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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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Archive For August, 2006

Zombie City Tactics Go Crazy Fun Time

August 31, 2006 11:01 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/zom.jpg [This is cross-posted from Insert Credit, where I very occasionally turn up to post something that Brandon said he was going to post but didn't. Like this one!]

IC regular Professor Scissors has posted the full version of Zombie City Tactics, his game which he describes as "a turn-based strategy game about outsmarting and defeating massively superior enemy forces... perhaps!" Sure, the art is a little programmer-y, but the gameplay is present and correct, so you should check it out.

Also, the good Prof says: "If you want to you can also mention that I am looking for brave warriors to be artists and musicians and stuff for my next project", which appears to be Zombie City Survivors, which "is going to take some elements from Zombie City Tactics, Fire Emblem, Resident Evil, and an obscure freeware Gameboy Color demo called Hungry are the Dead." Sounds yummy.

Harry Potter Obsessives Quiz EA Developers!

August 31, 2006 7:36 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/hpslash.jpg I know a few other sites have covered HPANA's account of rabid Harry Potter fans visiting Electronic Arts to find out about the game version of Harry Potter & The Order of The Phoenix - but they've completely missed the sheer hilarious rabidity of the fans in question.

Says Charlotte, a forum moderator at Harry Potter fansite Immeritus: "'It had been mentioned to me that [EA] were HP fans and, although I thought they'd probably read the books and seen the films, I was sceptical that they'd have the same kind of knowledge and enthusiasm as we do (the kind that comes from analyzing a single sentence to several pages of discussion).'" Yes, several pages!

It gets better, really: "The team working on the OotP game (currently about 85 people) are all sorted into houses and they sit in those houses for regular meetings. Points are won for individual houses and collected in jars, and there's even a sorting ceremony whenever a new member joins the team!"

What if you don't like Harry Potter? Is there some way you can opt out? Is this an HR-related matter? Is your house fined for crash bugs you cause? Honestly, screw Will Wright's 'cells', we hear this is the new game development organization method EA is aiming for.

Game Ads A-Go-Go: Games You've Never Heard Of

August 31, 2006 3:31 PM |

vcg_logo_gsw.jpg['Game Ads A-Go-Go' is a bi-weekly column by Vintage Computing and Gaming's RedWolf that showcases good, bad, strange, funny, and interesting classic video game-related advertisements, most of which are taken from his massive game magazine collection.]

While thumbing through old video game magazines, it's inevitable to find ads for some games that you've never even heard of. But I have done one better: I have found ads for games that nobody has ever heard of. That's right; no human being living on Earth knows that these games exist (Don't even bother to challenge me, because I don't count undead zombies as "human beings living on Earth"). In fact, these games are so obscure that they don't even "exist" in a traditional sense -- they occupy a slippery, hazy nether region of space: half here, half there, phasing in and out of our reality and into worlds unknown. Which brings us to the all-important question: if a game falls in a forest, and nobody is there to play it, does it make a sound?

Absolutely Not Derivative in Any Way

Ok, so you're creating a new video game, but the "creating" part is just too hard. What should you do? Not to fear; you can pull a time-tested maneuver that game developers continue to use today: simply combine disparate elements of established pop culture and forcefully cram them into the most popular game genre of the time. Before you now lies only one result of that very popular practice: Socket. One part Plucky Duck from Tiny Toons, and one part Sonic the Hedgehog, Socket is a bad dude with a tude just itchin' to be rude. Did I mention that he's blue and can run really fast?

As far as ridiculous obscure games go, this one takes the cake, freezes it with liquid nitrogen, and smashes it with a sledgehammer. Then eats it.


Slip Slip Slippin' Through Tiieeeiiime

I have absolutely no idea what this game is about; I've never played it. But if I were to guess from the ad's imagery, it's probably about an insectoid alien robot with a gun who forces you to travel through time, blowing enemies away, to work off your intergalactic bar tab. Sounds kinda like Contra, but shitty.


Vasteely Dan: The Impossible Game

Just about every game for the TG-16 Turbo CD platform is obscure, mostly because only around 5-6 living, breathing, non-zombie humans own a Turbo CD unit. But this game (like the others, I might add), is not even listed on MobyGames -- that wonderful oracle of gaming knowledge -- so there's no telling what really goes on inside its twisted code. The very fact that this game purports to combine "arcade action" and "intense strategy" sounds a little suspicious to me. That's like combining the words "slow" and "fast" into a new unspeakably self-contradictory word that brings the universe to a halt and makes every atom in your body vaporize simultaneously. It's almost as if this "game" was a practical joke by the Japanese on the western video game market. "Ha ha! Lazy Americans will be so mind-boggled, their heads will explode!" Well...consider my head exploded.

But if what this ad says about the game is actually true, then humanity has a long way to go before we're ready to wield such awesome, concentrated power in a single video game. It's best to seal it away in a deep, lead-lined vault and mark it "Do Not Open 'Til 3264." Maybe then we'll finally be ready as a species to play the marvel of gaming that is Vasteel.

