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Archive For September, 2009

Raw Thrills' Eliminated American Idol Arcade Game

September 30, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

My initial reaction after hearing about Raw Thrills' karaoke arcade game based on American Idol was to groan, but the concept of the setup ad its technology is actually interesting. Players stand in front of a green screen while the game films them and creates a music video background while they sing. Their performance is then emailed to them or burnt onto a DVD players can take home.

Unfortunately, Raw Thrills cancelled Star Studio earlier this year after 18 months of work. Though the company didn't give a reason for killing the project, programmer Cameron Silver's voiced frustrations provide a hint: "These [Star Studio machines] would have been a star, if only they weren't blasted out if the sky by petty politics and brain-dead morons."

Silver posted a detailed developer's diary for the arcade game's production, but it's unfortunately no longer available online. We do have several embarrassing videos of Silver and others playing the game that we can watch:

There Was a Young Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

September 30, 2009 4:00 PM |

scribblenautsGSW.jpg['Chewing Pixels' is a semi-regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column written by British games journalist and Flash game producer, Simon Parkin. Today, a look at how children trump adults when it comes to Scribblenauts.]

What’s the best way to get rid of a bothersome fly? It’s one of the first questions asked by Scribblenauts, the DS game that grants its player access to a dictionary of more than 30,000 nouns with which to solve puzzles. Type the word “Swat” into the game’s dialogue box and a sketchpad representation of the object will ping onto the screen, ready and prepped to squish the insect.

If pushed for an alternative answer, you might try, ‘Insect Repellent’ to shoo the fly away, or perhaps ‘Turd’ to lure it elsewhere instead. And herein lies the genius of this extraordinary database: where the vast majority of games give us a handful of tools with which to solve their conundrums, Scribblenauts offers solutions as wide and deep as our own imaginations. It’s a subtle yet seismic shift: a game that, rather than focusing on what you do with your tools, simply asks which you want to use, chosen from a catalogue of everything.

And yet, the disappointment is that many of the game’s tasks lack invention, posing somewhat vanilla, mundane tasks for you to complete: eliminate the fly, fetch a bouquet of flowers, tidy up the rubbish, make a packed lunch.

This is just one of the reasons that Scribblenauts, which is in at least one-way revolutionary, has received a somewhat lukewarm response from critics and consumers alike. While the technology is a sort of irresistible witchcraft, the application is often dry routine. It’s like someone gave you the power to move mountains and then forced you to spend all day shunting shopping trolleys around Tesco’s car park.

The God of High Score Legacies

September 30, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Like a gluttonous dragon consumed with adding treasure to its hoard, the god of high score legacies anxiously eyes every gleaming item that passes his way, and demands a steady stream of gems from his worshippers.

"He gives strength and honor to the denizens of the video arcade, who have inscribed their three letter alias into the pixels of posterity," describes Matt Reynolds, who shot and edited the above video. "He is a greedy god, and is easily distracted by luster and wealth. But his powers in the realm of the two-dimensional make him a trusted ally, and a fearsome foe."

Reynolds says this is part of what he hopes will become a series of videos depicting imagined paper deities. I hope they are all as creepy as our patron arcade god!

COLUMN: Battle Klaxon: On Red Orchestra, And Flowers

September 30, 2009 12:00 PM |

['Battle Klaxon' is a bi-weekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column where traveling games journalist Quintin Smith fights to win a bit of glory for the beautiful, brave but overlooked games that people are missing in their lives. This week: The snap, crackle and pop of Red Orchestra.]

I've been hating on Battlefield 1943 a lot recently. Last week when a fan of the series thrust a calloused finger in my direction and demanded games which did large-scale combat better, I obviously mentioned Warhawk, but was surprised when another name fell out of my mouth. Red Orchestra. The UT2004 mod turned full game that paints a grubby, heart-stopping picture of the Eastern front of WW2.

Red Orchestra solves a problem I've had with almost every shooter I've ever played- that of them steering clear of simulating real guns and real bullets. Game guns are relatively quiet, don't have much recoil, can be shot with accuracy while you walk or run and are always reloaded in a few seconds.

Game bullets have the mysterious ability to fill the clips you're carrying in your pockets so those clips are always full when inserted into guns, and when shot game bullets don't so much as cause anyone pain until enough of them are lodged in a single body that they cause some kind of mysterious stroke.

There are tons of games which act as exceptions to one or two of these rules, but Red Orchestra's the only recent game I can think of to ignore them all. In Red Orchestra you point a gun at someone, there is a BANG and they DIE and you don't RELOAD because it takes AGES and besides in a tight spot you'll never empty a full magazine before getting SHOT yourself anyway.

Dr. Frankenstein's Monster Arcade Machine

September 30, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Obviously in love with the steampunk aesthetic, Doug Haffner spent 60-80 hours building this MAME arcade cabinet, shaping the wood with a CarveWright carving machine and decorating the side panels with green lithopanes of Frankenstein's monster and the creature's bride.

Haffner made turning on the machine just as interesting as its design -- the power switch is hidden in a fake book of Dr. Frankenstein's lab notes, which is mounted inside a door on the bottom of the cabinet. The builder explains, "I didn't want children toggling the power to the computer on and off."

More Zelda Similarities, Spelunker In 3D Dot Game Heroes

September 30, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

When I last posted about From Software's 3D Dot Game Heroes, I pointed out the PS3 game's strange similarities with The Legend of Zelda -- "the bomerang, retaliating chickens, and Pegasus Boots-style dashing". If those seemed like coincidences at the time, this new series of videos.

