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Archive For November, 2006

The Best Worst Ads Returns Returns

November 29, 2006 2:05 AM | Simon Carless

- We may or may not have linked the first two of these, but damn it, we're linking the third one, too - 1UP's latest feature is 'The Best Worst Ads Part 2', subtitled 'The Ads Fight Back From The Grave', and this time takes on PC game mag horrors.

It's explained, handily: "There's always a little guilt that goes along with digging up really awful adverts and poking fun at them. There are just so many, and they're all so ridiculous. It's not even shooting fish in a barrel. It's like dynamiting frogs in a Dixie cup. Thankfully, when they're bloodsucking frogs that want our money, it's not hard to make way for that animal torturing twelve year old who lives in all of us."

What's more: "Where our first installment focused on EGM ads of the late 80s, and our second installment on EGM ads of the early 90s, this time we raided the Games For Windows vaults for late 90s issues of Ye Olde Computar Gaminge Wyrld. The result? Even more insanity." Yes, all life, including Daikatana, is here.

The Escapist Takes On Microsoft, Survives

November 28, 2006 10:03 PM | Simon Carless

- Hey, look, it's another issue of the sometimes neglected, always lovable The Escapist Magazine, and this time, it's all about Microsoft - so we must relate what they state below:

"When Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975, they spawned what would become the leading manufacturer and developer of PC-based software in the world. Along with developing operating systems and productivity software, Microsoft has steadily moved to the forefront of both PC and console gaming. The Escapist dives inside the belly of the beast and comes out with Issue 73: “Microsoft: the Xmen.”"

What's in it? "Russ Pitts outlines Microsoft’s purchasing power and the footprint they are leaving on gaming in “From Borg to Boss: Gaming with Microsoft.” Contributor Dean Takahashi highlights how great timing and market positioning is benefiting the Xbox 360 in “Turning the Table: Microsoft’s Second Chance Console.” In “Number of the Beast: FASA, Microsoft, and ARGs,” Shannon Drake chronicles Jordan Weisman’s journey in the gaming industry. Spanner explores Microsoft’s use of psychologists in game development in “The Perception Engineers.” And Mur Lafferty informs us of how Microsoft is blogging “ex machina” in “I Have No Mouth and I Must Blog.”" Seems pretty interesting to us.

IGDA's ARG White Paper Published

November 28, 2006 5:02 PM | Simon Carless

- Over at Clickable Culture, Tony is kind enough to point out that: "The International Game Developers Association's special-interest group on ARGs has published its first white paper about the Alternate Reality game-form, after 8 months of work and hundreds of revisions."

From the paper: "The ARG industry is consistently producing multi-million-dollar games for tens of thousands of players at a time, and generating interest across the entertainment, broadcast, and advertising industries... Although new to many people, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are still far short of achieving their full potential, each new wave of games bringing major new innovations and increased understanding of what works and what doesn't."

ARGs continue to be a fascinating hybrid of real-life, websites, and interactive games of various kinds - although some people like hearing about them just as much as participating in them - not that this is bad? (Pictured: EDOC Laundry's recent appearance on CSI, a sure sign of buzz!)

Snack Dash... The Hedgehog!

November 28, 2006 12:09 PM | Simon Carless

- Thanks to GSW columnist JamesD for pointing us to an interesting Flash 'serious game' that's also just a little bit of a rip-off of a famous Sega title - but hey, since it teaches you to eat healthily at school, it must be OK, right?

James says (hope he doesn't mind the quote!): "[The game is] Snack Dash, brought to you by the UK's Department for Education and Skills. It's basically Sonic the Hedgehog (down to the minute details - you can spin while running, and you drop collected items just like Sonic) coupled with Metal Slug 3's fat mode - eat too much and you can't run anymore unless you do pushups."

He also notes sagely: "It makes a nice followup to the Gamasutra article on ripping off Japan [here's the GSW follow-up on that!], but given the high profile of the franchise it seems pretty foolish. Plays pretty well for Flash, though!" That it does! Seems a little odd that the developers went to all that trouble and didn't try to vary the gameplay really at all - I guess that's one way to get guaranteed playability, though?

Do You F.E.A.R. I.K.E.A.?

November 28, 2006 7:06 AM | Simon Carless

- The rather fun game theorist Matteo Bittanti has been experimenting with PlanetWide Media's Comic Book Creator - a wacky application that allows you to create 'gamics' - comics using video game screenshots, basically.

Bittanti reveals: "For my first experiments, I decided to cut-and-paste various popular artifacts. "F.E.A.R. I.K.E.A." (Download FearIkea.pdf) combines the fetish for IKEA's catalog with Monolith's awesome FPS. "CRASH" (Download crash.pdf) is what happens when you play too much Burnout while reading JG Ballard's stories; "WAR/GAMES" is about the ideology of games (Download WarAndGames.pdf), while "SIM-BAUDRILLARD" (Download SimBaudrillard.pdf) is about... well, you get the drift, right?" We particularly like F.E.A.R. I.K.E.A., but Sim Baudrillard (pictured!) is also spicy.

[A side note - Comic Book Creator, uhh, creator PlanetWide Media recently renamed to avoid any video game mention in their name at all - I'm guessing their previously announced MMOs have pretty much officially crashed and burned. Shame - an extreme sports MMO kinda sounded like a good idea. Kinda. Also, we have a printout from a RYL Hollywood party (which we didn't go to!) here in the Gama offices with Pauly Shore holding up a RYL retail box. Yeah, it's that kinda company.]

Reminder: NYC Geeks, Blip Out To The Blip Festival

November 28, 2006 2:04 AM | Simon Carless

- When it was originally announced, we ran a frenzied little news post on it, but there's no time like the present to re-remind you - New York City's Blip Festival, a celebration of chiptunes and retro bleep game-style music, is on Thursday, November 30 through Sunday, December 3.

