jpg Stephen Totilo's latest story for MTV.com managed to chat with the female Sonic Team designers behind Sega's Rub Rabbits! (aka Where Do Babies Come From?) for Nintendo DS.

Totilo makes some interesting points on the women-friendly gameplay, noting as background: "The DS has proven to be something of a laboratory for exploring games' gender appeal and women's influence on game design. The 2004 "Sprung" dating simulator was written by Colleen McGuinness, a writer for the TV drama "North Shore." In 2005 designer Heather Kelley, who works for game publisher Ubisoft, created an experimental game called "Lapis," which appeared to be about a cute, touchable blue bunny but was actually, according to Kelley, "a stealthy primer on female sexual pleasure.""

But a central point seems to be that games can unite female and male, as is intended by Rub Rabbits!: "Couples can definitely enjoy this game," said its lead designer, Emiko Sunaga. "I'd also like to think that those who aren't a couple yet will play together, and by doing so bring the bond between them closer together."

On Being A Good Animal Crossing Neighbor

acpoo.jpg The UK-based RLLMUK Forum has a rather amusing Animal Crossing-related messageboard post, thanks to user 'Frood42', who discusses his wife's attempts to remove an objectionable neighbor from the GameCube version of Nintendo's far too cute Animal Crossing.

As he explains: "This week a new animal came to stay in our town; 'Snooty' a rather rude aardvark, who for some reason is pink and looks a bit like a Clanger. My wife has taken offence to Snooty's rudeness and has been harassing her." The solution? "So far on her campaign of hate, she has hit Snooty repeatedly over the head with an insect net - when poor Snooty didn’t die she set up a pitfall and maliciously pushed her into it. When that didn’t finish her off she started a smear campaign outside of Snooty's house... She has finally resorted to the following hate mail."

While this obviously isn't going to work, nonetheless, the message of togetherness sent by Frood42's wife resonates throughout the ages: "You are a sh*thead, leave our town or you will die!!!!! We ALL hate you and your great big nose. BE GONE CLANGERCHOPS." Nice!

Getting Kraftier, Hacking The Kraft Dance Pad

kraft.jpg A few weeks back, we at GSW featured a news story on a free Kraft PC dance pad, which was available to order (fine print on the order page indicates it may not be any more) for free, with only shipping to pay, so that those who ate Kraft foods could, uhh, get healthy.

Well, now the good folks at Phobe.com have added a Kraft dance pad hacking page, which explains "how to change the button mapping so that the Kraft dance pad will work with other dance pad games such as Stepmania", as opposed to the limited custom games Kraft lets you download.

The problem, apparently, is when you try to jump on multiple buttons at the same time: "The Kraft dance pad controller does not appear to have a non-intrusive way to change its mapping like some controllers do by "holding up, select and start for 3+ seconds". Nor does it have buttons 5-8 available on the PCB or on the chip. So the easiest hack is to exchange the two less-used buttons - select and start - for down and left, thereby letting the system recognize up and down simultaneously."

Oh, and the authors note by way of a postscript: "We are not in any way endorsed by or related to, KraftTM Foods, but we do enjoy their delicious KraftTM Macaroni & Cheese."

Tales From YouTube: De La Soul's Parappa 2 Belief

delaparappa.jpg We'll try to check in on insane video-hoarding site YouTube semi-regularly here on GSW, because the amount of game-related clips is rapidly increasing. Our pick for this time is the De La Soul ft. Double 'U Gotta Believe' music video, which was released in Japan alongside Parappa The Rapper 2 for the PS2, and features Pos and friends getting goofy with Masaya Matsuura's underrated sequel.

Of course, the recent live-action Swedish student Parappa project is another great example of a Parappa cooking-related music vid, but we like De La Soul's chef hats more, so there.

[Oh, and YouTube also has the intro to the short-lived Japanese Parappa anime series, which was apparently not such a happy experience for American artist and Parappa co-creator Rodney Greenblat, as GSW sister site Gamasutra documented a few months back.]

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