After seeing the hookshot, fire rod, Octorocs, Tektikes (jumping spider-looking things), Moblins, Zora, and secret cave entrance bombing, I was so convinced this was a complete recreation of The Legend of Zelda's world that it was jarring to see coins, not rupees, drop from slain enemies.

The 3D Dot Game Heroes clips below show how ridiculously huge your sword can get and a short playthrough using the fragile hero from Spelunker (the results are predictable but still enjoyable to watch):

Metanet Shares Robotology Walking Demo

September 30, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

N+ developer Metanet posted a video to show its progress "after a year of groundwork-laying" for its next title, Robotology. Note that the images you see in this walking demonstration are debug graphics, soon to be replaced with proper art.

"In the video, all movement is animation being driven based on time," says the company." "The next step in terms of modeling movement is to add some sort of feedback to the system, since currently it’s all just blind forward animation (i.e 'wind-up toys'). ... We also have a lot of work to do on the tools side."

"We made a basic parametric model which can generate legs and feet, but it’s quite rudimentary and can’t handle, for instance, wheeled or flying robots. Oh yeah, for sure we need wheeled and flying robots. It’s definitely a huge improvement from hard-coding everything — making a biped now only takes ~20 lines of code to define some parameters which are then used to generate the necessary data, instead of 200+ to make all the shapes and constraints by hand."

Planned as a "traditional platformer", the game features the walking robots as enemies that players can interact with. Metanet co-founder Raigan Burns hints that the interaction could be something comparable to Shadow of the Colossus but admits that the project is still very early in development, so nothing's set in stone.

You can read more about Robotology's walking demonstration at Metanet's blog.

Best of FingerGaming: From Sliding Heroes to Lumines

September 30, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Every week, we round up sister iPhone site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and authors Louise Yang and Jonathan Glover.]

This week, FingerGaming covers Square Enix's accelerometer-controlled RTS Sliding Heroes, Q Entertainment's iPhone port of Lumines, and the emulated Sega Master System action-RPG Golvellius: The Valley of Doom.

Here are the top stories from the last seven days:

- Square Enix Releases Sliding Heroes, Announces Two More Titles at TGS
"Square Enix has significantly stepped up its support for the iPhone platform, announcing the release of the accelerometer-based RTS Sliding Heroes and revealing that two more titles -- Song Summoner and Hills and Rivers Remain -- are on the way to the App Store in the months ahead."

- Top-Selling Paid Game Apps for the Week
"Konami's iPhone port of Frogger comes out on top in today's paid app charts, with sales boosted by a recent drop in price to 99 cents. geoDefense Swarm debuts this week at second place, as TightWire takes fourth following the release of a popular Lite version."

Hostage Negotiation With Diamond And The Sound Of A Gun Shot

September 29, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

As with his diaries for My Summer Holiday and Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3, the Japan-only sequel to Raw Danger/Disaster Report, CoreGamers' Bruno de Figueiredo has posted a thorough preview from the opening hours of another recently released PSP game that will likely never reach the States, Zener Works' (Okage) Diamond and The Sound of a Gun Shot.

It's a visual novel game (e.g. Fate/Stay Night, Time Hollow), a genre that hasn't yet caught on outside of Japan, with the exception of the Phoenix Wright series. In Diamond and The Sound of a Gun Shot, a police negotiator tasked with talking down criminals in order to rescue hostages and resolve the situation without anyone getting hurt.

To calm down the criminals, you will need to use advice and information provided by your negotiation team while selecting appropriate text options that will keep the hostage-taker calm. You can also investigate cases by talking to informants, interviewing suspects, and talking about the case with your partner at a local bar. You can read de Figueiredo's record with direct-feed screenshots of Diamond and The Sound of a Gun Shot's introduction and first chapter here.

Tale of Tales Post Fatale's Audio Trailer, First Screenshot

September 29, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

After revealing Silent Hill veteran Takayoshi Sato's involvement as the character designer for Fatale's biblical heroine Salome, Belgium developer Tale of Tales is now calling attention to the interactive vignette's voice acting and music with an audio-only trailer.

"One of the cornerstones of our approach to design for interactive entertainment, is that all elements in the production are of equal importance," says the company's co-founders and designers Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn. "We do not single out any element above any other: 3D artwork, animation, interaction, text, sound and music all contribute in equal parts to the multi-sensory experience."

They continue, "Our aim is to communicate on many levels simultaneously and offer many different forms of amusement and delight. Traditionally, video games tend to be a very visually oriented medium. But in our work, sound is of equal importance. And somehow it felt fitting to release an audio-only trailer for a project about a man who loses his head."

Jarboe and Kris Force, who worked with Tales of Tales previously on IGF finalist The Path, worked on the voice acting, ambient music, and sound effects. In the trailer above, you'll hear Jarboe reciting lines from Oscar Wilde's play "Salome". Gerry De Mol, the singer-songwriter behind The Graveyard's perfect song, also composed dance music for Fatale.

Tale of Tales also posted the first screenshot for Fatale, which gives a hint of Salome's story and how she ordered the head of John the Baptist. It shows a window in the ceiling of the cistern in which Herod imprisoned John after the preacher condemned the king's marriage to his half-brother's ex-wife:

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