[RedWolf is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vintage Computing and Gaming, a regularly updated "blogazine" that covers collecting, playing, and hacking vintage computing and gaming devices. He has been collecting vintage computers and game systems for over 13 years. He also loves tacos.]

Miss Peach World Surfaces, Waving Jolly Roger

August 31, 2006 11:41 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/misspeach.jpg GSW and Gamasutra editor FrankC is a man of obscure game KNOWLEDGE, since he founded Lost Levels and is often to be seen drooling over a particularly obscure prototype - so we squealed when he pointed out a copy of 'Miss Peach World' for Famicom/NES, created by Hacker International, on Yahoo! Japan Auctions.

Of course, when Googling for information on the game, the very first result is a page about the game from TSR, aka GSW's very own Kevin 'Mag Weasel' Gifford - showing that we know a scarily large amount of people with extremely obscure knowledge, perhaps. Frank already told us that the title, which is obviously Mario-aping in its artwork, is "a hack of Menace Beach, a Color Dreams game", and Kevin has more: "Oh no, it's Menace Beach! With Color Dreams' original cart, its rerelease in Sunday Funday and its rererelease in the Maxi-15 multicart, what may be the worst "made with pride in the USA" game ever now may be the most rereleased NES game ever!"

Kevin notes: "The only changes in this game are graphic ones. Although Hacker laid the Princess upon our eyes in the label, the game itself doesn't feature her. Instead it seems that Marilyn Monroe has quit her day job of being dead and joined the Skateboard Police to become a "Super LA Cop", along the way defeating kung-fu dudes, guys in T-shirts and the sumo wrestlers from the original game." And yes, the distinctly unlicensed game has got naked pixelated ladies in it, and actually has little/nothing graphical or gameplay connections with Mario, despite the cover art. Nuff said, really.

COMIC: 'Our Blazing Destiny' - Tamagotchi!

August 31, 2006 8:03 AM |

[Our Blazing Destiny is a weekly comic by Jonathan "Persona" Kim about our society, cultural postdialectic theory, and video games. And about little black and white pixel animals that poop and die.]

Here's Persona to update us on whatever the heck this week's column is about: "Sorry guys, I was really late with this comic! To compensate, it's really, really long!

You see, I went up to the mountains to train with the yaoi priestesses like I mentioned last week, but when I got there they made me pass through thirteen trials in order to gain access to the scroll of all whispy knowledge. I was able to clear the first thirteen or so with no problem but the 'Jam your p****s into a giant bear' trial had me really stumped. I eventually realized something was wrong when all the priestesses kept on giggling when I asked them what a 'p****s' was. It turned out all the priestesses were actually just some furry perverts renting out a shack in the woods with no knowledge at all over the ancient techniques of the whispy lines!!

The whole ordeal left an unsatisfying taste in my mouth so I tied them all up on to the trees surrounding the area and covered them with honey. As I heard the snorts of bears approaching, I ignited the priestesses' temple in the all-erasing flames of justice with an explosive technique I learned from the Great Otter of the South Sea: mix pure water with two parts acorn jelly and dandelion roots and light. As I looked back to the site, a sereneness passed over me and I realized an important lesson: don't check Craig's list for secrets of the ancient arts."

In reality I just had trouble procuring financial aid for my school year.

[Jonathan "Persona" Kim is sometimes a character animation student at the California Institute of the Arts, other times a ninja illustrator, but in his heart, a true comic artist looking for his destiny in the sea of stars. His path on the torrid road of comics include a quarterly manga on The Gamer's Quarter and his website on the awesome collective Mecha Fetus. His adventurous soul will never die!

Dead Rising's Groundhog Day-ness Explored

August 31, 2006 4:04 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/drdrd.jpg Over at Wired News, columnist Clive Thompson has an excellent column about Dead Rising's save system, explaining both the problem and some alternate views on why, perhaps, there shouldn't be a solution.

Thompson explains the basic problem well: "In Dead Rising, you're trapped in a Romero-like mall, trying to complete dozens of mini missions to unearth the mystery behind the ghoulish invasion... You've only got one Save slot, and the save points -- the places where you can save your progress to return to if you die later on -- are few and far between. The upshot is you're always walking on eggs."

But then, an IM friend points out an interesting question to Thompson: "If I'd been able to save the game whenever I wanted, would the game have been easier -- or just more boring? He was right. Save mechanisms are key to the emotional stakes in a game." So, is he playing devil's advocate by pointing out that a lot of the game's edginess is _created_ by not being able to save anywhere you like, or is he right, and this is actually a good thing for suspense in a zombie game?

COLUMN: MMOG Nation - 'Resurrecting EverQuest'

August 31, 2006 12:12 AM |

['MMOG Nation' is a regular bi-weekly column by Michael Zenke about current events in the world of Massively Multiplayer Games. This week's column is about the 'relaunch' of the game EverQuest.]

