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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 July, 2009

Bittersweet: R-Type Tactics II Trailer

July 31, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Revealed earlier this week and garnering chuckles at every gaming site that posted the game's goofy subtitle, R-Type Tactics II: Operation Bitter Chocolate now has a Japanese trailer that you can sample -- you won't find any gameplay footage, but it's difficult to impassion gamers with clips of hex-based, turn-based strategy.

This PSP sequel to R-Type Command (as it's known in the States) will feature over 200 units -- double that of the original -- that players can manage on battle fields, as well as an increased emphasis on 3D cutscenes. Irem plans to release the game in Japan as a retail product for ¥5,040 ($53) and a digital download for ¥3,800 ($40)

There is no word yet on whether Atlus, who localized R-Type Command for North America last year, or any other publishers will deliver this box of Operation Bitter Chocolate across the Pacific.

[Via Siliconera]

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Transformers - Robots in Demise

July 31, 2009 4:00 PM | Ollie Barder

transformers_convoy1.png['Roboto-chan!' is a GameSetWatch-exclusive column written by Ollie Barder, which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This column covers the more recent attempts at making a Transformers game and why the franchise has critically stalled somewhat.]

Like many of my generation, I grew up watching a lot of cartoons. One of which was Transformers and like with many shows of that era many of my childhood friends owned the toys as well. We would play Autobots and Decepticons in our respective gardens, re-enacting the aeon long struggle between mechanical good and evil. Of all the mecha franchises birthed in Japan, Transformers is one that has the greatest amount of cultural common ground in the West; there's an almost implicit understanding of how these fictional living machines operate.

Yet, for all this commonality the vast majority of the games that attempt to re-produce those afternoons of toy robot battling end up being disjointed and functionally quite fractured.

I've already covered something similar about the various Macross games, as that franchise has a very close mechanical linkage to Transformers, but the issue here isn't a technical and logistical one but a cultural one in regards to the ability of learning from what has gone before.

Shooting Game Historica 3 SP, EX Gashapon Toys

July 31, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Online import shop NCSX announced a new shipment of Shooting Game Historica 3 SP, Yujin's third set from its series of gashapon toys modeled after famous shoot'em up ships.

Unlike the non-SP Shooting Game Historica 3 set that we linked last October, the six figures in this collection are boxed in "fancy cardboard containers" instead of in plastic capsules.

The SP edition also includes the Raiden mk-IIb blue model (Yujin previously shipped the Raiden mk-II in red only), and variant colors for several of the other toys. Here's the full list of the included crafts:

  • Wolf Fang - Blue armored mech which carries a blaster rifle
  • Raiden - Raiden mk-II (red) or Raiden mk-IIb (blue)
  • Soukyugurentai - S.O.Q-004 Toryu with multiple movable parts
  • Kaitei Daisensou: In the Hunt - Squat submarine designed by Irem
  • Maneuver Cepter Granada - A blue tank with moxie
  • Star Soldier - The Ceaser which features a transformable cockpit

In related gashapon news, Insert Credit spotted new unpainted models for Thunder Force V's RVR-01 Gauntlet and RVR-02B Brigandine (RVR-01 and RVR-02 Vambrace combined) from the Shooting Historica EX set, spotted at this week's Wonder Festival in Tokyo.

Manufacturer Takara Tomy A.R.T.S. hasn't announced any details on the EX set's release or pricing, but I'm sure it will pop up on NCSX eventually. Apparently, these ships are larger and more detailed than Yujin's past efforts:

Blueprints For House Of The Dead: Overkill's Packaging, Ads

July 31, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

As part of a case study for its promotional materials behind the title, Birmingham-based advertising/branding agency Fluid has posted dozens of preliminary designs from its work on Headstrong Games's Wii rail shooter House Of The Dead: Overkill.

In Fluid's Flickr set, you'll find art for packaging prototypes (each with a "grindhouse" feel and a corny line), logos, shirts, and the game's site. You can also look through sample two-page print ads, and drafts of the Collector’s Edition graphic novel, "Prelude To An Overkill".

Covers, logos, and shirts below!:

Rock Band Turns It Up To 11

July 31, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of mockumentary This is Spinal Tap's theatrical release, Harmonix and MTV Games are adding tracks from the parody heave metal band's recent album Back From the Dead to the Rock Band Music Store.

Released just last month, the Back From The Dead CD features "re-imagined and newly interpreted" versions of all 11 songs from the cult classic film's original soundtrack, as well as six new tracks.

The Spinal Tap songs slated to appear next week on the Rock Band Music Store for the Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 editions of Rock Band and Rock Band 2 include the following:

Analysis: Why Is Dragon Quest IX So Popular?

July 31, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this editorial, Christian Nutt explores why the Dragon Quest franchise is such a mega-hit in Japan, examining the history and appeal of one of video games' most enduring properties.]

I've set myself a strange task. I'm going to make an attempt to answer one timely question: Why the hell do Japanese people like Dragon Quest so much?