The schedule for BlipFest is up on the official site, and the audio/visual line-ups looks unparalleled in the history of chiptunes - go visit 8BitPeoples for free downloads from a bunch of the musicians attending, if you haven't already. Wow, and Neil Voss, he of Tetrisphere N64 soundtrack cult fame, is doing a super-rare live set. You really should attend the event if you're anywhere near NY, for the love of all that is holy.

In addition, the Village Voice has just written up a preview of the event, explaining it rather neatly for the neophyte: "As cute as the source material may be, the music itself manages to transcend retrograde kitsch. Using custom-designed cartridges and programs to work the outdated sound cards and interfaces for all they're worth, these musicians graft chunky blocks of melody and low-tech programmed percussion onto recognizable songforms, effecting a diversity most wouldn't think possible with the gear's spare palette. [Performers range from] from Bubblyfish's moody melodies to Raboto's acid-techno-inspired Game Boy squelches or the propulsive melodic bounce of Nullsleep."

Strawberry Shortcake's Dance Dance Revolution!

November 27, 2006 9:03 PM | Simon Carless

- Forget about the Wii selling 8 billion thousand, here's the important news for the day - Konami and Majesco have released a Strawberry Shortcake Dance Dance Revolution 'TV game', allowing crazy people to plug a DDR mat straight into a TV for dancing happy fun.

It's explained: "Shipping after the recently released Strawberry Shortcake The Sweet Dreams Movie, the new DDR product leverages the current popularity and high awareness of the Strawberry Shortcake property. As a Plug'N'Play product, Strawberry Shortcake Dance Dance Revolution plugs directly into a television set without a game console, delivering a fun, interactive experience on a custom Strawberry Shortcake dance pad."

But that's not all: "Featured characters include Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Muffin, Raspberry Torte, Lemon Meringue and Rainbow Sherbet dancing along with themed music such as "Straw-Buh-Buh-Buh-Buh-Berry Shortcake" and nine other songs." I'm wondering how Penny Arcade are going to feel about this, and grinning in anticipation!

COLUMN: Green And Black Attack - Donkey Kong '94

November 27, 2006 4:07 PM |

dk0.gif['Green and Black Attack' is a new regular column by James Edwards taking a reflective look at Nintendo's original portable workhorse, the Game Boy. This week, we lionize Nintendo's winning reimagining of an arcade classic, 1994's Donkey Kong.]

If you've been keeping one horrified eye on Sega's latest Sonic the Hedgehog cash teat, you might have noticed the increasingly rubbery hero dashing around with a new girlfriend... a very human new girlfriend. While this isn't the first time interspecies lust has turned up in a platform game, it's a lot more consensual than Shigeru Miyamoto's 1981 design debut Donkey Kong, which saw Mario launch his gaming career and loose his girlfriend to a big ape. Donkey Kong 94 is a Game Boy remake of that game... for a few levels at least.

Monkey Magic

Chances are that even if you've only ever heard of Donkey Kong, you've got a great idea how the original arcade cabinet played: man loves woman, his pet ape gets envious and abducts her to a building site, man has to jump over a barrage of industrial debris in order to spank that chimp and win back the hand of his lady love. The game shows its age today, with stiff controls, a mere four screens of gameplay and punishing mechanics (even the tiniest of falls will break Mario like a cheap pencil), but Miyamoto's knack for instilling child-like glee shines through in every pixel and resonates with the every note of the excellently warbly sound track.

In a developing market inured to context-free shooting marathons, the game broke considerable amounts of new ground in terms of narrative and characterization, and will be shamelessly mined for its concepts until the sun expands and burns up the Earth like a big blue match head. That won't happen for billions of years!

[Clcik through for more!]

Stair Dismount's Live Action Tribute

November 27, 2006 11:08 AM | Simon Carless

- OK, bear with me on this one, because there's a train of thought going on. I was checking out the awesome Racing Pitch, where you control a car by making vrooming noises into your PC's microphone (!) for the IGF - this be the starting point.

Then I realized that the guys at Skinflake (mainly Jetro Lauha with friends, I think!) made Racing Pitch, but also did the awesome Stair Dismount, which was one of the first games to make ragdolling figures an integral part of the gameplay - and heck, is still one of the only ones. (I hope the Jackass game does something like that!)

Then I remembered there was some demo-scene video pastiche-ing Stair Dismount, but using real life people, and I found it on Google Video, so now I am showing it to you. The 'demo' for Assembly last year is called "Porrasturvat for Stairstation 360 Live Revolution", and it gets a bit samey, but the concept is rather marvellous - I also like that the credits reveal the 'correct' angles and forces to recreate the falls in the game, haw.

SPAG - Still Rootin' For Adventure Games!

November 27, 2006 6:11 AM | Simon Carless

- Blimey, poking around the Internet somewhere, I found SPAG, aka the Society for the Promotion Of Adventure Games, which is "...an informative e-zine designed primarily to keep the gaming public aware of text adventures and other types of interactive narrative available today. Most of the space is devoted to reviews."

This rocks because Issue 1 was released all the way back in 1994, and Issue 46 was published just last month - now that's devotion to the text adventure cause! Color ourselves impressed.

The latest issue, by way of example, reviews indie text adventure Attack Of The Yeti Robot Zombies, of which it's opined: " Right from the title we know the game doesn't take itself very seriously. The premise never gets any deeper than that; the setting is cartoonish; there's not much to the story, either. So while I was engaged with the technical challenge of getting through in a single play, I never felt that the stakes were very high if I failed."

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