SS DungeonNot too long ago, my feelings about Sony Online's Everquest (EQ) were mostly frustration and disappointment. Despite its position as a genre-defining title, the release of EverQuest 2 signaled to me that Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was no longer going to be focusing on the game. My assumption was that, with a shinier and more solo-friendly big brother around that the original would fall by the wayside. After a time I even began to become frustrated by the fact that Sony kept releasing expansions for the game. I felt that they were leading EQ players on, that they were short-changing EQ2, and that they were pouring effort into a no longer relevant title. I can now say categorically that I was wrong.

I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the upcoming expansion, Serpent's Spine, with EQ Lead Designer Travis McGeathy. I've seen the light. Today I'm going to look at EverQuest's past, the reason for my reversal of opinion, and where the game is going. Finally, I'll talk about why I think the direction Everquest is headed (and the revamp of Ultima Online) signals nothing but good things for the future of Massive gaming.

(Click through to read the full column!)

It's All Bout P_Nutz, The Computer-Hacking Ape

August 30, 2006 8:04 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/goodgame.jpgWe just got a totally amusing press release regarding a new Australian TV show about games - it's called 'Good Game', and the official website for it has a highlights reel that shows its firm grasp of yoof culture!

The PR handily explains: "Hosted by Junglist (Jeremy Ray) and Kapowski (Michael Makowski), Good Game is filmed in the Den of Gaming (DOG); a gamers’ paradise fitted out with just about every gaming device ever invented and complemented by a huge plasma screen – every gamers’ dream screen! Junglist and Kapowski are supported each week by Dr Daneel, Good Game’s technical wizard, and P_Nutz, the computer-hacking ape."

Dude, P_Nutz! Wait, there's more: "Junglist first picked up a controller at the age of six and has been a passionate gamer ever since. Until recently he ran a successful Counter-Strike: Source team. Junglist now trains younger gamers in online sportsmanship as well as war-gaming tactics. Kapowski started gaming at the age of five. At the age of 13 he built his first computer to satisfy his love of gaming. Dr Daneel (Miles Tulett) built his first computer at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped. He recently won two major competitions for computer design. Dr Daneel is currently studying and plans to embark on a career in computer design." But is Dr Daneel really a doctor?

Schadenfreude, Wielding The NovaHammer

August 30, 2006 4:53 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/schaden.gif You guys know how much we love articles from German developer Schadenfreude Interactive (Cthulhu Karts, Accordion Hero, Grand Theft Ottoman) on sister site Gamasutra - well, there's a new one named 'Copy Protection Racket' online, and it's just... yaaay.

The piece "discusses how to find appropriate copy protection for your game, from dongles through 'scratch 'n sniff' to startling modern Russian methods", and starts out: "Lothar (our art director) came to me one day with a problem. Ordinarily he would go to our chief technical officer, Bruno, with these things, but Bruno was away attending the Beard & Mustache World Championship in Berlin (just attending, not competing – my mother can grow more of a mustache than Bruno can). Anyway, Lothar had found copies of our games available for download on BitTorrent."

Thus, the Germans venture deep into the PC copy protection world, discovering Russian firm, uhh, NovaHammer: "NovaHammer’s CEO Sergei Glazunov arrived with three hulking assistants in matching black Members Only jackets and sunglasses. They declined to take them off (the jackets or the glasses). Mr. Glazunov introduced the men as Dmitri Karamazov, his brother Dmitri, and his other brother Dmitri. We offered them coffee cake, and since it was just after 10 am, beer. I began by asking them a little bit about their business. “We protect your things. That is our business. Protection.” “My things?” I asked. “But we make computer games.” “Oh, of course. We can protect those too.”"

We're sure those NovaHammer guys remind us of someone, we just can't put our fingers on it...

Got Manifesto? Get Worm!

August 30, 2006 11:41 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/plasmaw.jpg We totally adore the beardy weirdy guys over at Digital Eel - heck, their very own Rich Carlson is the only IGF winner I've ever spoken to at GDC while that person was strumming a tiny banjo - isn't that recommendation enough?

Anyhow, they have great news, in association with Greg Costikyan and the Manifesto Games chaps: "To celebrate their upcoming and highly anticipated launch, Manifesto Games is offering Plasmaworm for free! Yep, you heard right, and not the demo but the whole darn Digital Eel FULL VERSION!"

But wait, there's more! "How can they/we do this, you ask? Because Manifesto Games is dangerous and Digital Eel is insane. Only dangerously insane people would make such an insanely dangerous game available to unsuspecting gamers in this way! Note that this offer only lasts until September 15th, so be sure to head on over to Manifesto and check out the pre-launch shenanigans, ASAP."

Other than that, if you haven't checked out Digital Eel's weird-ass 'short' space game Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space, please do so immediately, if not sooner - Kieron Gillen got pretty addicted to the IGF winner earlier this year, as did a non-game biz friend of mine, and its borderline surreal Star Trek-ish randomized explorations are tragically enticing. That is all!

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