This is an obvious question, because the series is, enduringly -- since the days of the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System -- the most popular series in Japan. It debuted in 1986 to over a million in sales, and only got bigger from there.

Not many series of that vintage have that level of currency. It might be industry evolution in terms of audience and gameplay design.

Or it could be the fact that the way the business is run has changed so much over the years but remained more static in Japan -- the big names that helped launch it are still big names, after all. But there are few series with that heritage outside of Nintendo's first-party lineup that can make that claim.

Professor Layton And The Regrettable Puzzles

July 31, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

It's rare to find fanmade comics for Nintendo (-published) characters that are worth your time, and these two Professor Layton scenarios from Laura Wilson seem predictable, but there's something about their punchlines that I love. Perhaps it's the characters' expressions?

These two strips and many other video game-inspired art will appear in Life Meter Volume 3, a new full color anthology from video game comic site and Livejournal community Life Meter. The site/book's editors extended their pitch deadline until next Friday, so if you'd like to see your work or comics in the anthology, read over the submission guidelines.

GameSetLinks: Flower, Sun, And Fame

July 31, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's daily link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

Managed to catch up on GameSetLinks, finally, and we're starting out with Michael Abbott's Brainy Gamer blog discussing why it feels like Suda51's output is worth considering as a body of work, as opposed to just some games that he happened to work on -- an interesting distinction.

Also in this set of links -- David Sirlin in detail about Evo challenges, UK Resistance's break for freedom, our own Kevin Gifford talks to Steve Harris about EGM's resurrection, notable irritants in MMOs, and various other things besides.

Stomp it:

The Brainy Gamer: Early Suda
'I say Flower, Sun, and Rain is certainly worth your time...but only if, like me, you're willing to accept the idea that Goichi Suda (aka Suda 51) is an artist whose oeuvre merits critical attention.'

Sirlin.net - Blog - Evolution 2009
Enjoyable discussion of the fighting game tournament from SFII HD Remix designer and EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE PERSON David Sirlin.

Chris Tolworthy - Interview - Adventure Classic Gaming
Quite obscure, but sounds interesting: 'a series of adventure games based on classic literature that are interconnected to form a larger game.'

The Fall and (Maybe) Rise of EGM from 1UP.com
'Steve Harris, founder and potential savior of America's former #1 video game mag, discusses Electronic Gaming Monthly's potential return to greatness.'

Psychochild’s Blog » MMO irritants
Totally fun list, of course, from a veteran dev.

Shiny Media - My bit part in its downfall by Gary Cutlack | The MCV Blog | MCV
UK Resistance's Zorg - in the comments section of his UKR post he also reveals how much they paid for the sites and how much he was paid, if you're nosy. And we know you are!

Sample Pages From Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988

July 30, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Brett Weiss's Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 aims to provide detailed descriptions and reviews for every U.S. released game for the NES, Atari 7800, and the Sega Master System, with publisher/developer data and an average 125-185 words dedicated to each title.

Note that the book doesn't seek to include all that information for just the games released during the years in its title, but for all of the stateside games that shipped for those three consoles during their lifetimes.

It might sound too ambitious, but this isn't the first time Weiss has taken on a project like this, as this is actually a follow-up to Weiss' last book, Classic Home Video Games 1972-1984, which served as a guide for every U.S.-released game for ColecoVision, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, and a dozen other platforms.

The book's publisher McFarland has posted several pages from the 287-page book, which you can download as PDFs here. The author believes it's unlikely that you'll find copies of the book at your local shop, so your best bet is to buy direct from the publisher or from Amazon.

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 also includes a glossary for video game genres and terms used throughout the book, anecdotes from Weiss, and a preface from Bill “The Game Doctor” Kunkel, former executive editor of Electronic Games.

If you're waiting for a similar book that covers the generation of consoles that came after the NES, you're in luck! Weiss is currently working on a third Classic Home Video Games volume.

[Via Digital Press]

GameSetInterview: A Window Into Patrick Smith

July 30, 2009 4:00 PM |

Win%203.jpg[Continuing his GameSetWatch-specific interview series, Phill Cameron talks to Patrick Smith, creator of the beautiful Windosill, a visually stunning little web browser puzzle game -- discussing transferring art into something interactive, both in principle and practice.]

Can you explain a little about who you are and what you do?

I'm an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. My background is in traditional media — you can see my drawings and paintings here — but if your readers have seen anything of mine, it's probably Vectorpark, a collection of interactive animations that I've gradually added to over the past 7 or 8 years. I consider Windosill to be part of that body of work.

The art style in Windosill is extremely distinctive and elegantly simple. How important do you think visuals are in something like Windosill, where it may not be as interactive and mechanically driven as other games?

The visuals are very important, of course. But so are the mechanics, and the interactive elements. Each of those aspects affects the others — for example, when I design a tree, I have to keep in mind how that tree will interact with the user and with other objects, and those considerations affects how I draw it. So, I try to consider the aesthetic and functional aspects holistically.

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